Report reveals alarming scale of out-of-school children in Pakistan

out-of-school children in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: A new report on the state of education in Pakistan has exposed the alarming scale of the out-of-school children (OOSC) problem in the country.

The report, based on the Pakistan education statistics for the academic year 2021/22, will be released by the federal ministry of education on Monday.

According to the preliminary teaser of the report, Pakistan has the world’s second-highest number of OOSC, with 26.2 million children between the ages of 5 and 16 not attending school.

This means that 39% of the total population in this age group are deprived of their right to education.

The report also shows that the OOSC rate varies widely across provinces, with Balochistan having the worst situation, where 65% of children are out of school, and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) having the best, where only 9% of children are out of school.

Among the major provinces, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) has the lowest OOSC rate at 30%, while Punjab and Sindh have 34% and 42% respectively.

The report reveals that the percentage of OOSC has decreased slightly from 44% in 2016-17 to 39% in 2021-22, but the absolute number of OOSC has increased from 22.02 million to 26.21 million during the same period.

This is mainly due to the fact that the population growth rate has outstripped the decrease in OOSC. The report also highlights that the OOSC problem is more severe at the higher levels of education, with 60% of children out of school at the higher secondary level, 44% at the high level, 30% at the middle level, and 36% at the primary level.

The report identifies poverty, lack of education of parents, socio-cultural barriers, gender gap, and poor quality of education services as the main reasons for low enrolment or school dropouts in Pakistan.

These factors affect different groups of children disproportionately, especially girls, who face more challenges in accessing and completing education than boys.

The report also shows that economic disparities play a significant role in educational access, with children from the poorest quintile facing the highest disadvantage, evident across all education levels.

The report calls for urgent and comprehensive education reforms to address the OOSC issue and ensure universal education for all children in Pakistan.

The report recommends increasing funding for education, improving teacher training and accountability, expanding alternative learning pathways for marginalized groups, enhancing school-community linkages, and strengthening data and monitoring systems.

The report is expected to be launched in full on Monday at the Pakistan Institute of Education (PIE) in Islamabad.

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