Education in Pakistan: Wikis


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Education in Pakistan
Federal Ministry of Education
Provincial Education Ministries
National education budget (2007)
Budget: Rs.9556.442 million[1]
General Details
Primary Languages: Urdu and English.
System Type: Mainly public
Literacy (2008)
Total: 56.2[1]
Male: 68.2[1]
Female: 43.6[1]
Primary: 87.3%[2]
Secondary: 44%[2]
Post Secondary: 4.7%[3]
Secondary diploma ?
Post-secondary diploma ?

Education in Pakistan is divided into five levels: primary (grades one through five); middle (grades six through eight); high (grades nine and ten, leading to the Secondary School Certificate); intermediate (grades eleven and twelve, leading to a Higher Secondary School Certificate); and university programs leading to graduate and advanced degrees.

All academic education institutions are the responsibility of the provincial governments. The federal government mostly assists in curriculum development, accreditation and some financing of research.

The literacy rate ranges from 72.38% in Islamabad to 10.37% in the Musa Khel District.[4] Between 2000—2004, Pakistanis in the age group 55–64 had a literacy rate of almost 30%, those aged between 45–54 had a literacy rate of nearly 40%, those between 25–34 had a literacy rate of 50%, and those aged 15–24 had a literacy rate of more than 60%.[5] These data indicate that, with every passing generation, the literacy rate in Pakistan is rising by around 10%.

A significant contribution to education is made by the hundreds of schools operated by the Catholic Board of Education, the education arm of the Roman Catholic Church in Pakistan, which is disproportionate to the size of the Christian community.[6] [7] [8]


Primary & Secondary school

Only 63% of Pakistani children finish primary school education.[9]. Furthermore, 68% of Pakistani boys and 72% of Pakistani girls reach grade 5.[10]


In 2003-04, only 2.9% of Pakistanis were enrolled in higher education[11], but this increased to 4.0% in 2008 (5.1% for males & 2.8% for females)[12] and to 4.7% in 2009.[3] Pakistan plans to increase this figure to 10% by 2015 and subsequently to 15% by 2020.[3]

Students can attend a college or university for Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BSc), or Commerce/Business Administration (BCom/BBA) degree courses. There are two types of Bachelor courses in Pakistan: Pass or Honours. Pass requires two years of study and students normally read three optional subjects (such as Chemistry, Mathematics, Economics, Statistics) in addition to almost equal number of compulsory subjects (such as English, Pakistan Studies and Islamic Studies). Honours courses require three or four years of study, and students normally specialize in a chosen field of study, such as Biochemistry (BSc Hons. Biochemistry). It is important to note that Pass Bachelors is now slowly being phased out for Honours throughout the country.

After earning their Higher Secondary (School) Certificate (HSSC)), students may study for professional Bachelor's degree courses such as engineering (B Engg), medicine (MBBS), veterinary medicine(DVM), law (LLB), agriculture (BSc Agri), architecture (B Arch), nursing (B Nurs). These courses require four or five years of study, depending upon the degree.

To earn a Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) degree, students must first earn a Diploma of Associate Engineer (a 3-year course), then attend a Bachelor of Technology program for four years.

Some Master's degree programs require one and a half years of study. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) education is also available in selected areas. Students pursuing PhD degrees must choose a specific field and a university that is doing research work in that field. PhD education in Pakistan requires at least 3-5 years of study.

Pakistani universities churn out almost 1.2 million skilled graduates annually. The government has announced a $1 billion spending plan over the next decade to build 6 state-of-the-art science and engineering universities. The scheme would be overseen by the Higher Education Commission.

International Comments

An issue of National Geographic conveys the adversity poor families must face. Some schools are run so badly that few kids attend.

It's not unusual in Pakistan to hear of public schools that receive no books, no supplies, and no subsidies from the government. Thousands more are 'ghost schools' that exist only on paper, to line the pockets of phantom teachers and administrators."
--National Geographic: Struggle for the Soul of Pakistan, Don Belt[13]

Praise of Higher Education Reforms

There has been much praise of the higher education reforms and criticisms by a local critic (see below) effectively rebutted by neutral international experts. Pakistan has also been given a number of prestigious international awards for the remarkable transformation of the higher education sector.

Prof. Wolfgang Voelter (Tubingen University, Germany) in his article in Pakistan's leading Daily Newspaper Dawn entitled "The Golden Age" writes “A miracle happened. The scenario of education, science and technology in Pakistan changed dramatically, as never before in the history of Pakistan. The chairperson of the Senate Standing Committee on Education recently announced it as "Pakistan's golden period in higher education" [14].

