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Published Date: May 22, 2014

SDPI Press Release (May 22, 2015)

Punjab ahead of all provinces but education situation still bleak: Alif
Ailaan Pakistan District Education Rankings 2014 released

Islamabad
(22 May 2014): The Alif Ailaan Pakistan District Education Rankings
2014, an in-depth assessment of the state of education in the country,
was released here today
by Alif Ailaan and Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI). The
report revealed that the Punjab is surging ahead of the other provinces
with 14 districts among the top 20. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the Minister
for Petroleum and Natural Resources, was the Chief Guest of the
occasion.

“Data and evidence should be the basis of increased
accountability and gauging the performance of politicians,” said Mehnaz
Aziz, the CEO of Children’s Global Network. “The government needs to
launch a census of all children between the ages of 5 and 16 to assess
where the country stands in terms of enrollment, and plan accordingly.
The Punjab’s high rank must not be mistaken with the province being
anywhere near achieving its target of ensuring 100 per cent enrollment
and the provision of quality education. There is still a long way to
go,” she said.

The report provides a snapshot of the education
situation in Pakistan’s 146 districts and shows how widely education
standards vary across the country. It provides a tool to track the
performance of politicians, administrators and education providers, and
measures the progress that provinces and districts are making.

Much
like last year, Sindh, Balochistan and FATA occupy the bottom of the
rankings with Sindh making its first appearance at number 40 with
Karachi. This demonstrates a lack of commitment to follow-up on the
promises made by the provincial government. A recent example of this is
the pledge that nine political parties made three months ago to ensure
quality education for all the 6.1 million out-of-school children in in
the province.

“We need to stop politicising education,”
said Mehtab Rashidi, MPA, PML-F and Former Education Secretary, Sindh. “I would urge all politicians to leave education alone. There are other
avenues of making money and patronising transfers and postings.
Education should not be one of them,” she said.

Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa (KP) is the second worst performing province despite the
government’s commitment to improve the situation. This is owing to
gender disparities as well as poor learning outcomes in the province.

“It
seems from the rankings that Pakistan is only Punjab, said Bushra
Gohar, Former MNA, ANP. “It is time that we started investing in our
children. The problem is that the state’s focus is primarily security.
Education comes nowhere near. This needs to change,” she said.
KP is
followed by Balochistan, which is at the bottom of the rankings. The
province has shown poor performance and is a matter of pressing concern
given that there are 1.76 million out of school children here.

“The
situation in Balochistan should not be seen only in the light of the
18th amendment,” said Senator Abdul Rauf Lala from Pakhtunkhwa Milli
Awami Party. “The federal government needs to take ownership of 65 years
of havoc they have wreaked on education in our province,” he said.

In
Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Poonch district has fallen from its top
spot last year and comes in 9th position in 2014. AJK has shown an
overall decline from second position last year to third position this
year.

Although there are success stories this year, with some
districts improving their performance to rise in the rankings, the
report shows that overall quality and the availability of facilities are
still unsatisfactory. Chakwal, which ranks highest nationwide, has a
net enrolment rate of just 83 per cent, which is far from the promise of
ensuring quality education for all. According to the report, more than 4
out of 5 children in Chakwal who are enrolled drop out before reaching
Class 8.

“Is the government getting enough for what it is
investing in,” said Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. “The government needs to look
at better ways of running schools. The sad truth is that even our best
districts are far from ideal. Children are still out of school and the
quality of education leaves much to be desired,” he said.

An
interactive data portal which provides a detailed overview of each
district along with provincial and inter-district comparisons was also
launched at the event. This is the first-of-its-kind resource that helps
pinpoint the key reasons behind a district’s low scores, thereby
helping identify hurdles in improvement.

The Alif Ailaan
Pakistan District Education Rankings 2014 and the online portal are
unique resources that can help politicians, education managers and the
research community better understand the situation of their districts.
This report should be used as a policy planning tool by governments, to
help design district-specific education improvement plans. The Punjab
has already taken the lead on this as is evident from its system of
ranking districts as part of the Education Reforms Programme.