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STATE OF EDUCATION

IN PAKISTAN

Abstract
In 67 years of its existence, Pakistan has achieved an adult literacy rate of only 54.9%. Even with schemes
and programmes to promote literacy being introduced with regularity over this period, the results have been
unsatisfactory. In an increasingly globalized world characterized by fierce competition, Pakistan must target a
minimum of 90% graduation rate from primary schools if it is to emulate the growth miracles seen in India and
South East Asian countries. While there are many limiting factors that constrain the development of education in Pakistan, the quality of teachers has been identified as a key determinant. Research and studies
across the world systematically demonstrate the importance of teacher quality as a key input (Hoxby, 1996;
Vegas, 2005); while most other schooling inputs (infrastructure, student-teacher ratios etc.) appear to have
negligible impact on the level of student achievement (Fullan, 2000; Aggarwal, 2000; Kingdon, 2007).
Teacher quality is determined by a number of factors including their own level of education, the quality of the
system of accreditation, the monitoring and support structures in place, the degree of political interference in
teacher placements, and most importantly, teacher motivation. Much of the literature on these themes comes
from developed countries with effective monitoring mechanisms already in place. These mechanisms ensure
that only highly qualified and well-trained individuals are eventually placed in the school system. This makes a
direct comparison between case studies from developed and developing countries fraught with peril (LEAPS,
2008).
Looking at evidence from Randomized Control Trials (RCTs) in India, we see that performance based pay
significantly raises students scores by motivating teachers to work harder. Research within Pakistan suggests
that teachers are already aware of what is required from them but they lack motivation in order to perform at
their best and to come to school every day. Motivation appears to be derived from the levels of pay the teachers receive; this makes performance-based pay increases a viable avenue for improving teacher performance
in public schools (similar to what private schools are already doing). One experiment conducted in public
schools in India shows that students are better monitors than government. Therefore, increasing pay based
on performance seems to be the biggest motivator to get teachers to perform better.

Table of Contents
1. State of Education in Pakistan........................................4
2. Case Studies.....................................................................7
2.1
2.2
2.3
2.4

Learning and Educational Achievements in Pakistani Schools (LEAPS)................................7


Teacher professionalism in Karachi.........................................................................................8
Performance-payment experiments.......................................................................................10
Student Based Monitoring VS Community Based Monitoring................................................11

3. Analysis...........................................................................12
4. Motivating todays Students to Become Teachers......13
5. Provincial Responsibilities............................................15
6. Sympathetic Organizations...........................................16
7. Conclusion......................................................................18
8. Bibliography....................................................................20

1. State of Education in Pakistan


In the 67 years of its existence, Pakistan has only achieved an adult literacy rate of 54.9%, which ranks it 108
in the world in terms of education (UNICEF, 2012) . Surprisingly, the net primary school enrollment rate in
2012 was approximately 72% (UNICEF, 2012) however the completion rate is clearly much lower. It is apparent, therefore, that students face challenges that create a high dropout rate.
In Pakistan, the quality of primary and secondary education has been in a decline for quite some time. Science education, in particular, is not receiving the recognition that it deserves. Since independence Pakistan
has been faced with an acute shortage of teachers, poor and ill equipped laboratories and outdated curriculums which have little or no relevance to present day needs (Behrman, 1976). While very little political commitment has been demonstrated to reverse this trend.
This lack of political will is exemplified by Pakistans dismal history of investment in education. Public expenditure on education remained less than 2 percent of GNP before 1984-85 and in recent years it has increased
to 2.1 % (World Bank Data Statistics). In addition, the allocation of government funds is skewed towards
higher education so that the upper income classes largely reap the benefits of public subsidy on education.
Many of the highly educated go abroad either for higher education or in search of better job opportunities.
Most of them do not return and cause a large public loss in the form of a brain drain.
The Education Sector in Pakistan suffers from insufficient financial input, low levels of efficiency in implementation of programs, and poor quality of management, monitoring, supervision and teaching. As a result, Pakistan has one of the lowest rates of literacy in the world, and the lowest among countries of comparative
resources and social/economic contexts. With a per capita income of over $450 Pakistan has an adult literacy
rate of 49%, while both Vietnam and India with less per capita income have literacy rates of 94% and 52%,
respectively (Human Development Centre, 1998). Literacy is higher in urban areas and in the provinces of
Sindh and Punjab, among the higher income group, and in males.
A 2010 Mckinsey report on successful school systems across the world identifies four paths for improvement
in school systems. First, from poor to fair, then from fair to good, followed by from good to great, culminating
in from great to excellent. If Pakistan is to make the first transition from poor to fair, minimum levels of enrolment at primary and secondary level of education are required, with support for low skilled teachers with
some degree of standardization among all schools around minimum levels of attainment. How is it that other
countries have made the transition from poor to ultimately great or excellent? Rodrik (2005) contrasts the
experience of Pakistan to that of the East Asian Tiger economies; these countries created a cadre of educated youth to implement the policies laid down by the government and take up the mantle of bureaucratic tasks
creating a virtuous cycle of improvement; in Pakistan, the historical absence of any coherent policy to develop
skilled workers is causing massive bottlenecks to growth and development.

