SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)
Pakistan faces an education crisis of unprecedented proportions with nearly half of all children of school-going age not in school.Although there is a broad consensus on the problem, its magnitude remains a matter of debate. There is no agreed official figure for the number of out-of-school children (OOSC) in Pakistan.In its new study, 25 Million Broken Promises: The Crisis of Pakistan’s Out-Of-School Children, released Tuesday, Alif Ailaan revealed that currently an estimated 52.90 million children in Pakistan between the ages of 5 and 16, almost half of whom (25.02 million) are not in school. Balochistan is home to the highest proportion of OOSC, with 66 % of all children in that province out of school. In absolute terms, more than half of the total number of Pakistan’s OOSC are in Punjab (52 %).The number of OOSC in Pakistan range from 8.82 million to a staggering 25.02 million.
This wide variation arises from the fact that publicly available sources of education statistics are marred by inconsistency, methodological problems and sampling issues.The findings of the report also confirm other worrying trends in Pakistan’s education system. The gender disparity in access to education is evident. More than half of all OOSC in the country are girls, with the greatest disparity in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), where as many as 50% of girls are not in school.Other findings of the study are equally worrying. For example, the statistics reveal that among children of primary-school-going age, almost one in every five is not in school. What is even more troubling is that this proportion increases at higher levels of education.
By the higher-secondary level, almost 85% of children are not in school.Area of residence has an impact on a child’s access to education. For both girls and boys, access is more difficult in rural areas and the gap widens at higher levels of education. Similarly, children belonging to low-income families are nearly six times more likely to be out of school compared to their counterparts growing up in richer households.The study reveals that the country’s education system is unable to retain those children who do enrol. Across the country, only 48% of children enrolled in Class 1 are able to reach Class 5. While it is important to make sure that children who are enrolled remain in school, the study shows that 70% of OOSC are children who have never seen the inside of a classroom.