District-Wise Status of Education in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan

There are no two opinions that a person who is able to read or write or do basic arithmetic during early formative years, is highly likely to acquire other important life skills that are important to have a productive and meaningful life in today's competitive world. Therefore, it is very much important for all of us to know how our children learnt and also identifies areas where they needed to bring further improvement with respect to educational attainments along with enrollment. In this context, I have written this write-up on the basis of secondary data of ASER Survey-2015 which have lately assessed 13,056 children having an age range of 3 to 16 years from 208 Governments and 120 Private schools of 209 villages from all 7 districts of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan.

The main objective of this write-up is to give you a fair outlook about the latest status of education in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) Pakistan. So that we, all the stakeholders in GB, could see our educational attainments with reference to national level figures and play our due roles to place learning at the center of our attention and discourse by moving from evidence to solutions; thus achieve sustainable development goals (SDG-4) by focusing on access-plus-quality education in GB.

1. Status of In-School (IS) & Out-of-School-Children (OOSC) 
AS can be seen from the aforementioned table, 85% of our children are enrolled in school in Gilgit-Baltistan as compare to the 81.5% enrollment rate at the national level in Pakistan. This indicates that overall GB is performing better in the education arena of Pakistan.
In GB, district Hunza-Nagar is on top of the list with a 97.6% enrollment rate, then comes district Ghizer with 96.9% enrollment followed by district Astore with 92.8% enrollment rate in class 1 to 10.
But ironically, district Diamer is worst performing with respect to enrollment of children having an age range of 5 to 16. This is badly affecting the overall enrollment rate of GB. The data also reveal that there is a wide gap in the enrollment between the boys and girls in the educational institutions in Diamer. According to recently released report of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on ‘State of Children in Pakistan’ "in District Diamer with an estimated population of 200,000-plus, only four girls attend middle school".
Even though district Diamer had five members in Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA) from 2009 to 2015 but more than 52.2% children are still out of school in District Diamer. This shows criminal negligence from the political leaders and state representatives from Diamer who needed to work on war footing to address this dismal situation that is the product of a confluence of adverse factors, including a difficult geography, influence of orthodox religious scholars, insufficient government resources and cultural biases against women’s education.
In district Skardu 18.7% of children are out of school in the year 2015 from where 5 PPP members along with other 2 members, including then Chief Minister (CM) Mehdi Shah were sitting GBLA, but here again, they have failed to provide education to almost two fourth of children from district Skardu. Almost the same is the case with district Gilgit-the constituency of current CM Mr. Hafizur Rahman, where 11.8% children are out of school.
2. Status of Enrollment in Pre-Schooling
As the scientific research have categorically proved that early years schooling have an important role in the development of social, emotional, and cognitive skills of a child. Therefore, we the GBians have started to understand this reality as 40% of our 3 to 5 years old children are receiving Early Years Schooling as compared to the 37% enrollment rate in ECE at national level in Pakistan. But we needed to concentrate on Early Years education (ECE/ECD) especially in Diamer, Skardu, Ghanche and Gilgit; whereas, Hunza and Ghizer district are relatively moving in the right direction regarding pre-schooling (ECE/ECD).

3. Learning Level of URDU by School Type and Gender

To enroll our children in school is mere a mean to an end; and the end is to improve learning level of school going children. In this regard, when we have a look at the subject-wise learning outcomes of school going children (age 5-16) in Gilgit-Baltistan, it comes to know that in the subject of Urdu our children in GB are learning more (64%) than the learning level of Urdu at national level (i.e. 61%). It is interesting to see that at the provincial level, the children from district Ghizer are outperforming in Urdu at GB level, followed by children from Astore, Diamer and Gilgit. Whereas, school going children and concern teachers from Hunza-Nagar, Skardu and Ghanche needed to concentrate on improving their learning level in Urdu. It is high time for concern education department and stakeholders to concentrate on improving learning outcomes of our children in Urdu in Hunza-Nagar, Skardu and Ghanche districts of GB.
It is equally interesting to see that our Government Schools in GB are rendering much better quality education in Urdu than those of other government schools in Pakistan as the learning outcomes of our children in Urdu is much better than that of learning outcomes in Urdu at national level in Pakistan.
4. Learning Level of ENGLISH by School Type and Gender
There are no two opinions about the importance of learning English language, as it is the language of science and technology in today's globalized world. English is the dominant business language and it has become almost a necessity for people speak English if they are to enter a global job market. In this context, it is heartwarming to see that our Government and Private schools are equally equipping our children with English language as the learning outcomes of English is much higher in GB than that of learning English at national level in Pakistan.
At GB level, our children from district Hunza-Nagar, Astore and Gilgit are outperforming in English; whereas, children from district Diamer, Ghanche and Skardu needed to concentrate on improving learning outcomes in English in the days to come as they are performing at a lower rate than the regional average learning rate in English.
5. Learning Level of ARITHMETIC by School Type & Gender

As can be seen from the aforementioned table, the children having an age range of 5-16 from district Astore are at the top of the list regarding learning outcomes in Mathematics, then comes children from district Ghizer and Diamer. Whereas, children from district Hunza-Nagar, Skardu, Gilgit and Ghanche needed to focus more on learning mathematics as their learning level in Mathematics is less than regional average but somewhat above than national average learning level in Mathematics.

