Highest literacy growth in Sindh and Punjab: SBP
KARACHI, Oct 30: Sindh and Punjab have, among the four provinces, shown the highest
increase in literacy rates between the fiscal years 2001-02 and 2005-06,
according to a report released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).
Punjab currently has the highest literacy rate, 56 percent (47 percent
in 2002), followed by Sindh at 55 percent (46 percent in 2002). NWFP follows
with a literacy rate of 46 percent (38 percent in 2002). A growth rate of two
percent was recorded in Balochistan, which showed a literacy rate of 38 percent
at the end of the 2005-06 fiscal year.
Overall, however, according to the
report, indicators for the education sector in Pakistan "do not reflect an
encouraging situation, even among the South Asian group.
countries enjoy higher literacy rates, underdeveloped nations struggle with the
issue of low literacy rates. In the league of developing nations, however, some
have been able to drastically improve their literacy level while some still lag
behind. The latter category also includes Pakistan," the report
These statistics [from the education sector] also have
repercussions on national productivity levels. Another portion of the report
speaks about how a shortage of skilled and trainable labour in Pakistan is a key
bottleneck for productivity growth. "It is therefore important that Pakistan's
ample human resources be productively harnessed by improving access to primary
level education, policies to reduce the dropout ratio at the secondary level,
and increased opportunities for vocational training," the report
Highest infant mortality rate: Pakistan has the highest mortality
rate for infants (70 per 1,000) and children under the age of five (101 per
1,000) in the subcontinent, according to another report by the SBP.
report maintains, though, that a comparative analysis of basic health indicators
of Pakistan reflects that the country has shown significant improvement in terms
of per capita health spending, life expectancy, infant and maternal mortality
rates, immunisation of children, and human and physical health infrastructure.
The situation, however, is not satisfactory when compared to countries in South
Asia and East Asia.
"Life expectancy in the country is relatively low as
compared to most countries [in South and East Asia] while mortality rates
indicate more dismal conditions - Pakistan has the highest rate in the mentioned
group," the report says. This can mainly be attributed to factors such as
poverty, low health spending, lack of infrastructure and lack of
Total developmental spending on health as a percentage of GDP
has witnessed a static trend compared to the year 2000 and a declining trend
compared to the year 1990.
Total per capita spending on health, however,
stands at $18, which is substantially less than the WHO-recommended figure of
$34 for Pakistan.
Moreover, only $5.31 per capita out of $18 is
contributed by the government, "which does not seem sufficient for the provision
of better health facilities".
Also, a lack of resources has "restricted
the mobility and outreach of the staff by hampering their activities," while a
shortage of qualified staff, appropriate equipment and medicines in Basic Health
Units (BHUs) and Rural Health Units (RHCs) have also adversely affected the
needs of the growing local population. Moreover, the report says, the
government's effort to increase the number of women health workers has been
unsuccessful in meeting the target.
In addition to this, the inability to
reduce high maternal mortality rates is impacted by factors such as lack of
trained staff, and medical problems such as haemorrhage, infection, and
"In this regard, there is a need to increase
investment in public health facilities and programme to prevent maternal
deaths," the report says.
Awareness-raising programmes about family
planning, on the other hand, appear successful as family planning techniques are
gaining more acceptance in the general public and fertility rates are
Good news: There is good news over the horizon, however,
because "in order to overcome the challenges faced by the health sector, the
government has started allocating more funds in terms of development and
non-development per capita spending", the report said. Daily Times
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