LAHORE: As many as 5.03 million girls out of 9.2 million of children were out of school in Punjab, the largest province of the country in terms of population.
Unicef education specialist Rubina Nadeem revealed the alarming figure while addressing a Policy Dialogue on the theme of ‘Equity in Education Financing, Inferences, Moot Points and Policy Asks’, organised by the Institute of Social and Policy Sciences here on Wednesday.
Pakistan stands second in the world ranking of out-of-school children with only Nigeria ahead of it, while Punjab is on the top among the provinces in this regard.
Ms Nadeem said the government had taken a number of initiatives for ensuring equitable access to quality education over the last many years in Punjab, adding the challenge was still big despite the efforts being made to ensure provision of quality education in the province.
She said the province was facing multiple challenges relating to equitable access to education including gender, location, geographical access, ethnicity, poverty status and disability and the students retention in early years of schooling.
She said poverty plays an important role in limiting the educational opportunities available to a child. Punjab’s multidimensional poverty ‘headcount ratio’ has been estimated at around 31 percent of the population.
Punjab Education Foundation Chairman Eng Qamarul Islam Raja said around 11.5 million children were enrolled in the public sector schools of the province, while 3m children were enrolled with PEF-supported schools.
He said though the government had taken steps for the implantation for the Article 25 A of the Constitution, still a lot of work should be done.
He said the government would allocate Rs400 billion for school education in the upcoming budget.
I-SAP Senior Research Fellow Ahmed Ali said an inverse relationship existed between the proportion of out of school children in 5-16 years age group and per student spending at the district level — Rahim Yar Khan, Vehari, and Muzaffargarh. He said 47pc children in 5-16 years age group were out of school in Rahim Yar Khan.
He said all the stakeholders should deliberate upon the critical relevance of equity responsive decision making, resource allocation and expenditure towards access to quality education for all, especially at provincial level.