6. Status of School Children Attending Paid Tuition

As can be seen from the given table that, at national level parents are spending more resources to provide tuition for their children from class one to ten; whereas, in GB this is not a common practice though it has taken momentum during recent years. For instance, in GB, overall 7.8% children were receiving paid tuitions during the year 2013 whereas, this has been increased to 13% in the year 2015 showing a whopping 60% increase in the rate of receiving paid tuitions in GB. 

7. Status of Parents Having At Least Primary Schooling

As can be seen from this table, 39% parents of school going children having an age range of 3-16 years have at least primary schooling in GB; whereas, this is 38% at the national level. District-wise Hunza-Nagar has the highest number of parents who have passed at least primary level of schooling. Whereas, Diamer, Astore and Skardu have the lowest number of at least primary pass parents. In district Hunza-Nagar, the mothers of school going children are more educated than those of fathers from Skardu, Astore and Diamer district in GB. 

8. Status of Absenteeism in Government and Private Schools
Overall 87% children and 90% teachers were present during the day of visit to  
208 Governments and 120 Private schools in 209 villages from all 7 districts of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. In private schools, 90% children and 91.7% teachers were present; whereas, 84.1% children and 89.4 teachers were present in surveyed Government schools in Gilgit-Baltistan.

9. Status of Facilities in GB Schools
 As can be seen from this table, overall 74% survey schools have connection of electricity, 38% schools have library, 68% schools have boundry wall, 52% schools have playground, 66% schools have toilets and 67% schools have drinking water facility. Furthermore, on the average sum of 8 classrooms were being used for classes in each surveyed school in Gilgit-Baltistan.

10. Qualification of  School Teachers in GB Schools
There are more qualified teachers in surveyed Private Schools as compare to surveyed Government Schools in GB. As can be seen from this table, in terms of General Qualification, majority of teachers have Bachelor's, Master’s or Above level degree; whereas, only 27% teachers are under intermediate certificate in GB. Only 1% school teachers in surveyed school Similarly, in terms of professional qualification, 76% school teachers have B.Ed, M.Ed or above level degree in GB. 

9. Conclusion and Recommendations
From this report, we can easily infer that at national level GB is performing better regarding enrollment and educational attainments in language (Urdu/English) and numeracy (Mathematics). But across the GB level, still a lot more is needed to be done to ensure access plus quality education, especially in pre-schooling (ECE/ECD). Similarly, it has been cleared from this report that learning level of children attending private schools are only marginally better than those of the kids attending private schools of GB as our government schools are doing a good job in imparting quality education to our children, thanks to their attractive salaries in GB.
In terms of enrollment in early years schooling to class 10, gender parity and parental education, district Hunza-Nagar stood on top of the list among all the seven districts of GB. Nevertheless, to sustain the soft image of Hunza as "a paradise of high literacy and gender equality in a remote corner of Pakistan" we needed to put our best to improve learning outcomes of children from class 1 to 10 in Mathematics and Urdu. I am fully convinced that now that when district Hunza have been separated from Nagar, the indicators will definitely show much better outlooks in forthcoming surveys as the educational attainment related indicators were being affected due to low literacy rate in Nagar district.
Similarly, in terms of overall learning attainments in Urdu, English and Math, district Ghizer and Astore secure 1st position at GB level followed by district Hunza-Nagar and Gilgit respectively.
Although district Ghanche have shown impressive outlook in terms of enrollment in school other than ECE; nevertheless, it needed to concentrate on improving learning outcomes of children from class 1 to 10 in English, Urdu and Mathematics.
It is a refreshing to see that students from Diamer are more talented in ARITHMETIC than those of the students from Hunza-Nagar district. But ironically, enrollment is highly skewed in favor of boys and the Out of School Children (OOSCs) are more than In-School children (ISCs) in class 1 to 10 in Diamer. Only 16% of Girls from these enrolled students can read at least a sentence. In ECE class only 9% children are enrolled whereas, 91% of ECE level kids are out of school in Diamer. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to all the stakeholders in general and GB Government in particular to concentrate on ensuring access plus quality education to our children in district Diamer as it's the responsibility of state under Article 25-A of the constitution of pakistan "to provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of 5 to 16 years in such manner as may be determined by law". Furthermore, after 18th amendment in the constitution of pakistan, education planning and development comes under the jurisdiction of provincial governments in Pakistan. The current GB government's decision to hand over the early years schooling to womenfolk besides merit based induction of thousand of teaching and non-teaching staff in the government's education department are the right move in the right direction. Nevertheless, it needed to formulate a policy on education and children’s rights and address our education related issues on top priority basis. So that we could achieve SDGs on time.
It is interesting to see that district Ghizer have impressive credentials with respect to overall enrollment, parental educational and educational attainments of children from class 1 to 10 in Urdu, English and Mathematics. Nevertheless, enrollment in Early Years Schooling (ECE/ECD) and paid tuition are yet to catch up with national and regional average in the days to come in district Ghizer.
Skardu, once a top performing district in GB, has experienced setbacks during recent years in educational attainments, enrollment and gender parity due to alleged corrupt practices in hiring teachers and rent seeking activities of last PPP government under its representative in GBLA and then CM GB from Skardu.
In the backdrop of the aforementioned facts and figures, our unique ground realities and raising needs of our region with respect to massive China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, we can easily infer that quality education is the only way for the meaningful development of GB in the days to come. Furthermore, our education sector in GB has every reason and potential to be nurtured as a model for the rest of the country. However, efforts are needed at multiple levels and in all districts to strive for the cause of education in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan.
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Also Published this Feature Research Report by the Following Newspapers and Journals in Pakistan.

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