PAKISTAN’S education policymakers are in for a shock. Unesco, which has been monitoring the performance of countries in the school sector, has released its report for 2006 and the findings on Pakistan are dismal. All the tall claims made by the government notwithstanding, the intake of children in school is not increasing. Nearly 6.5 million children in the age group five to nine years in Pakistan are out of school — they are either helping their family with housework at home, or are part of the child labour force or are loitering in the streets. This is not taking the country anywhere close to the millennium development goal of education for all. It is not boosting the literacy rate either. As the chief of the policy review team in the ministry of education disclosed, the enrolment ratios can be quite misleading. Though 59 per cent of the children are enrolled in primary schools, on an average the boys spend only 3.8 years and the girls 1.3 years in school instead of the conventional five years. No wonder, the drop-out rate is phenomenally high.
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