Wednesday, March 19, 2014

History of Literacy in Pakistan 1947-2014

The parts that now constitute Pakistan were among the least developed regions of India and the rest of the world prior to 1947, and the last to be conquered by the British, according to an eminent Pakistani economist Dr. Kaiser Bengali. The British rule in Sind, Baluchistan and NWFP lasted about 100 years and these regions were considered the periphery of the British Raj in India. At the time of  the first census in 1950, the overall literacy rate was 20% in India and 14% in Pakistan, according to UNESCO. As of 2012, India has achieved 75% literacy rate while Pakistan is at 58%.  Pakistan Youth (15-24 years) literacy rate is 79.1% for males and 61.5% for females. Each new generation of Pakistanis is more literate than its predecessors:

Over 55 years 30% literate

45-55 years   40%

 35-45 years 50%

25-35 years  60%

15-25 years  70%

Literacy Rates in 1950. Source: UNESCO

Pakistan has come a long way in terms of literacy but it still lags its neighbors, particularly Iran, which had lower literacy rate than Pakistan in 1950s, now has well over 90% of its adult population literate. Education was a key focus of the Shah Reza Shah Pehlavi, the Shah of Iran from 1941 to 1979. The Shah invested a significant chunk of his country's oil revenues to improve education, health care and infrastructure. Iran's education spending increased 1800% during the Shah's rule.

Although literacy in Pakistan has grown by about 13% during President Mushsarraf's rule to about 56%, it still remains woefully low when compared to its neighbors. 

However, Pakistanis now spend more time in schools and colleges and graduate at a higher rate than their Indian counterparts in 15+ age group, according to a report on educational achievement by Harvard University researchers Robert Barro and Jong-Wha Lee.

As of 2010, there are 380 out of every 1000 Pakistanis age 15 and above who have never had any formal schooling. Of the remaining 620 who enrolled in school, 22 dropped out before finishing primary school, and the remaining 598 completed it. There are 401 out of every 1000 Pakistanis who made it to secondary school. 290 completed secondary school  while 111 dropped out. Only 55 made it to college out of which 39 graduated with a degree.

Barro-Lee data shows the following:

1. India's overall schooling rate of 67.4% exceeds Pakistan's 61.9% in 15 and over age group.

2. Pakistan's primary schooling rate of 21.8% is slightly higher than India's 20.9% of 15+ age group

3. India has a big edge with its secondary enrollment of 40.7% over Pakistan's 34.6%, but India's completion rate at this level is a dismal 0.9% versus Pakistan's 22.5% of the population of 15+ age group.

4. India's tertiary education enrollment rate of 5.8% is higher than Pakistan's 5.5%, but Pakistan's college and university graduation rate of 3.9% is higher than India's 3.1% of 15+ age group.

5. Pakistan's combined graduation rate at all three levels is 45.7% versus India's 22.9% among the population age group of 15 years or older.

6. UNESCO's Global Education Digest shows that, as of 2009, nearly 16% of Pakistan's adult population (25-34 years age bracket) has completed higher education as of 2003, higher than the figures of 12% for India and 8% for Indonesia among emerging markets. 

College Graduation Data. Source: Global Education Digest

Barro-Lee data also shows that the percentage of 15+ age group with no schooling has gone down in both nations in the last decade, particularly in Pakistan where it dropped dramatically by a whopping 22% from 60.2% in 2000 to 38% in 2010. In India, this percentage with no schooling dropped from 43% to 32.7% of 15+ age group.

Here's some data on out-of-school children in Pakistan:

1. The actual number of out of school children of primary age in Pakistan is 5.1 million.

2. The out-of-school figures of 50% in Punjab, 61% in Sindh, 65% in KP and 78% in Balochistan are for pre-primary children ages 3 to 5 years, not for ages 6-16 years.

3. In 6-16 years age group, 7% of urban and 23% of rural children are out of school.

4. The number of out-of-school children has declined from in 8.4 million in 2001 to 5.1 million in 2010.

5. According to Pakistan Standards of Living Measurements PSLM 2011-12, the country's literacy rate is 58%.

Source: 2012 Global Monitoring Report
6. Data from Harvard researchers Rober Barro and Jhong-Wa Lee shows that Pakistan has been increasing enrollment of students in schools at a faster rate since 1990 than India. In 1990, there were 66.2% of Pakistanis vs 51.6% of Indians who had no schooling. In 2000, there were 60.2% Pakistanis vs 43% Indians with no schooling. In 2010, Pakistan reduced it to 38% vs India's 32.7%. 

UNESCO data also shows that a significant percentage of out-of-school children in Pakistan are expected to enter school:
I do not see any justification for the usual expressions of extreme pessimism that follow every alarmist report in the media. I do, however, see an urgent need for higher spending and greater focus on education by Pakistani government to make faster progress, particularly in closing the gender gap in school enrollment. A recent report about significant education successes in Punjab prepared by Sir Micheal Barber gives me hope that the PML (N) will perform better than the last government in responding to the challenge. 

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Educational Attainment in Pakistan

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

Biotech and Genomics in Pakistan 

India & Pakistan Comparison Update 2011 

India and Pakistan Contrasted in 2010
Eating Grass-The Making of Pakistani Bomb
Educational Attainment Dataset By Robert Barro and Jong-Wha Lee 

Quality of Higher Education in India and Pakistan

Developing Pakistan's Intellectual Capital

Intellectual Wealth of Nations

Pakistan's Story After 64 Years of Independence

Pakistan Ahead of India on Key Human Development Indices


Anonymous said...

As of 2012, India has achieved 75% literacy rate while Pakistan is at 58%.

both have achieved nothing of the sort.Literacy is defined in both as the ability to write your name in any language.

If we say literacy as in the ability to read a newspaper and form an opinion India is no more than 40% and Pakistan no more than 25% literate.

Iqbal Singh said...

@Haq = . At the time of the first census in 1950, the overall literacy rate was 20% in India and 14% in Pakistan, according to UNESCO.

Please note that there were big differences between East Pakistan & West Pakistan. East Pakistan had about 12% literacy rate and West Pakistan was about 20%

Riaz Haq said...

Iqbal Singh: "Please note that there were big differences between East Pakistan & West Pakistan. East Pakistan had about 12% literacy rate and West Pakistan was about 20%"

It doesn't seem right. What's your source?

The lowest literacy levels in Pakistan have always been in the western provinces of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (formerly Frontier Province) and Balochistan where tribal culture particularly prevents women from learning.

BTW, here's report titled "East Wing beats West Wing in literacy rate" from Feb 10, 1962 copy of Pakistani newspaper Dawn:

KARACHI: Nineteen point two per cent of Pakistan’s total population was literate, according to the 1961 census. The literary percentage for East and West Pakistan was 21.5 and 16.3 respectively.
According to the census, there were 1,43,35,809 literate persons in Pakistan (excluding the Frontier regions), of whom 1,11,06,746 were males and 32,29,063 were females. By provinces, East Pakistan had 89,55,501 literates, while in West Pakistan the number was 53,80,308.

