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Alarming Rise in Out-of-School Children across Pakistan Sparks Concerns

The News International reports that as of the academic year 2021-22, Pakistan is grappling with a staggering 26.2 million out-of-school children, indicating a persistent challenge in achieving universal education. The data underscores that 39 percent of children in the school-going age group are currently not enrolled, raising concerns about the nation’s educational landscape.

Balochistan emerges as a cause for heightened concern, as it leads with a startling 65 percent of children out of school, while Islamabad Capital Territory reports the lowest percentage. Among the major provinces, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa performs relatively better with a 30 percent out-of-school rate. Despite a slight decrease in the percentage of out-of-school children from 44 percent in 2016-17 to 39 percent in 2021-22, the absolute number has surged from 22.02 million to 26.21 million during the same period. This surge is primarily attributed to the population growth rate outpacing the decrease in out-of-school children.

The report further reveals a disconcerting scenario at the higher secondary level, with a projected 60 percent of children expected to be out of school in the current academic year. Additionally, the analysis indicates out-of-school rates of 44 percent, 30 percent, and 36 percent at high, middle, and primary levels, respectively.

Highlighting the urgent need for targeted interventions, the data shows that a significant portion of the out-of-school children, totaling 10.77 million, are at the primary level. Economic disparities also play a crucial role in limiting educational access, with children from the poorest quintile facing the highest disadvantage across all education levels. This revelation underscores the need for comprehensive efforts to address these challenges and ensure education for all in Pakistan.

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