The United Nations Millennium Development Goals call for achieving universal primary education by 2015. In
response, many developing countries, including India, are rapidly improving access to primary schooling.
However, improved access often is not matched by improvements in school quality. As a result, while more
children start primary school, many leave after just a few years, after having learned very little in the process.
For example, in Uttar Pradesh, India, half of the students enrolled in primary school cannot even read a
simple sentence (Banerjee et al., 2005). Such poor learning outcomes are known artifacts of high absence
among teachers.
In most developing countries, a major theme that cuts across all these factors is teacher quality in schools.
Research in Pakistan (LEAPS, 2008) indicates that teachers are the most important school-based input. Even
if a school does not have proper facilities, if the teacher is motivated and committed the school can produce
good results. The problem is that the variation between teachers in the Pakistani school system is very large
some teachers only have a secondary school degree while others may have a Masters degree. Some
teachers may show up every day while some teachers do not show up at all.
The quality of teachers, which is a key factor in any education system, is poor in Pakistan (Memon, 2007).
The main reason is the low level of educational qualifications required to become a primary school teacher;
which includes ten years of schooling and an eleven-month certificate program. It has been established
through various studies (SAHE-Pakistan, 2000) that pupil achievement is closely related to the number of
years of formal schooling of teachers. Thus, students of teachers with 12 years of schooling perform better
than students of matriculate (10 years education) teachers, who in turn perform better than students of teachers with only grade eight qualifications.
The second factor relates to the quality of teacher certification programs, which suffers from the lack of adequately trained master trainers, little emphasis on teaching practice and non-existence of a proper support/monitoring system for teachers. In the absence of any accredited body to certify teachers, the mere acquisition of a certificate/diploma is considered sufficient to apply for a teaching position (Memon, 2007). The
Punjab Government has undertaken a series of reforms since 2010 under the Punjab Schools Reform Roadmap. This included the creation of a Directorate of Staff Development (DSD), of the Schools Education
Department, Government of Punjab. The DSD has reached very large numbers in a relatively short period of
time with 81,000 new teachers being trained since 2010. Absenteeism among teachers in Punjab has also
gone down with the number regularly attending class being increased by 35,000. A Nielsen survey commissioned by DFID found that the general provision of basic infrastructure such as electricity, drinking water,
toilets and boundary walls had increased from 69% to 91% in two years. While these are impressive improvements in key performance indicators, there is still a major problem with the quality of education being offered
in both public and private schools (LEAPS, 2008).
Another limiting factor is that teacher appointment in schools is subject to interference from local interest
groups seeking to place teachers of their choice within their constituency. This has opened the system of
education up to rent seeking leading to high levels of teacher absenteeism accentuated by the absence of an
effective supervision system. The appointment of teachers especially in primary schools is subject to the
political influence or paying money (SAHE-Pakistan, 2000).
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The literature stresses the fact that teacher training and motivations are important inputs for the schooling
process (Hanushek, 1986; Card & Krueger, 1990). The general trend seems to be that students do enroll in
school but due to the lack of quality teachers (whether this be in terms of teaching, professionalism or efficiency), they drop out and hence, remain illiterate; this is one of the major causes behind high dropout rates in
Pakistan. On the one hand, this indicates a fault in the teachers and their level of training but at the same
time, the present cadre of teachers have limited resources to work with, are not adequately motivated by the
school administration and are not adequately trained by the current educational system in Pakistan to know
any better (Hargreaves, 1997, Broudy, 1988; Farr and Middlebrooks, 1990; Willis and Tosti-Vasay, 1990;
Eraut, 1994), Therefore, any new reforms regarding teacher training that are introduced in Pakistan must take
the problems that teachers are facing into account. The DSD produced the Punjab Strategy for Teacher
Education (2012-2022) in 2012; this provides a clear set of steps to take in order to develop a coherent,
consistent, coordinated teacher-education programme for the future. Care must be taken to obtain buy-in from
the teachers for such reform because unless their concerns are addressed and they are suitably motivated no
number of reforms will trigger any lasting change in performance levels.