These figures were obtained in census bulletin No 4 which was released in Karachi yesterday morning at a Press conference by the Census Commissioner, Mr A. Rashid.

The Census Commissioner told reporters that these literacy figures had been counted for the population aged five years and over.

He said that the percentage of literacy which had declined since the 1951 census had a reason behind it.

The definition of literacy in 1951 was “the ability to read a clear print in any language”. In the 1961 census literacy had been defined as “the ability to read a simple letter in any language with understanding” which was more in keeping with the international standard and true meaning of literacy, he said.

He said approximately one-fourth of the total literates of Pakistan lived in urban areas which had a literacy percentage of 35.8, while the percentage of literacy in rural population was 16.6.

As enumerated in the 1961 census, there were 82,069 university graduates in general and technical subjects in Pakistan. Of this 28,069 were in East Pakistan and 54,000 in West Pakistan. Higher degree holders were 231,470 in West Pakistan and 7,147 in East Pakistan.

There were nearly twice as many matriculates, intermediates and graduates in West Pakistan as in East Pakistan. At post-graduate level, the ratio was nearly four in West Pakistan to one in East Pakistan.—Agencies

Iqbal Singh said...

Visit Adult Literacy Programme : Action Plan For Bangladesh

Few issues to note. The Data is for 1971 and the rate is 16.8%.

As you are aware, the data for Pakistan in 1951 & 1961 uses different definitions of literacy. The 1961 definition is based on international standards whereas the 1951 is based on the British Raj definition of letter recognition in any language.

Riaz Haq said...

Iqbal Singh: "Few issues to note. The Data is for 1971 and the rate is 16.8%."

It's unfortunate that UNESCO has accepted this 16.8% literacy rate in 1971. It appears to be part of the false Bangladeshi Nationalists narrative that also claims 3 million Bengali war dead without evidence or data.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Express Tribune report on Pakistan Education Atlas 2013:

For the last few years, Pakistan’s adult literacy rate has stagnated at 58% – almost half the country’s adult population is unable to read or write. The figure is not surprising when you consider that only 50% of the country’s rural population has ever attended school; the number is higher for urban populations, at 73%.
According to the Pakistan Education Atlas 2013, launched on Tuesday, improvement in the education sector moves at a snail’s pace, with 32% of children aged 5-9 years out of school. 17% of primary schools consist of a single room.

It’s not all grim news, though – 91% of girls make it from primary school to middle school (higher than the number of boys, at 78%).
State Minister for Education, Trainings and Standards in Higher Education Balighur Rehman formally launched the report on Tuesday and reiterated the government’s pledge to improve education in the country. Even though education has been devolved to provinces, he said, they ‘have agreed to the constitution of a National Curriculum Commission to bring the education system on the same page across Pakistan’. Speaking at the launch, World Food Programme Representative and Country Director in Pakistan Lola Castro said the WFP had contributed to the report as it wished to ‘support and promote this important educational undertaking’ in the country.
According to the report, almost seven million children are out of primary schools in the country. “The quality of education across multiple levels is also lagging by most standards,” the report states. Some provinces fare relatively better than others in the education sector, with a ‘survival rate’ – the percentage of students completing primary school education – of 96% in Islamabad Capital Territory and a robust 95% in Gilgit-Baltistan. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa clocks in at 64%. The number is lowest in Balochistan and Sindh – 43% each. Survival rates in Punjab stand at 56%, 48% in Fata.

From primary to middle school
The results are encouraging with regards to the number of students able to reach middle school in Pakistan, particularly in Fata, where the number has crept up from 44% in 2010 to 61% this year. 100% of Islamabad students make it to middle school and 87% in Punjab. The number stands at 89% in G-B, 72% in K-P, 69% in Azad Jammu Kashmir and 67% in Balochistan. Sindh has the lowest number of students reaching middle-school level, at 59%.
Poor grade
Students in 64% of primary schools in the country have access to drinking water – in Azad Jammu Kashmir, the number plummets to 27%. In Islamabad, 185 schools out of 191 have access to clean water.
Meanwhile, 49% of government primary schools have electricity. Of more than 10,000 schools in Balochistan, only 1,662 schools are provided with electricity....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AP report on increased spending and focus on education in Pakistan:

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says international donors have pledged to provide Pakistan with about a billion dollars over the next three years to help it provide education to millions of out-of-school children.

Now a United Nations special envoy on global education, Brown said Saturday in Islamabad that the global community will partner with Pakistan in financing the biggest education expansion in the country's history.

Pakistan recently doubled its education budget, from two to four percent of its gross domestic product.

Brown says the goal is to provide education to more than 55 million people over ten years old who are illiterate in Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Sindh pushes female literacy via cellphones:

..The six-month program, expected to start this year, will be aimed at girls and women ages 15 to 25 in rural areas, the senior program manager for the digital literacy project, Ghulam Nabi Leghari, said.

It will focus initially on women who have never attended school. A female coordinator will visit selected candidates' homes to give weekly classes and regular lessons will be sent to them by cellular phone.

"Initially the program will be sending text messages to the female students. If they and their families agree to send them, then classroom teaching will begin," Leghari told UPI Next.

The classroom phase would involve three hours of work a day, six days a week for two months. In the third month, students would receive cellphones and would be able to send and receive Sindhi-language text messages, using software developed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and a local telecommunications company.

"Learners will be selected on the basis of whether they are semiliterate. This criteria may be relaxed in … some special cases. Around 750 cellphone sets will be provided to learners, 30 for teachers, 10 for coordinators and 10 for monitoring purposes," Leghari said.

He said students in the program would be able to send text messages free for four months and that an organization would be hired to translate messages in Urdu -- Pakistan's national language and the language of the original training materials -- into Sindhi, and handle other functions related to the project, including training teachers.

Shaista Sattar, a 25-year-old woman who has never attended school, said the program could have a positive impact on the lives of rural Pakistani girls and women:

"It is very important that girls will be trained to use the cellular phones and how to write and send text messages," Sattar told UPI Next.

"Besides," she said, "women and girls will also be able to receive education through cellphones. They'll be able to take their lessons whenever they have free time."

Provincial Senior Minister for Education and Literacy Nisar Ahmed Khuhro told UPI Next that female literacy is important in any country's development, and in regions where female literacy is low, speedy programs need to be implemented.

The provincial Education Department is planning to start mobile-based literacy programs in three districts -- Jacobabad, Shaheed Benazirabad and Thatta -- where female literacy rates are the lowest. Each district will have 10 centers, where the educational content of the text messages will be prepared and sent to students.

"The main purpose is to open 30 centers for female adult literacy to help female learners improve their acquired basic literacy skills through mobile phones, and apply these skills for their own betterment as well as the betterment of other females of the area, and improve the overall living standard of the village or community," the minister said.

Interactive sessions using computers and the Internet will be used in addition to mobile phones, he added

"Currently, the biggest challenge for Sindh is out-of-school children. More than 50 percent of children are out of school. Keeping in view these challenges, Sindh has to come up with out-of-box solutions to improve the literacy rate of the province," the report, issued by the provincial government's education management information program known as SEMIS, states.

