ISLAMABAD: A new report by education campaigners Alif Ailaan has highlighted the need to promote girls’ education in Balochistan and shows that the lack of educational opportunities for girls has not prevented girls from outperforming boys in matriculation examinations.
Female participation in secondary examinations has seen a cumulative increase of 193 per cent over the last 15 years, jumping from 18 per cent in 2001 to 30 per cent in 2015. The report attributes this to a rapid increase in girls’ high schools, but notes that they are still outnumbered by boys’ high schools.
These findings were incorporated in the research report, titled ‘PASS/FAIL? Matriculation Examination Results in Balochistan and What They Mean for the Future’, which was launched on Thursday.
The report uses data from Balochistan Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BBISE) and utilizes the scores of students who appeared in the matric examinations in 2014, as well as longitudinal data from 2001 to 2015.
Amongst its other findings, the report noted the need for more high schools and elite government schools for girls, a greater emphasis on teacher training, and approaches tailored to provincial education departments.
The report notes that while ‘other government schools’ – a category dominated by military-run schools and cadet colleges, as well as Balochistan Residential Colleges (BRCs) – dominate higher exam results, girls are not admitted to schools in this category. This means that while girls are outperforming boys in government and private schools, they are not given the opportunity to attend elite government schools in the province.
“The largest share of [girls] is in private schools at 34% followed by government schools at 32%. The lowest percentage is in the ‘other government’ category at 22%. Girls, therefore, face a degree of exclusion from elite government schools that they do not face in ordinary government schools, or private schools.”
The report goes on to state that while girls perform better than boys in most grade positions, they are outnumbered by boys for ‘A+’ positions because the majority of students receiving this grade belong to elite government schools, from which girls are excluded.
Of particular note are the report’s findings on what it calls ‘The Cheating Factor’. The report states that cheating in province is “endemic”.
The report notes that the bulk of cheating takes place within examination halls, often through impersonations, externally provided material, and the rampant use of mobile phones by candidates. Teachers, parents, political leaders, and civil servants are complicit in the trend’s development.
The report states that the Balochistan government launched an anti-cheating campaign called ‘Goodbye to Cheating’ in 2015, which it called a “qualified success”. However, the report goes on to suggest that the campaign, and the measures undertaken by the provincial government to control cheating in examinations, must continue in order to curtail cheating.
The report also calls for structural changes. It advocates a merit-based selection process for invigilators, as well as a shift in the standard of BBISE examinations from “rote testing”. The report also makes observations regarding the difference in facilities offered by government and private schools, and criticizes the quality of education provided in the province.