islamabad - In a new district-wise ranking released yesterday, Lahore’s rank — constituency of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif — dropped from 3rd place in 2015 to 22nd in 2016 while the ranking of Rawalpindi, constituency of PTI Chairman Imran Khan, also dropped from 1 to number 6.

Pakistan District Education Rankings 2016, a report launched jointly by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and Alif Ailaan, ranked Islamabad, Chakwal, and Kotli districts on top whereas Qila Abdullah, Dera Bugti, and Lakki Marwat at the bottom. This year, the report covers all 151 districts across the country to assess their education scores, based on levels of enrolment, retention, learning, gender parity and school facilities.

According to the ranking, the state of education in Gujrat, constituency of PML-Q leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, improved considerably that jumped the rank from 19 to 4 this year.

Constituency of Opposition Leader in National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah – Sukkur - also showed a slight improvement by moving from 73rd to 72nd position. Dera Ismail Khan from where JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has been elected 5 times further dropped from 74th place to 90th this year for poor quality of education in the district.

The federal capital is at top position both at provincial/regional ranking as well as the district ranking for the first time with increased learning and enrolment scores. The provincial rankings remained fairly predictable with Islamabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab entrenching their positions at the top in Education Score.

Islamabad has been the top ranking region/territory since the education ranking exercise started in 2013. Similarly GB has continuously been ranked at fourth position. However, Punjab and AJK intermittently switch ranks, (AJK was ranked second in three of the past four years). Similarly KP and Sindh have shared the fifth rank, where KP took the position in three of the four years. Balochistan and FATA consistently occupy the bottom two ranks. The worst ranked district also belongs to FATA.

Although Punjab’s education score decreased due to a decline in the retention score, it scored highest in gender parity. It is important to note that last year the education score of the province suffered a drop in learning outcomes. However the provincial government responded to this by re-focusing on the quality of education. Consequently, this year Punjab demonstrates a slight improvement in the learning outcomes score.

Punjab also continues to provide a superior school infrastructure to its students, where 93% of the schools have all four basic facilities.

While KP demonstrated improvement in both enrolment and gender parity scores, the retention rate of the province declined, consequently affecting the overall education score. On the other hand, the province is ranked higher at third in school infrastructure score, which indicates significant improvement. However 50% of its schools still lack the provision of all four basic facilities.

Balochistan and Sindh continue to suffer the lowest education and infrastructure scores. Balochistan’s education score has dropped, moving Balochistan to the last rank. Except for Quetta (which is amongst the top 50), almost half of the districts of Balochistan rank outside the top 100.

Sindh has the lowest learning outcomes this year. Moreover, only the six of its districts are in the top half of the rankings table. Once again, Karachi is the only district in the top 50. The state of school infrastructure also continues to suffer, where only 23% schools could be considered complete, having all four basic facilities.

Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) has experienced the largest improvement amongst provinces/regions with a substantial increase in its education score. However the infrastructure score remains critical, with only 13% of the schools providing all basic facilities to children (electricity, drinking water, toilet facility and boundary wall).

Although GB’s progress has been stagnant over the past four years, given the numerous challenges, the region still managed to show relative improvements with increased education score of 3%. Six out of seven districts of GB continue to stay in the top half of the rankings. However the infrastructure score remains deplorable, with 50% of the schools failing to provide basic facilities to students.

The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) demonstrate improvement in their education score by 3%, enabling FATA to outrank Balochistan. Interestingly, FR Kohat, which was unranked in previous years (due to non-availability of data), has managed to get the 39th position. For the first time, FATA managed to break into the top 50, with a remarkable education score in FR Kohat at 72.77.

A new index for School Completeness shows that only 52% of all government schools in the country have all four facilities (namely, toilets, boundary walls, running electricity and drinking water).

It also shows that a staggering 81% of all government schools are primary schools. This essentially implies that after primary education, children in Pakistan have very limited opportunities to continue their education.

Country Director UNDP, Marc Andre Franche speaking on the event stated, “The district rankings highlight the systematic inequalities among the districts and the regions in Pakistan. The state of education in the districts of South Punjab, Balochistan and FATA is worse than some of the sub-Saharan African countries, while the districts of North Punjab emulate developed countries like Canada.”

He further highlighted the need for constituency level data on education in order to empower voters to raise more concerted demands from their political representatives.