Sindh has 47,557 schools, of which 42,328 are functional and 5,229 are closed, including 3,995 temporarily closed and 1,234 permanently closed, SEMIS data shows.

The availability of teachers was described as "worrisome." Nearly 20,000 schools have one teacher only, resulting in schools having to teach multiple grades together, while 9,103 schools have two teachers.

Read more:

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune story on Nawaz Sharif's launch of literacy movement in Pakistan:

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday unveiled plans to launch a countrywide literacy movement to ensure the enrollment of every child in school, with aims to allocate four per cent of GDP on education by 2018.
“Our effort is to achieve the targets, set by Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) within the coming three years.”
Among the targets set by UNESCO is to increase resources for the education sector to reach four per cent of GDP by the year 2018, Nawaz said as he inaugurated the international conference on ‘Unfinished Agenda in Education: the Way Forward’.
The prime minister said the government’s objective was to develop an education system which is compatible with the requirements of a knowledge-based economy.
Nawaz stressed that focus is needed on science and technology and developing modern skills in the education system, besides calling for prioritisation of female education in education policy, effective participation of women in the decision-making process and to protect their respect and dignity.
“For Pakistan, education was not merely a matter of priority, but it is the future of Pakistan, which lies in its educated youth.
“It has, in fact, become a national emergency. More than half of the country’s population is below 25 years of age. With proper education and training, this huge reservoir of human capital can offer us an edge in the race for growth and prosperity in the age of globalisation. Without education, this resource can turn into a burden,” the prime minister said.
With low budget allocations for education a primary concern, along with a very high number of out of school children, high drop-out rates, gender disparity, low literacy rate, realising the MDGs and EFA targets was a priority.
Not forgetting the 18th amendment, Nawaz said that despite education being a provincial subject, there was national consensus on the need for reform and modernisation of the country’s educational system to bring it at par with the national priorities and international standards.
“I believe that education is not an expense, but an investment into the future. Rather, it is the best investment an individual, parent or nation can make.”
In this regard, he directed the Planning Commission to give education top priority in their Vision 2025 programme.
Private sector plays key role
Nawaz noted the contribution of the private sector to education in Pakistan.
“Out of the 14.4 million primary stage enrolments, 4.8 million i.e. 34 per cent are enrolled in private sector schools. Private sector share is much higher at the lower, middle and secondary levels,” the prime minister added.
Lauding the role of UN agencies, NGOs, civil society, religious institutions, delivery agents, and donors’ community, he invited everyone to join the government in its mission to educate and train Pakistan’s youth.
“I have no doubt that they can turn around all our challenges into opportunities. They also have the potential to contribute immensely and positively to world peace and prosperity.”
Sharing his views on successful democratic transition in Pakistan, the prime minister dreamed of a Pakistan where every citizen gets educated in the real sense and thereby contributes to the development of the country.
$340 million for education
He said the passage of pre-requisite laws by the provincial assemblies was a good step and added that the international community also received and responded to the government’s message showing its resolve to get every child in school by 2015.
Brown said the global partnership for education had committed $100 million, the USAID $140 million and the European community $100 million, besides support from Saudi Arabia, United Nations and other countries....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BR story on tripling of private schools in Pakistan to 69,000:

With increasing in fiscal pressure, growing un-met demand for education, weak management of the public education system, and poor quality perception of the public schools, there is a structural gap on the supply side, revealed a report Access to Finance (A2F) for Low Cost Private Schools (LCPS).

Department for International Development (DFID) funded, Ilm Ideas Programme launched a study on Access to Finance for Low Cost Private Schools in partnership with Pakistan Microfinance Network here on Monday. The A2F for the LCPS report revealed that Pakistan's education industry provides a classic impact investment opportunity for private sector finance. Until now, the public sector has been playing a dominant role in the education industry. However, with increasing fiscal pressures, growing un-met demand for education, weak management of the public education system, and poor quality perception of the public schools there is a structural gap on the supply side. The report further states that given the scale the large number of out of school children and poor performance on international education indicators, there is a strong case for private sector intervention at the service delivery level either under a public-private partnership framework and/or on its own.

The number of private schools in Pakistan has multiplied to almost three folds - at a much faster rate than the number of public sector schools. Most of this growth has been within low cost private schools which now account for about one third of school enrolment in Pakistan. The study on 'A2F for LCPS' reports that there are currently over 69,000 low cost private schools in the country and is emerging as a key ancillary tool for improving enrolment rates and the quality of schooling in Pakistan.

Addressing on this occasion, Richard Montgomery Head of the UK's Department for International Development in Pakistan said that this innovative initiative would potentially help low cost private schools to access finance for the first time, which could enable them to invest in improving the quality of the education they provide, and expand access so that even more children can go to school. Given that Pakistan's population of 185 million will mushroom by half again within the next 40 years, innovative ideas like this will help ensure the burgeoning youth population is well educated and able to bring prosperity and stability to the country, Montgomery added.

Ross Ferguson Private Sector Development Advisor at UK's Department for International Development said that according to an estimate, LCPS sector needs over Rs 100 billion to fund existing expansion plans to support access to finance linked to investment in quality which can help raise both enrolment and learning outcomes. To achieve this education and the finance sectors must work together and the DFID is ready to support these partnerships, Ferguson added.

Panellists including representatives of Punjab Education Foundation, Education Foundation for Sindh, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, State Bank Pakistan, Khushali Bank, Kashf Foundation and First Microfinance Bank presented their views on exploring the full potential of the low cost private school sector with a view to enhancing access to credit and investment in quality solutions to improve operations, governance and overall quality of services the LCPS sector provides. A large number of people including donors, public and private sectors organisations from the education and finance sectors, school administrators and education service providers participated in the launching ceremony.

Amjad said...

Gender parity in primary education improves by 0.89pc Pakistan has witnessed an improvement in gender parity in education for primary from 0.82 per cent in 2001-02 to 0.89 per cent in 2012-13. In secondary education the increase is from 0.75 percent in 2001-02 to 0.89 percent in 2012-13. Youth literacy Gender Parity Index (GPI) has also witnessed increase from 0.65 percent in 2001-02 to 0.82 percent in 2012-13. As per information issued by Ministry of Education here, the first indicator under Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aims to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2005 and in all levels of education by 2015. The second important indicator of goal-3 is share of women in wage employment in the Non-Agricultural Sector, which is defined as the share of female workers in the non-agricultural sector expressed as a percentage of total employment in the sector. This indicates the degree to which labour markets are open to women in industry and service sectors, which affects not only equal employment opportunity for women but also economic efficiency through flexibility in the labour market and reflect economic factors in social empowerment of women. The empowerment and sovereignty of women and the improvement of their political, social, economic and health status is vital for the achievement of sustainable development of any country. Women participation in economic development and decision making process is well recognized in Pakistan and the government has shown considerable improvement in empowering women in both economy and decision making. In Pakistan, the share of women in non-agricultural wage employment has been set at 14 per cent. This share of women employment has consistently increased from 8.07 percent in 1990-91 to 10.12 in the year 2012-13 but it is still behind in achieving this target. Historically, in Pakistan women did not have meaningful representation in the country’s legislative forums. The situation greatly improved with the passage of time as their representation rose from 0.9 percent and 1.0 percent in 1990-91 and 18 per cent (60 seats reserved for women out of 342 seats) and 17 percent in 2011-12 in both the National Assembly and Senate respectively. Moreover, women parliamentarians have contributed through large number of resolutions raised and passed, and questions asked in the Parliament.—APP

Riaz Haq said...

