Education is a vital instrument for setting up a knowledge based economy. Its critical role in human capital formation is well established and widely recognized wherein primary and elementary education is a stepping stone in a foundation for further education in relation to human resource development for better, prosper and peaceful society. GoAJK despite of numerous economic austerities and fiscal hardships is committed to lay down a broad based foundation for educated society and gives top priority to primary/ elementary education in its development initiatives and normal budgetary, which could be preamble in the history of education development in AJK. However, there is lot to do and therefore this chapter would review elementary education profile in AJK and provide details of the historical development overtime. It will also discuss elementary education since the option of education policy 2009 in the context of 18th amendment. After conducting situation analysis, it will identify the gaps and made recommendations. It will also enlist the appropriate strategies and in light of these strategies develop programme for future development of this sector with its financial requirement.

History of Strategic Planning in Elementary Education

In AJK there are a few attempts toward formal strategically planning for elementary education in AJ&K. Mostly, it was donor driven (i.e. NGOs/INGOs, donors/ semi- governmental organizations) for their own motives. A few strategic plans found in this field:

  • Initiatives under different National Education Policies
  • Different five years Plans and non-plan period containing provision elementary education
  • EFA Plans
  • Non-formal and Literacy Plans

National Education Policy 2009 and Elementary Education in AJK

The National Education Policy 2009, which has been adopted as Kashmir Education Policy in Dec. 2012 contains following policy actions pertaining to Elementary Education in the State;

All children - boys and girls - shall be brought inside school by the year 2015. Official age for primary education shall be 6 to 10 years. The official age group for next levels of education shall also change correspondingly.

Government shall make efforts to provide the necessary financial resources to achieve the EFA goals.

Wherever feasible, primary schools shall be upgraded to middle level. International Development Partners shall be invited through a well-developed plan for expanding school facilities.

High priority shall be paid to reducing the dropout rates. An important element of this effort should be to provide financial and food support to children who drop out because of poverty.

Food based incentives shall be introduced to increase enrolment and improve retention and completion rates, especially for girls.

Schools shall be made more attractive for retaining the children by providing an attractive learning environment, basic missing facilities and other measures. Government shall establish at least two “Apna Ghar” residential schools in each province to provide free high quality education facilities to poor students.

Every child, on admission in Grade I, shall be allotted a unique ID that will continue to remain with the child throughout his or her academic career.

After 18th constitutional amendment, these initiatives are now in the domain of the state government but federal govt. ceased funding for stated interventions despite the fact the Areas and GAJK is not part of financial award.

Elementary Education in AJ&K Situation Analysis

In AJ&K elementary education is considered from class 1 class 8 class, which is further segregated into Primary and Middle level education. The medium of instruction was generally Urdu but partially English. However, with the implementation of new curricula 2006-07, English medium has been introduced in all public sector schools.

Education is imparted in all categories of schools from primary schools to HSS in AJK having same curriculum for male and female and for rural and urban areas. The focus of this level education is on strengthening foundations of first and second languages, Mathematics and science. Despite numerous economic difficulties challenges and fiscal constraints, GOAJK is committed to keep primary/elementary education on priority in her development and recurring budget with allocation of 9.6 % and 34.6 % respectively, which fairly good share.

After the 18th amendment, the National Education Policy 2009 is being implemented with strong commitment in AJ&K and many of its proposed policy actions have already been initiated under education reforms that include provision of missing facilities, improvement of teacher education, up-grading of schools, and implementation of New Curriculum of 2006-07, etc.

The GOAJK considerable emphasis on strengthening the education sector led wonderful improvement overtime. There were only 291 educational institutions of which only five were female schools at time of independence in 1947, which witnessed tremendous increase since then pushing the number of educational institutions is exceeding 6000 of which 2862 are female wherein elementary education is part of all public, private and semi govt. schools spread over in AJK.

Elementary Education Institutions in AJ&K

In absolute term, total elementary schools observed commendable improvement in due course of time as the number these schools increased from 284 to 5214 showing 18 fold rise while primary school went up from 254 to 4151 and middle school increased from 30 to 1008 with 16 and 33 fold increase respectively in due course of time.

Whereas, gender wise - male and female number of institutions - is also very significant. At primary stage, the male and female institutions increased by 9 and 47 fold respectively while at middle stage this increase in turn is 18 and 49 fold. Besides 776 higher and higher also imparting primary education thus pushing this increase further up.

The female share out of total 291 (only 5 for female) was 1.71%) in 1947 that increased to 46.30% in 2013 showing significant performance in terms of gender balance and access for female but still much to because improper geographical location, inadequate facilities, difficult terrain, teacher quality and absenteeism with inadequate facilities may toll the efforts for promoting female education and redressing gender gap with greater equity and better access. The education in overall term should be more relevant purpose oriented and demand driven instead of supply driven and viable in order to enhance its demand in community and parents for their kids.

