Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Quality Education Situation in Pakistan at Primary Level

Muhammad Sabil Farooq*, Yuan Tong Kai


The quality of education is a priority for every nation any educational institution or organization and their beneficiaries. This paper is concerned with methods and theories recently used in Quality Education research in Pakistan. It begins by looking at policies, practices and procedures implemented and their impact on quality of education in the light of MDGs. This study will explore the comparative difference of quality education against MDGs at primary level in Pakistan to identify the gaps and challenges in their policies, practices and procedures to suggest the possible measures for their quality improvement standards at proposed level.

In light of few international commitments has made by Pakistan to provide quality basic education to everyone as a basic right. As per the constitution of Pakistan, “The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as may be determined by law” National Educational Assessment System (NEAS) reported shocking situation regarding the achievement of these obligations. The main focus of this article was to analyze the current situation of quality education in the light of MDGs and to understand what we can expect in near future regarding provision of quality primary education in Pakistan.

Key Words: Quality education situation, Comparative differences against MDGs, Primary education


Situated on the western edge of South Asia, Pakistan has a population of about 184 million, with sex ratio of 105.6: 100. It is estimated that about 62% of the people are residing in rural and 38% in urban areas. GDP Per Capita Income is US$ 1,387 for 2014-15.

Pakistan is a developing country, gradually transforming from agriculture-based economy to an increasing share of industry and services sectors in the GDP. Country spends a major part of its budget to address challenges of national security and interest payments on its loans. This leaves a relatively smaller amount to be invested on infrastructure development to boost economic growth and enable social sectors to meet basic needs of the people like education, health, social services etc. Pakistan is confronted with a host of serious development issues.

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Pakistan grew at a rate of 4.3% (FY 2014/15), but there are several challenges which are likely to restrict its future progress unless strict actions are implemented. Energy shortage is a major obstacle to raise production. Pakistan is a partner of on-going global war against terrorism. Resultantly, geo-political dynamics in the neighboring countries and on its borders have generated security and terrorism related threats for the local people, foreign investors, and development workers. This situation is restricting investment and emphasizing unemployment in the country. The deficit on trade balances is also adding to the fiscal pressures.

  Table1: Area and population by Province/Region

Figure1: Distribution of population in Regions/Provinces shown in percentage (%)

In the past, Pakistan has not been spending enough in terms of basic social services to the people. Another hindering factor has been rapid population growth, which was 3.1% or more during 1990s, and is still above 2% per annum. Continuous fast increase in population has eaten up or diluted benefits of the investment on development. Illiteracy, rapid population growth and slow economic development have increased unemployment, stuck evolution of socio-political institutions and democratic norms in the society. Due to illiteracy and poverty, health indicators are also low in Pakistan. One third children are born underweight and infant mortality rate is high.

Educational indicators of Pakistan are still miserably low, although steady progress has been noticed during last few decades. At present, about one third primary school age children are out of school, 42% population (age 10+) is illiterate. Wide discrepancies persist in education indicators pertaining to provinces/areas, location (urban vs. rural) and gender. At the national level, about two third women of age 15+ cannot read and write, and 35% girls remain out of school. Gender Parity Index in case of participation in primary education is 0.82. It is estimated that over 6.7 million children are out of school, and majority of them (62%) are girls.

Quality Education Importance:

Quality Education is a dominant instrument of socioeconomic and political change related to global, technological and democratic developments. So it is necessary to improve quality of education at different levels. Quality is one of the most important dimensions of an education system. There are probably as many different ideas about quality as there are schools. Quality is creating an environment where educators, parents, government officials, community representatives, and business leaders work together to provide students with the resources they need to meet current and future academic, business and changes. Strengthening the quality of education has become a global agenda at all educational levels and more so at the primary level. The quality of basic education is important not only for preparing individuals for the subsequent educational levels but to equip them with the requisite basic life skills and social norms too. Quality education also ensures increased access and equality and it is mainly due to these reasons that various international Forums and Declarations have pledged improvements in quality of education. It is important to mention that quality of education can be measured from three different viewpoints i.e. quality of inputs, quality of the process, and quality of output. Input reflects the resources committed by the government and society in general for the cause of providing education; these resources include infrastructure (including various physical facilities), teaching resources, curriculum and other support materials. Quality of the process reflects how good the delivery process is, and generally measures what goes on in the classroom as well as in the school in general. The quality of output reflects the conformance of the knowledge and skill levels of students to well established standards, e.g. exam systems and their results are a useful measure of output quality.

