Mohsin Babbar (The POST)
ISLAMABAD: Despite getting ample funding from International Financial Institutions (IFIs) for education sector reforms in the country, Pakistan is rated as poorest performer among all the Asian countries receiving funding from Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Ranked at 120 as a whole, Pakistan has shown an extremely poor performance in almost all indicators of education sector, suggest an ADB report entitled “Education and Skills: Strategies for Accelerated Development in Asia and the Pacific”.
According to the EFA Development Index and its Components in ADB developing member countries, Pakistan’s EDI rate was 0.64, the lowest in the region, while Kazakhstan was leading with 0.992. Even India, Bangladesh, Nepal has better rates with 0.797, 0.759 and 0.734, respectively.
Similarly, the report says, the total Net Primary Enrollment Rate (NER) was lowest, 0.684 in Pakistan, while it was 0.946, 0.976 and 0.801 in India, Bangladesh and Nepal. The indicator of Adult Literacy Rate in Pakistan is also shown as lowest in the region with 0.499, while it is 0.641 in India, 0.505 in Bangladesh and 0.539 in Nepal.
The report says that the gender specific indicators are also very low in Pakistan with the rate of 0.684 and survival rate to grade 5 is recorded at 0.679.
The ADB report says that low-income countries with predominantly agrarian-driven economies requiring increased assistance from development partners are those that have not come close to achieving universal primary education, such as Afghanistan, Cambodia, Laos PDR, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan and Papua New Guinea. They are at risk of not meeting the MDG for universal primary education by 2015, it says. The report says that progress has been more limited in several low-income countries, mainly in South Asia. Many children in developing world still do not have access to primary education. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, for example, net enrolments are below 60 percent, the report says.
Countries having survival rates to the fifth grade of less than 80 percent are Bangladesh (65%), Cambodia (70%), Cook Islands (51%), India (61%), Lao PDR (62%), Myanmar (60%), Pakistan (77%), and Philippines (79%). Pointing out another major lacuna in education sector of Pakistan, the report says that course curricula were not updated after project completion and were outdated.
It says that the teachers had no more in-service training after project completion. “The technical teachers training colleges in Pakistan and Sri Lanka were operating below capacity because of insufficient recurrent budgets.” “The institutions were operating in isolation from the industries they were designed to serve, with few or no links to industry-thus lacking essential inputs,” it observes.
The same report has also said that developing countries in Asia need to improve the quality of their education systems because many graduates lack the skills needed in today’s rapidly changing workplace.
The report is intended as a guide for ADB’s future operations in the education sector. ADB has provided some $7 billion in loans for education since 1970. Many developing countries in Asia have had tremendous success in expanding access to primary and secondary schooling. However, this is now fuelling a spike in demand for post-secondary opportunities.