Education is not just the numbers

6

 

A report on the status of education yesterday presented a reasonable picture as far as the infrastructure, enrolment and teachers’ attendance and other allied facilities are concerned. It means efforts and investments by the successive governments have borne fruit.

Here are the statistics as quoted in the report: Out of school children are 17pc. Enrolment rates are in high 80s or 90s except for – we get the reason – Balochistan and tribal districts.

Considering that this report takes into account data collected from over 4,500 villages,  and how worse off we were a decade ago, the below figures should also offer you some hope.

The report says 32pc of government schools do not have useable water facilities whereas 42pc do not have toilet facilities. Teachers’ attendance on the day of survey was 88pc.

With a bit of more effort and focus, this can be improved further.

What is sobering to note is that 48pc of surveyed fifth graders in public and private schools cannot read a sentence in English and 44pc cannot read a story in Urdu, Sindhi or Pashto. It said 47pc of surveyed fifth graders could not do two-digit division.

The education minister Shafqat Mehmood was in attendance where this report was presented. And he gave one solution to this whole thing i. e. a uniform education system. It is heartening to note that this time around he chose to include the private schools in this debate.  Otherwise the last time when a meeting was held where representative of all the provinces participated, the message was to bring only all the public schools under the ambit of uniform curriculum.

Leaving out the private schools which cater to a sizeable number of students and who offer competition to a student from a rural background would impact this whole thing negatively.

Besides forcing all the provinces to agree to what the centre tells you to teach your children would also be tantamount to forcing their hand.

In this context it makes sense when the minister said a uniform curriculum is imperative for providing equal opportunities to all the students.

The honorable minister when takes up the task of compiling uniform syllabi would do well to take into account that not only should our content be in line with the international standards it should also encourage inquiry and questioning. Or we may well learn to be on one page (pun intended) but we will still be facing trouble in two-digit division, and stringing a simple sentence together.