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79% of girls quit primary schools in tribal districts: official report.

This picture taken on September 18, shows girls attending a class at a school in Mingora, a town in Swat Valley of KP province, which borders the Fata region.

Internews/Peshawar

Only one-fifth of the girls enrolled in public sector schools in seven districts of the erstwhile-Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) in northwest of Pakistan continue their education from preparatory class till Class V, as overall 73% of students -- 69% of boys and 79% of girls -- quit schools during the early years of education, an official report of government educational institutions in the region bordering Afghanistan shows. The situation at the middle and secondary school levels is equally discouraging, as the dropout rate of girls at these stages is 50%, according to the 102-page statistical report compiled by the Education Management Information System (EMIS), the directorate of education of newly-merged tribal districts. The dropout rate in the militancy-affected North Waziristan district is 63% (73% among girls), which is the highest among the seven districts, but the report does not highlight reasons behind the high dropout rate. The tribal districts have 5,890 schools in the public sector with a total enrolment of 677,157 students. While the current budget for education is Rs12bn, the official study portrays a bleak picture of the state of education in public sector schools, with most of the schools in the districts having no electricity, drinking water facility, or toilets. Only 43% of the schools have electricity, 45.2% have drinking water facility, 45% have toilets, and 70% of the schools have boundary walls, the EMIS study indicates. The report, which is yet to be made public, suggests that the number of teachers in public sector educational institutions in these districts is on the decline, and there is acute shortage of teachers. The total number of teachers in schools was 20,709 in 2009-10 which has dropped to 18,621 in 2017-18. "There is shortage of teachers and other technical staff in tribal districts due to slow recruitment process," said an official dealing with the education sector in the area. The official said that there are nearly 5,000 vacancies for teachers and technical staff (lab assistants) in the schools, following an unofficial ban on the recruitment of teachers in the former Fata. The directorate of education had requested that the federal government fill these positions. According to the report, the total number of sanctioned posts of teachers at the primary, middle and secondary levels is 22,030, but the existing teacher numbers is 18,621. The report shows that the student-teacher ratio is 1:59 at the primary school level. As the EMIS study does not highlight reasons behind high dropout rate where the literacy rate is claimed to be 33.3% (49.7% among males, and 12.7% among females), officials concerned said that the prime reason of the dropout at primary level is "non-qualified and outdated" teachers who could not teach new syllabus designed by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Textbook Board. "Officials at different forums blame the high dropout rate on militancy, insecurity and displacement to justify their argument. But these are lame excuses ... the basic reasons are unqualified teachers and overcrowded classrooms," the official said. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government had introduced all textbooks in English for primary level in public sector schools. These textbooks were also introduced in schools in former Fata. Teachers in tribal belt are unable to follow the new teaching methods and textbooks. "A majority of the teachers like me cannot understand the newly-introduced textbooks. I feel (stuck) because we can't teach these new textbooks, and waiting for retirement," said a female teacher from a tribal district. The provincial government had fixed a teacher-student ratio at 1:40, with six teachers and six classrooms for primary schools. On the contrary, primary schools still have just two rooms and one veranda, and no criterion is being followed for the teacher-students ratio. "Unfortunately, it seems tribal districts are still passing through the 1940s, as more than 100 students are taught in two small rooms by two teachers. "The government should introduce national-level policy of 1:40 teacher-student ratio," said the official. Officials have said that insurgency and military operations took heavy toll on the education sector in the tribal belt. Over 1,500 schools were destroyed during the past decade. A large number of teachers had retired, and the government have not filled the vacant posts, creating a gap.

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Publication:Gulf Times (Doha, Qatar)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Dec 17, 2018
Words:751
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