Elementary Education Population& Enrolment in AJ&K

Based on the census 1998, the elementary education age group (5-9) population and enrolment in the schools in AJ&K, as cited by National Education Management Information System Islamabad and EMIS 2013 is given in table 4.2 and 4.3. Table 4.2 provides figures showing primary age population wherein male population (5-09) is greater than the female population.

The table 4.2 shows that the population and enrolment increased in 2012-13. It has been observed that the share of girls in public school is greater than the boys while on the other hand share of boy’s enrolment in private school exceeds the girls (NEMIS 2012, AJ&K EMIS, 2011). These trends may be because of parents’ are greatly interested in boys’ education. The girls are kept nearby schools to facilitate the parents in household and field work. The parents are also reluctant to invest much on girls due poverty or cultural bindings where grills are considered to be liability and Paria Daaun (someone else belonging). It is noted that all categories of school impart Elementary Education, which include 4161 primary, 1008 middle and 776 high and higher secondary schools. The share of female in total tilted in favour of males except HSS in which female are in lead.

Net and Gross Primary Enrolment Ratio in AJ&K

According to the Academy of Education Planning and Management (AEPAM) Islamabad, report “EFA GOALS: WHERE DO WE STAND 2010” AJ&Ks public schools primary enrolment is fluctuating. It was 45 percent in 2001-02 increased to 57 % in 2005-06 and fell down to 52 percent in 2010-11. Figure 4.2 highlights the fluctuating trends in NER in AJK.

AJ&K Net Enrolment Ratio (NER) In Primary Education

Academy of Education Planning and Management (AEPAM) Islamabad reported in EFA Goals: Where Do We Stand 2010, GER in AJK observing changes like NER.

These ups and downs may be due to massive deaths of schools children in earthquake, migration of parents after this catastrophe and children shifting of children from public to private schools.

Out of School Children in AJ&K

In AJK as per Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2011, 89.7 % children are in different type of schools while the rest 10.3 % are out of school children who were dropped out or never came to school (Table 4.3).

This means that AJK DOE has to make necessary arrangement to accommodate/ bring about 10 % of the 5-16 age group children in schools to achieve the target of 100 % participation rate up and UPE.

For achieving the goal of access following steps should be taken

  • Provision of basic facilities to schools
  • Incentives i.e. freetext books ,scholarships, stipend, uniform, food, etc
  • Poverty elevation financial support to parents
  • Separate institutions for girls education
  • Grant in aid program to private schools
  • Provision of ECE and CFS in all schools

Completion/ Survival Rate Grade 1 To 5 (Percent)

Survival of children in education and their retention in the system is a crucial issue to be dealt with care. AJ&K is confronting with an alarming situation as in early years of the last decade the completion rate was exceeding 100 % which decreases gradually. One of the main reasons may be a major shift from public to private sector schools as affluent families in rural and urban areas prefer their children to be educated in private schools due to easy access and quality.

Academy of Education Planning & Management Islamabad in his report EFA Pakistan 2010-11 -Where we stand’ presented the following data about primary school completion rate from 2001 to 2010-11 in AJ&K, which shows that after achieving the set goals in 2001-02 AJK completion rate deteriorated over time.

Gender Parity Index-GPI (Female to Male Education Ratio)

The ratio of girls to boys attending primary education is termed as gender parity index (GPI), which is significantly good in AJK and close to 1.00 (0.97), i.e. there is no difference in the attendance of girls and boys to primary school .

Following steps should be taken for enhancing GPI

  • Special focus on girls’ education.
  • Increase in girls education institutions.
  • Special incentives for girls students
  • Awareness campaigns
  • Reduce security issues regarding girls students
  • Provision of basic facilities regarding girls education

The Pupil-Teacher Ratio (PTR) in AJ&K

The pupil-teachers ratio (PTR) is important factor in quality education (EFA Mid-Decade Assessment Country Report 2008). In AJ&K, overall pupil teacher ratio 1:18 is very exemplary. In segregated terms it is 1:23 at primary level, 1:18 at middle level, and 1:14 at high level, and 1:13 at higher secondary level, which is though ideal but not contributing to quality and participation rate because of non-rationalization of staffing in schools. For making more effective the following steps should be taken:

  • Rationalization of teachers/schools
  • Increase in enrolment
  • Increase in students access to schools

To achieve the set targets of MDGs 2, it is necessary for GoAJ&K to flow then National Education Policy 2009 policy actions No. 6, 7and 8 of elementary education sections cited below:

  • High priority shall be paid to reducing the dropout rates. An important element of this effort should be to provide financial and food support to children who drop out because of poverty.
  • Food based incentives shall be introduced to increase enrolment and improve retention and completion rates, especially for girls.
  • Schools shall be made more attractive for retaining the children by providing an attractive learning environment, basic missing facilities and other measures. During project period 6