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Over 90% of Pakistan students poor at mathematics, science, unveils nationwide study


More than 90 per cent of the primary and lower-secondary students across Pakistan are weak or lack basic understanding of mathematics and science, a media report on Friday quoted a nationwide study conducted by a university. The study, which has been done by the Aga Khan University’s Institute for Educational Development Pakistan (IED), also found that only one in 50 students had the basic ability to convert numbers written in words to numeric forms, The News International reported.

More than 15,000 students in grades five, six and eight in 153 public and private schools across the country completed standardised tests in mathematics and science as part of the study.

When evaluated, the average mathematics score of the students was 27 out of 100 while the average science score was 34 out of 100, according to the study that was funded by Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission.

Only one per cent of the students scored over 80 in either subject, thereby demonstrating what researchers called “excellent understanding”.

The average score in private schools was higher than in public schools, but did not exceed 40 in either subject. The average score in Punjab was the highest among the country’s regions, but did not exceed 40 in either subject, the study said.

In total, 78 public schools and 75 private schools participated in the study. Eighty per cent of students were the children of parents with a high school certificate or less.

Science and mathematics education are in dire need of attention from practitioners and policymakers,” said Assistant Professor Nusrat Fatima Rizvi, a study co-principal investigator.

Researchers found that multiple factors were significantly correlated with students’ learning outcomes.

Fewer than one in 10 could identify the reason that the heart beats faster during exercise, the study, which shows the extremely poor quality of the educational system in Pakistan, said.

Surprisingly, students tended to learn less from experienced teachers than from those new to the profession. They also tended to learn less from teachers with a degree in education, compared to teachers having no degree in education.

The researchers visited the classrooms of 589 teachers to assess the quality of their instruction.

The teaching practices of nearly 9 in 10 were graded weak, and roughly 1 in 10 were graded mediocre. No teachers exhibited what the researchers described as good teaching practice.

“In most classrooms, teachers spend their time reading and explaining words from the textbook instead of encouraging students to ask questions or participate in activities that bring concepts to life,” said Associate Professor Sadia Bhutta, the study’s principal investigator.

Among the study’s notable findings was that students in monolingual classrooms – where the textbook, teaching and examinations were all in one language – outperformed those in multilingual classrooms, the report said.


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