January 17, 2018
In grade five, two public school students, Rubina and Chakar, were taught to rote learn without understanding what they were memorising. Because of inadequate learning methods, they were unable even to read a story usually taught in grade two. This demonstrates evidence of a learning crisis when only 55pc of school-going children are able to read stories in Urdu, Sindhi, and Pashto. According to a 2015 Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) report, 49pc comprehend English sentences and 50pc are able to solve two-digit math divisions. With an education challenge of such magnitude, it makes good sense shifting the national agenda to achieving learning outcomes, thereby sharing focus with universal primary enrolment goals. However, this realisation has taken a quarter of a century to materialise within global education agendas. The trajectory to attaining inclusive and equitable education for all started from the 1990 World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien, Thailand to the 2000 World Education Forum in Dakar that kick-started the Education For All movement and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), leading to the global endorsement of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and SDG 4 on education. This shift, in fact, underscores that ‘schooling is not learning’ and that holistic ‘learning’ lies at the heart of the human development enterprise. That said, Pakistan must actively engage in setting standards that are widely understood, tracking progress and making information public.