2. Case Studies
The amount of research done on teaching in the South Asia region (especially in Pakistan) is generally limited. The reason for this is a lack of reliable data for the region. Publicly available data sets on education are
not easily available from the relevant government departments and are often of inadequate quality. The most
prevalent publicly available data is in the form of household data sets that provide little or no information
about teachers and teaching quality.

2.1 Learning and Educational Achievements in Pakistani Schools (LEAPS)


The LEAPS report in 2008 and 2011 conducted a survey of 12,000 children in Punjab, Pakistan to determine
the factors impacting their learning outcomes. Their results showed that in villages in the Punjab, all households surveyed were aware of the quality of schools that were available in their area and that in fact, in each
geographical location there were 7-8 schools vying for the children from each household.
The researchers conducting LEAPS discovered that there was a marked difference in the teachers hired by
public schools and those by private schools. Although teachers in private schools were paid one-fifth the
salary of the teachers hired in public schools and had much fewer resources (such as chalkboards etc.),
private schools outperformed all public schools in learning outcomes.
The main hurdle for the lack of motivation in the public sector seems to arise from the lack of turnover in
public schools. Teachers working in private schools know that they can be pruned if they do not perform up to
the level of expectation of the administration. Public school teachers, on the other hand, know even if they do
not produce results they will retain their salary and their job. Also in private schools, teacher promotion is
based on the results attained whereas in government schools, the level of salary depends on the teachers
qualification as well as experience, but crucially not on performance. Hence, new teachers will not be motivated to perform well since they cannot be promoted unless a specific time period has passed. Similarly, teachers who have been involved in the public school system for a long period of time, know that they will continue
to draw a comfortable salary even if they do not produce results and hence, are not motivated to improve their
teaching skills.
One suggestion would be for the government to introduce a monitoring system in order to ensure that teachers are performing their duties at a satisfactory level. The researchers conducting LEAPS research found that
the government does have an elaborate system of monitoring and management in place at the district level.
Schools do report that the district education staff visits them regularly. It was found that absenteeism was
lower in schools visited by the district officers but it could not be determined if the absenteeism was lower
because of the visits or because the inspectors chose to visit schools that had lower absenteeism.

When teachers were questioned about their low levels of attendance, they blamed the government. They
insisted that they are constantly called in for duties which are not relevant to teaching and which involve long
meetings with the District Officer and made them miss valuable time at the schools.

The amount of research done on teaching in the South Asia region (especially in Pakistan) is generally limited. The reason for this is a lack of reliable data for the region. Publicly available data sets on education are
not easily available from the relevant government departments and are often of inadequate quality. The most
prevalent publicly available data is in the form of household data sets that provide little or no information
about teachers and teaching quality.
The LEAPS results indicate that the public sector hires more qualified teachers and compensates them well
but it has no mechanism for punishing under-performance or rewarding exceptional performance. Public
sector teachers also seem to be burdened with non-teaching duties that take away from their performance. In
this regard, the accountability structure present in private schools maybe adaptable to the public school
system. The only problem in this strategy is that public schools may also be located in hard to reach geographical areas that private schools cannot cater to. In such areas, it may be better to have a less motivated
teacher rather than to have no teacher. Hence, each area in Pakistan has to be evaluated on a case-to-case
basis. However, in cases where there is a sufficient provision of schools, private and public, the under-performing public schools need to adapt key lessons from the private sector, specifically, performance based pay
and a laser focus on teaching skill development along with a robust monitoring system.