While 72% of Pakistan's 8th graders can do simple division, the comparable figure for Indian 8th graders is just 57%. Among 5th graders, 63% of Pakistanis and 73% of Indians CAN NOT divide a 3 digit number by a single digit number, according to the World Bank report titled "Student Learning in South Asia: Challenges, Opportunities, and Policy Priorities". The performance edge of Pakistani kids over their Indian counterparts is particularly noticeable in rural areas. The report also shows that Pakistani children do better than Indian children in reading ability.

Riaz Haq said...

The Promise of Pakistan’s Private Schools
Through market-driven schools, young Pakistani women are gaining access to opportunity.
By Tahir Andrabi

Dec. 11, 2014 11:59 a.m. ET , Wall Street Journal

When 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on Wednesday, the accompanying pomp and press coverage helped rekindle a global fascination with the fearless young Pakistani activist who was shot and wounded after speaking out against Taliban attacks on girls’ schools.
Back home in Pakistan, the international attention has only fed the polarized opinion surrounding Ms. Yousafzai, beloved by some and derided as a pawn of the West by others.
But to single out Ms. Yousafzai as either a national hero or tool of foreign influence is to miss the real story. After working as a field researcher in Pakistan for a decade, it’s become clear to me that Ms. Yousafzai represents a new generation in Pakistan, where an estimated 50 million children are of primary-school age. For the first time in the nation’s history, more girls—63%—of primary-school age are in school than not, even as they face Taliban and other extremist threats, and even amidst an ongoing national crisis of leadership.
Girls in every corner of Pakistan, including those bordering the tribal areas and in Ms. Yousafzai’s northwest home district of Swat, are not only passing high-school exit exams at a higher rate than boys, they also consistently rank among the top students in these exams. In the most recent rounds of admissions to medical and dental schools, Pakistani girls made up 70% of the successful candidates.
The most striking change in the educational landscape feeding this phenomenon is the tremendous growth in low-cost private schools and not, as is commonly believed, in religious schools, or madrassas. This is confirmed by surveys, by government data and now by an increasing body of my own team’s field research. Their growth is fastest in the rural areas, including the Pashtun belt, and their numbers increased to more than 70,000 in 2011 from 36,000 in 1999—with no signs of a slowdown. Today they account for almost 40% of enrollment of the country’s youth. In fact, Ms. Yousafzai’s father started one such school—the Khushal School and College—in Swat in the 1990s.
This phenomenon first began after the denationalization of schools and colleges in the 1980s, allowing a critical mass of modestly educated young women, which had emerged due to government investments in secondary schooling, to serve as teachers in these schools. Today these mom-and-pop-run schools are market driven, fiercely competitive and teach a mainstream curriculum focusing on languages and math. Staffed overwhelmingly with local female teachers and bereft of any organized support from foreign-aid donors or the Pakistani government, these schools outperform their public counterparts (admittedly a low bar) on learning outcomes by a wide margin—equivalent to one year’s worth of learning by grade five. And tuition is only about $2 a month, making the schools affordable to many families dependent on daily wage labor of about $2 per day—the nation’s poverty line.
In surveys conducted in poor rural areas by the research team to which I belong, Pakistani parents exhibit little gender bias in their belief in girls’ abilities to succeed academically. In carefully conducted field experiments, rural families tend to show high aspirations for their girls when told of the increasing performance of girls in urban areas. What also stands out in these surveys is how the aspirations of Pakistani parents are indistinguishable from those in similarly developed countries across Asia and Africa.
Pakistan is a large, complex country, and there is danger in pushing any single narrative too far....

Riaz Haq said...

If Pakistan is mostly illiterate, then how on earth do people send all these text messages?
Numbers can be pretty misleading. Take this one for example: 56 per cent: That’s the percentage of the Pakistani population who are said to be ‘literate’, a definition that includes those who can only read or write their names. Based on this we (or rather the UN) came up with another number, ranking Pakistan at the 113th position in global literacy rates out of a total 120 countries.

Now that’s pretty embarrassing, but it really doesn’t paint the complete picture. So let me toss another few numbers at you and tell you that our tele-density ration is 73pc. This means that there are around 129 million mobile phone subscribers in Pakistan, almost all of whom, we can safely assume, are busily texting away.

Considering this, the UN must revise the definition of literacy to reflect the number of people who can construct short messages in (broken) English or roman Urdu using their mobile phone keypads.

The people who had never been to school and were never formally taught phonetics or the Urdu alphabet (let alone English) are now writing poetry, forwarding jokes and writing romantic and cheesy messages. The driver is having a steamy affair with the neighbour’s ‘Kaam wali’ while they exchange cheesy sms every one hour.

To facilitate this segment even more, mobile phones now have Urdu alphabets imprinted on them. Not only this, text messaging software supporting Urdu characters have been launched in the market and are being readily used by scores of people. Even Romanised Urdu is very popular — though the use of ‘creative’ spellings means you may struggle at first to decipher what’s being written. Can these people then be termed illiterate? Doesn’t quite seem to add up!

It is baffling to see that my maid carries two phones, the driver sports three of them, whereas the cook and other domestic staff each have more than one mobile phone at least. Their knowledge in terms of the functions of each phone, its specs and what technical features it has, is remarkable — probably I wouldn’t know so much about my own phone as much as they would on how to fix a bug in my contraption!

Not only this, their information on particular cellular packages is amazing. They have updates about the rates of various companies, including the unique selling points of each provider. With their extensive research, they can brief you in a moment as to which network to use for a cost effective call depending on your location.

The ‘illiterate’ carpenter runs his entire business based on his cellular skills. He has a ‘mobile office’ and he sets appointments via his mobile phone. He will text you the time at which he will visit your place. If he runs late, you will get a text message saying ‘soory- m late 1 ar’ — at least you don’t have to rot in wait cursing him and you can run your errands for another one hour! The uneducated tailor will also text the womenfolk, confirming if they asked for a blue lace or a pink one for the chiffon kurta — at least he is taking a proactive measures to prevent a massive blunder and all because he’s now text-savvy.

My driver, who also falls in the ‘untaught’ category, punches in the destination where we have to drive to, and lo and behold we get there without having to ask for directions bang in front of the gate. Not having been exposed to books and classrooms, how does he know how to key in the street name and the address in the device? Can he still be classed as illiterate?

Perhaps the UN should think of revising the literacy ratio to 73pc from 56pc.

