Nov 17 - 23, 2008

While our education sector as a whole remains in disarray, the primary segment has been the victim of considered neglect. The feudal forces averse to the idea of an educated nation are well aware that the seeds of love for education are sown at the primary level. These forces also know that once prevented from going through the unique experience of early age schooling, the child develops a sort of indifference for education.

The inhuman techniques of forced labor in the name of bread-earning for the family are used to keep the child away from educational pursuits. In some other cases, the poverty ridden families consign their children to the free schooling of Deeni Madaris which besides imparting education provide boarding and lodging as well. These Madaris, in most cases, are found lacking on quality curriculum and facilities. Moreover, the recent wave of terrorism has attached a sort of stigma to these educational institutions, but in the absence of any concrete proof, such allegations do not appear to carry much weight.

In many cases, sheer poverty becomes a hindrance to the early age schooling of children. The poverty constraints notwithstanding, the fact remains that conscious efforts are made by the elite forces of this country to keep a check on the growth of education. World Bank and Asian Development Bank reports carry remarks that suggest that all is not well with our education system.

In January 2005, the Country Director Pakistan Resident Mission Asian Development Bank while delivering a speech on policy dialogue on the status of primary education in Pakistan made an account of difficulties ADB faced in the implementation of its programs. These programs, according to him aimed at (i) access to quality education, especially for females (ii) community/NGO participation in management and monitoring of schools (iii) adequate provision of recurrent expenditures for teachers' training, school supplies and improved curriculum. The successful implementation of ADB projects, however, always remained in doubt - the chief areas of concern being quality improvements and system's capacity building. While adequacy of funds was never a problem, the complexities of the system and ineptitude of the personnel involved always put a big question mark on the completion of otherwise sound projects. In most of the cases the funds remained underutilized and had to be forfeited or cancelled. During the financial year 2006-07, only 33 per cent of the funds allocated for education could be utilized. Following is the list of common implementation problems faced by ADB.

* Weak implementation capacity
* Frequent staff turnover
* Inadequate recurrent budgets
* Implementation delays
* Weak project management and supervision
* Weak activity-coordination among various government institutions
* Incomplete training components
* Underutilization of loan funds for capacity building, procurements and consultancy
* Inadequate focus on quality changes
* Delayed and inadequate staffing of facilities
* Weak monitoring and evaluation, and minimal impact assessment

The concluding remarks of the ADB country director sum up the conditions facing the all important primary education sector of our country:

"It is thus not just a matter of resources or policy. As critical as these are, it is also a matter of translating policy into coherent and timely action, and utilizing resources efficiently and effectively. ADB stands committed to assisting Pakistan in this endeavor - but it requires joint action, yours and ours."

The following closing remarks contained in the executive summary of a World Bank case study (Pakistan) sufficiently underline the future of education in Pakistan:

"The bank needs to think carefully how to engage the government about sensitive topics relating to curriculum reform and textbook provision. In the cognitive domain there is excessive reliance on rote learning to the detriment of genuine cognitive development. In the social domain there is inappropriate ideological material in the curriculum about religion and other political issues which are detrimental to promoting social cohesion. Perhaps the more important area of policy and program support for Bank assistance is to help Pakistan craft a real strategy for achieving quality EFA (Education For ALL). Recent Bank reports suggest that Pakistan is far from this goal and not likely to achieve it by the year 2015 as specified in the MDGs. If it turns out that the year 2015 is unrealistic, then a careful analysis is needed of what is possible, what resources are required, and when it can be achieved."

Source : Pakistan Economic Survey 2007-08
1992-93 130,600 40,300 90,300 10,271,000 3,696,000 6,575,000 332,500 122,500 210,000
1993-94 134,100 42,400 91,700 10,898,000 4,123,000 6,775,000 359,100 138,600 220,500
1994-95 139,600 44,400 95,200 11,900,000 4,798,000 7,102,000 375,200 146,700 228,500
1995-96 143,100 40,500 102,600 11,657,000 4,590,000 7,067,000 377,500 145,100 232,400
1996-97 149,700 52,100 97,600 13,088,000 5,350,000 7,738,000 374,300 151,700 222,600
1997-98 156,300 58,100 98,200 14,182,000 5,861,000 8,321,000 397,000 164,700 232,300
1998-99 159,300 53,100 106,200 14,879,000 5,149,000 9,730,000 422,600 173,900 248,700
1999-00 162,100 55,000 107,100 15,784,000 5,660,000 10,124,000 402,400 169,800 232,600
2000-01 147,700 54,300 93,400 14,105,000 5,559,000 8,546,000 408,900 183,600 225,300
2001-02 149,100 55,300 93,800 14,560,000 5,871,000 8,689,000 413,900 183,500 230,400
2002-03 150,800 56,100 94,700 15,094,000 6,132,000 8,962,000 433,500 191,700 241,800
2003-04 155,000 57,600 97,400 16,207,000 8,179,000 8,028,000 432,200 195,300 236,900
2004-05 157,200 58,700 98,500 17,258,000 9,092,000 8,166,000 450,100 206,500 243,600
2005-06 157,500 59,800 97,700 16,834,000 10,474,000 6,360,000 444,000 201,000 243,000
2006-07*p 158,400 60,500 97,900 17,043,000 11,239,000 5,804,000 447,900 202,900 245,000

While the future of education in Pakistan does not look too bright in the light of ADB and WB reports, we should try to find some solace in the data on primary education in Pakistan. While the overall enrollments at primary level remain in the vicinity of 10 per cent of the total population, a radical increase in the female to male ratio during the last eight years is proof that the acceptance of female education remains no more a taboo in our society - the ignoble motives of a certain section of the society to sabotage these achievements by destroying female-education facilities notwithstanding. During 1992-93 the female to male enrollment percentage was 37.8: 62.2 which dropped down to 34.6: 65.4 in 1998-99 but showed incredible resilience by bouncing back to a staggering 62.2: 37.8 in 2005-06.