2.2 Teacher professionalism in Karachi


Rizvi and Elliot (2005) conducted a teacher professionalism survey of 450 teachers in 35 primary government
schools in Karachi where reforms regarding teacher training had already been implemented. The following
reforms were implemented prior to the survey being conducted:
1. Whole school development was the focus of the Primary education programme (PEP). It aimed to involve
decision-makers, principals, teachers, parents and the community in improving and sustaining quality primary
education by asking for feedback on teacher quality and curriculum design. The PEP focused on government
schools in selected urban settings. PEP was initiated and organized by Teachers Resource Centre (TRC) in
July 1997 and it was completed in 2002 (Teachers Resource Centre, 1999). TRC is a non-profit, non- government organization.
2. An education foundation (SEF), which is semi-government organization, initiated Adopt a School program
in 1997 for improving the quality of education in government schools; for systematic and replicable collaboration between the private and public sector; and for mobilizing parents and communities in order to sustain the
program (Sindh Education Foundation, 1998).
3. Book Group, which is a private book publishing organization, initiated the Government school project. In
April 1995, the Government of Sindh issued a notification to transfer the management of a government girls
primary school to the Book Group. Since September 1995, the Book Group has been working to improve the
quality of education in the school by introducing more relevant curriculum in the school (The Book Group,
1996).

4. The Department of Education, Government of Sindh had been engaged since 1991, in a large-scale
program called the Sindh primary education development program (SPEDP). The main goals of SPEDP were
to improve access to primary education, especially for girls, with equity and quality. SPEDP was completed in
2001 (Bureau of Curriculum and Extension Wing, 1997).
The researchers found that the teachers think about teacher professionalism in terms of the success that they
can achieve through teaching difficult students and through work problems. They also measured success by
how much they could help out in the learning of fellow teachers. Teachers also seemed to recognize that they
must work with their fellow teachers and the school administration in order to educate the students in a proper
manner and are aware of the value of teacher training reforms. This is contrary to what previous research
suggests that teachers are not well-informed about the professional standards they are expected to meet
(IDCA, Ministry of Education, Pakistan, 1986; Hoodbhoy, 1998; The Ministry of Education, 1998). This study
signals a period in Pakistans history when education related reforms were becoming more widespread. We
now have the wisdom of hindsight in evaluating their success.
The reforms in Sindh were not the success that the government was hoping for. By 2011, most of the gains
from earlier reforms had eroded with dropout rates going down only marginally, keeping Pakistani dropout
rates at highest global stratum (ASER National Report, 2013). The failure in sustainability appears to be a
major limiting factor in the implementation of education reforms and points out that any future intervention
must ensure sustainability of said reforms. To that end, altering the incentive structure that teachers face may
have longer lasting effects on educational outcomes.

2.3 Performance-payment experiments


Attempts to improve education in developing countries have typically focused on providing more inputs to
schools and have usually expanded spending along existing patterns. However, a landmark study using a
nationally representative dataset of primary schools in India found that 25% of teachers were absent on any
given day, and that less than half of them were engaged in any teaching activity (Kremer, Muralidharan,
Chaudhury, Hammer, and Rogers, 2005). Since over 90% of non-capital education spending in India goes to
regular teacher salaries and benefits, it is not clear that a "business as usual" policy of expanding inputs along
existing patterns is the most effective way of improving educational outcomes.
The seminal studies on the effect of paying teachers on the basis of student test outcomes are those of Lavy
(2002) and (2004), and Glewwe, Ilias, and Kremer (2003), but their evidence is mixed. Lavy shows that both
group and individual incentives for high school teachers in Israel led to improvements in student outcomes.
Glewwe et al (2003) report results from a randomized evaluation that provided primary school teachers
(grades 4 to 8) in Kenya with group incentives based on test scores and found that, while test scores went up
in program schools in the short run, the students did not retain the gains after the incentive program ended.
They conclude that the results are consistent with teachers expending effort towards short-term increases in
test scores but not towards long-term learning.

