The Economic Survey of Pakistan (2016-17) released on Thursday has revealed decline in literacy rate from 60 to 58 percent.
The Net Enrollment Rate (NER) at primary level has also seen a dip from 57 to 54 percent nationwide. NER statistics indicate that all provinces except Sindh have seen a decline with Balochistan dropping to a low of 33 percent.
The NER decline by provinces 2015-16 vs. 2013-14
- Punjab 64 percent to 59 percent (5 percent decline)
- Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 54 percent to 53 percent (1 percent decline)
- Balochistan 39 percent to 33 percent (6 percent decline)
- Sind 48 percent (constant)
The urban rural split continues to exist – ensuring that the education is still far away from educational equilibrium. The urban areas are showing 74 percent literacy rate as compared to rural areas where the numbers dropped to 49 percent. Gender inequality continues to remain another concern with male population having 81 percent literacy rate in urban areas. The corresponding literacy rate for women dropped to 68 percent and gap between the genders remains a massive 13 percent.
Blow to the PMLN Government Education policies?
The PMLN Government, despite criticism from opposition parties, has mostly remained bullish on the country’s outlook. The infrastructure progress under ‘One belt, One road’ initiative has been marketed as a new dawn for the education sector as well – with more opportunities available at a higher level to open doors for enrollment at primary level.
Currently Pakistan spends 2.3 percent of GDP in education sector – a number that remains significantly lower than all other countries within the region let alone on a global level. The increase from 2.2 to 2.3 (2015 vs. 2016) has been a major talking point in budget 2016-17. The government defended its stance pointing towards a gradual increase since 2012. The opposition however maintains that with the limited expenditure on the sector, the primary government schools suffer the most.
Key education sector related statics
Total enrollments at national level during 2015-16 stood at 46.223 million as compared to 43.948 million during 2014-15. This shows an increase of 5.2 percent and it is estimated to increase to 47.834 million during 2016-17.
Total number of institutes added to 252.8 thousand during 2015-16 as compared to 252.6 thousand during last year. The number of institutes is estimated to increase to 257.1 thousand during 2016-17.
Teachers in 2015-16 were estimated at 1.63 million, an increase of 2.6 percent from 1.58 million from last comparison. The number is further expected to reach 1.67 million during 2016-17.