Myth And Reality About Primary Education

Small number of students can get more attention of the teachers and produce better results, is what is generally believed. Education data, however, shows that some regions of Pakistan are managing their resources more effectively than others, reaching out more students and imparting quality education. This may indicate that managing an effective school system and the quality of teachers is a larger factor than the number of students.

The provinces with high enrollment rates have largely produced better results at primary level, data of and has found.

Alif Aillan had analyzed the data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, Academy for Education Planning and Management, and Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi for compiling its District Education Ranking of 2014. Statistical analysis of education surveys conducted by Academy for Education Planning and Management was also taken into account for this study.

Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Sindh, Baluchistan, Azad Jummu & Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) were analyzed.

The findings are surprising. The ICT has not only reported the highest percentage of children enrolled in school, its teachers also manage a larger number of students in their classrooms. There is one teacher for 35 students, ranking ICT at third position after KP and Punjab.

The challenges apart, ICT outperforms others in quality of education. It has registered the highest number of enrolled students who have completed their five-year education. They also qualified the tests performed to gauge their proficiency in Urdu (ability to read a story), English (ability to read a sentence) and mathematics (ability to divide a 2-digit number over a 1-digit number).

Punjab that has the second highest rate of enrollment at primary level and also scored second in providing quality education, measured through performance on language proficiency and mathematic test of the children in fifth grade. Punjab’s teacher to student is second worst after KP. There is one teacher for 41 students.

However, the drop-out tendency among the enrolled children turned out to be high putting Punjab at the fifth position, out of seven territories analyzed for this analysis. The country’s biggest province claimed to enroll 81.18% children of school-going age but only 56% studied to the fifth grade. Those who make it to the end score high on tests, but only half the students make it that far.

Azad Jummu and Kashmir (AJK) though enrolled a lower percentage of school age children than Islamabad and Punjab; their students perform better in fifth grade examinations, second only to Islamabad. While 8 out of 10 children are enrolled children, 5 of those 8 made it to the fifth grade.

But rating in terms of quality education ranks AJK after Islamabad and Punjab. This is notwithstanding the fact that AJK has the lowest teacher to student ratio (1:23) in stark contrast with Islamabad and Punjab having the highest. This indicates that the qualifications of the teachers may play a more important role than simply how many students they have in their classroom.

The KP is slightly behind AJK in enrolling the children at primary schools but has shown relatively better pass-out rate in the fifth grade exams. However, it lags behind in imparting quality education that scored it third position from the bottom in this category. The highest number of teacher to students ratio (1:43) might partly explain the poor quality teaching.

The G-B has also shown mixed trends. It enrolled 66% children in primary schools and 63% of them completed five-year education. But performance in the quality test remained poor. Only half of the pass-out students could perform test about language proficiency and mathematics. Its teacher to students ratio is the lowest only after AJK. While many children make it through the system, many are not prepared for further education.

Sindh and Baluchistan are the low-performer at all fronts. They enrolled the lowest number of children; recorded the poorest result in fifth grade exams and quality education tests. This happened despite the fact that their teacher-students ration is far better than the best performers: ICT and Punjab.

About Umer Cheema 2 Articles
Umar Cheema is an investigative reporter for The News. He was only journalist from Pakistan in ICIJ team that worked on the biggest-ever data leak in the world history, Panama Papers, and later on, Bahamas Leaks. His series exposing tax evasion by MPs forced the government to make public tax records of lawmakers and other citizens. Pakistan is the fourth country to have done so, after Sweden, Finland and Norway. Cheema’s reporting on Right to Information law has triggered reforms and expedited the introduction of RTI legislation in Punjab. He received numerous recognitions, including the Knight International Journalism Award, the International Press Freedom Award, the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Services in Journalism, the Tully Free Speech Award, the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, the Certificate of Excellence (Global Shining Light Award) and the RTI Champion Award. In 2008, he won Daniel Pearl Fellowship, becoming the first Pearl fellow to work at The New York Times. He holds a Master’s Degree in Mass Communication from Punjab University in Lahore, Pakistan. He also attended the London School of Economics where he received a Master of Sciences Degree in Comparative Politics (Conflict Studies). Cheema co-founded the Center for Investigative Reporting in Pakistan in 2012.

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