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Speakers for urgent actions for educated Pakistan - Daily Times


ASER Pakistan Report 2021, largest annual citizen-led household based survey, was launched in Islamabad on Thursday March 10, 2022.

Released jointly by Mr. Shafqat Mahmood, Federal Minister for Education & Professional Training, parliamentarians across political parties, members from civil society and media experts, there was a unanimous consensus for urgent actions to be taken for a future based on an educated Pakistan to halt the protracted devaluing of its social capital.

ASER Pakistan is a flagship program of Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) implemented in partnership with 20 civil society organizations and NCHD; 11,000 volunteer citizens visited 152 districts in 4420 villages to implement the ASER survey from 87,415 households and 247,978 children of age 3-16 years. For the year 2021, the ASER rural survey assessed 212,105 children of 5-16 year age in Language (Urdu/Sindhi/Pashto), English, and Arithmetic competencies mapped to the Curriculum and Textbooks.

ASER 2021 was conducted from September-November 2021, a rare period of ‘back to school’ in relative continuity during COVID-19, barring brief school closures in some districts of the country.

The report till date has further annually informed about the progress and challenges for Article 25 A of the constitution extending education for ALL 5-16 year old children since 2010 and for tracking progress towards SDG 4, measuring learning at the lower primary level.

Learning lies at the heart of the education enterprise but because of the pandemic and school closures, ASER rural results for 2021 reflect a drop in enrollment for age group 3-5 and 6-16 years.

Enrolment: In 2021, 19% of children were reported to be out-of-school which has increased when compared to 2019 (17%). 81% of all school-aged children within the age bracket of 6-16 years were enrolled in schools. Amongst these, 81% (77% in 2019) of children were enrolled in government schools whereas 19% (23% in 2019) were going to non-state institutions (18% private schools, 1% Madrassah, 0% others). The share of private schools has dropped by 4% compared with 2019.This enrolment edge in government schools poses new challenges for supply side actions in terms of facilities and more spaces and teachers for children who can be accommodated, attend and learn above all in public sector as their fundamental entitlement.

More Boys Out of School – During COVID: For the first time during COVID there are more OOS Boys which is skewed due to data from Punjab. Boys are presumably going to child labor and dropping out of schools. Vulnerability of our children is on the increase. Early Childhood Education (ECE) has been historically tracked by ASER Pakistan. From 2014 when ECE enrolment stood at 39%, it has registered marginal decline (38% in 2021), although ECE is critical for foundational learning readiness in literacy and numeracy, but remains largely ignored as a holistic sub-sector addressing the physical, socio-emotional and cognitive domains.

Learning Levels: According to the rural report, student competencies in learning Language and Arithmetic have declined: 55% of class 5 children could read a class 2 level story in Urdu/Sindhi/Pashto compared to 59% in 2019. 51% class 5 children could do two digit division as compared to 57% in 2019. Only for English, the learning levels have improved marginally. 56% class 5 children could read sentences (class 2 level) compared to 55% in 2019. Children enrolled in private schools are performing better in literacy compared to government counterparts and boys outperform girls; however, in numeracy both sectors are at par. Foundational learning trailing from grade 3 remains compromised in grade 5 and even in grade 8! Learning Poverty is on the rise.

Private Tuitions: The ASER 2021 rural survey highlights that whilst children in private schools taking tuition has remained at the same level (22%) as in 2019, paid coaching has recorded a massive jump for children in government schools from 6% in 2019 to 20% in 2021! Increase in tuition in government schools by 14 % during COVID-19 is a burden on poor households.

Learning Support Responses during COVID-19 by Children (5-16 years): Learning support from a high of 68% learning support from family members, 57 % availed PTV TeleSchool sessions, 37% had access to smart phones, followed by 29% with access to computer, 27% to paid tuition, 14% digital learning resources and 6% accessed radio programs. Support from family in learning during COVID-19 (68%) is a sign of hope for bridging the Home-School Divide. Distance /EdTech learning solutions must be developed further. TeleSchool coverage shows increase from 35% in March 2021 to 57% in November 2021!

Multi-grade Declines in Govt. Schools. ASER 2021 National rural findings reveal 40% of government and 23% of private schools impart multi-grade teaching at grade 2 level; whilst in grade 8, 6% of surveyed government schools and 19% of surveyed private schools had class 8 sitting with other classes. Multi-grade in Grade 2 and 8 has dropped in Government Schools due to improved number of teachers and classrooms.

School Facilities: The ASER report further highlights school functioning across every district in Pakistan. Overall teacher attendance in surveyed government schools was 90%, whereas it was 92% in private schools on the day of the survey. Whilst private school teachers were reported to have better qualifications at graduate levels (37%) compared to 32% in government schools; however, for MA/MSC qualifications, a larger percentage of public sector teachers (27%) have a higher qualification than private counterparts (21%).

Facilities Gap Narrows across Govt and Private Schools: 77% private primary schools had boundary-walls as compared to 75% government primary schools; for functional toilets, the facility was available in 70% public and 71% private primary schools; safe and conducive environments do affect learning positively across public and private schools. The government must make missing facilities an integral part of school based budgets and not a separate budget head.

Health and Disability: ASER 2021 school level survey, included a “Health and Disability” section; head teachers/teachers were asked questions pertaining to Children with Disabilities (CWDs) and appropriate facilities in their respective schools. Overall, 21% of the surveyed government schools reported having children with disabilities, compared to 24% private schools.Social Safety Nets through Ehsas/BISP etc. increased from 10 % coverage in 2019 in rural areas to 16% in 2021 to offset fragile households during COVID-19. This is a very promising trend of targeting the poor out of poverty in Pakistan.



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