One quarter of out-of-school children are in Sindh

Yousuf Sajjad

Karachi—One quarter of all the out of school children in Pakistan are in Sindh. They represent half the school going age children of Sindh. This represents a social crisis of great magnitude for the country of Pakistan and a state of constant alarm for the province of Sindh.
With education now firmly a provincial subject, the province of Sindh finds itself placed in the position where it is denying half its school-age children their constitutionally guaranteed right to an education.
By not educating half the children in Sindh, the government is letting them remain incapable of contributing productively to the work force. With half the children in Sindh out of school, the government of Sindh is leaving the economy weaker, the subsequent tax revenue lower and the government of Sindh in a weaker position.
The other problems in Sindh’s education system are numerous and varied. They persist across the province and present a challenge to its society and its economy’s development. The contributing factors to this are a lack of universal literacy with only 56% of the population literate, the low school graduation rate, the lack of high schools coupled with an excess of primary schools, and the school buildings in disrepair or lacking basic amenities like bathrooms. These problems display the government’s negligence and underfunding.
Low attendance by girls and their dwindling pres-ence in schools makes it difficult to attract and maintain female student’s attendance as they grow up. Other social factors amongst people that lower student attendance are the dependence of families on child labour and confusion over the language of instruction (mother tongue vs. Urdu vs. English). The students are also turned off from attending schools by the bad teaching and the use of physical punish-ment. The non-attendance by teachers who still collect salaries is another problem that schools face, as well as a bad syllabus that is obsolete and does not provide the appropriate education for students to study or gain employment in the 21 st Century.
The education crisis that Sindh and Pakistan faces must be confronted, in the words of Institute of Social and Policy Research Researcher Ahmad Ali, as a “political and technical issue.” Mr Ahmad Ali also has been quoted as saying that “Out of the 750,000 children who do go to school only 150,000 end up completing all 10 grades.”
In 2016 the province of Sindh disproportionately has the most number of ghost schools of any province in Pakistan. This is especially shocking as there is a serious mismatch between the millions of primary school students and the serious drop-off in the number of high school students that Sindh erolles. 10 percent of all the schools in Sindh are middle or secondary schools whereas the rest are all primary. It is imperative that these schools be upgraded to accommodate all these primary students. In Mr Ahmad’s words “To counter the staggering drop-out rate of children, schools need to be upgraded and higher budget allotted to the development of secondary schools to accommodate middle and high
This absurd mismatch between the number of primary and secondary schools in Sindh is also why the education outcomes for Sindh’s districts, drop off precipitously during secondary school, whilst having performed well during primary school. This mismatch was observed in the reports of the education awareness NGO Alif Ailaan.
Sindh also does not have universal enrollment of all children in primary schools. Consequently, it has failed, along with Pakistan’s other federating units in achieving its share of the Millennium Development.

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