Girls enrolment in KP rises, education quality in Punjab slips, but overall education still in deep crisis.
The Alif Ailaan Pakistan District Education Rankings 2015 is the third edition of the annual in-depth assessment of the state of education in the country, prepared in partnership with the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and covers all 148 districts, agencies and frontier regions of the country.
According to the report, Punjab and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) switched positions this year, with AJK jumping to second spot behind top ranked Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT). The report illuminates the comparative inequalities prevalent within Pakistan’s federal framework, with the Punjab continuing to provide a superior government school infrastructure to its students, and the highest learning outcomes in the country.
Punjab’s districts are dominating eight out of ten top spots in the rankings. However, this year’s report shows that several districts (including Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur) saw a decline in the learning score, reflected in the ASER data. This is the primary cause from Punjab’s overall decline from second to third.
The other big change from the 2014 rankingsis the upward trend visible in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, with this being the first year that the PTI government was in-charge for the entirety of the data collection period. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP)government has managed to show progress through an improved rank, based onconsiderable improvements in enrolment, retention and importantly, gender parity. KP is still far behind ICT, AJK, and Punjab in many crucial measures, but the improvement is marked.
Much like last year Balochistan and FATA occupy the bottom of the rankings, highlighting critical, long-term political challenges for Pakistan. This is despite a drop in Balochistan’s score (3.67%) and a largeincrease in FATA’s score (15.12%).Quetta is the highest ranked district and the only one in the top 50 districts while almost half the districts of Balochistan rank outside the top 100.
The report shows that despite poor performance on the school infrastructure score, Gilgit-Baltistan holds steady at fourth position while its education score shows an increase by 1.69%.
Sindh has climbed down a spot since last year and now sits at the sixth spot owing primarily to a decline in enrolment. Sindh’s continued poor performance is further emphasized by the fact that only one of its 24 districts is in the top 50, while half of its districts are ranked in the bottom third.
Overall Pakistan’s education score remains steady (an increase of 1.67%). This is the second consecutive year of modest improvement. The biggest decline seen in the scores is in the learning score, while improvements are seen in retention (survival till class 5) and gender parity.
The biggest takeaway for policymakers should be the falling learning scores. Quality of education is fast-becoming the single biggest challenge for the education system. Pakistan cannot continue to focus on universal enrolment or gender parity, whilst allowing quality to suffer. This is highlighted by low learning scores across the board for all districts and provinces.