A comprehensive commitment to SDG 4 through infrastructure upgrades, teacher capacity building and digital transformation
According to the Economic Survey of Pakistan FY2022, human’s ability to learn is one of the distinguished features among other species and at the same time, the nations that are advanced in education, are leading the world. In every aspect of life no one can deny the significance of education. For changing the patterns of thought in the individuals and nations, education is a tool. Including Pakistan it occupies top priority in the social sector of developing nations.
Historically, because of various challenges and issues faced through education sector, it has not delivered the expected outcomes in Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan no doubt is completely aware of these challenges and is committed to prioritising the education sector. The efforts moreover, are being made to bring out of school children to schools, enhance quality of education, offer conducive learning environment, etc. The focus is being given on basic and college education to make the younger generation competitive from the early age. For a country like Pakistan, it becomes even more indispensable for its socioeconomic development through effective transition of its huge proportion of younger population i.e., youth.
Statistics showed that transformation of 63 per cent youth into a real wealth requires optimum capitalisation by organising a high-quality and market demand driven basic, secondary and higher education.
Pakistan is committed to achieve Goal 4 of SDGs pertaining to the quality of education, which stipulates equitable education, removal of discrimination, provision, and up-gradation of infrastructure, skill development for sustainable progress, universal literacy, numeracy and enhancement of the professional capacity of teachers. Various initiatives taken up through the federal and provincial governments to increase the standards of education in terms of quality education as a part of government’s commitment to accomplish Goal 4 of SDGs through improving access to education by organising new schools, upgrading the existing schools, enhancing learning environment by offering basic educational facilities, digitisation of educational institutions, improving resilience of educational institutions to cater for unforeseen conditions, promoting distance learning, capacity building of teacher, and enhancing hiring of teachers, chiefly hiring of science teachers to address the issues of science education, etc.
Statistics showed that participation rate in organised learning (one year before the official primary entry age), by sex is 19 per cent showing a low level of consideration of pre-primary education. Percentage of population in a given age group achieving at least a fixed level of proficiency in functional (a) literacy and (b) numeracy skills is 60 per cent. It is also showed that parity indices at literacy, youth literacy, primary and secondary are 0.71, 0.82, 0.88 and 0.89, respectively. Total 60 per cent of population that has ever attended school with male proportion is 70 per cent while female proportion is 50 per cent. Punjab has the highest percentage and Balochistan is at the lowest.
Rate of completion at primary or higher turned out to be 51 per cent i.e. higher in favor of male than female. Punjab has higher completion rate as compared to other provinces.
According to Labour Force Survey FY2021, literacy rate was recorded 62.8 per cent in FY2021 as against to 62.4 per cent in 2018-19, higher in males (increased from 73.0 per cent in FY2019 to 73.4 per cent in FY2021) than females (from 51.5 per cent to 51.9 per cent for the same period).
Area-wise analysis suggests literacy raise in both rural areas from 53.7 per cent in FY2019 to 54.0 per cent in FY2021, while in urban areas it grew from 76.1 per cent in FY2019 to 77.3 per cent in FY2021. Male-female disparity seems to be narrowing down over time. Literacy rate gone up in all provinces, with Punjab (increased 66.1 per cent to 66.3 per cent), Sindh (61.6 per cent to 61.8 per cent), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (52.4 per cent to 55.1 per cent) and Balochistan (53.9 per cent to 54.5 per cent). GER (primary, middle and matric) is 82, 56 and 58 respectively. GER at primary, middle and matric level has gone up in favour of male. Punjab has the highest GER at primary, middle and secondary levels and Balochistan has the lowest.
In all provinces GER is in favour of male than female. NER (primary, middle and matric) is 51, 21 and 13 respectively. NER at primary level has gone in favour of male in all provinces. NER at middle has gone in favour of male in all provinces except in Punjab. Same is the case with NER at matric except for Punjab where NER is higher for female. Literacy rate (10 years and older) is 60 per cent showing male as more literate than female. Punjab is at the top while the Balochistan is at the bottom. Youth literacy (15-24 years) is 72 per cent (male: 79 per cent and female: 65 per cent). Province wise comparative situation is the same with higher disparities for female than male in youth literacy rates. Adult literacy rate is 57 per cent (male: 68 per cent and female: 46 per cent) depicting that adult male population is more literate than adult female population.
Pakistan’s education system faces a series of challenges that need to be addressed for Pakistan to harness its full potential. While these challenges are significant, there are also opportunities for improvement, ranging from increased investment to academic autonomy and gender equality. Realising these opportunities will not only improve the quality of education but also contribute to the socioeconomic development of the nation. Education can bring substantial optimistic changes in the system that will offer a solid base for the future of nation building. With the right strategies and commitment, Pakistan can create atmosphere thriving higher education system that empowers its citizens and prepares them for a rapidly evolving world.