Riaz Haq said...

A UNESCO study released Wednesday says that hundreds of thousands of people in developing countries are using their mobile phones to read, suggesting that mobile technology could help tackle illiteracy and boost access to educational and reading material.

The report found a “revolution” in reading habits in developing countries, where books can be scarce but cellphones are not. The UN estimates that some 6 billion people have cell phones—more than the number of people with access to toilets—and technology that compresses data can help mobile phone users with even basic phones cheaply access books and stories.

The report—which touts itself as the first ever study of mobile readers in developing countries—was jointly conducted with Nokia and the nonprofit Worldreader, which works to distribute digital book content around the world. More than 4,000 Worldreader users in Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan and Zimbabwe were surveyed on their reading habits.

Overall, 62 percent of respondents said they are reading more as a result of mobile reading. More than 10% of respondents said their primary reason for reading on their phone was because it was more affordable than reading in print and another 9% said it was because they don’t otherwise have access to books or stories.

The report heralded mobile reading as a potential way to empower women in countries where they may face cultural or social impediments to accessing books. While the majority of mobile readers are male, according to the survey, female respondents read nearly six times as much as men.

“How do we bring text to the unreached?” the report asks. “The answer – at least in the immediate term – is mobile devices, and more precisely mobile phones.”

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan's Sindh provincial government is planning a literacy program to reach women and girls in remote areas via cellphone, a project leader says.

The country has a national literacy rate of 70 percent for males and 47 percent for females, the Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement Survey 2011-2012 shows. In Sindh's urban areas, the male literacy rate is 85 percent and female literacy rate is 70 percent, but in rural Sindh the figures are 58 percent for males and 23 percent for females, whose opportunity to pursue an education is often hindered by the religious and cultural tradition known as purdah, which limits their ability to move outside their homes unless accompanied by a male relative.

The six-month program, expected to start this year, will be aimed at girls and women ages 15 to 25 in rural areas, the senior program manager for the digital literacy project, Ghulam Nabi Leghari, said.

It will focus initially on women who have never attended school. A female coordinator will visit selected candidates' homes to give weekly classes and regular lessons will be sent to them by cellular phone.

"Initially the program will be sending text messages to the female students. If they and their families agree to send them, then classroom teaching will begin," Leghari told UPI Next.

The classroom phase would involve three hours of work a day, six days a week for two months. In the third month, students would receive cellphones and would be able to send and receive Sindhi-language text messages, using software developed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and a local telecommunications company.

"Learners will be selected on the basis of whether they are semiliterate. This criteria may be relaxed in … some special cases. Around 750 cellphone sets will be provided to learners, 30 for teachers, 10 for coordinators and 10 for monitoring purposes," Leghari said.

He said students in the program would be able to send text messages free for four months and that an organization would be hired to translate messages in Urdu -- Pakistan's national language and the language of the original training materials -- into Sindhi, and handle other functions related to the project, including training teachers.

Shaista Sattar, a 25-year-old woman who has never attended school, said the program could have a positive impact on the lives of rural Pakistani girls and women:

"It is very important that girls will be trained to use the cellular phones and how to write and send text messages," Sattar told UPI Next.

"Besides," she said, "women and girls will also be able to receive education through cellphones. They'll be able to take their lessons whenever they have free time."

Provincial Senior Minister for Education and Literacy Nisar Ahmed Khuhro told UPI Next that female literacy is important in any country's development, and in regions where female literacy is low, speedy programs need to be implemented.

The provincial Education Department is planning to start mobile-based literacy programs in three districts -- Jacobabad, Shaheed Benazirabad and Thatta -- where female literacy rates are the lowest. Each district will have 10 centers, where the educational content of the text messages will be prepared and sent to students.

"The main purpose is to open 30 centers for female adult literacy to help female learners improve their acquired basic literacy skills through mobile phones, and apply these skills for their own betterment as well as the betterment of other females of the area, and improve the overall living standard of the village or community," the minister said.

Provincial Education Secretary Fazlullah Pechuho said the project would help girls in remote areas who have less access to primary schools.

Riaz Haq said...

Around 70 per cent of young Pakistanis can read and write, something which only half the general population is capable, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Uneso).

Unseco’s Pakistan Director Dr Kozue Kay Nagata shared these figures with media personnel at a ceremony on Monday to mark International Literacy Day. She said that the global literacy rate had risen to almost 84 per cent.

Dr Nagata said the primary school survival rate – that is, the proportion of students who get through primary school – was significantly higher in the Punjab, at 76 per cent, than the rest of the country, at 70 per cent. However, she noted that there was a gender gap, with girls showing a primary school survival rate of 72 per cent and boys 80 per cent.

The Punjab government spends around Rs6,900 on each primary student per year, she said. “With the population and relative size of the province, coupled with its political leadership, the Punjab seems to be paving the way for the entire country in regards to education,” she said.

Literacy and Non Formal Basic Education Secretary Dr Pervaiz Ahmed Khan said that the government aimed to make sure that there were no out-of-school children aged 5 to 9 in the province by 2015. It was also targeting a literacy rate of 88 per cent by then.

He said while the country as a whole was lagging behind in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, the Punjab government was working to meet them. He said that his department was assisting the Schools Education Department in the Punjab Emergency School Enrolment campaign. So far, he said, the department had educated almost 700,000 formerly illiterate adults and out-of-school children.

The department is currently running more than 7,000 non-formal basic education schools across the province. It is also planning a pilot project to establish non-formal vocational middle schools in southern Punjab.

Additional Literacy and Non Formal Basic Education Secretary Nadeem Alam Butt said that the department was adopting modern training and education methods. The department was working on programmes to provide literacy online and through mobile phones, he added.

Education Minister Rana Mashood Ahmed Khan defended the government against “needless criticism of effective interventions” in his speech at the ceremony. “The enrolment campaign is not a political slogan,” he said. “It is time to move beyond political mud-slinging. The elections are now over.”

Khan said that the Punjab government had allocated 26 per cent of the budget to education. The government was serious about education reforms, as evident from its awarding of scholarships to students on merit and the enrolment campaign.

Riaz Haq said...

The Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) has signed memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with two different non-governmental organisations to arrange free education for out of schoolchildren in backward districts of Southern Punjab that lack educational facilities.

PEF Director (NSP) Maleeha Batool signed the agreement on behalf of the foundation at her office.

Under the MOUs, BRAC Pakistan and Ghazali Education Trust will open low-cost schools as per need assessment in the districts of Rahim Yar Khan and Muzaffargarh to educate a total of 32,000 out of schoolchildren during the current academic year. These schools will be opened under the ‘New School Program’ undertaken by the foundation, while PEF will provide a monthly fee and textbooks to the students.

Meanwhile, Managing Director PEF Dr. Aneela Salman has welcomed this MOU and hoped that this partnership will open new avenues for the deserving out of schoolchildren in these two districts. She said that the NSP is helping promote free schooling in the remote areas through private entrepreneurs.

This initiative is part of a commitment to ensure free quality education for every deserving child in Punjab, especially girls, so that they can change their lives through education, she added

Riaz Haq said...

