Pakistan District Education Ranking 2017 have been made public this Thursday by the Alif Ailaan education campaign. According to the report, Azad and Jammu Kashmir (AJK) ranks first in the provision of quality education; followed by Islamabad, Punjab, Gilgit Baltistan (GB), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Balochistan, Sindh, and FATA. If you compare the result from last year, Balochistan has significantly jumped up two places in the ranks.

While certain areas of Punjab and KP has shown significant improvement, the pace of improvement in FATA, GB and Balochistan is still a concern. At the same time, another huge concern is the preference of quantity over quality. The education budget provincially is being spent on building new schools but it does not focus on what is actually being taught in the schools. A case in point is KP, where last year the province could not make it to the top 10 districts for education. This year nine out of ten districts are from KP but what these numbers fail to highlight is the quality of education. The only district in KP which scores good in terms of the overall education is Haripur - the rest are only included in the list because of the growing number of schools. The fact that you find such disparity between district of the same province reflects the lack of planning in terms of providing quality education and highlights how the focus at this point, of not just KP but Punjab government as well, is to provide more infrastructure; irrespective of what goes on inside.

The number of primary schools in the country has certainly increased but the problem that children face now is not having a school to go to once they graduate from Grade 5. The report shows that for every four primary schools in Pakistan, there is only one school above primary level. Hence, a major chunk of school dropouts is because of the absence of schools above primary levels.

When talking about education, we cannot ignore the gender gap at all. According to the report, there are more than 55 districts in Pakistan where the total number of girls enrolled in high schools is less than one thousand. This should be a cause of concern for the relevant authorities. Pakistan, in terms of education, is not going on the right track. If children do not have access to quality education, there is no ensuring that the country will fully progress. The report is a proof of how misplaced our priorities are, and that education as a sector is conveniently ignored.