The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) era came to a close in 2015. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) took over as the official UN development agenda in the beginning of this year, until the year 2030. Pakistan signed SDGs immediately after their launch. The fourth SDG underlines existing development priorities and critical issues in education. Goal 4 states that the UN and its partner countries will “Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning”. MDG for education targeted access and retention at the primary level. SDG 4 is cognizant of development issues at the primary, middle, secondary and tertiary level of education. Moreover, SDGs include broader themes in education which were not a part of the MDGs like learning, skills, policy, school environment,.
During the MDG era, Pakistan was off-track for 24 of the 41 indicators (ASER). To track the progress on targets, a robust monitoring system is required. Data is a crucial part of this monitoring system, since monitoring is not possible without access to reliable data. Analysing the availability of data for newly designed indicators of SDGs, Alif Ailaan identified data availability for 10 out of 50 quantitative indicators. These statistics indicate the challenging task that policy makers are currently facing, with expectation to put more resources and efforts into collecting data on newly set indicators.
This implies that statistical departments of any country are responsible for development of effective monitoring frameworks for these targets. For use across UN participating countries, the Secretary General developed a framework on SDG indicators this year (GEMR 2016; United Nations 2014b). Later on, an Inter-Agency and Expert Group (IAEG) was also established in March, to develop and finalize indicators for Sustainable Development Goals.
The Technical Advisory Group on Post-2015 education indicators(established by the UNESCO) proposed 43 new education indicators as a part of its recommendations. UNESCO changed the status of group, from Technical Advisory Group to Technical Cooperation Group, for progress on the development and implementation of indicator framework.
SDG 4 Data Readiness in Pakistan
In the case of Pakistan and its capacity to monitor and track education indicators, data exists for 10 out of 50 quantitative indicators. Alif Ailaan recently reported that there are 18 indicators for which data is collected but not represented (and consequently, not accessible). A significant number of indicators (i.e. 22) are such that data is neither collected nor presented for them. This emphasizes the need for special efforts to ensure data availability, so that SDG targets for education can be adequately monitored.
SDG Target 4.1 focuses on equitable and quality primary and secondary education. Out of 7 indicators under the 4 themes of learning, completion, participation and provision at the primary and secondary level of education, Pakistan has data for learning indicators and out-of-school rate. Data is either completely absent or available in a raw form for all remaining indicators. A similar case can be made for target 4.2; it emphasizes on access to early childhood development, care and pre-primary education. Data is available for one indicator i.e. Gross Pre-primary Enrolment. Data on all other indicators (for judging school readiness) remains to be collected.
Target 4.3 calls for equitable and affordable tertiary, vocational and technical education. Raw data is present for Gross Enrolment Ratio for in the types of education listed above. However, indicator values remain to be calculated. Participation Rate of the youth and adults in formal and non-formal education, unfortunately has no data in Pakistan.
Target 4.4 aims to equip adults & youth with technical and vocational skills necessary for employment. In Pakistan, no data exists for any of these indicators.
For all indicators of target 4.7(knowledge and skills required to promote sustainable development), there is currently no data framework in Pakistan to check for the extent awareness and attempts currently underway. From indicators of target 4.a that explains the education facilities, Academy of Educational Planning and Management (AEPAM) collects data for availability of drinking water, sanitation and electricity in schools. There is no data and information on other indicators.
Under the first theme of target 4.b i.e. provision of scholarships and volume of Official Development Assistance (ODA), raw data is available at Higher Education Commission and values for these indicators can be calculated. AEPAM has raw data for qualified teachers but distribution of these qualified teachers by level of education need to be calculated.
Raw data for target 4.c can be obtained from AEPAM and provincial teaching staff departments to calculate percentage of trained teachers and teachers receiving in-service training. There exists no data for other indicators.
Data for adequate monitoring of SDGs on education is a daunting task for Pakistan. Definitely, to collect data, more resources are required. It is the responsibility of the government to streamline resources to strengthen the existing data regime of Pakistan.