Around 1.8 million children, nearly a tenth of all enrolled students in Pakistan, study in religious seminaries, according to a report launched by the country's Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training this week.

The Pakistan Education Statistics 2013-'14 report also reveals that there has been no significant change in enrollment at the primary school-level and the number of students enrolled in primary schools is almost at the same level as it was in 2011-'12.

According to the report, there are 145,491 primary schools (both private and public), where approximately 17 million students are enrolled. In contrast, nearly 1.84 million students are enrolled in the 14,405 registered madrassahs, of which 97% are privately managed and only 393 are run by the public sector.

“On the education development index, which combines all educational access measures, Pakistan lies at the bottom with Bangladesh in the region, and is considerably below Sri Lanka,” the report said.

Over the past four years, enrolment at primary schools did not see any significant improvement. There were 17,567,581 students in primary schools in 2011-'12, which increased slightly to 17,574,849 in 2012-'13. In 2013-'14, there were 17,869,859 students in primary schools.

In the same period, the enrolment in high schools declined slightly, with 2,691,595 students enrolled in 2011-'12; 2,835,326 in 2012-'13 and 2,318,840 students in high schools in 2013-'14.

The pupil-teacher ratio is one of the most common indicators used in educational planning. A low number of pupils per teacher indicates pupils will have a better chance of contact with the teacher and hence a better learning process.

But the report shows that the ratio in primary schools of Punjab is 33 pupils per teacher, while it is 29 per teacher in Sindh, 32 in Balochistan and 28 in Islamabad.

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