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Education Structure and System in Pakistan

As mentioned earlier, Education is now a provincial subject. The Ministry of Education at the federal level only coordinates with the international development partners and provides a platform to the provincial departments for exchange of information, leading to synergy and synchronization.

Public school system is still the largest provider – 62% of formal education for 12 years; grade 1 to 12. Preliminary classes like kindergarten, prep, nursery, are neither recognized for budgetary provision nor for examination. Public sector institutions followed curriculum prescribed by the government, which was more recently replaced with the Single National Curriculum.

It is well-known that within public sector, quality of education significantly varies between urban, suburban, and rural schools.

Private schools cater to a little over one third – 38%, and come in all sizes, systems, and curricula. Private sector education is largely unregulated and efforts to regulate them have been successfully thwarted by them through various coercive means. Every school system designs its own curriculum; partly based on market needs, partly on commercial considerations. The imposition of Single National Curriculum did not go down well with them, and they rejected it. Meanwhile, the government at the center which was the proponent of this system changed. The fate of SNC is hanging in limbo.

Private schools sell the promise of better education, and better grooming through better quality education and better teachers. There is a lot of variation among private schools also.

As elaborated in the last post, there has been no dearth of indigenous policies and international commitments and coordination, but the will to follow through has been largely absent. Similarly, consistency has been sacrificed over politics with utter disregard. So many brands of schools have been introduced by successive political and non-political governments with fancy names, many of which closed after the regime change.

Budget Allocation for Education

The budgetary allocation for education as a percentage of GDP has crawled up very slowly; from 1.5% to 3.2% in twenty years. Two factors make it highly insufficient: one, the increase in allocation has not been able to match population increase; two, 85-90% of this budget is spent on recurring expenses like teachers’ salaries, stationery, utilities etc., leaving very small amount for development. The overall development of education structure has therefore been extremely slow, or not happening.

International commitments besides, the governments at the center and provinces are required to understand the local requirements vis-à-vis population needs. Growth of population is a fact of life that keeps adding more children who will need education. The studies which would identify this need against time and recommend strategies to meet increasing demand are largely absent. The governments therefore work in a vacuum and come up with fancy ideas of having a few model schools.

The focus between levels of education, starting from Early Childhood, to Primary, to Secondary, to Higher Secondary, to Tertiary, to Quaternary Education is not clear. In 2002, Higher Education Commission – HEC was formed, apparently, a brainchild of Dr. Ataurrehman, who became its first chairman also. During the next several years, huge amounts of funding were doled out to universities for promotion of higher education. New buildings rose up, new equipment was purchased, new honoraria were added, salary structures were revised, and new disciplines were introduced. Dr. Rehman has faced a lot of criticism on several counts, and from so many quarters. Without going into controversy, following problems were certainly observed:

  1. New disciplines were introduced without research on what was needed or will be needed in future. The department after department were established on the mere proposals of professors who probably made a good PC-1 with the help of clerical staff. Since PC-1 asks for qualifying the need, the justifications were amplified to receive approvals. Many of the degree holders are already wandering around, without any application of their qualification.
  2. The quantification of need for enhancement of an existing discipline or adding a new one was completely absent. For example, a new discipline might have been needed, but how many degree holders will be absorbed and for how long was not worked out, thereby creating a surplus pool which is of no use.
  3. Too much of high-tech equipment was approved for purchase and was purchased. The expertise for using this equipment was neither available nor developed. Much of that fancy equipment is still lying unused. It is a huge loss to national exchequer.
  4. The number of quaternary education holders, MPhil, PhD, Post-doc increased, but their quality and relevance to indigenous requirement remained elusive. In fact, this has been a major area of criticism.

Is it so that our governments work blindly? Without having any information about anything? It cannot be the case. Local agencies like Statistics Bureau of Pakistan and international agencies keep collecting data which is available to decision makers for making better decisions. However, politics, favoritism, greed, ignorance of legislators, and isolated decision making disrupt and mar the process. It is not just education which is suffering; the entire system is crumbling due to years of mishandling. It sounds funny when a chief minister or prime minister ‘orders’ certain quarters to rectify things in few days. They know it cannot be done and it is just a statement for media consumption.

We shall discuss secondary and higher secondary education next.

To be Continued……

Disclaimer. Most pictures in these blogs are taken from Google Images which does not show anyone’s copyright claim. However, if any such claim is presented, we shall remove the image with suitable regrets.,leading%20to%20a%20Higher%20Secondary

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