Pakistan – education sector trends and opportunities

In our fifth series of blog posts, we are introducing education sector trends and opportunities, moving to Pakistan.

Education is in the current government’s development agenda. However, the education spending of GDP still remains low, ie 2,2% in 2012 as per World Bank and hasn’t increased since according to Dawn report.  The overall literacy rate stood at around 55% in 2012 according to Unicef.

The provincial governments have placed education reform in their development agenda and Punjab embarked on reform path in 2003 with the help of World Bank, KP in 2013.  The budgets have been more than doubled in most provinces since 2010 with Balochistan and KP tripling their budgets Sindh  increasing it 8 fold. However, the net primary enrolment rates have only increased in KP according to the abovementioned report at Dawn.  The reforms are focusing e.g. on merit-based hiring of the teachers, and making schools habitable and having finances to buy educational materials. Punjab has tackled its so-called ghost teacher issue and is turning to face the issue of poor learning.  According to Haris Gazdar, senior researcher at the Collective for Social Science Research in Karachi:“the learning that our schooling imparts in five years can probably be had in about six months”.

Therefore, higher spending doesn’t equal quality education and reforms need to focus on improving student learning achievement, whereby hiring of teachers on merit is expected to bring results.

With the second biggest out of school-population in the world with 25 million children out of school, the reforms have a long way to go, and therefore opportunities exist in solutions that can improve student learning, curriculum development and teacher training, including mobile education games and interactive classroom solutions with the increasing mobile internet connection. Though an array of NGOs and development agencies as well as the provincial governments are working to improve education, there is still room for international educational institutes or companies to make a positive impact in Pakistan’s education system which can have long-term benefits for the country as a whole.

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