18 percent primary schools unregistered in Pakistan: Report

Peshawar      -    The trend of unregistered  schools in Pakistan  is very common as  18 percent of primary  and 14 percent of lower  secondary schools are  being functioned without  having regulation  or registration from the  concerned government  bodies, said a report released  on Monday.  The report titled ‘Global  Education Monitoring  Report 2022, nonstate  actors in education,  who chooses who loses’  conducted by Idara-e-  Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) in  joint collaboration with  United Nations Educational,  Scientific and Cultural  Organization (UNESCO).  The report revealed a  rapid proliferation of private  education institutions  requires stronger  oversight to ensure that  quality and equity are  not put at risk.  The report stated that  out of 5,000 total schools  in Rawalpindi two thirds  private schools are without  registration. According  to 2016-17 Private  School Census, some  54,000 private schools  offered pre-primary education  in Punjab province  under various categorizations,  such as  pre-nursery, nursery  and prep. The majority  of programmes operated  as unregulated entities,  without government supervision  and oversight.  It recalled that less  than 3 percent of the  annual GDP is being  spent on education for  the last 12 years. Due  to this backdrop, the report  added, public sector  schools are insufficient  in both supply and  quality.  “Private education has  grown to fill the gaps.  One third of students in  Pakistan attend privately  funded schools with 45  percent of those in private  education and 25  percent in state education  in urban areas paying  for additional private   tutoring,” adding that  overall 8 percent of students  are enrolled in religious  schools.  The report highlights  the exponential growth  of private tutoring and  educational technology  companies in the country,  predominantly due  to rapid growth in the labour  market and the resultant  competitiveness  in the education system.  As compare to other  countries, it added, a  franchise model of tutoring  is prevalent in the  country, with companies  or academies running  schools and tuition  centres, and developing  their own curriculum  and textbooks.  The report further noted  the stark disparities  in learning outcomes between  privately educated  and state educated  students. Those attending  private institutions  consistently score significantly  higher than those  enrolled in state schools  where the student-teacher  ratios are as high as  92:1. However, after controlling  for socioeconomic  status the relative  advantage in learning  outcomes that private  schools enjoy is reduced  or eliminated.  The COVID-19 has both  highlighted and exacerbated  the existing issues  in the education  system of the country.  The privately funded institutions  with pupils of  more financially stable  backgrounds were often  better prepared to cope  with the implications of  school closures and suspension  of in-person  teaching.  Additionally, as COVID-  19 dealt a blow to  global economies, income  levels suffered and  state schools were overwhelmed  with an influx  of pupils who could  no longer afford private  schools. Enrolment in  private schools decreased  from 23 percent in 2019  to 19 percent in 2021.  The report urges the  government to increase  its involvement in education  systems, and has devised  five policy recommendations  to enhance  the quality and equity  of education across all  schools in South Asia.  Additional Secretary  Ministry of Federal Education  and Professional  Training Waseem Ajmal  said that the report has  shattered many myths  about the private and the  public sector in the education  as it gives global  insights revealing that  what works and what  doesn’t work.  The report, Ajmal said,  raised questions of effectiveness  of many practices  of learning outcomes,  cost-efficiency and administration.  Baela Raza Jamil, CEO  ITA shared that in Pakistan  private sector fills  up critical gaps in education  service provision in  both urban and rural areas  not just through preschools,  schools, colleges  and universities but  also in the vital areas of  disability services, teacher  preparation, EdTech,  textbooks and assessments.  Given the huge challenges  of the sector and  multiple emergencies,  there is an urgency to  have enabling standards  along with predictable  regulatory regimes  and support systems by  the state to work as one  for improving key metrics  on access with quality,  inclusion and equity;  Pakistan must accelerate  actions with all actors to  catch up on foundational  learning and SDG 4 targets  in South Asia.  Chairman Federal  Board of Intermediate  and secondary Education  (FBISE) Qaiser Alam said  that there are still a lot of  challenges in the private  sector with specific regards  to teacher training  particularly in the low  cost school arena and  they look towards the  government for support  He said that it is really  important that we look  at the non state actors in  the country in the midst  of a humanitarian crisis  such as COVID-19.  Irfan Muzaffar, Technical  Advisor Education  Reforms KP, said equity  in education service  delivery is becoming a  central point via publications  such as the GEM  Report.

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