Muralidharan and Sundararaman (2006) conducted a randomized experiment in the schools of Andhra
Pradesh using two alternative approaches to increase learning outcomes in primary schools. The first
approach was to provide schools with additional smart inputs and the second was to provide performance-based bonuses to teachers on the basis of the average improvement in test scores of their students
with a sample size of 500 schools.
Their results show that there was no statistically significant difference in test scores in the schools in which
smart inputs were introduced. On the other hand, the schools in which incentives were introduced showed a
significant positive increase in test scores. Teachers interviewed in these schools also said they preferred
bonus payments based on test scores since there was something tangible against which they could ask for
pay increases.
The teacher interviews provide another way of testing for differences in behavior. Teachers in both incentive
and control schools were asked unprompted questions about what they did differently during the 2005 06
school year before they knew the end line results. The interviews indicated that teachers in incentive schools
are significantly more likely to have assigned more homework and class work, conducted extra classes
beyond regular school hours, given practice tests, and paid special attention to weaker children. While self-reported measures of teacher activity might not be considered very credible, the authors find a positive correlation between the reported activities of teachers and the performance of their students. The effect of assigning
homework and class work is positive but not significant, while that of extra classes and practice tests are
positive and strongly significant.
The interview responses suggest other reasons for why salient dimensions of changes in teacher behavior
might not be captured in classroom observations. An observer sitting in classrooms during the school day is
unlikely to observe the extra classes conducted after school. Similarly, if the increase in practice tests
occurred closer to the end of the school year (in March), this would not be identified by tracking surveys
conducted between September and February.
The combined evidence in this section demonstrates that linking pay to performance is a demonstrated
method for achieving sustained improvements in educational outcomes. Such a system, however, requires a
robust performance monitoring system for it to work. This monitoring system must also take qualitative measures into account before issuing verdicts on performance, to avoid missing critical changes in effort that may
be extra-curricular in nature, such as extra classes, homework or extra attention on weaker students.

2.4 Student Based Monitoring VS Community Based Monitoring


Duflo (2004) found that community-based monitoring, even when robustly structured, did not reduce absenteeism among service providers at government health facilities in rural India. Information sharing and auxiliary
rewards for teachers fare no better. Kremer and Vermeersch (2005) found no effect for a program in rural
Kenya that empowered school committees to monitor teachers, share performance information with officers in
the Ministry of Education, and to give prizes to the best-performing teachers. Ensuring that teachers have
closer ties to the community, which may entail high community pressure, had no effect on absence either.
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Chaudhury et al. (2005b) found that locally hired teachers, teachers in schools with a Parents-Teachers
Association, teachers with longer local tenure, and contract teachers and teachers at non-formal schools run
by NGOs (who, in addition, faced a greater risk of dismissal) all had absence rates significantly higher than
those of government school teachers. Finally, Olken (2004) found that increasing community participation in
meetings where public officials accounted for expenditure of public funds did not reduce corruption in local
development projects in Indonesia.
There is limited evidence that external control, coupled with a clear and credible threat of punishment, may be
more effective at inducing good behavior. Contrary to his findings on community participation, in the same
study, Olken (2004) found that the threat of a top-down audit resulted in a significant decline in corruption.
Chaudhury et al. (2005b) report that teachers at schools that were inspected more often tended to have lower
absentee rates.
Duflo and Hanna (2005) test whether a simple incentive program based on teacher presence can reduce
teacher absence, and whether it has the potential to lead to more teaching activities and better learning. In 60
informal one-teacher schools in rural India, randomly chosen out of 120 (the treatment schools), a financial
incentive program was initiated to reduce absenteeism. Teachers were given a camera with a tamper- proof
date and time function, along with instructions to have one of the children photograph the teacher and other
students at the beginning and end of the school day. The time and date stamps on the photographs were
used to track teacher attendance. A teacher's salary was a direct function of his attendance. The remaining 60
schools served as comparison schools. The introduction of the program resulted in an immediate decline in
teacher absence. The absence rate (measured using unannounced visits both in treatment and comparison
schools) changed from an average of 42 percent in the comparison schools to 22 percent in the treatment
schools. When the schools were open, teachers were as likely to be teaching in both types of schools, and
the number of students present was roughly the same. The program positively affected child achievement
levels: a year after the start of the program, test scores in program schools were 0.17 standard deviations
higher than in the comparison schools and children were 40 percent more likely to be admitted into regular
schools.
The evidence shows that incentives based on metrics other than student performance can also work to
improve educational outcomes. Duflo and Hanna (2005) demonstrate that simple interventions can have
inordinately large effects on educational outcomes, through the reduction of absenteeism among school
teachers. While community based peer-pressure models (along the lines of micro-finance ala Grameen Bank)
do not work in the education sector, the threat of inspection along with a credible method for recording attendance can have a positive impact. Interventions that alter the incentive structure faced by teachers appear to
be the highest-return investment avenue in educational reform and can be made sustainable through a shift in
the teacher salary structure.