Except #Karachi,#Sindh districts last in education. #Islamabad tops, #AJK 2nd, #Punjab 3rd #GBL #KPK 4th, #Sindh 5th

In the category of primary education, Sindh dropped a place this year, from fifth to sixth place, out of the total eight regions in Pakistan.

Last year, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa had been in the sixth place, but this year it moved up a rank with around 13 percent improvement in its education score. On the other hand, Sindh’s score dropped by around one percent to 61 from 62, out of the total of 100.

This year, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) remained at first place for the third consecutive year, Azad Jammu Kashmir was second, Punjab at third, Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) fourth, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) fifth, Sindh sixth, Balochistan seventh and, lastly, FATA at eighth spot.

Even though there was a drop of 3.6 percent in Balochistan’s score, FATA’s overall score improved by 15 percent.

Karachi stands at the 43rd place in terms of education nationally, followed by Hyderabad at 62 and Naushahro-Feroze in the 72nd spot. Their education scores for this year are 72.5, 67.3 and 63.6, respectively.


Punjab stood first with the highest score of 86.9 in school infrastructure, followed by ICT with a score of 86.6.

KPK and Sindh maintained their third and fourth places, respectively, and scored 70.4 and 47. In fifth place is Gilgit-Baltistan, FATA, Balochistan and Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK). However, the national school infrastructure score rose to 62.2 from 57.6 last year.

In this category, Karachi ranks 49 with a score of 72.2, followed by Larkana at 52nd place with a score of 70.3 and Shaheed Benazirabad at 55 with a score of 66.6.

Facing neglect

The report concludes that as the overall situation of education in Punjab and KPK improves, it continues to deteriorate in Balochistan and Sindh.

With Karachi being the only district scoring more than 70 in the education indicators, and the overall provincial score around 10 points below the national average, the findings attribute this status to governance failures on the provincial governments’ part.

Meanwhile, as the Sindh government claims to be serious in mitigating the education crisis in the province, two years after the passage of Free and Fair Education Act, the authorities have yet to frame the rules of business.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s Streets Kids Drop the Begging Bowl, Opt for Pencils Instead

KARACHI, May 21 2015 (IPS) - Khalil Ahmed’s life story sounds like it could have come straight out of the plot of a Bollywood flick, but it didn’t. And that makes it all the more inspiring.

Residents of the sleepy town of Gambat, 500 km from the Pakistani port city of Karachi, where Ahmed was an all too familiar face, may not recognise the 12-year-old today.

Wearing a clean, pressed uniform and polished shoes, his hair oiled and neatly combed, and his fingernails immaculately trimmed, he is a far cry from the scrawny, dirty, bedraggled young boy of eight who, just four years ago, could be seen clutching his grandmother’s hand, pleading for alms from passersby.
Sometimes he would even beg outside the Behram Rustomji Campus – the school where he is now enrolled as a pupil.

Currently in the fourth grade, his teachers say he is one of the brightest kids in his class of 20 students, 13 of whom are girls.

Located in Pipri village, where over 95 percent of the roughly 1,000 households earn their living by begging on the streets, this humble institution has given Ahmed a rare chance to receive an education, in a country where 42 percent of the population aged 10 years and older is illiterate.

In this remote village, 45 km away from Sukkur city, the third largest in the Sindh Province, Ahmed and scores of other children like him are moving gradually away from the begging bowl and closer to pencils and schoolbooks, implements far more suited to young children with any hope of a decent future.

Rampant illiteracy

The school is run by a non-profit organisation called The Citizens Foundation (TCF), created in 1995 by a group of ordinary citizens who were appalled at the dismal state of Pakistan’s education system.
True to its pledge, TCF today runs 1,060 ‘purpose-built’ schools all across the country dedicated to serving the most marginalised communities and to removing class barriers that hinder opportunities for the poor, who comprise 22 percent of this country’s population of 180 million people.

Prior to enrolling at the Behram Rustomji Campus, Ahmed was both the product and the image of the vast inequalities that plague Pakistani society, hindering its efforts to reach the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), whose deadline expires later this year.

Poverty and illiteracy are among the most severe challenges to Pakistan’s development, and although some progress has been made to level the playing field and give all citizens a fighting chance, huge gaps still need to be closed.

For instance, according to the Pakistan Education for All 2015 Review Report, published in collaboration with the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), an estimated 6.7 million children are currently out of school, the majority (62 percent) of whom are girls.

Of the roughly 21.4 million primary-school-aged children currently enrolled in schools, only 66 percent will survive until the fifth grade, the UNESCO report predicts, while 33.2 percent will drop out before completing the primary level.

The situation is worse for street children, who in order to help their destitute families make ends meet, are forced to wander for hours eliciting spare change.

Riaz Haq said...

Excerpts of Pakistan Education Statistics 2013-14 on tertiary education:

College enrollment at 1,086 degree college stage i.e. grades 13 and 14, is 1.336 million.

University enrollment at 161 universities i.e. grade 15 and 16 is 1.595 million.

All post-secondary enrollment from grade 13 to grade 16 is 2.931 million.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan Population 196,174,380 (July 2014 est.)

Age structure 0-14 years: 33.3% (male 33,595,949/female 31,797,766)
15-24 years: 21.5% (male 21,803,617/female 20,463,184)
25-54 years: 35.7% (male 36,390,119/female 33,632,395)
55-64 years: 5.1% (male 5,008,681/female 5,041,434)
65 years and over: 4.3% (male 3,951,190/female 4,490,045) (2014 est.)

Riaz Haq said...

The (ADB) report ( Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2015) uses a unique data set of education indicators across 67 economies globally, including 23 from developing Asia and the Pacific, to capture key features of basic educational systems.

In most economies, the report states that the enrollment ratios are generally gender neutral, the largest gap is in Pakistan, where the net enrollment ratio in primary education for boys is 9.9 percentage points higher than that for girls, but this gender gap has narrowed significantly from 21.1 percentage points in 2002.

In other economies where enrollment ratios have been in favour of boys in earlier years, the gender gaps have also narrowed, with the advantages slightly reversing in favour of girls in latest years for Bangladesh, Bhutan, Georgia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Developing economies with youth literacy rates below 80% include Afghanistan (47.0%), Bangladesh (79.9%), Bhutan (74.4%), Pakistan (70.8%), and Papua New Guinea (71.2%).

Among the 23 economies that fell short of the 95% mark for completion of last grade of primary school, five economies with the lowest ratios (below 70%) are Nepal (60.4%), India (61.4%), Pakistan (62.2%), Cambodia (64.2%), and Bangladesh (66.2%). However, more economies have improved their expected primary school completion rates, with significant increases of at least 20 percentage points (pp) in Bhutan (48 pp), Cook Islands (30 pp), Cambodia (30 pp), the Lao PDR (41 pp), Mongolia (23 pp), Nepal (25 pp) and Tajikistan (27 pp). Armenia’s latest rate (94.2%) is slightly below 95% and has just fallen slightly from its 1997 baseline rate (96.5%).

