Learning quality in the Katchi Abadis of Pakistan: pilot study

Organisation(s): Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (Pakistan)

Date: 2021

Pages: 69 p.


Pakistan has the highest rate of urbanization in South Asia (UNDP 2018). The current estimates range from 36.4 to 40 % population living in urban areas, expected to rise to 50% by 2025. This trend has led to large numbers of population residing informally in urban areas with unmet basic services until the formal regularization of the settlement. Cities attract the vulnerable from rural areas due to prospects of economic opportunities. However, the inadequate provision of shelter, education, health, water and sanitation to the urban poor continues to be a pressing problem in Pakistan. According to some estimates, more than 50 percent of the city population lives in informal settlements, called the Katchi Abadis (UNICEF, 2020). The numbers continue to proliferate often uncounted and unrecognized, where children and youth languish with multiple unmet needs and aspirations. According to Hasan and Arif (2018) the yearly demand for formal urban housing all over Pakistan is 350,000 units, while the actual supply lags at a mere 150,000 units built. This discrepancy in housing supply and demand has existed for decades now and building Katchi Abadis or informal settlements with increased densification is one of the major ways citizens make up for the difference. For instance in Karachi alone, more than 60 percent of its population lives in Katchi Abadis or informal settlements (Hasan, 2018). The government made a considerable effort from 1985 to 1990 and in 2006 to address the issues of Katchi Abadis, but basic needs such as health, water, sanitation and education were left unaddressed. A report by UNICEF (2020) reveals extremely unhygienic and unhealthy living conditions in the Katchi Abadis even of the federal capital, Islamabad. Children living in these settlements have largely been ignored in large-scale educational initiatives and mainstream discourse for inclusive and equitable education in Pakistan. Given this context, there is an imperative to pilot and undertake the citizen led Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) survey in informal squatter settlements to ascertain the enrolment status of children residing in Katchi Abadis, schooling choices and how well or poorly do these children fare in learning in comparison to other children. The pilot reveals important insights as vital evidence for policymakers and planners. The pilot was conducted in Katchi Abadis in four districts of Pakistan.

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