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3. Analysis
From the case studies presented above, we can see that teaching as a profession is not given much importance in the South Asian region as compared to the developed world. In the United States, for example, like
all other professions there is a specific license that an individual must attain in order to teach which involves
having a minimum level of qualification and experience. In Pakistan, this is not the case, as there are no
minimum thresholds for teacher qualification requirements and significant variance between and among
different schools and villages (LEAPS, 2008).
Stark difference is apparent in the treatment of teachers between public schools and private schools in Pakistan (LEAPS, 2008). Teachers are more motivated in private schools since their pay is dependent on student
performance and grades; this appears to be a desirable outcome for teachers (Kingdon and Teal, 2010).
Public school teachers feel that they are wasted on government duties, which as government servants they
are contractually obliged to perform. They feel that these responsibilities are a drag on their pay and do not
help in advancing the achievements of their students.
Case studies also indicate that when teachers come to school regularly, they generally tend to teach well. The
challenge lies in curbing absenteeism among teachers, especially public schools. A cursory examination of
the evidence reveals that there are two chief reasons for absenteeism amongst public sector teachers:
i.

due to added burden of official government duties

ii.

because of a lack of motivation

In both cases, motivation appears to be derived from the levels of pay the teachers receive; this makes
performance-based pay increases a viable avenue for improving teacher performance in public schools (similar to what private schools are already doing).

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4. Motivating todays Students to Become Teachers


Because of the challenges described in the previous sections, it is obvious that becoming a teacher is not an
attractive proposition for new entrants into the Pakistani job market. Research suggests that there is a dearth
of higher education in the South Asian region. Even when students do opt for higher education, due to a lack
of resources, they primarily end up studying in foreign universities where they are offered lucrative positions
and hence they become less willing to come back.
To encourage students to come back after their graduation and teach in Pakistan, scholarship schemes can
be introduced by the government. For example, in India and China, the government has scholarships available for students but the contract includes a clause that they must come back after completing their education
and teach at one of the government approved universities. Pakistan needs to design a strategy to build up a
cadre of educated young professionals by offering scholarships for higher education in specific fields in which
research and development is needed. This requires a detailed assessment and review of the state of technical knowhow, the identification of key bottlenecks and an expectation about the direction of economic development in Pakistan in the future. Only the Government is equipped to formulate such long term strategic
goals and provide for the provision of its execution.
Public higher education institutions need to be supported by the central and state governments to reach the
minimum standards (Agarwal, 2006). Competitive grants need to be provided to encourage healthy competition in research. Public funds need to be used in subject areas that are necessary for development but which
may not be catered by private sector. Demand-driven, efficient and targeted funding of students from poor
backgrounds, by initiating a social equity fund, should be taken up on a big scale. Collaborative activities that
are currently far and few in between require support through public funding. Deficits in financing higher education have to be met by pooling resources from all possible sources, including the government at the centre,
the provinces, and private households, including education loans. The possibility of attracting foreign and
corporate agencies in the knowledge economy sectors through a proactive approach should also be explored.
To address equity issues, a social equity fund to cater to the need of students from poor background could be
set up. A suitably designed affirmative action policy may also be put in place to provide opportunities to marginalized segments of Pakistani society.
The case can also be made for the need to identify intellectuals from an early age in order to help them
achieve their goals and fulfil their potential. For example, the LUMS National Outreach Programme (NOP)
selects students who score at the top of the Matriculation exams in their villages. These students take extra
classes so as to prepare for the standardized LUMS test and then take the entry test with the rest of Pakistans students. This allows them to be chosen on an equal footing with other students when entering LUMS.

