Islamabad: Alif Ailaan and Sustainable Development Policy Institute Thursday released the first ever Pakistan District Education Rankings, an indepth assessment of the state of education in the country. While the results are not heartening, they highlight specific issues in the quality of education and the availability of facilities district by district.
“The new government has a massive task of tackling the education emergency facing Pakistan. It is a matter of great shame for us that 25 million children are out of school. Strong political will is needed to change this. We not only need to focus on increasing enrolment but also ensure that quality is not neglected. My government is preparing a plan for accelerated delivery of education for all,” said Baligh ur Rahman, State Minister for Education while speaking at the occasion.
This groundbreaking study, conducted in association with the Sustainable Development Policy Institute SDPI, shows how widely education standards vary across the country. One of the goals of the report is to serve as a benchmark against which the performance of politicians, administrators and education providers can be assessed. It will also provide a baseline against which future progress or deterioration can be measured.
“The big picture in education is stark and demands urgent action,” said Mosharraf Zaidi, Team Leader, Alif Ailaan. “With this report we hope to generate informed public debate about Pakistan’s education emergency.”
The report dispels commonly held perceptions, such as the idea that providing infrastructure and facilities will automatically improve the overall quality of education. In fact this is not the case, as demonstrated by the findings for Azad Jammu and Kashmir AJK, which ranks highest in terms of the quality of education but lowest in terms of school infrastructure.
Similarly, it is surprising that no district in Sindh makes it in the top fifty, not even Karachi. Meanwhile, Punjab takes the top position in the overall provincial rankings while Balochistan is the worst performing province. “The bottom line here is that very few districts are performing as Pakistani parents would want them to. This should be a wakeup call for the government. We need to see a dramatic improvement in education, if we are not to lose the next generation to illiteracy and poverty,” said the principal author of the report, Asif Saeed Memon, of SDPI.
An interactive ‘Education and Budget’ map, the first of its kind in Pakistan, was also launched at the event. Available on the Alif Ailaan website, the map allows users to access key education statistics for each district and to send a letter to elected representatives in each constituency, pressing them to play their role in ending Pakistan’s education emergency. To reinforce the message, Alif Ailaan will also post a copy of each letter sent through the map directly to the MNA or MPA in question.