As of 2015 (or latest year), all economies in the Asia and Pacific region have under-5 mortality rates of less than 100 deaths per 1,000 live births, with the highest rates in Afghanistan (91), Pakistan (81), and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (67).

Other developing economies with at most 75% of their 1-year-old children immunized against measles are Afghanistan (75%), India (74%), the Marshall Islands (70%), Pakistan (61%), Papua New Guinea (70%), and Timor-Leste (70%).

The prevalence of moderately and severely underweight children under 5 years of age has decreased in 26 of the 31 economies with data for earliest and latest years. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India and Vietnam have remarkable average annual reductions (of more than 1 percentage point per year) in the prevalence of underweight children since 1990. However, malnutrition remained high in 11 economies of the Asia and Pacific region (at more than 20%), which include the heavily populated economies of India (29.4%), Bangladesh (32.6%), and Pakistan (31.6%).

Indonesia, Lao PDR, Philippines and Vietnam in Southeast Asia and Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, and Tajikistan have seen rise in HIV prevalence rates since 2001.

Prior to that, economies with a relatively young age structure, such as India and Pakistan, should benefit from a rising share of the working-age population in their total population.

About half the regional economies were in the category of “medium human development,” including India and Indonesia. Bangladesh, the region’s fifth most populous economy, was a new addition to the medium group, while the fourth most populous economy, Pakistan, remained in the “low human development” group, along with five other smaller economies.

In Pakistan, a randomized experiment that provided information on school performance to families in markets with public and private education raised student achievement by 0.11, while reducing private school tuition costs by 17%.

“Private school tuition likely declined because better schools were forced to spend more with little real return to learning outcomes, simply to differentiate themselves enough from competing schools,” the report stated.

Riaz Haq said...

World's 10 most illiterate #BurkinaFaso #SouthSudan #Afghanistan #Niger #Mali #Chad #Somalia #Ethopia #Guinea #Benin …

Barely anyone — one to two percent of the population — could read in ancient Rome and nobody thought more people should. Now we recognize that literacy is a human right; that being able to read and write is personally empowering and, in a world that relies more and more on technology, simply necessary.

Nonetheless, millions of children, the majority of whom are girls, still never learn to read and write today (pdf). This Sunday, September 8, is International Literacy Day, an event that Unesco has been observing for more than 40 years to highlight how essential literacy is to learning and also “for eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, curbing population growth, achieving gender equality and ensuring sustainable development, peace and democracy.”

774 million people aged 15 and older are illiterate, an infographic (pdf) from Unesco details. 52 percent (pdf) live in south and west Asia and 22 percent in sub-Saharan Africa. The latter region is where most of the countries with the lowest literacy rates in the world are located, according to data from the C.I.A.:

1. Burkina Faso: 21.8 percent of the adults in this West African country are literate.

2. South Sudan: This country in east Africa, which became an independent state in 2011, has a literary rate of 27 percent.

3 Afghanistan: 28.1 percent of this country’s population are literate with a far higher percentage of men (43.1 percent) than women (12.6 percent) able to read.

4. Niger: The ratio of men to women in this landlocked western African country is also lopsided: the literacy rate is 42.9 percent for men, 15.1 percent for women and 28.7 percent overall.

5. Mali: Niger’s neighbor on the west, the literacy rate in Mali is 33.4 percent. 43.1 percent of the adult male population can read and 24.6 percent of the country’s women.

6. Chad: This west African country is Niger’s neighbor on its eastern border; 34.5 percent of its population is literate.

7. Somalia: Long beset by civil war and famine, 37.8 of Somalia’s population is literate. 49.7 percent of the adult male population is literate but only 25.8 percent of adult females.

8. Ethiopia: Somalia’s neighbor to the north, the literacy rate in Ethiopia is 39 percent.

9. Guinea: 41 percent of this west African country’s population is literate. More than half (52 percent) of adult males are literature and only 30 percent of women.

10. Benin: 42.4 percent of Benin in West Africa are literate.

Around the world, two-thirds of adults who are illiterate are female, meaning that there are 493 women unable to read and write.

54 of the 76 million illiterate young women come from nine countries, most in south and west Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa and not necessarily those with high rates of adult illiteracy: India (where almost 30 million young women are illiterate), Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the United Republic of Tanzania, Egypt and Burkina Faso.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan's 2nd, 4th & 5th grade girls much more #literate than #India's. #Nepal's girls do best in #literacy tests …

Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal have stolen a march over India in quality of school education.

Data from new research on female literacy show that India’s school education system is under-performing in terms of quality when compared to its neighbours, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. The research studies changes in female literacy over a number of schooling years.

The proportion of women who completed five years of primary schooling in India and were literate was 48 per cent, much less than 92 percent in Nepal, 74 per cent in Pakistan and 54 per cent in Bangladesh.

These findings, which are part of a forthcoming background paper, were released in a blog-post by New York-based International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity (or Education Commission) last week. Justin Sandefur, one of the authors of the paper, said, “This is a simple but powerful signal that India’s education system is under-performing.”

The data also revealed that, female literacy rates went up by one to 15 per cent after completing two years of schooling. Corresponding numbers for Pakistan and Nepal were three to 31 per cent and 11 to 47 per cent respectively. “This implies that schooling is roughly twice as productive at generating literacy for women during the early grades in Pakistan when compared to India. Or, it could also mean that Indian schools are much more lenient about promoting students who cannot read,” Mr. Sandefur said.

DHS data

For this research, the authors devised a way to measure the quality of education around the world, with a specific focus on girls, using data from nationally representative Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) — one of the most comparable data sources on living standards in the developing world. “We used data from all countries with DHS data that included the literacy measure,” Mr. Sandefur said. Around the world, female literacy rates are improving. However, it is not clear if that is because of improvement in school quality, the study says. India ranks low in global indices of female literacy as well. If countries are ranked by the earliest grade at which at least half of the women are literate — a proxy for quality of learning — India ranks 38th among the 51 developing countries for which comparable data is available. Indonesia, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Tanzania — all rank higher than India. Ghana is placed at the bottom. According to this study, just seven per cent of female students in Ghana can read after attaining their sixth grade.

Over the years, most countries studied made improvements in the number of girls finishing primary school, which should lead to more literate women. But for girls who don’t finish primary school, the trend is not encouraging: researchers found that little to no progress has been made in increasing basic literacy for the girls who drop out. The report notes, “Millions of women have spent multiple years in school and emerged unable to read a simple sentence” and “it’s not getting much better over time.”

Riaz Haq said...

Apologists for empire like to claim that the British brought democracy, the rule of law and trains to India. Isn’t it a bit rich to oppress, torture and imprison a people for 200 years, then take credit for benefits that were entirely accidental?

by Shashi Tharoor

Many modern apologists for British colonial rule in India no longer contest the basic facts of imperial exploitation and plunder, rapacity and loot, which are too deeply documented to be challengeable. Instead they offer a counter-argument: granted, the British took what they could for 200 years, but didn’t they also leave behind a great deal of lasting benefit? In particular, political unity and democracy, the rule of law, railways, English education, even tea and cricket?