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Internships such as Teach for Pakistan can show the value of teaching to the younger generation. Teach For
Pakistans model is geared to help them achieve their vision by:

Recruiting and selecting motivated and committed graduates and young professionals from all aca-

demic disciplines to a selective fellowship program

Placing Fellows to teach full-time for two years in under-resourced schools

Training and supporting Fellows before and during the Fellowship to become excellent teachers

Delivering a leadership development program to prepare Fellows for high-impact career paths after the

Fellowship

Enabling Alumni to address education inequity by fostering a strong network among them

In developed countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, teachers need a minimum level of
education in order to qualify for a teachers license. Just as a lawyer needs to pass the Bar, teachers need to
pass a qualification in order to teach, even at the primary school level. Only those professors are hired at the
university level, who have completed their teaching and research requirements. Hence, a certain level of
standardization needs to be implemented.
Implementing such structural changes would be challenging even if Pakistan were not dealing with a raft of
other issues and challenges. The resource constrained environment needs not only the most fruitful interventions but also new forms of monitoring and oversight to ensure that the machine remains in good working
order. To this end, recent research suggests that government sanctioned monitoring by the students for
performance-based pay is one of the best ways to motivate teachers into performing better. Students will not
suffer from warped incentives that typically plague government bureaucracies.
www.lums.edu.pk
teachforpakistan.com

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5. Provincial Responsibilities
Currently, the administration of teacher training in Pakistan is a provincial responsibility. However, the curriculum wing at the federal level is also responsible for teacher education institutions. Government primary school
teachers are trained through Government Colleges for Elementary Teachers (GCETs), the distance education
program of the Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), and teacher training courses run in secondary schools
known as Normal Schools or PTC units. Graduates of these institutions are taught a similar curriculum, and
receive the Primary Teaching Certificate (PTC) or Certificate in Teaching (CT) at the end of one year. Generally, the number of applicants is far greater than the number of places available. There is also an acute shortage of teacher training facilities, particularly for female teachers in certain regions and especially in the province of Balochistan.
In-service training is the responsibility of the Curriculum Boards and Extension Centers. In addition, the provinces have assigned in-service responsibilities to one or more GCETs. There are four different types of in-service education possibilities for the teachers:

In-service training of untrained staff through full-time crash programs of three months duration provided

by the government

Short term refresher courses for those already teaching provided by the government

Limited private sector initiatives (short as well as medium term)

Various donor-funded projects directed towards in-service training of government teachers

Each province has an Education Extension Center and/or Directorate of Staff Development responsible for
in-service education. The intention is to provide one in-service training program to each teacher at least once
every five years. A recent study of in-service refresher courses in the province of Punjab found that these
INSET (In-Service Education and Training) courses reach an insignificant proportion of teachers. There are
scores of teachers who are at the end of their career and have never received any in-service training.
The current infrastructure for improving teacher training is in serious disarray and requires restructuring from
the top down. Such a series of reforms, while ideal, does not constitute a realistic reform agenda in the immediate to medium term. Motivating teachers to pursue training and accreditation on their own, through private,
donor, or government supported institutions may prove be a more viable path to improved educational
outcomes.

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6. Sympathetic Organizations
There is widespread and growing evidence of schools and organizations within Pakistan that are demonstrating working solutions to the education crisis across the country. The sheer breadth of innovative models is
cause for celebration and hope. In this section we will explore some of these models and identify lessons for
addressing education reform.
The Citizens Foundation runs 600 schools, free-at-the-point of use, in areas of rural and urban poverty;
serving over 80,000 students. In the US that would be the equivalent of a large school district. These schools
are well-run and the children are learning. The Citizens Foundation does not depend on government; it raises
its funds from concerned citizens and businesses and has been able to use this model to expand steadily
since its inception.
The Punjab Education Foundation, another success story, receives public funds from the Government of
Punjab. It uses these funds to provide places in low-cost private schools that are free-at-the-point-use, targeted towards students from poor households. In effect, the Foundation buys all the placements in a school,
which then becomes part of a network. In return, the schools agree not to take any fee-paying students and to
demonstrate that the students are making progress in regular tests organised by the Foundation. These
schools are the Pakistani equivalent of charter schools. Currently, over 800,000 students, in both urban and
rural settings, across the Punjab are benefitting. This is successful impact at scale and there are plans for
continued rapid expansion.
An alternative model is utilized by the charitable organisation CARE. While CARE does construct its own
schools (with 11 schools in Punjab) it also adopts public schools. It supports these adopted schools with
extra staff, materials and professional development. This model has been well received by students and
teachers and has helped improve hundreds of schools in and around Lahore.
Finally, the Childrens Global Network (CGN) helps to train thousands of teachers in effective, interactive
pedagogy so that they can move away from the mind-numbing rote learning that is the norm in most of Pakistans schools. Innovative and novel learning techniques are being deployed with investments in new curriculum development using experts in order to challenge conventional thinking and improve learning outcomes for
children, and through them, their families.

