Faisalabad is the second most populous district in Punjab with a population of 3.55 million. Primarily an agro-industrial district, Faisalabad contributes approximately $5billion to the national GDP through its textile exports. Spread across six densely-populated urban, suburban and rural tehsils, Faisalabad has been the site of many development projects in recent years. However, the public infrastructure is still grossly insufficient to cater to the growing demands of Pakistan's third largest metropolis. The education landscape of Faisalabad is no different. The literacy rate of the district is close to 60%.
The extreme burden on the educational infrastructure results in gross inequality in educational development across the district. The literacy rate falls significantly when we look at the rural populations of the district–rural literacy rate is 16% lower than the urban rate.
There is also significant gender disparity: the female literacy rate is 46% while the male literacy rate stands at 59%. This trend continues in the 2,313 public schools of Faisalabad; approximately 51% of the enrolled population of children in public schools are boys, compared to 49% girls. The situation at private schools, however, is different where enrolment of girl students is higher than boys. Seemingly, parents are more comfortable sending their girls to private institutions rather than public schools.
In District Faisalabad, Gross Enrolment Rate (GER) is 81 percent at primary level, 57% at secondary level and 1 percent at higher secondary level. This statistic depicts that the drop-out rate increases with a rise in education level.
Approximately 9% of the children of primary school age remain out of school. This number rises drastically as children grow older – more than 28% of children between the ages of 14 and 16 are out of school. This high dropout rate can be linked to the poor state of public schools, and the incentive to work in the local textile industry to supplement family income. As a result, every 6th child in District Faisalabad is out of school.
The state of the existing 1,332 primary schools is indicative of the poor state of existing school infrastructure in Faisalabad District. Humqadam-SCRP's baseline survey shows that less than 29% of public schools in Faisalabad are in a satisfactory condition, while almost 8% can be categorized as dangerous. Existing classrooms are overcrowded and cramped, with more than 60 students in a classroom, further exacerbated by the government's enrolment drives to bring children into schools.
Additionally, there is wide array of missing facilities at these public schools in Faisalabad District. Around 83% of Faisalabad's public schools have hand-washing facilities. However, only 43% of these facilities can be deemed hygienic, with less than 59% where a soap is available.
Humqadam-SCRP is playing its part in improving the educational environment of Faisalabad District. In the first Phase of the project, Humqadam-SCRP is constructing 466 new classrooms in 194 schools across the district. Of these, 39 classrooms are at 2 dangerous schools in Faisalabad. These 194 schools, chosen in coordination with the Punjab Government, are chosen based on a prioritisation criteria that considers Overcrowding, Multi-Grade Teaching, Shelterless schools and an emphasis on Girls Schools. In addition to classrooms, Humqadam-SCRP is bring a host of missing facilities to these schools like drinking water, electricity, libraries and boundary walls.
In addition to this, Humqadam-SCRP has also formed 180 Community Committees for School Infrastructure (CCSIs) to promote community involvement and ownership in, not just the construction process, but also infrastructure as a whole.