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January 29, 2015

With ‘no future’ at govt schools,private institutions see more enrolments


January 29, 2015

The trend of children’s enrolment shifting away from government schools towards those set up by the private sector is no longer restricted to urban areas.
During the past year, the number of private schools in Sindh, in both urban and rural areas, increased by seven percent, according to the Annual Status of Education Report (Aser) 2014.
Though the trend is visible all across the country, the change is most drastic in Sindh, where the percentage of “non-state providers” was 10 percent in 2013 but jumped up to 17 percent by the end of 2014, with one percent growth in seminaries.
On the other hand, Balochistan too witnessed a sharp increase, from 10 to 20 percent in 2014, but out of them four percent were schools while the remaining were seminaries.
Even in rural areas across the country, during the past 12 months a whopping four percent children in rural areas shifted from public to private schools as compared to two percent in urban areas.
According to Aser Pakistan Coordinator Baela Raza Jamil, one of the main reasons for the growth of the private sector and the high dropout rates from schools was the huge vacuum created after primary education in the country.
“Where are the children going to go after they complete their primary education?” she said. “This uncertainty makes parents withdraw children from schools even earlier, because they can’t envision a future for them.”
The data compiled by Aser reveals that out of the total public educational facilities in Sindh, 91 percent are primary schools, five percent middle schools and only three percent high schools.
There is only one middle school for every 18 primary schools and only one high school for every 24 primary schools in the province.
This disparity in supply and demand is the highest in Sindh and the poor quality of education imparted in schools also contributes to this trend.
The rural areas where there was highest enrolment in private

schools include Karachi Malir Rural with 90 percent, Karachi West Rural with 66 percent, followed by Khairpur with 24 percent, Jamshoro 21 percent, Naushahro Feroze 21 percent, Tando Allahyar 16 percent and Mithi 12 percent.
The ratio of primary school to middle school is 9:1 and primary school to high school 14:1 in Balochistan, 9:1 and 12:1, respectively, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 4:1 and 6:1 in Punjab. This gaping ravine between primary and middle/secondary education contributed heavily to the high dropout rates of children from schools across Sindh, said Planning & Development Secretary Shereen Narejo.
She said more than 80 percent of the children enrolled in grade-one dropped out by the time they reached the 10th grade.
However, the highest number of children – around 40 percent – dropped out between the fifth and sixth grades, the middle-school stage.
The report highlights that even in the private sector most of the investment has been done at the primary level in the form of low-cost, small establishments, because middle and higher secondary schools cost more. This merely widens the already-present gaps in the education system.
Another existing disparity brought forward by increased enrolment in private schools was marginalisation of girls across the country.
According to the Aser data, out of the total children studying in private establishments across the country, 37 percent were girls and 44 percent boys.

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