Global Education Monitoring Report 2022: 18pc primary, 14pc lower secondary schools functioning without registration
ISLAMABAD: The trend of unregistered schools is very common in Pakistan as 18 percent of primary and 14 percent of lower secondary schools are functioning without being regulated or registered by the concerned government bodies, said a report released on Monday.
The report is titled “Global Education Monitoring Report 2022, Non-State Actors in Education, Who Chooses Who Loses” and has been prepared by the Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
The report revealed a rapid proliferation of private educational 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 having no registration, adding that 2016-17 private school censuses, 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 three percent of the annual GDP is being spent on education since 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-thirds 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 eight 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 labor market and the resultant competitiveness in the education system. As compared to other south 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, adding that 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.
However, with only 14.3 percent of families across the country having access to a laptop or desktop, and just four percent of the population knowing basic ICT skills, remote learning was much harder to organize for low-budget state schools.
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.
On the occasion, 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 education as it gives global insights revealing that what works and what does not work.
The report, Ajmal said, raised questions of effectiveness of many practices of learning outcomes, cost-efficiency, and administration. He recalled that actually many aspects of the reports needed to have deliberation in consultation with all stakeholders while finding it a roadmap to form comprehensive policies for the education sector.
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 pre-schools, 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.
Irfan Muzaffar, Technical Advisor, Education Reforms KPK said equity in education service delivery is becoming a central point via publications such as the GEM Report.
“We have to change fundamentally about who teaches as also indicated by the report,” Khadija Bakhtiar, CEO and founder Teach For Pakistan.
Education Advisor Foreign Common Wealth and Development Freya Perry said that there is a lot of potential that we need to do all at our disposal to make sure learning outcomes are met.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022