Government urged to increase involvement in education system

Islamabad: The trend of unregistered schools in Pakistan is very common as 18% of primary, 14% of lower secondary and 4% of upper secondary are operating without regulation or registration by relevant government bodies, according to a published report. In Monday.

The report titled “Global Education Monitoring Report 2022, Non-State Actors in Education, Who Chooses Who Loses” was produced by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) in collaboration with the Organization of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (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 the private school census of 2016-17, some 54,000 private schools were providing pre-primary education in Punjab province. under various categorisations, such as pre-nursery, nursery and prep. The majority of the programs operated as unregulated entities with no government oversight or oversight.

He recalled that less than 3% of annual GDP has been spent on education over 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 private schools, 45% of those in private education and 25% of those in public education in urban areas pay for additional private tuition,” adding that 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-educated 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 institutions with students from more financially stable backgrounds were often better prepared to deal with the implications. school closures and the suspension of in-person instruction. . 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.

Additionally, as COVID-19 has dealt a blow to global economies, income levels have suffered and public schools have been 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: that the report has shattered many myths about the private sector and the public sector in education as it provides a holistic view revealing what works and what does not.

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 needed to be deliberated upon in consultation with all stakeholders while finding a roadmap to develop comprehensive policies for the education sector. Ajmal further pointed out that private schools in our countries work as non-state actors and that these actors are considered an integral part of any society in the world.

Baela Raza Jamil, CEO of ITA, said that in Pakistan, the private sector is filling 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 must accelerate actions with all actors to catch up on fundamental 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 look to the government for support. said it is really important that we look at non-state actors in the country in the midst of a humanitarian crisis such as COVID-19. 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 are many potentials we need to make available to us to ensure that learning outcomes are achieved.