Status of Education in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan
By: Fida Karim
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 they
needed to bring further improvement with respect to educational
attainments. In this context, I have written this write-up on the
basis of secondary data of ASER
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 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%
enrollment rate at the national level in Pakistan. This indicates
that 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
But ironically, district Diamer is worst performing with respect to
enrollment of children having an age range of 5 to 16. Thisis 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
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 representatives from Diamer who needed to
work on a war footing to address this dismal situation that is the
product of a confluence of adverse factors, including a difficult
geography, 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 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 this aspect of education,
especially in Diamer, Skardu, Ghanche and Gilgit as Hunza and
Ghizer district are relatively moving in the right direction.
In the backdrop of worst educational indicators and gender
disparity in Diamer, the GBLA members from GBLA 15 to 18 Mr.Haji
Shah Baig, Mr. Janbaz Khan, Mr. Haidar Khan and Mr. Muhammad Wakeel
needed to play their due role here to ensure quality education to
the children of their constituents in Diamer. Similarly, the Civil
Society Organizations working on education sector needed to
concentrate especially on Diamer as the indicators show the dare
need of intervention there in Diamer.
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 if to improve learning level of children going to school. In
this regard, when we have a look at the subject-wise learning
outcomes of school going children in Gilgit-Baltistan, it comes to
know that in Urdu our children in GB are learning above (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 departments and stakeholders to
concentrate on improving learning outcomes of our children in
Urdu in Hunza-Nagar, Skardu and Ghanche 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 level 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 respectively; 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 outcomes in Mathematics.
6. Status of Children from Class 1-10 Attending Paid Tuitions
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.
When we have a look at this graph, it comes to know that year on
year spending on paid tuitions have been increased in GB in general
and in Astore, Hunza-Nagar and Ghanche district in particular. This
is one of the reasons that the learning outcomes of children from
these districts are good. At regional level, students from district
Gilgit and Skardu are relatively getting not that much paid
tuitions as compare to other districts 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 passedat 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. This is a great omen for the
future of the bright future of Hunza-Nagar in the days to come.
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 at GB
level, still a lot more is needed to be done to ensure access plus
quality education, especially at Early Childhood Education /
Development (ECE/D) in all parts of GB. Similarly, it has been
cleared from this report that learning level of children attending
private schools are only marginally better-off 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 amoung 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
we all the stakeholders needed to put our best to improve learning
outcomes of children from class 1 to 10 especially 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 learning attainments in Urdu, English and
Math, district Ghizer and Astore secure 1st position that followed
by 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.
In Diamer district, enrollment in is highly skewed in favor of
boys as the OOSC are more than In-School children in class 1 to 10
and 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 to
concentrate on access plus quality in Diamer. It is a refreshing to
see that students from Diamer are more talented in ARITHMETIC than
those of the students from Hunza-Nagar district.
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
yearly years schooling and paid tuition are yet to catch up to
speed with the passage of time here in 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
regional connectivity and energy related mega projects, it can be
inferred that quality education is the only way for the meaningful
development of GB in the days to come. As such, 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
Prior to the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, education was
funded by the federal government, and G-B did not even have a
regional government. Now that the G-B government has been given
autonomy, it needs to learn how to exercise it with respect to
policy formulation and implementation. The current GB government's
resolve to hand over the early years schooling to womenfolk besides
inducting thousand of teaching and non-teaching staff in the
government's education department isthe right move in the right
direction. Nevertheless, it needed to formulate a policy on
education or children’s rights and address our education related
issues on top priority basis. So that we could take a reasonable
place in the globalized world.
The Writer is the Country Manager Monitoring & Evaluation of a
nationwide education improvement program in Pakistan. He can be