Increasing school enrolment
LIKE every year, this year too campaigns are being run through celebrities to enhance school enrolment. On the contrary, the South Asia Forum for Education Development has recently launched Annual Status of Education Report Pakistan 2011.
It reported that Pakistan stands second in global ranking of school dropouts with 57.3 per cent children in the three to five age group not enrolled in any school in rural areas and 65.5 per cent mothers being in the illiterate category.
The survey presented a more dismal picture of rural Sindh, covering 17 districts where it found 62.4 per cent young children not enrolled, while girls’ enrolment merely stood at 34.1 per cent. Among children aged five, 38.3 per cent were not enrolled in any school.
Similarly, the school enrolment for children aged six to 16 stood at 70.6 per cent, comprising 34.9 per cent girls and 65.1
per cent boys.
In addition, the dropout rate is reported 29.5 per cent, while 24.4 per cent had never been enrolled. Among the dropouts, 50.2 per cent reported girls.
It is worthwhile to apprehend that the objectives of attaining milestones of sustainable human development by alleviating the poverty and diseases in addition to bringing prosperity and peace are impossible unless all children are in schools to get quality education.
In addition to mere enrollment campaigns through celebrities, the authorities concerned should consider food-based incentives in all rural schools of poor settlements to increase enrolment and improve retention and completion rates.
Separate facilities for girls’ schooling should be provided in rural areas where due to cultural barriers parents are reluctant to send their girls in boys’ schools.
Water and sanitation (toilet) facilities should be provided in all rural schools for children, particularly for girls. Schools should be made more attractive for retaining children by providing an attractive learning environment and basic facilities.
Campaign for school enrolment should be development agenda of all relevant stakeholders, including the media.
MUCH needs to be done about the way examinations are held in Sindh and Punjab. Most students resorted to cheating in matriculation and intermediate examinations held recently in both provinces.
Recently a meeting was held of all chairmen of Boards of Pakistan at Sukkur. However, none of them focussed on how to improve the way examinations are held. They only seemed to be paying lip service.
I have a suggestion for all chairmen of Boards and the minister of education that they adopt the way of the National Testing Services whose examination system consists of a paper with multiple choice questions. If a student has read her/his textbook thoroughly s/he will know the answer otherwise s/he will just be making a guess, as there is no question of cheating.
S. AAMIR QADEER