Islamabad - Although the proportion of out of school children has decreased slightly, still 20 per cent of Pakistani children aged 6-16 remained out of school while the remaining 80 per cent enrolled in schools are not learning much, says an annual citizen-led household-based survey launched yesterday.

The sixth Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) Survey was conducted by 10,000 volunteers and managed by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) along with the National Commission for Human Development (NCHD), Sindh Education Foundation (SEF), Democratic Commission for Human Development (DCHD), HANDS, NRSP and several civil society organisations across Pakistan.

The survey provides estimates on the schooling status of children aged 3-16 years, residing in the rural districts of Pakistan.

The survey finds out that the proportion of out-of-school children has decreased from 21 per cent in 2014 to 20 per cent in 2015. Of 20 per cent out of school children, 14 per cent children have never been enrolled in schools while 6 per cent dropped out of schools for various reasons.

Islamabad is on the top with 98 per cent enrollment of children in schools, including public, private and religious seminaries, following Azad Jammu and Kashmir with 93 per cent enrollment, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 87 per cent, Punjab 85 per cent, Gilgit-Baltistan 85 per cent, Fata 79 per cent, Sindh 74 per cent and Balochistan 71 per cent.

The ASER National 2015 results illustrate a considerable number of children going to public schools this year as compared to private schools: 76 per cent children of age 6-16 are enrolled in public schools in 2015 while last year the percentage was 70 per cent.

According to the report, student competencies in learning English, Arithmetic, and Language have improved in comparison to previous years’ analysis. Still half i.e. 45 per cent of the children from Class V cannot read Class II level text in Urdu/Sindhi/ Pashto. In English, only 49 per cent of the surveyed Class V students could read sentences which should ideally be read by students from the second grade. A similar trend has been observed in Arithmetic capabilities of children where only 50 per cent of class V children could do a two-digit division, something that is expected in second grade curriculum.

The ASER Survey also identified that children enrolled in private schools are performing better compared to those studying in government schools; 67 per cent children enrolled in Class-V in private schools were able to read a story in Urdu/Sindhi/Pashto compared to 52 per cent Class V students studying at government schools. The difference in learning levels is starker for English, where 65 per cent Grade V could read English Class II level sentences compared to only 45 per cent public sector students.  For arithmetic, 61 per cent children enrolled in class V and going to private school can do 2-digit division as compared to 47 percent government school children enrolled in class V.  

Further, the survey explains that boys are outperforming girls in literacy and numeracy skills in rural Pakistan. As many as 49 per cent of boys were found able to read at least sentences in Urdu/Sindhi/Pashto as compared to 42 percent girls. For Arithmetic, 49 per cent of Class V boys were able to do Class II level subtraction as compared to only 41 percent Class V girls.

In addition to the assessment of children, the report also highlights school functioning across every district in Pakistan. The ASER rural survey informs that over all teachers’ attendance in government schools stood at 89 per cent as compared to 91 per cent in private schools on the day of the survey. Private teachers were reported to have better qualifications at graduate levels; for example, 39 per cent teachers in private schools are graduates in comparison to only 35 percent in government schools, however the reverse is the case for MA/MSC or post graduate qualifications, whereby larger percentage of public sector teachers have a higher qualification than private sector counterparts.

When it comes to physical infrastructure the private sector has been reported to be better at school facilities. For example, 65 per cent private primary schools had boundary-walls as compared to 63 per cent government primary schools. Similarly, with regard to availability of functional toilets, it has been found that the facility was still not available in 48 per cent public and 22 per cent private primary schools in rural Pakistan.

The survey revealed that only 60 per cent government primary schools, 71 per cent elementary, 82 per cent high, and 75 per cent others were found to have drinkable water facility in rural Pakistan.