A US educational expert Prof. Fred M. Hayward has also praised the reform process undertaken by Pakistan: “Since 2002 a number of extraordinary changes have taken place. Over the last six years almost 4,000 scholars have participated in PhD programs in Pakistan. More than 600 students have studied in foreign PhD programs. The Higher Education Commission instituted major upgrades for laboratories and information and communications technology, rehabilitation of facilities, expansion of research support, and development of one of the best digital libraries in the region. A quality assurance and accreditation process was also established. Its successes have been remarkable as the recurrent and development budgets increased 340 percent in real terms from 2001 to 2005/06. By 2008, as a result of its policy and financial successes, most universities had become strong proponents of the Higher Education Commission.Quality had increased significantly, and several institutions were on their way to becoming world-class institutions. Many expatriate Pakistanis returned from abroad with access to competitive salaries. About 95 percent of people sent abroad for training returned, an unusually high result for a developing country in response to improved salaries and working conditions at universities as well as bonding and strict follow-up by the commission, Fulbright, and others.”[15]

Prof. Michael Rode, Former Chairman of the United Nations Commission on Science, Technology and Development and presently heading a Network of European and Asian Universities (ASIA-UNINET) writes: "The progress made was breath-taking and has put Pakistan ahead of comparable countries in numerous aspects. To name just a few, the establishment of a free access to scientific literature by high-speed Internet for all universities, the thousands of promising young scientists who were granted PhD studies at top universities abroad, the upgrade of research equipment accessible across the country and the programme of establishing new universities of science and technology, including technology parks attracting foreign investors, prove the efficiency and the long-term benefits for the country enabled by the HEC's chairman.The United Nations Commission on Science and Technology has closely monitored the development in Pakistan in the past years, coming to the unanimous conclusion that Prof Rahman’s policy and programme is a 'best-practice' example for developing countries aiming at building their human resources and establishing an innovative, technology-based economy." [16]

Pakistan has won four international awards for the revolutionary changes in the higher education sector brought about under the leadership of Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman, Chairman (Federal Minister), Higher Education Commission. The TWAS (Academy of Sciences for the Developing World, Italy)Award for Institutional Development was conferred on Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman at the 11th General Conference of TWAS in October 2009 [17]. The Austrian Government conferred its high civil award "Grosse Goldene Ehrenzeischen am Bande" (2007) on Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman for transforming the Higher Education sector in Pakistan[citation needed]. Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman was also elected as Fellow of Royal Society (London)(2006) [18] and Honorary Life Fellow of Kings College , Cambridge University (2007) [19] in recognition of his academic contributions as well as his services to the higher education sector in Pakistan.

Nature, a leading science journal,has also written a number of editorials and articles about the transformation brought about in Pakistan in the higher education sector under he leadership of Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman, former Chairman (Federal Minister), Higher Education Commission. [20][21][22][23][24]

In an article entitled "Pak Threat to Indian Science" published in the leading daily newspaper Hindustan Times, India, it has been reported that Prof. C.N.R. Rao, Chairman of the Indian Prime Minister's Scientific Advisory Council made a presentation to the Indian Prime Minister at the rapid progress made by Pakistan in the higher education sector under the leadership of Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman, Chairman, Higher Education Commission. It was reported that as result of the reforms brought about in Pakistan " Pakistan may soon join China in giving India serious competition in science". “Science is a lucrative profession in Pakistan. It has tripled the salaries of its scientists in the last few years.” [25]

Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy who works at the Physics Department at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad has criticized the state of many Pakistani universities as well as the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan, which is the regulatory body as well as the main source of funding of Higher Education in the country.

Gender Disparity

Among other criticisms the Pakistani education system faces is the gender disparity in enrollment levels. However, in recent years some progress has been made in trying to fix this problem. In 1990-91, the female to male ratio (F/M ratio) of enrollment was 0.47 for primary level of education. It reached to 0.74 in 1999-2000, so the F/M ratio has improved by 57.44 percent within the decade. For the middle level of education it was 0.42 in the start of decade and increased to 0.68 by the end of decade, so it has improved almost 62 percent. In both cases the gender disparity is decreased but relatively more rapidly at middle level. But for whole of the decade the gender disparity remained relatively high at middle level, despite the fact that for the duration the F/M ratio for teachers and F/M ratio of educational institutions at the middle level remained better than at the primary level.[26]

The gender disparity in enrolment at secondary level of education was 0.4 in 1990-91 was 0.67 percent in 1999-2000, so the disparity has decreased by 67.5 percent in the decade or at the average rate of 6.75 percent annually. At the college level it was 0.50 in 1990-91 and it reached 0.81 in 1999-2000, so gender disparity decreased by 64 percent with an annual rate of 6.4 percent. The gender disparity has decreased comparatively rapidly at secondary school. The gender disparity in educational institutions at the secondary level of education was changed from 0.36 in 1990-91 to 0.52 in 1999-2000 with a 44 percent change. The same type of disparity at the college level was 0.56 in 1990-91 and reached at 0.64 in 1999-2000 with 14 percent change in the decade. The disparity at the college level has improved much less than that at the secondary level.[26]

