PRIMARY EDUCATION IN PAKISTAN

S.M. ABBAS ZAIDI,
Research Analyst
, PAGE
Mar 23 - 29, 2009

Pakistan is perhaps one such state among 200 countries on the global map where in percentage primary education has declined by 3% during the last decade. Three out of every five persons in Pakistan cannot read and write. In literacy chart, Pakistan is at number 132. The children population of less than 18 years of age is 70 million. As many as 20.60 million are of less than 5 years, and almost 20.30 million below the age of 18 years do not go to schools.

The total schools in Pakistan are 26,0,0095 out of which 1,44,724 are in the public sector. The total strength in these schools consists of 30.33 million children. Total primary schools are no more than 1,60,000 and have low admission rate.

PRIMARY SCHOOLS IN PAKISTAN
(No's in '000')
  NO. OF TEACHERS IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS NO. OF PRIMARY SCHOOLS ENROLLMENT IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS
YEARS

TOTAL

2000-01 408.9 147.7 14105
2001-02 413.9 149.1 14560
2002-03 433.5 150.8 15094
2003-04 432.2 155 16207
2004-05 450.1 157.2 17258
2005-06 444.0 157.5 16834
2006-07 447.9 158.4 17043
Various sources

POOR INFRASTRUCTURE

The lack of facilities in government schools forces the parents to send their children into private schools where they have to pay higher fees, which inflict a heavy toll on the domestic budget of families. The government says that one out of 40 schools does not have boundary wall, 1/5th are without electricity and drinking water facility, and 1/4th do not have any classroom furniture. Hundreds of schools can be termed as ghost schools as teachers are getting salaries but the institutions do not exist in reality. Hundreds of primary schools in the rural areas are used as livestock farms.

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION (ECE)

Historically, early childhood education has not been formally recognized by the public sector in Pakistan. The traditional 'katchi' class in some public sector schools has predominantly remained a familiarisation stage towards formal schooling for un-admitted, younger siblings of students. A limited part of the class 1 curriculum is taught to this group. Improvements in quality of ECE shall be based on a concept of holistic development of a child, which provides a stimulating, interactive environment rather than focusing on rote learning and rigid achievement standards.

ECE age group should be between 3 to 5 years. At least the state should provide one-year pre-primary education and ensure universal access to ECE through primary schools, which shall be provided with additional budget, teachers, and assistances for this purpose. For ECE teachers, 2 years specialised training in dealing with young children must become mandatory.

RAISING THE QUALITY OF EDUCATION

Improving education quality requires actions in the areas of teacher's training, curriculum designing, pedagogy, textbooks selection, assessment approaches, and facilities. In developed countries, close to two thirds of children's performance in early schooling depends on factors outside the school, namely home environment, socio-economic status of parents, and their education particularly the mother's, and the learning resources available at home. Of the remaining one-third, teaching quality and leadership skills are believed to be the more important factors. For building child's performance, six basic pillars have the major contribution. These are curriculum, textbooks, assessments, teachers, learning environment in an institution, and relevance of education to practical life.

FINANCING OF EDUCATION

In Pakistan, the education sector has been without a comprehensive vision for long. Indeed, there have been policies, plans, reforms, goals, objectives, initiatives, and countless vision statement (for instance 'Education for All'). However, there has been no widely owned understanding of where all of the efforts are taking us to and no well-informed conception of how should a high quality and efficient education system look like. When reforms tend to be without a clear vision, they are meaningless. The net effect of them is close to zero.

BUDGET DISTRIBUTION IN PAKISTAN
(RS IN MN)
CLASSIFICATION BUDGET 2007-08 BUDGET 2008-09 % IN 2008-09
General Public Service 881657 929522 62.25
Defence Affairs and Services 277265 296077 19.9
Public Order and Safety Affairs 26106 26770 1.79
Economic Affairs 293442 201151 13.43
Environment Protection 183 210 0.01
Housing and Community Amenities 1146 1359 0.09
Health Affairs and Services 5287 5490 0.36
Recreational, Culture and Religion 3131 3191 0.21
Education Affairs and Services 24280 24622 1.64
Social Protection 3765 4791 0.32
TOTAL: 1516262 1493183  
Various sources

CONCLUSION

Since the independence of Pakistan, the education has remained neglected. Government must enhance financial resources to improve primary education. Government must seek help of international development partners to ameliorate schooling system. It should give high priority towards reducing dropout rates. An important element of this effort should be to provide financial support to children who dessert because of poverty. Schools should become attractive for retaining children.