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Pakistan's public expenditure on education as percentage to GDP is estimated at 2.4 percent in the fiscal year 2018-19 which is the lowest in the region, revealed the Economic Survey (2018-2019) released here on Monday. According to UNDP's Human Development Report 2018, Pakistan is ranked 150th out of 189 countries with the Human Development Indicator (HDI) value of 0.562 (with 1 being the maximum value). According to the educational indicators, only Afghanistan lags behind Pakistan in the context of regional comparison. All other regional countries have shown improvement in HDI in comparison to Pakistan.

Literacy rate trends show 62.3 percent in 2017-18 (as compared to 60.7 percent in 2014-15) with males from 71.6% to 72.5% and females from 49.6% to 51.8%. Area-wise analysis suggests that literacy rate increased in both rural (51.9% to 53.3%) and urban (76.0% to 76.6%). It is also observed that male-female disparity is narrowing down with time span. Literacy rate increases in all provinces, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (54.1% to 55.3%), Punjab (61.9% to 64.7%) and Balochistan (54.3% to 55.5%) except in Sindh (63.0% to 62.2%) where marginal decrease has been observed.

Public expenditure on education was estimated at 2.4 percent of GDP in 2017-18 as compared to 2.2 percent in 2016-17. Education expenditure has been rising gradually since 2013-14. The education-related expenditure increased by 18.6 percent (to Rs 829.2 billion) in 2017-18. The provincial governments are also spending a sizeable amount of their Annual Development Plans (ADPs) on education. Punjab increased its expenditure in 2017-18 to Rs 340.8 billion as compared to Rs 260.6 billion in 2016-17 which shows a significant increase of 30.8 percent. Sindh also increased its expenditure from Rs 146.7 billion in 2016-17 to Rs 166.0 billion in 2017-18 showing an increase of 13.16 percent. Further, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan also increased their expenditure on education from Rs 136.1 billion to Rs 142.6 billion and from Rs 47.7 billion in 2016-17 to Rs 52.8 billion in 2017-18, respectively.

In 2018, 83% of 6-16 year old children in rural Pakistan were enrolled in schools whereas 17% children were out of school. Compared to Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2016, percentage of out of school children in rural Pakistan has decreased from 19%. Amongst the enrolled, 77% of children were in government schools and 23% were enrolled in non-state institutions (20% private schools, 3% Madrassah, 0% others).

In ASER 2018 amongst the 17% out-of- school children (age 6-16 years), 7% were males and 10% were females. This gap has narrowed compared to the last ASER cycle (8% males and 11% females). Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, GB and Balochistan all recorded increases in enrolment (6-16 years) ranging between 1% to 8%. Pre-school enrolment (3-5 years) in 2018 stood at 37% as compared to 36% in 2016. Highest enrolment for pre-school was in Islamabad Capital Territory, 62%, followed by 52% in Punjab and 50% in AJK. Lowest enrolment was recorded for KP merged districts (FATA) at 23%.

At the national level, an increase of 7.3 percent is observed in pre-primary enrolment which went up to 12,273.1 thousand in 2017-18 compared to 11,436.6 thousand in 2016-17. Enrolment is estimated to increase further by 6.4 percent ie. from 12,273.1 thousand to 13,063.3 thousand in 2018-19. In 2017-18, there were a total of 172.2 thousand primary functioning primary schools, with 519.0 thousand teachers, across the country. These schools had an overall enrolment of 22.9 million students with an increase of 5.5 percent over the previous year. This enrolment is projected to increase to 23.9 million (ie. by 4.4 percent) in 2018-19.

There were 46.8 thousand middle schools in the country in 2017-18, with 438.6 thousand teachers, and an overall of 7.3 million showing an increase of 4.3 percent over enrolment level of 2016-17. This enrolment is estimated to increase by another 3.7 percent to 7.6 million in 2018-19. A total of 30.9 thousand high schools, with 556.6 thousand teachers, were functional in the country during 2017-18. High school enrolment, at 3.9 million, represents an increase of 7.4 over enrolment level of 3.6 million in 2016-17. The high school enrolment is estimated to increase by 6.6 percent (to 4.1 million in 2018-19.

A total of 5.2 thousand higher secondary schools/inter colleges, with a teacher population of 121.9 thousand, were functioning all over the country in 2017-18. The overall enrolment of 1.75 million in these schools represents a healthy increase of 9.8 percent over enrolment level of 2016-17. This enrolment is expected by another 5.0 percent (to 1.84 million) in 2018-19.

A total of 3.7 thousand technical & vocational institutes with 18.2 thousand teachers were functional in 2017-18. The enrolment of 433.2 thousand represents an increase of 25.6 percent over the previous year. With this large increase in base, the enrolment is projected to decorate to 8.7 percent during 2018-19.

A total of 1,657 degree colleges in the country had a teacher population of 42,000 in 2017-18. That year, a significant decline of 47.3 percent in enrolment (to 503.8 thousand) was observed in enrolment level, which is projected to decelerate further to 4.3 percent in 2018-19. In 2017-18, there were 186 universities, with 56.9 thousand teachers, in the country, with a total enrolment of 1.6 million. This enrolment was 7.7 percent higher than previous years. The growth in enrolment however is projected to decline by 0.2 percent in 2018-19.

Overall education condition is based on key performance indicators such as enrolment rates, number of institutes and teachers which experienced marginal improvement. The total enrolment in all educational institution in the country was 50.6 million compared to 48.0 million during 2016-17 an increase of 5.3 percent. The number of institutions is projected to increase by 1.6 percent in 2018-19, leading to an increase of 4.8 percent in aggregate enrolment. The total number of teachers during 2017-18 was 1.8 million compared to 1.7 million during last year showing an increase of 1.6 percent. This number of teachers is estimated to increase by 2.9 percent to 1.8 million during the year 2018-19.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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