However, the gender disparity is affected by the Taliban enforcement of a complete ban on female education in the Swat district, as reported in a January 21, 2009 issue of the Pakistan daily newspaper The News. Some 400 private schools enrolling 40,000 girls have been shut down. At least 10 girls' schools that tried to open after the January 15, 2009 deadline by the Taliban were blown up by the militants in the town of Mingora, the headquarters of the Swat district.[27] "More than 170 schools have been bombed or torched, along with other government-owned buildings."[27]

Spending on Education

As a percentage of GDP, Pakistan spends only 2.9% of it on Education.[28] However, the government recently approved the new national education policy, which would result in education being allocated 7% of the GDP. [3] An idea, first suggested by the Punjab government.[29] The government plans to raise the literacy rate to 85% by 2015.[3] In accordance with the target set by the Millennium Development Goals for Pakistan.

Universities in the World Top 1000

During 1947-2003, not a single university in Pakistan could be ranked among the top 600 of the world, but today five Pakistani universities belong to this prestigious group, with the National University of Science and Technology at No 350 (Times, Higher Education, UK rankings)[30] In the field of Natural Sciences, the progress is even more remarkable, with the University of Karachi ranked at 223, National University of Science and Technology ranked at 260 and Quaid-e-Azam University ranked at 270.


Literacy Since 1947

Literacy Rate - Pakistan, Sources:[31][12]


Islamia College University Peshawar
Aitchson College, Lahore

a) 1951 Census: One who can read a clear print in any language. 16.4%

b) 1961 Census: One who is able to read with understanding a simple letter in any language. 16.3%

c) 1972 Census: One who is able to read and write in some language with understanding. 21.7%

d) 1981 Census: One who can read newspaper and write a simple letter 26.2% According to UNESCO report the literacy rate in Pakistan was 8 percent in 1984

e) 1998 Census: One who can read a newspaper and write a simple letter, in any language. 43.9%

The present (2008) projected literacy rate for Pakistan is 56% (male 69% : female 44%)[33]

Literacy by Province (1972 to Present)


Province Literacy Rate
Punjab 20.7%
Sindh 30.2%
NWFP 15.5%
Balochistan 10.1%


Province Literacy Rate
Punjab 27.4%
Sindh 31.5%
NWFP 16.7%
Balochistan 10.3%


Province Literacy Rate
Punjab 46.56%
Sindh 45.29%
NWFP 35.41%
Balochistan 26.6%


Province Literacy Rate
Punjab 60.2%[1]
Sindh 57.7%[1]
NWFP 49.9%[1]
Balochistan 48.8%[1]

Azad Kashmir had a literacy rate of 62% back in 2004. Higher than any other region in Pakistan. Out of 62% about 55.47% were people at the age of 10 or a little above of it, 70.52% were male and 40.46% were female.[34] However, only 2.2% were graduates compared to the average of 2.9% for the whole of Pakistan in 2004.[35]

School attendance

Population aged 10 & over that has ever attended school, highest and lowest figures by region. Islamabad has the highest rate in the country at 85%, whilst Jhal Magsi has the lowest rate at 20%.

Region Highest Lowest
Punjab Rawalpindi (77%) Muzaffargarh & Rajanpur (40%)
Sindh Karachi (78%) Jacobabad (34%)
NWFP Abbottabad (67%) Upper Dir (34%)
Balochistan Quetta (64%) Jhal Magsi (20%)

Source: [36]

Literacy rate of Pakistani districts (2006)[37][38]
Rank District Province Literacy rate Rank District Province Literacy rate

Faisal Masjid, Islamabad
Rawalpindi Mall Road
Rawalpindi, Punjab

1 Islamabad Capital Territory 72.38% 11 Gujranwala Punjab 56.55%
2 Rawalpindi Punjab 70.45% 12 Haripur North-West Frontier 53.72%
3 Karachi Sindh 65.26% 13 Narowal Punjab 52.65%
4 Lahore Punjab 64.66% 14 Faisalabad Punjab 51.94%
5 Jhelum Punjab 63.92% 15 Toba Tek Singh Punjab 50.50%
6 Gujrat Punjab 62.18% 16 Attock Punjab 49.27%
7 Sialkot Punjab 58.92% 17 Mandi Bahauddin Punjab 47.44%
8 Quetta Balochistan 57.07% 18 Sukkur Sindh 46.62%
9 Chakwal Punjab 56.72% 19 Sargodha Punjab 46.30%
10 Abbottabad North-West Frontier 56.61% 20 Hyderabad Sindh 44.25%

