Unnecessary experiments, socio-economic conditions mar education standards in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

By Asmat Shah Garwaki

PESHAWAR, Feb 27 (APP): Education standards in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have suffered due to unnecessary experiments and dwindling socio-economic conditions during the last two decades or so resultant into increase dropout ratio of students from educational institutions.
The political and economic instability besides socioeconomic imbalances and unnecessary experiments of the past governments have adversely affected education standards in the province where currently over 4.7 million children are out-of-schools. Bringing them under the education net would be challenge number one for the new elected government.
Detrimental to democratic and economic growth, the high rate of illiteracy in the province especially in merged tribal districts has not only risked the very existence of the education system but it also deprives the poor strata from quality education despite tall promises made by the democratic dispensation, resulting an increase in poverty, unemployment and illiteracy in the country.
The Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) 2021 survey has revealed that about 22.8 million children were out-of-schools (OSC) in the country including 4.7 million children aged between 5 to 16 years in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa  i.e 2.9 million girls and one million belonged to merged tribal districts.
These OSC includes 74.4 percent of girls and 38.5 percent boys in the province where 77 percent were reported in Palas Kolai, 70 percent in Upper Kohistan and 69 percent in Upper Kohistan, 61 percent in Torghar, 55pc in Shangla, 53 percent in Lakki Marwat and 51 percent each in Tank and Batagram districts.
In merged areas, 66 percent of children are out-of-school in North Waziristan, 63 percent in Bajaur, 61 percent in South Waziristan, 51 percent each in Mohmand and Khyber, and 47 percent each in Kurram and Orakazai, signifying the lackluster education policies and hallow claims of the past successive governments.
“I left my education at primary school after the death of my father and started labour work to support my eight-member family and never look behind,” said Kamal Khan, a resident of Pabbi tehsil while talking to APP. “To pay heavy loans obtained for the treatment of my father Hamayun Khan died due to pancreas cancer, I abandoned education and started job in construction industry to clear the loans and run house expenses due to poverty,” he added.
“Education standards in KP has suffered as it was passed through different unnecessary experiments during the last two decades in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, resulting an increase in dropout ratio of students from schools and unemployment,” said Professor Dr AH Hilali, former Chairman Political Science Department, University of Peshawar while talking to the news agency.
Shahab Khan, senior planning officer KP Education Department said that about 15,667 new schools were required to enroll 300 such children (aged 5-9 years) per school for upcoming academic year, adding ALP (alternate learning pathways) were initiated for OSC. He said that 300,000 OSC would be enrolled in schools in KP in the next three years besides construction of 10,000 new schools and1,000 ALP.
Early Child Education (ECE) policy is ready while teaching materials including teachers’ guidebook and handbook for such mode of learning prepared; adding transformation of Katchi into ECE was in progress besides completion of training of 790 master trainers and 425 teachers on ECE.
More than 4000 teachers in primary, secondary and middle schools recruited and about Rs30 million invested to support 489 literacy centers besides disbursement of Rs three billion in scholarships among students of the hitherto neglected tribal districts.
Similarly, more than Rs20 million have been spent on students in madrasas in four years, while free textbooks and bags provided to more than 600,000 students in tribal districts besides over Rs20 million for digital skills of students in 2018-22. Besides shifting over 1100 schools to solar energy in the tribal districts, more than three billion rupees were allocated for solarizing of schools.
Former Secretary Elementary and Secondary Education Department Mohtasim Billah Shah said the department has notified provision of free textbooks from class nursery to 12 for the academic year 2024-25. He said 100 free textbooks would be published from class nursery to class 03, 80 percent from class 04 to 05 while the remaining 20 per cent to be managed from old textbooks. Similarly, 50 per cent of textbooks would be published for class 06 to 12 and remaining 50 percent to be managed from old textbook.
The department has planned to explore the possibilities of soft copies of textbooks to be used through personal, registered cell phones or on tablets, laptops of the students for academic year 2025-26.
APP/ash-fam/taj (APP Feature Service)

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