Only 52% schools have toilets, drinking water, power, walls.

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The Pakistan’s District Education Ranking 2016 shows that only 52% of all government schools in the country have all four basic facilities, including toilets, drinking water, boundary walls and running electricity.

Punjab also continues to provide a superior school infrastructure to its students, where 93 per cent of the schools have all four basic facilities. In Sindh, 77 per cent schools lack basic facilities whereas in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, basic facilities are absent in 50 per cent schools. In Azad Jammu Kashmir, only 13 per cent of the schools provide all basic facilities to children.

The new index for School Completeness launched by Alif Ailaan and Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) also shows that a staggering 81 percent of all government schools are primary schools. This essentially implies that that after primary education, children in Pakistan have very limited opportunities to continue their education.

The fourth edition of District Ranking covers all 151 districts across the country to assess their education scores, based on levels of enrolment, retention, learning, gender parity and school facilities.

The district rankings reflect that Islamabad, Punjab, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) all have relatively better scores on the education and infrastructure indices. However, FATA, Balochistan and Sindh are consistently poor performers, relative to the rest of the country.

Though some districts have demonstrated remarkable improvements, there is little to indicate any major nationwide improvement in either education quality or the quality of school infrastructure. Some of the drops in the overall scores may also be explained by a more rigorous and robust data collection process across the country, especially Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan.

The federal capital is atop both the provincial/regional rankings, as well as the district rankings for the first time with increased learning and enrolment scores.

Likewise, although Punjab’s education score decreased due to a decline in the retention score, it scored highest in gender parity. It is important to note that last year the education score of the province suffered a drop in learning outcomes. However the provincial government responded to this by re-focusing on the quality of education. Consequently, this year Punjab demonstrates a slight improvement in the learning outcomes score.

While KP demonstrated improvements in both enrolment and gender parity scores, the retention rate of the province declined, consequently affecting the overall education score. On the other hand, the province is ranked higher at third in school infrastructure score, which indicates significant improvement. However 50 percent of its schools still lack the provision of all four basic facilities.

Balochistan and Sindh continue to suffer the lowest education and infrastructure scores. Balochistan’s education score has dropped, moving Balochistan to the last rank. Except for Quetta (which is amongst the top 50), almost half of the districts of Balochistan rank outside the top 100.

Sindh has the lowest learning outcomes this year. Moreover, only the six of its districts are in the top half of the rankings table. Once again, Karachi is the only district in the top 50. The state of school infrastructure also continues to suffer, where only 23 per cent schools could be considered complete, having all four basic facilities.

Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) has experienced the largest improvement amongst provinces/regions with a substantial increase in its education score.  Although GB’s progress has been stagnant over the past four years, given the numerous challenges, the region still managed to show relative improvements with increased education score of 3 per cent. Six out of seven districts of GB continue to stay in the top half of the rankings. However the infrastructure score remains deplorable, with 50 per cent of the schools failing to provide basic facilities to students.

The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) demonstrates improvement in their education score by 3 per cent, enabling FATA to outrank Baluchistan. Interestingly FR Kohat, which was unranked in previous years (due to non-availability of data), has managed to get the 39th position. For the first time, FATA managed to break into the top 50, with a remarkable education score in FR Kohat at 72.77.

The report shows that the quality of education remained the biggest challenge for Pakistan, as there were only moderate improvements in the score of learning outcomes – last year from 52.33 to 54.78 this year. The evidence from Islamabad, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa demonstrates that strong political commitment can translate into improved education outcomes.  The overall evidence from across the country however remains stark – and suggests that Pakistan will need dramatically more political commitment, in all parts of the country, to secure a decent future for its children.

Speaking on the event, Minister of State for Education and Interior Baligh ur Rehman stated that the Ministry of Education was actively involved in the process of adopting sustainable development goals. “We were the first ministry to establish an SDG cell,” he said.

Member National Assembly Dr Arif Alvi commended the effort of Alif Ailaan. “I believe it is absolutely necessary for politicians to take ownership of the schools and children in their respective constituencies at an individual level. I aim to facilitate a deeper interaction with the parents of school-going children in my constituency in the up-coming Ramadan so that their issues are heard and they are more involved in the education of their children”.

General Secretary (ANP) Mian Iftikhar Hussain stated that quality of education is a moral obligation of the state. “It is critical for the politicians to prioritize their agenda on education”. Talking about the importance of robust data regime, he noted that there is an absolute need for a population census to have a reliable baseline for ranking the districts and tracking the SDG4 targets.

Country Director UNDP Marc Andre Franche stated that the district rankings highlight the systematic inequalities among the districts and the regions in Pakistan. “The state of education in the districts of South Punjab, Balochistan and FATA is worse than some of the sub-Saharan African countries, while the districts of North Punjab emulate developed countries like Canada”. He further highlighted the need for constituency level data on education in order to empower voters to raise more concerted demands from their political representatives.

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