Like every year, this year too campaigns are being run through celebrities to enhance school enrolment. On the contrary, the South Asia Forum for Education Development has recently launched Annual Status of Education Report Pakistan 2011. It reported that Pakistan stands second in global ranking of school dropouts with 57.3 percent children in the three to five age group not enrolled in any school in rural areas and 65.5 percent mothers being in the illiterate category.

The survey presented a more dismal picture of rural Sindh, covering 17 districts where it found 62.4 percent young children not enrolled, while girls’ enrolment merely stood at 34.1 percent. Among children aged five, 38.3 percent were not enrolled in any school. Similarly, the school enrolment for children aged six to 16 stood at 70.6 percent, comprising 34.9 percent girls and 65.1 percent boys. In addition, the dropout rate is reported 29.5 percent, while 24.4 percent had never been enrolled. Among the dropouts, 50.2 percent reported girls. It is worthwhile to apprehend that the objectives of attaining milestones of sustainable human development by alleviating the poverty and diseases in addition to bringing prosperity and peace are impossible unless all children are in schools to get quality education. In addition to mere enrollment campaigns through celebrities, the authorities concerned should consider food-based incentives in all rural schools of poor settlements to increase enrolment and improve retention and completion rates.

Separate facilities for girls’ schooling should be provided in rural areas where due to cultural barriers parents are reluctant to send their girls in boys’ schools. Water and sanitation (toilet) facilities should be provided in all rural schools for children, particularly for girls. Schools should be made more attractive for retaining children by providing an attractive learning environment and basic facilities. Campaign for school enrolment should be development agenda of all relevant stakeholders, including the media.

ASHOK SUTHAR,

Tharparkar, May 25.