ISLAMABAD: The trend of unregistered schools is very common in Pakistan as 18% of primary schools and 14% of lower secondary schools operate without being regulated or registered by relevant government bodies, according to a report released on Monday.
The report is titled “Global Education Monitoring Report 2022, Non-State Actors in Education, Who Chooses Who Loses” and was prepared by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) in collaboration with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Scientific Organization. and cultural (UNESCO).
The report found that a rapid proliferation of private education institutions requires stronger oversight to ensure quality and equity are not put at risk. The report states that out of 5,000 total schools in Rawalpindi, two-thirds of private schools are unregistered, adding that private school censuses of 2016-2017, some 54,000 private schools were providing pre-primary education in Punjab province. under various categorisations, such as preschool. , crèche and prep. The majority of the programs operated as unregulated entities with no government oversight or oversight.
He recalled that less than three percent of annual GDP has been spent on education for the past 12 years. Due to this context, the report adds, schools in the public sector fall short in terms of supply and quality.
“Private education has developed to fill the gaps. A third of students in Pakistan attend privately funded schools, with 45% of those in private education and 25% of those in public education in urban areas paying for additional tutoring,” adding that overall , 8% of students are enrolled in religious schools.
The report highlights the exponential growth of private tutoring and educational technology companies in the country, mainly due to the rapid growth of the labor market and the resulting competitiveness in the education system. Compared to other countries in the South, he added, a tutoring franchise model is prevalent in the country, with companies or academies running schools and tuition centers and developing their own curricula and manuals.
The report further noted the stark disparities in learning outcomes between privately and state educated students. Those attending private schools consistently score significantly higher than those attending public schools where the student-teacher ratio reaches 92:1. However, after controlling for socioeconomic status, the relative advantage in learning outcomes enjoyed by private schools is reduced or eliminated.
Covid-19 has both highlighted and exacerbated existing problems in the country’s education system, adding that privately funded schools with students from more financially stable backgrounds were often better prepared to deal with the implications. school closures and the suspension of in-person classes. education.
However, with only 14.3% of families across the country having access to a laptop or desktop computer, and only 4% of the population knowing basic ICT skills, remote learning was much more difficult to organize. for low-budget public schools.
Moreover, as Covid-19 dealt a blow to global economies, income levels suffered and public schools were overwhelmed by an influx of students who could no longer afford private schools. Enrollment in private schools fell from 23% in 2019 to 19% in 2021.
The report urges the government to increase its involvement in education systems and made five policy recommendations to improve the quality and equity of education in all schools in South Asia.
On the occasion, the Assistant Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education and Skills Training, Waseem Ajmal, said that the report has shattered many myths about the private and public sectors of education, as it provides insight overview revealing what works and what doesn’t.
The report, Ajmal said, raised questions about the effectiveness of many practices in learning outcomes, cost-effectiveness and administration. He recalled that in fact, many aspects of the reports should be deliberated upon in consultation with all stakeholders while finding a roadmap for developing comprehensive policies for the education sector.
Baela Raza Jamil, CEO of ITA, explained that in Pakistan, the private sector fills critical gaps in the provision of education services in urban and rural areas, not only in preschools, schools, colleges and universities, but also in the vital areas of disability services, teacher preparation, EdTech, textbooks and assessments.
Given the sector’s enormous challenges and multiple emergencies, there is an urgent need for enabling standards as well as predictable regulatory regimes and state support systems to work together to improve key measures on access with quality. , inclusion and equity; Pakistan needs to accelerate actions with all actors to catch up on foundational learning and SDG 4 targets in South Asia.
Federal Board of Middle and Secondary Education (FBISE) Chairman Qaiser Alam said there are still a lot of challenges in the private sector when it comes to teacher training specifically, especially in the area of low-cost schools and they look to the government for support.
Irfan Muzaffar, Technical Advisor, Education Reforms KPK, said equity in education service delivery is becoming a focal point through publications such as the GEM report.
“We need to fundamentally change who teaches, as the report also indicates,” said Khadija Bakhtiar, CEO and Founder of Teach For Pakistan.
Freya Perry, Education Advisor for Foreign Common Wealth and Development, said there is a lot of potential we need to do everything we can to ensure that learning outcomes are achieved.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022