‘Education an investment for future’

By Jamila Achakzai
June 17, 2024
Students take lessons during class at a school in Sindh. — AFP/File

Islamabad: The Pakistan Institute of Education has released the findings of the National Achievement Test, offering a springboard for further improvement and highlighting areas where targeted interventions can yield significant impact.

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With over 7,000 students from around 380 public schools in Punjab participating in the NAT, the PIE report provided a revealing snapshot of student learning. “We’re committed to prioritising education. While the NAT results are encouraging, we recognise the need to do more. Pakistan has declared an education emergency to address challenges, including the significant issue of out-of-school children, so I call upon the PIE for expertise in tackling the issue of out-of-school children that is impacting a significant number of our youth,” said school education minister Rana Sikandar Hyat. He said the first-ever census of public and private schools, as well as madrassas, utilising NADRA data, would help identify barriers and implement targeted solutions, including accelerated learning programmes.

“Data analysis will guide further improvements, pushing us closer to our goal of at least 80% student proficiency in future assessments,” he said. The minister said education was an investment in our future, and authorities were committed to working with the PIE and other stakeholders to empower children, especially with the strong support of women. While Punjab's overall performance compared favourably to other provinces, the results paint a nuanced picture of students strengths and weaknesses.

Urdu emerged as the strongest subject, particularly for grade 4 students, who achieved an impressive average score of 81 percent. English language skills also showed encouraging progress compared to 2019, with grade 4 students averaging 71 percent. PIE Director General Dr. Shahid Soroya said the launch of the NAT results in Punjab is a big step forward in working together to improve education across Pakistan. "By partnering with the school education department, we can combine our expertise to create a better assessment system. This includes using PIE's new item banking software and expanding testing beyond grades 4 and 8 to include foundational skills," he said.

He said sharing ownership of the data at the provincial level allowed for the tailoring of solutions and decision-making to Punjab's specific needs. "Today's report is a great starting point for ongoing collaboration. Our ultimate goal is to make sure the data is reliable and has a real impact, not just present results. This will drive meaningful improvements in Punjab's educational landscape,” he said. The PIE report pinpointed the areas demanding focused attention.

Maths scores across both grades fell below those achieved in Urdu and English. Grade 4 students encountered the most difficulty in statistics and probability, a trend mirrored by grade 8 students in the same content domain. Science proficiency also showed room for improvement, with the highest average score being 66% for grade 8 students in rural schools. A trend emerged when examining performance by gender. Girls consistently outperformed boys in all subjects and grades, including maths, where nationally the average scores for both genders were similar. This findings suggests that Punjab may be making headway in narrowing the gender gap in educational achievement. Another noteworthy observation is the disparity in maths scores between rural and urban schools in Grade 8, with students in rural areas displaying a slight advantage over their urban counterparts.

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