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These are just four examples of successful programmes in Pakistan. There are also glimmers, in places, of
improved governance and administration, admittedly from a low base. For example, with the support of the
World Bank, the Punjab government has developed its Programme Monitoring and Implementation Unit.
Indeed, Punjab, Pakistans most populous province, has begun to develop a two-pronged strategy which
funds low-cost private schools through the Punjab Education Foundation whilst simultaneously strengthening
the public sector as a whole. Along with the enhanced regularity and reliability of its monitoring, this strategy
had brought progress, until 2007 but seems to have stalled since then.
Moreover, in August 2009 the national government, with the support of all provinces, published a new National Education Policy that honestly portrays the problems facing the countrys public education system and sets
out a long list of proposals for addressing them. It was in this context that the Pakistan Education Task Force
(which Shahnaz Wazir Ali and Michael Barber co-chair) was established jointly by the Pakistan and British
governments. Its work is supported and given high priority by the UK Department for International Development. The Task Force represents a concerted effort to bring together eminent leaders of Pakistans education
system with major business and civil society representatives, donors and global experts to enhance the
chance of success.
The challenge of education reform in Pakistan is not a lack of ideas or experiments; it is one of scale, capacity
and commitment. The Task Force insists that it has no intention of writing yet another report; it is working
boldly and persistently to assist provinces with the task of implementation and of ensuring that intent at
system level translates into results at classroom level.

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7. Conclusion
The state of education in Pakistan is the result of a wide range of issues limiting educational attainment, from
cultural and social class, gender inequality to teacher absenteeism and student dropouts not to mention
insufficient provision of infrastructure and the lack of quality materials available. It appears that there are too
many challenges and limited ability to address them all. This is, in effect, an optimization problem, meaning
that a few targeted interventions at this stage may trigger massive structural changes over time.
A review of the literature reveals some candidates for these interventions by identifying issues that have an
inordinate effect on learning outcomes. Teacher motivation has been demonstrated to have a significant
impact on learning outcomes, absenteeism being one obvious example of a channel through which this
impact may occur. In a study that the British Council conducted on the education reforms launched in Punjab,
it was discovered that there is a basic lack of English proficiency in the pool of teachers in Punjab. By altering
the incentive structure that teachers face we can boost their motivation and improve their performance while
attracting better talent. Lavy (2002), Ballou (2001) and Glewwe and Kramer (2003) all demonstrated that
incentives for high performance can trigger improvements in student attainments.
This brings us to the next point, performance must be monitored and evaluated to ensure minimum standards
are being met. A 2010 Mckinsey report on school systems identified four paths along which school systems
improve, based on observations of successful systems all around the world. The first is from poor to fair, the
second is from fair to good, the third is from good to great and finally the fourth is from great to excellent.
Based on evidence from recent studies (LEAPS, 2011 and British Council, 2013) it is fair to state that Pakistan would fall under the first stage, poor to fair. The report also identifies three main clusters for interventions:
i.

Providing motivation and scaffolding for low-skill teachers

ii.

Getting all schools to a minimum quality level

iii.

Getting students in seats

We have already discussed how it is possible to achieve success in the first cluster, for the second cluster it is
obvious that a systematic approach to monitoring must be developed to ensure quality standards meet a
minimum threshold. Duflo and Hanna (2005) in their experiment demonstrated one possible approach to
monitoring, which used students as part of the monitoring framework and saw considerable success. Another,
perhaps complimentary, option is to invest in monitoring infrastructure at the provincial level but this would
require concerted policy effort and buy-in from key public stakeholders, a challenge within the Pakistani context.

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The Punjab Government has already demonstrated a working model for getting students and keeping them in
their seats through the Punjab Education Foundation and the Punjab Schools Reform Roadmap 2010. This
initiative has added well over a million additional children aged 5 to 16 to the school system and student
attendance in school increased from 83% to 92% between August 2011 and December 2012 (Barber, 2013)
The biggest constraint remains teacher quality, and that should remain the long term target for reform. However, in the short term a number of supportive measures can be taken to provide support to students and low
skilled teachers to ensure minimum standards. These supports could be in the form of scripted teaching
materials, coaching on curriculum, instructional time on task, school visits by centre and incentives for high
performance.

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