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Federal Bureau of Statistics, Pakistan
  2. ^ a b Ministry of Education, Pakistan
  3. ^ a b c d e
  4. ^ Ranking of districts by literacy rates and illiterates (By 10+ and 15+ Years Age Groups)
  5. ^ - Figure 7.7:
  6. ^ "Catholic Board of Education". 
  7. ^ "Daily Times May 10, 2004". 
  8. ^ "AFP 3 August 2009". 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^ Belt, Don (September 2007), "Struggle for the Soul of Pakistan", National Geographic (September 2007): 59 
  14. ^ Voelter, Wolfgang. "The golden period". Dawn ePaper. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  15. ^ Hayward, Fred M. (Winter 2009). "Higher Education Transformation in Pakistan: Political & Economic Instability". International Higher Education Quarterly (54). Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  16. ^ Rode, Bernd Michael. "Letter from Chairman/European Coordinator of ASEA-UNINET published in DAWN today". Retrieved 2010-3-10. 
  17. ^ TWAS Awards First Regional Prizes for Scientific Institution Building
  18. ^ New Fellows - 2006
  19. ^ News archive 2007
  20. ^ "The paradox of Pakistan". Nature 450 (7170): 585–200. 2007. doi:10.1038/450585a. PMID 18046348.  edit
  21. ^ doi:0.1038/461874c
    This citation will be automatically completed in the next few minutes. You can jump the queue or expand by hand
  22. ^ "After Musharraf.". Nature 454 (7208): 1030–2008. 2008. doi:10.1038/4541030a. PMID 18756204.  edit
  23. ^ Osama, A.; Najam, A.; Kassim-Lakha, S.; Zulfiqar Gilani, S.; King, C. (2009). "Pakistan's reform experiment". Nature 461 (7260): 38–39. doi:10.1038/461038a. PMID 19727184.  edit
  24. ^ "Cash costs.". Nature 461 (7260): 11–12. 2009. doi:10.1038/461011b. PMID 19727158.  edit
  25. ^ Pak threat to Indian science
  26. ^ a b Khan, Tasnim; Khan, Rana Ejaz Ali (2004). "Gender Disparity in Education - Extents, Trends and Factors" (pdf). Journal of Research (Faculty of Languages & Islamic Studies). Retrieved 2009-03-08. 
  27. ^ a b The News, Pakistan, January 21, 2009.
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^ The golden period By Prof Dr Wolfgang Voelter
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^ Literacy Rate in Azad Kashmir nearly 62 pc.
  35. ^ - 7th Paragraph.
  36. ^
  37. ^ Daily Times
  38. ^ CSS Forum

27.,“ Higher Education Transformation in Pakistan: Political & Economic Instability (Number 54, winter 2009,Source: International Higher Education Quarterly)






37., Neha Mehta, "Pak Threat to Indian Science",Hindustan Times, 23 july 2006

External links

Further reading

  • K.K. Aziz. (2004) The Murder of History : A Critique of History Textbooks used in Pakistan. Vanguard. ISBN 969-402-126-X
  • Nayyar, A. H. & Salim, Ahmad. (2003) The Subtle Subversion: The State of Curricula and Text-books in Pakistan - Urdu, English, Social Studies and Civics. Sustainable Development Policy Institute. The Subtle Subversion
  • Pervez Hoodbhoy and A. H. Nayyar. Rewriting the history of Pakistan, in Islam, Politics and the state: The Pakistan Experience, Ed. Mohammad Asghar Khan, Zed Books, London, 1985.
  • Mubarak Ali. In the Shadow of history, Nigarshat, Lahore; History on Trial, Fiction House, Lahore, 1999; Tareekh Aur Nisabi Kutub, Fiction House, Lahore, 2003.
  • Rubina Saigol. Knowledge and Identity - Articulation of Gender in Educational Discourse in Pakistan, ASR, Lahore 1995
  • Tariq Rahman, Denizens of Alien Worlds: A Study of Education, Inequality and Polarization in Pakistan Karachi, Oxford University Press, 2004. Reprint. 2006.
  • Tariq Rahman, Language, Ideology and Power: Language learning among the Muslims of Pakistan and North India Karachi, Oxford UP, 2002.
  • Tariq Rahman, Language and Politics in Pakistan Karachi: Oxford UP, 1996. Rept. several times. see 2006 edition.
  • World Bank Case Study on Primary Education in Pakistan

External links


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