Pakistan News

Over 20 per cent students miss school daily in KP

Over 20 per cent students miss school daily in KP

PESHAWAR: Despite getting free textbooks and monthly stipend from the government, about 0.8 million students of the state-run schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa remain absent from the educational institutions daily, according to sources.

As many as 812,243 of the total 3.814 million enrolled students of government schools were found absent from the educational institutions on daily basis in the month of May, sources in elementary and secondary education department told Dawn. It is 21 per cent of the total enrolled students in the province.

Also read: Special focus on education in KP budget

They said that of the total absent students, from nursery to the intermediate level, 0.5 million (20 per cent) were boys and 0.3 million (23 per cent) were girls.

“The figure is alarming. The government should conduct a survey to ascertain the reasons of such a high number of absenteeism,” said an educationist serving on an important position in the education department.

He said that there might be something wrong with the education system, schools, teachers or aims and objectives of the education due to which the ratio of absent students was so high.

Kohistan district tops the list by recording 51 per cent absenteeism of students followed by Tank with 43 per cent, Battagram with 35 per cent, Dera Ismail Khan with 30 per cent, Torghar with 29 per cent, Lakki Marwat with 27 per cent, Shangla and Swat with 24 per cent each, Karak with 23per cent, Charsadda and Nowshera with 22 per cent each, Bannu and Mansehra with 21 per cent each, Peshawar, Haripur, Kohat, Swabi, Abbottabad and Mardan with 20 per cent each, Buner with 19 per cent, Mardan, Chitral and Malakand with 18 per cent each, Hangu with 16 per cent while both Dir Lower and Dir Upper has recorded 15 per cent absenteeism of students.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has been distributing free textbooks among the students of state-run schools for the last 11 years. In the current academic year, Rs2.5 billion has been allocated for provision of free textbooks to students.

Similarly, the provincial government has also been giving monthly stipend of Rs200 to each girl student from 6th to 10th grade across the province while Rs400 is given to each student in the low enrolment districts including Peshawar, Swat, Dir Upper, Shangla, Hangu, Battagram and Tank.

In absence of proper study about the recorded high number of absent students, officials in education and its attached departments have their own observations.

An official said that in some areas the enrolment was very low but teachers of the respective schools mentioned fake names in the school’s register to show their performance.

“If the actual number of low enrolment is brought into the notice of high-ups of education department then transfer of such teachers to other schools with high enrolment is must,” he said.

Sometimes, said another official, the teachers showed maximum strength of students to justify presence of more teachers in the respective school. In such a situation, when monitors visit the schools and compare the present students in the classrooms with those mentioned in the registers, the fake students are definitely shown as absent.

A principal of a government higher secondary school linked the students’ absenteeism with the poverty and lack of awareness among the parents. “I have seen my students working in the fields during school timing to earn some money for their parents,” he said.

Similarly, boy students went to workplace along with their fathers and girl students often stayed at home to help their mothers, he said.

A senior official in education department said that absenteeism was high in the rural areas. The parents in urban areas, despite being poor, sent their children to schools, he said.

The official said that corporal punishment, overcrowded classrooms, teachers’ behaviour and lack of interest by parents could also be the reasons of students’ absenteeism.

He said that absenteeism had also negative impact on the results of the students, particularly in the secondary schools certificate and intermediate examinations. Minister for Elementary and Secondary Education Mohammad Atif Khan, when contacted, termed poverty and social factors as causes of absenteeism of students.

“The poor parents prefer to send their children to workplace to earn Rs200 or Rs300 instead of schools because they (parents) are not sure that their sons would get lucrative job after getting educated in the government schools,” he said.

The minister said that the parents thought that if their children could start working after saying goodbye to education at 7th or 8th grade then why not at an early age. With improving quality of education in the government schools for which the government was making all efforts, the parents would start sending their children to schools, he said.

Published in Dawn, July 22nd, 2015

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