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15% children in Gilgit-Baltistan still out of school: ASER report (Daily Times)

ISLAMABAD: Despite the recent focus of the federal and provincial governments on enrolment drives, around 15 percent of children aged between six and 16 years are still out of school in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), according to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2015 survey of Gilgit-Baltistan.

The situation poses a serious challenge to the federal and the provincial governments in the wake of strategic importance of GB region with regard to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The startling figures further reveal that the remaining 85pc that are enrolled in the 6-16 age bracket are not learning much either.

Gilgit-Baltistan Deputy Speaker Jafarullah Khan released the report. Around 500 volunteers managed by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) and the National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) conducted the ASER 2015 survey. Besides, 500 volunteers – who personally visited 4,103 households in 209 villages/blocks – based the ASER survey findings on the information of 13,056 children aged between three and 16 years (including 44 percent girls).

According to the report, narrative on education must change dramatically under the current democratic dispensation. The proportion of out-of-school children has decreased as compared to 2014, it said. In 2015, 15 percent of children were reported to be out of school. In addition to that, around 12 percent of the children have never been enrolled in school and three percent have dropped out for various reasons. An interesting trend has been observed this year as reflected by ASER findings. The ASER 2015 results illustrate a considerable number of children going to public schools this year as compared to private schools. The report highlights that 56 percent of the children in the age bracket were enrolled in public schools in 2015, while last year the percentage was 52 percent. According to the report, student competencies in learning English, arithmetic, and language have improved, as 41 percent (45 percent in 2014) of the children in Class V cannot read Class II-level text in Urdu. In English, only 62pc (figure unchanged) of the surveyed Class V students could read sentences, which should ideally be read by those in Class II. Arithmetic learning levels showed improvement in the capabilities of children, where only 60 percent (57 percent in 2014) of Class V children could do a two-digit division, something that is expected in Class II curriculum.

The ASER survey also identified that children enrolled in private schools are performing better as compared to those studying in government schools. For instance, 65 percent of the children enrolled in Class V in private schools were able to read a story in Urdu as compared to 56 percent of those at government schools.

The difference in learning levels is a starker for English, where 68 percent of Class V students could read Class II-level sentences, as compared to 59 percent of students in the public sector. For arithmetic, 62 percent of children enrolled in Class V and going to private school can do a two-digit division, as compared to 58 percent of those in government schools. Furthermore, the survey explains that boys are outperforming girls in literacy and numeracy in rural GB. As many as 57 percent of boys were found able to read sentences in Urdu as compared to 52 percent girls. Likewise, 63 percent of boys could read at least English words, while 60 percent girls could do the same.

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