Child rights in Pakistan

Access to free and compulsory education is a fundamental right of children. In Pakistan education is neither free, nor compulsory, nor easily accessible to all children.
Pakistan has about 184,000 primary schools, including about 121,000 government schools, an estimated 25,000 mosque schools and 38,000 private and non-formal community based schools. Approximately 75% of enrolled children attend government schools. The government intends to introduce core subjects at the primary, middle and secondary levels of the country's over 10,000 madrassahs.

According to the Pakistan Integrated Household Survey (Round 4: 2001-02), 51% of the population ten years and older has ever attended school. This proportion is much higher in urban areas (69%) than in women (36%). The difference between the sexes is particularly large in rural areas. Punjab (54%) and Sindh (49%) have the highest proportions that have ever attended school; Balochistan (37%) has the lowest.

About 38% of the population 10 years and over has completed primary level or higher. The figure is highest in Punjab (40%) and lowest in Balochistan (27%). In Pakistan as a whole the percentage of males who have completed primary level is nearly double that of females, and the disparity is even more pronounced in rural areas. In Balochistan, only 6% of females over 10 have completed primary school.

Some 57% of 15-19 year olds in Pakistan have completed primary school, compared with only 15% of the 60+ age group. The proportion of 10-14 year-olds that has completed primary (30%) is lower than the 15-19 year-olds because many 10-14 year-olds are still enrolled in primary school.

The primary Gross Enrolment Rate is 72%, far short of the target of 88% by the end of the Eighth Plan (by 1998-99). The difference between enrolment of boys (83%) and girls (61%) appears to be widening. The Net Enrolment Rate in 2001-02 was 42%.

It is estimated that households spend an average of Rs 1,443 per year on each primary school student. Urban households spend more than twice as much as rural households spend on each primary school student. Four times as much is spent on students attending private primary schools as on students attending government primary schools.

Among 10-18 year-olds who have ever attended primary school, 15% left before completing primary school. A higher proportion drops out in rural areas (18%) than in urban areas (11%). Girls are slightly more likely to leave school early than are boys in rural areas and vice versa in urban areas.

About 13% of children between 10-15 years of age who have attended school drop out before completing primary (class 5). However the largest dropout rates are seen at the end of primary with 28% dropping out before reaching the end of class six, indicating that children are failing to make the transition from primary to middle school.

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