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Private schools in Pakistan

By Staff Writer

In Pakistan during the 1970s, the government nationalized all private schools, severely restricting the growth of this sector and its potential in educating young Pakistanis.

Fast forward twenty years though and you'll find private sector initiatives in the area of education have re-emerged all over the country. This hasn't happened in a vacuum though. Rather, private schools are more in demand than ever before at a time when Pakistan's public school system is facing massive problems.

Some of the major problems public schools face include limited financial resources, poor quality of content and a greater demand for education amongst parents of school-aged children. Pakistan's public schools are overcrowded and/or underfunded. These issues have largely fuelled the revival of private schools in Pakistan.

Although traditionally, private schools have been a luxury only the rich can afford, this is not necessarily the case in the current reemergence of the private sector in Pakistan's education system.

Nationally, overall private school primary enrolment (as a percentage of total primary enrolment) is 13 percent in Pakistan.

A recent survey in urban Pakistan found that 59 percent of households earning less than Rs 3,500 had children who were enrolled in private schools in the city of Lahore. Similarly, in the low-income and economically-deprived Orangi district of Karachi, a surprising 60 percent of all enrolled children went to private primary schools.

The findings of this study are given added support by a 1996 study conducted in the urban areas of five districts in the province of Punjab. This study found that even among low-income households, there was a private school enrolment rate of 50 percent.

This trend towards private school education, even amongst those on the lower economic echelon is not surprising though. Public schools in Pakistan have largely failed their Pakistani children.

According to the Human Development in South Asia's 1998 report, 70 per cent of the schools in Pakistan have no toilets, 68 percent no drinking water, 92 percent no playgrounds, 60 per cent no boundary walls and 16 percent are without a building.

A delegation from the UK to Pakistan has also noted a lack of desks, books, blackboards, electricity, doors, and windows, not to mention the problem of overcrowded classrooms. And the phenomena of "ghost schools", institutions which receive government grants but do not exist, are now common knowledge.

These are just some of the realities of Pakistani public schools, especially in rural areas. The country's public school system was once able to churn out literate, disciplined students. Today, it is a cesspool of corruption and backwardness.

This is why private schools have become an alternative for parents serious about educating their children, despite personal financial constraints. Although generally speaking, private schools have often been criticized for worsening the problem of inequality in education, the available evidence clearly indicates that the private education sector is very important in Pakistan. It is providing quality education in a context of the government's failure to impart good basic education that is accessible to all Pakistanis.

Date/Time Last Modified: 6/17/2002 3:44:55 PM

Readers' Comment

muneer butt: 12/2/2006 3:10:51 PM
It is unfortunate but we have to accept the fact that our beloved country have not been looked after by our so called leaders and also military dictators who consider theirselves as owner of the country.I think we need to elect the right group of people i mean the capable ,otherwise there is no way forward . the main cause is corruption, which is wide spread within all the departments, people in power send their children abroad for higher education and the poor is left to do the odd jobs government should spend more money on education than the arms to see the good results

Abdul Aziz Khan: 2/19/2007 4:17:14 AM
It is a good piece of information regarding Private education.However, the information seems to be outdated.The website needs to be updated in the light of a recent education census carried out by the Ministry of Education.Please see

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