PAT’s white paper: Over 13 million children in Punjab still out of schools

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LAHORE: Contesting provincial government’s claims on education and enrollment, the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) on Friday said that over 13 million children in the province were still out of schools and the school attendance ratio was 64 per cent, not 95pc as claimed by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

In a white paper, the party claimed the chief ministerial claim of providing missing facilities to 52,000 schools was also wrong as over 20,000 schools were still without basic facilities like electricity, washroom and boundary walls.

The Punjab was supposed to achieve 100pc enrollment of students in 2015 — a target, which has not been achieved even in 2017, said Basharat Jaspal of the PAT.

A number of high-profile and expensive educational initiatives (like Danish Schools and Centers of Excellence) have failed in the recent past.

The Punjab government still has the cheeks to make tall claims on child education in its advertisement campaigns.

The Punjab’s education initiatives are now reduced to solar electricity for schools and laptops for students. “These are election tricks, not education improvement plans,” he said.

Around 13pc of schools are still without washrooms, 14pc without electricity, 6pc without boundary wall, 15pc without clean water and 29pc of them suffer shortage of teachers.

According to the Unesco report 2016, 52pc of total out of schools children reside in Punjab, which makes 13.10 million in figures.

Over 6.2m reside in Sindh, 2.5m in KP and 1.8m in Balochistan. According to the Institute of Social and Policy Science (ISPS), the school presence in the province is 64, not 95pc as claimed by the Punjab government.

In Addition, 39pc males and 48pc females in the province are illiterates. According to the same report, only six districts (Lahore, Gujranwala, Multan, Rawalpindi, Chakwal and Bahawalpur) out of 36 districts have seen some improvement in education.

Over 800 educational institutions in Punjab have suffered terrorist hits. What makes the matter worse is over 40pc males and 9pc females are smokers. Posts of over 7,000 lecturers in colleges and 18,000 in school teachers are still vacant in the province. More than Rs6 billion were spent on information technology laboratories in the province but teachers have not recruited, wasting the money on laboratories.

According to a report by the National Education Commission, Punjab had to open 13,500 non-formal schools in Punjab, but only 8,000 were opened and most of them exist only on papers, he claimed.

Despite these dismal figures, the Punjab chief minister is making tall claims on a daily basis, which is electioneering not service to education, the white paper concludes.

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