Children of less-privileged parents deprived of decent maths or science education in Pakistan: report
Schools in Pakistan are producing unacceptably low levels of learning outcomes in maths and science, a report published by Alliance for Maths and Science stated.
According to the findings of Powering Pakistan For The 21st Century, Volume II of III: “The State of Maths and Science in Schools” there are five fundamental reasons for why maths and science education is so poor.
First, the political economy of maths and science education is aligned to serve the narrow interests of small groups, instead of the interests of Pakistani children.
Second, the government structures responsible for delivery of decent education and the systems in place to deliver them are out-dated, and inefficient. They cannot deliver a 21st century education to the neediest and most vulnerable.
Third, government schools are not equipped to provide satisfactory learning outcomes in maths and science (or in any other subject areas).
Fourth, teachers that teach in those schools do not have the incentives, nor the skills to deliver quality maths and science instruction to children.
Finally, the content being delivered to children, and the means of testing whether they are learning anything are unacceptably low grade, and ineffective.
• The average maths score for Class VIII students in the National Education Assessment System (NEAS) exams conducted in 2014 was 461 out of 1,000.
• The average maths score for Class IV students in the NEAS exams conducted in 2014 was 433 out of 1,000.
• In the Punjab, the 2016 Punjab Examinations Commission (PEC) results show that average maths scores for Class V are 53%.
• In the Punjab, the 2016 Punjab Examinations Commission (PEC) results show that average science scores for Class V are 48%.
• In Sindh, the 2016 Standardised Achievement Test (SAT) results show that average maths scores for Class V are 24%.
• In Sindh, the 2016 Standardised Achievement Test (SAT) results show that average science scores for Class V are 24%.
• Other than the NEAS data, there are no statistics available for middle school learning levels for children in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Gilgit Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, or the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
AVERAGE MATHS RESULT
The average maths score for Class IV students in the National Education Assessment System (NEAS) exams conducted in 2014 was 433 out of 1,000 .
THE POOR STATE OF MATHS
Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) has now carried out several waves of independent testing throughout Pakistan and published data in both reports as well as raw format.
A section on the ASER survey is designed to test basic numeracy skills among children. ASER results show the percentage of children from Class I to Class X, who can perform basic numerical operations such as:
i. recognising numbers from 1-9 and 10-99
ii. two digit subtractions iii. two digit divisions
The results also give a percentage of children who cannot do any of the three basic numerical operations.
At present, the expenses in federal and provincial annual budget statements are neither appropriated nor presented in a manner which allows for an accurate assessment of development and non-development costs incurred on maths and science education. The breakdown of current budget by salary and non-salary is not available for the district allocations made by the provincial governments of the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The data on the number of government school teachers, which is collected and presented in the provincial annual school census, neither provides a headcount of maths and science teachers at various levels of education nor any details on their designation, professional experience or cadre, all of which are necessary for making reasonable estimations of salary expenditure. As a result, salaries of teachers at all levels have been assumed to be equal while proportioning salary budget.
Similarly, in the absence of the breakdown of salary budget by teaching and non-teaching staff, an estimate for each of the two categories is rendered implausible.
Furthermore the recurring expenditure incurred by the Reform Support Unit (RSU) on the SAT in Sindh and divisional boards in any of the provinces could not be accounted for, as this data is not publicly available.
The calculation of budget estimates in the presence of these overwhelming restraints necessitates a great deal of guesswork: however, the effort to establish how much taxpayers are paying into the maths and science education of the nation is incredibly important. We hope this section provides a starting point for an informed conversation on the adequacy of the state’s financial commitment to the promotion of maths and science education in government schools.
The exercise also highlights gaps in the existent data on budget allocations. Without the resolution of these gaps any hopes for informed policies and strategies on adequate resource allocations for maths and science education are likely to be misplaced.