Indeed, the British like to point out that the very idea of “India” as one entity (now three, but one during the British Raj), instead of multiple warring principalities and statelets, is the incontestable contribution of British imperial rule.

Unfortunately for this argument, throughout the history of the subcontinent, there has existed an impulsion for unity. The idea of India is as old as the Vedas, the earliest Hindu scriptures, which describe “Bharatvarsha” as the land between the Himalayas and the seas. If this “sacred geography” is essentially a Hindu idea, Maulana Azad has written of how Indian Muslims, whether Pathans from the north-west or Tamils from the south, were all seen by Arabs as “Hindis”, hailing from a recognisable civilisational space. Numerous Indian rulers had sought to unite the territory, with the Mauryas (three centuries before Christ) and the Mughals coming the closest by ruling almost 90% of the subcontinent. Had the British not completed the job, there is little doubt that some Indian ruler, emulating his forerunners, would have done so.

Far from crediting Britain for India’s unity and enduring parliamentary democracy, the facts point clearly to policies that undermined it – the dismantling of existing political institutions, the fomenting of communal division and systematic political discrimination with a view to maintaining British domination.

In the years after 1757, the British astutely fomented cleavages among the Indian princes, and steadily consolidated their dominion through a policy of divide and rule. Later, in 1857, the sight of Hindu and Muslim soldiers rebelling together, willing to pledge joint allegiance to the enfeebled Mughal monarch, alarmed the British, who concluded that pitting the two groups against one another was the most effective way to ensure the unchallenged continuance of empire. As early as 1859, the then British governor of Bombay, Lord Elphinstone, advised London that “Divide et impera was the old Roman maxim, and it should be ours”.

Since the British came from a hierarchical society with an entrenched class system, they instinctively looked for a similar one in India. The effort to understand ethnic, religious, sectarian and caste differences among Britain’s subjects inevitably became an exercise in defining, dividing and perpetuating these differences. Thus colonial administrators regularly wrote reports and conducted censuses that classified Indians in ever-more bewilderingly narrow terms, based on their language, religion, sect, caste, sub-caste, ethnicity and skin colour. Not only were ideas of community reified, but also entire new communities were created by people who had not consciously thought of themselves as particularly different from others around them.

Large-scale conflicts between Hindus and Muslims (religiously defined), only began under colonial rule; many other kinds of social strife were labelled as religious due to the colonists’ orientalist assumption that religion was the fundamental division in Indian society.

Riaz Haq said...

Punjab and Sindh provinces in Pakistan are public-ising their private schools (and they’re also privatising their public schools)

Back in 2015 the Economist published an article called “Learning Unleashed”, which breathlessly declared Punjab, Pakistan to be the “new standard bearer for market-based education reform”. No matter there isn’t really any evidence that learning has been improved, never mind unleashed, what the article described is just about the opposite of a market-based reform. Through voucher and subsidy schemes, Punjab’s government injects public finance into private schools. Similarly, in the southern province of Sindh, the state is fully financing the education of hundreds of thousands of kids enrolled in private schools. And in both provinces it is the state, not the market, that sets the rules of the game.

Kids in Pakistan’s schools aren’t learning. And they’re the lucky ones who are actually in school
Test scores suggest that children in Pakistan are performing well below curricular standards. Although, unlike in India, their test scores have not worsened over time, like almost every other developing country they are not improving. Data from ASER makes for grim reading: less than a third of grade five children from the wealthiest quintile have the numeracy and literacy skills that are expected of a child in grade two. Just 17 percent of grade five kids from the poorest quintile can read a single sentence. Remember, these are the kids who managed to make it to grade five – in other words, they’ve sat through at least five years of schooling and 83 percent of them still can’t read a sentence.

As for those who aren’t in school, Pakistan’s Bureau of Statistics estimates that there are 5.6 million primary age out-of-school kids (note that this figure is based on the 1998 census, and so the true number could well be substantially higher or lower).

The twin ”crises”of low and static test scores, combined with millions of kids not in school, has led to a proliferation of education reforms. These include policies that aim to harness the vibrant and growing private education sector.

With education in crisis, government turned to the private sector for help
Provincial leaders in Punjab and Sindh are taking bold steps to reform their failing education systems. They’ve moved fast, particularly in Punjab where the Economist’s Learning Unleashed article is framed and proudly mounted on several government office walls.

Together, the PPPs in Punjab and Sindh make up one of the largest and fastest-growing public private partnerships in the world. More than three million kids in the two provinces are enrolled in around ten thousand private primary schools, with the cost of their education fully financed by the state. They’re managed by semi-autonomous entities, the Sindh Education Foundation and the Punjab Education Foundation, whose funding is almost entirely provided by their provincial governments.

Riaz Haq said...

Roshan the camel brings books to #homeschooling children in rural #Balochistan, #Pakistan during #COVID19 #pandemic . Children in remote villages where the streets are too narrow for vehicles rush out to meet Roshan, shouting "the camel is here!"#education

Plodding his way through the desert in remote southwest Pakistan, Roshan the camel carries priceless cargo: books for children who can no longer go to school because of coronavirus lockdowns.

The school children, who live in remote villages where the streets are too narrow for vehicles, put on their best clothes and rush out to meet Roshan. They crowd around the animal shouting "the camel is here!"

Pakistan's schools first closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, and have only opened sporadically since then, with around 50 million school-age children and university students told to continue their education from home. It's been especially difficult in places like Balochistan, where in many villages internet access is almost non-existent.

Raheema Jalal, a high school principal who founded the Camel Library project with her sister, a federal minister, says she started the library last August because she wanted children around her remote hometown to continue learning despite schools being closed.

The project is a collaboration with the Female Education Trust and Alif Laila Book Bus Society, two NGOs that have been running children's library projects in the country for 36 years.

Roshan carries the books to four different villages in the district of Kech, visiting each village three times a week and staying for about two hours each time. Children borrow books and return them the next time Roshan visits.

"I like picture books, because when I look at the pictures and the photographs, I can understand the story better," nine-year-old Ambareen Imran told Reuters.

Jalal hopes to continue and expand the project to cover more villages, but needs funding: around $118 a month is needed now each month for Roshan.

Murad Ali, Roshan's owner, says he was taken aback when he was first contacted about the project, but thought camels were the sensible mode of transport. He enjoys the trips and seeing the happy children and still earns as much as he used to when he transported firewood.

Balochistan makes up nearly half of Pakistan by area, but the sparsely populated province is also the country's most impoverished.

Riaz Haq said...

Bilal I Gilani
Literacy rate by age

Alhamdulilah the younger generation is significantly more literate than older generation

Our literacy rate ( which is calculated on 15+ age group) is going to rise slowly as it has older cohorts in large numbers

Literacy is not end all but it's a start

(Bar graph shows literacy rate is 75% for 10-14 age group, 73% for 15-19 and 69% for 20-24....going down to 51% for 40-44 and 34% for 60-64 age group)