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Trends in learning levels in language and arithmetic from 2014 to 2019 show an improvement from 13% to 17% for grade 5; however, children continue to struggle in grade 3 due to low grasp of foundational skills in basic literacy and numeracy. Despite the recent focus of the federal and provincial governments on enrolment drives to honor Article 25 A, 17% children aged 6-16 still remain out of school.

These findings were made public in the report of Pakistan's largest-annual citizen-led household based ASER Survey 2019 - the ninth ASER Survey report in a row launched in Islamabad on Monday February 10, 2020

The survey in 20 urban centres across Pakistan reveals that only 6% children are out of school. With 40% of the population residing in urban areas, this presents an important opportunity to accelerate universal access for the urban 5-16 year olds, whilst simultaneously focusing on rural areas. Education targets can be met through extra ordinary resolve and actions by the state to guarantee a constitutional fundamental right.

ASER is a flagship programme of Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) implemented in partnership with civil society organizations; 10,000 volunteer citizens visited 155 districts in 4546 villages to implement the ASER survey from 92,008 households and 255,266 children of age 3-16 years. For the year 2019, the ASER rural survey assessed 202,648 children of 5-16 year age cohort in Language (Urdu/Sindhi/Pashto), English, and Arithmetic competencies mapped to grade 2 curriculum and textbooks. In 9 districts, the survey was successfully conducted through androids, testing for at scale survey solutions that are paperless, efficient and transparent.

The report annually informs about the progress and challenges for Article 25 A of the constitution extending education for ALL 5-16 year old children since 2010 and for tracking progress towards SDG 4, measuring learning at the lower primary level. Released jointly by Asad Umer - Federal Minister for Planning, Development, Reforms and Special Initiatives, Shafqat Mahmood, Federal Minister for the Ministry of Education & Professional Training, Parliamentarians across political parties and media experts, there was a unanimous consensus for urgent actions to be taken for a future based on an educated Pakistan to halt the protracted devaluing of its social capital.-PR

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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