LAHORE - The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2011 has revealed that in Punjab almost 50 per cent children of level Class-II cannot even read a sentence in Urdu or in their mother tongue while 66 per cent children cannot read a sentence in English.

ASER 2011’s launching ceremony was held at Children Library Complex here on Tuesday.

Program Director Idara Taleem o Agahi (ITA) Baela Raza Jamil, Advisor to Chief Minister Punjab Begum Zakia Shahnawaz, Former Finance Minister Syed Babar Ali, Justice (R) Nasira Iqbal, Punjab Schools Department Secretary Aslam Kamboh, Chairman Standing Committee for Education Punjab Chaudhry Javed Ahmed, Secretary Literacy Pervaiz Malik, EDOs of various districts and a good number of educationists were present at the occasion. The survey has been conducted by the South Asia Forum for Education Development (SAFED) and managed by ITA in collaboration with the Foundation Open Society Institute (FOSI), Department for International Development (DFID), National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) and Oxfam/Novib.

According to the ITA programme director, the survey has been conducted in 28 districts in Punjab including Lahore, Kasur, Sheikhupura, Nankana Sahib, Gujranwala, Mandi Bahauddin and others.

Baela said the ASER’s volunteer had surveyed 16,618 households in 839 villages and collected detailed information on 3-16 years age group 44,586 children (56 % male and 44 % female). While, 5-16 years age group children were tested for language and arithmetic competencies. The survey also collected information on 1,379 schools, 835 government schools and 544 private schools. The survey also assessed literacy levels of 16,050 mothers.

According to the report, the 5-16 years age children’s learning levels have been assessed through specifically designed language and mathematics tests, which covered language up to Class-II level text and arithmetic covering up to Class-III level national curricula.

Test results showed that 51.4 per cent children could read at least a sentence in Urdu or their mother tongue, while 15.6 per cent children were unable to read letters and were categorized as beginners. Interestingly, the data on reading ability of out-of-school children showed that 14.4 per cent children could read story level text, while 21.7 per cent children were at sentence level.

The English reading and comprehension test reported that 33.5 per cent children could read sentences, 20.4 per cent could read words, while 19.1 per cent children were unable to recognize alphabets and were categorized as beginners. The comparison of competencies among Class-III students of public and private schools showed that 52.8 per cent and 67.8 per cent children, respectively, could read words.  The mathematics assessment test covering up to Class-III standard national curriculum, asked from Class-III and above grade children revealed that 47.8 per cent students were able to do two-digit subtraction sums with carry, whereas 30.6 per cent children could solve three-digit division sums.