Islamabad - Pakistan’s progress in achieving Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 2 - achieving universal primary education by 2015 - has been severely lagging, as Net Primary Enrolment Ratio (5-9 Years) remains constant for the past three years.

Pakistan Economic Survey 2014-15 released by the Finance Division Thursday reveals that Net Primary Enrolment Ratio recorded at 57 per cent, has remained stagnant in 2011-12, 2012-13, and 2013-14 against MDG target of 100 per cent primary enrolment by 2015.

The data imply that there has been no reduction in the large stock of 6.7 million out of school children across Pakistan when the net enrollment ratio remains stagnant.

However, the National Plan of Action by the Ministry of Federal Education & Professional Training envisages enhancing its net primary enrolment ratio to 91 per cent by 2015-16. A closer inspection of the primary enrollment ratio of 57 per cent also reveals large gender disparity, as out of the enrolled primary students, 60 per cent are boys while 53 per cent are girls.

“Though, gender parity index shows some improvement over the years, yet pronounced gaps between male and female indicators persist, especially in rural and remote (particularly in tribal and feudal) areas,” the survey added. “With provision of more middle and high schools, it is anticipated that demand for middle and upper secondary education for girls will increase,” it stated.

The survey reports that Pakistan’s literacy rate (10 years and above), surprisingly reduced from 60 per cent in 2012-13 to 58 per cent in 2013-14 that also remains considerably short of the MDG target of 88 per cent by 2015.

The trend showed some stagnancy at 58 per cent both in 2010-11 and 2011-12 and with only 2 per cent increase in 2012-13. During 2013-14, literacy rate recorded at 58 per cent, showing a decline of 2.0 per cent, which shows that Pakistan will miss the EFA goals and MDGs targets, it admits.

Similar to many developing countries, Pakistan has not made progress adequately in the field of education with literacy rate of only 58 per cent i.e. 42 per cent of its population remains unable to read or write that limits the opportunity considerably towards acquiring skills and technical knowledge for higher productivity and better earning levels, it says.

“The overall education situation based on key indicators such as likely enrolments, number of institutes and teachers, has depicted a slight improvement,” the survey maintains. The total number of enrolments during 2013-14 was recorded at 42.1 million as compared to 41.1 million during the same period last year. This indicates an increase of 2.4 per cent and it is estimated to increase to 43.4 million during 2014-15.

The survey reports that Public Expenditure on Education as percentage to GDP is lowest in Pakistan as compared to other countries of the South Asian region. The total expenditure on education has remained around 2.0 percent of GDP for the past decade, with a high proportion being spent on recurrent heads mainly salaries, leaving a small amount for education sector development.

According to UNESCO’s EFA Global Monitoring report 2015, the Public Sector expenditure on Education as percentage of GDP, in other countries of the region was 2.1 per cent of Bangladesh, 4.9 per cent in Bhutan, 3.2 per cent in India, 4.7 per cent in Iran and 8.0 per cent in Maldives.

The report shifting the responsibility on provincial government says that after the post 18th Amendment, provincial governments would have to take all necessary steps towards educational reforms and delivery of educational services at gross root level.