According to a report titled Pakistan District Education Rankings prepared by non-governmental organization Alif Ailaan in collaboration with the Islamabad-based Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Pakistan’s education scale didn’t witness significant improvement as its progress remained steady (an increase of 1.67%) this year.
This year’s rankings covered all 148 districts, agencies and frontier regions of the country, providing an overview of the state of education – both educational outputs and inputs – in the country.
The report shows the entrenchment of Punjab districts at the top of the rankings. Eight of the top ten districts are from the Punjab. At the other end of the table Balochistan continues to languish at the bottom. A staggering nine of the bottom ten districts are from Balochistan.
The rankings data highlight two very important findings which ought to be relevant to policymakers.
First, there continues to be a very weak relationship between education outputs like literacy, enrolment, retention and test scores with school infrastructure. While infrastructure is always going to be necessary for the functioning of schools, it will also be an insuffcient condition for improving the quality of education.
Second, quality of education is the main challenge for the education system beyond simply focusing on universal enrolment or gender parity. This is highlighted by the poor learning scores across the board for all districts and provinces.
Report says that Islamabad is the highest ranked territory in education ranking for the third year running.
In 2nd and 3rd place are Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Punjab, respectively. This represents a reversal from last year when Punjab ranked 2nd. Punjab’s score declined by 3.38%, while AJK’s stayed static.
Gilgit-Baltistan holds steady at 4th position while its education score increased by 1.69%.
Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) exchange positions for the second year in a row, with KP reclaiming 5th spot which it had lost last year. KP shows an improvement of 13.15% in its education score (second largest improvement), while Sindh dropped by 1.02%.
Education alarm in Sindh
Sindh’s performance continues to remain poor. Only Karachi (ranked 43rd) from Sindh manages to get in to the top 50 districts. Hyderabad ranked 62nd. Thatta is the worst performing district in the province, largely due to a very low retention rate.
Overall 19 out of 25 districts scored over 50 on the education score; only one (Karachi) scored over 70. While only four districts from Sindh ranked in the top half of education rankings.
Punjab continues to dominate the top of the rankings table. Eight districts from the province are in the top ten. All of the top three districts are from Punjab Rawalpindi, Chakwal and Lahore.
Only two districts: Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur scored lower than 50. These are the only two districts from Punjab to rank outside the top 100. While only three districts in Punjab scored higher than 70 in learning score, reflecting poor quality of education.
Status quo in KP?
Overall the province has rebounded from a dip last year and is now back up to 5th rank. KP continues to remain a mid-table province when it comes to education. As many as 19 of 25 districts are ranked between 20th and 100th. Haripur, Malakand, Mardan and Nowshera are in the top 25 and none in the bottom 25.
Haripur is the best performing district in the province, while Kohistan is the worst performing district. Unlike in previous years – when districts from the Hazara portion of the province – were clustered near the top – this year there is a more even distribution of scores across the province. n 24 of 25 districts scored above 50 on the education score.
Balochistan languishes at the bottom
Quetta is the highest ranked district and the only one in the top 50 districts. Almost half the districts of Balochistan rank outside the top 100 (12 out of 32).
Balochistan also has only three districts in the top half (Quetta, Kech and Killa Saifullah). Nine of the bottom ten districts are from Balochistan.
Killa Abdullah is the worst performing district in Balochistan. One new district, Lehri, has data for only two indicators and therefore it was not ranked. Only eight of the 31 ranked districts in Balochistan scored above 60 on education score. Except Quetta, no other district scored more than 70.
According to Alif Ailaan, the education scores are calculated using the arithmetic average of enrolment, learning, retention (survival) and gender parity, giving equal weight to each indicator.