Improving and sustaining quality of education is ultimate importance in any society round the world. By ensuring quality education the nations can be able to economic, social, mental, psychological and emotional growth of individuals on the right direction. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) also declared quality primary education as the basic right of all people. According to (Hoy, et al, 2000), many developed and developing countries have attained or near to the goal of (UPE) universal primary education. Now the focus has been turned to the quality of students’ learning and it is quite justifiable not only for those countries which have attained quantitative targets, but it is also valid for those countries who are striving to achieve the target of EFA and MDGs like Pakistan. Quality of education requires standards set in order to develop assessment tools, compatibility of programs and propose someone as accountable for to meet the targets. Pakistan has made its commitments in all international forums of providing basic education with high quality and to make it accessible for all. Commitments of Pakistan with the international community are as under;

International Commitments

Pakistan was one of the 48 member states who voted in favor of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 1948. According to article 26 of this declaration, “Everyone has the right to education” and “Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory”. The convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women was adopted by the UN general assembly in 1974 but Pakistan acceded to the convention on March 1996. As a signatory to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action 1995, Pakistan is committed to promote “people-centered sustainable development through the provision of basic education, lifelong education, literacy and training for girls and women” (Article 27), and ensuring “equal access to and equal treatment of women and men in education” (Article 30).

Pakistan’s Commitment to Education-For-All 2000

This is largely because of the sorry state of Pakistan’s education system and the failure of successive governments to provide even basic education for all: according to the 2012 Global Monitoring Report, Pakistan continues to have the second-largest number of out-of-school children in the world. As a signatory of this declaration on Education for All (EFA), Pakistan agreed that every person should be able to benefit from educational opportunities designed to meet their basic learning needs, and called for an expanded vision of education, encompassing factors such as universalizing access to education and promoting equity including goal 2 “to achieve universal primary education” by 2015.

Dakar Framework for Action

Pakistan was among 164 countries who adopted the Dakar Framework for Action, Education for All: Meeting Our Collective Commitments at the World Education Forum. All 164 countries acknowledged education as a fundamental right for all people, regardless of gender or age, recognized the need to make comprehensive efforts to eliminate gender discrimination. The Dakar Framework is a collective commitment to achieve all EFA goals and one of these is “ensuring that by 2015 all children, particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to and complete free and compulsory primary education of good quality” Unfortunately, Pakistan is among the countries which are not likely to achieve these goals by 2015.

After Dakar, the country took a number of initiatives to accelerate the pace and progress towards achievement of EFA Goals, including abolition of school fees, provision of free textbooks to students and legislation to declare free and compulsory access of children to education as their constitutional right. Article 25-A has been inserted in the Constitution through landmark 18th Constitutional Amendment. Although, the country has lagged behind the targets of EFA, nonetheless, a momentum has been built and required legal and institutional mechanisms are being created to sustain and accelerate the pace of progress towards EFA Goals.)

The 2013 EFA Global Monitoring Report showed that progress towards many of the targets is slowing down and that most EFA goals are unlikely to be met in Pakistan. After good progress in the initial years after Dakar, the number of children out of school aged 5-9 years has risen to 6.7 million in 2013. It is clear that the target of universal primary education will be missed by a considerable margin by 2015.


The Millennium Declaration and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)  

Pakistan, including 192 members of United Nations countries has agreed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals developed/framed at the Millennium Summit in New York in 2000. All members States agreed to work towards achieving all the MDGs, including goal 2 “to achieve universal primary education” by 2015.

Constitution amendment # 18

Through a constitutional amendment # 18, free and compulsory education for the children aged 5 to 16 years has been declared a fundamental right. Article 25-A of the Constitutions provides that: “The state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as may be determined by the law.”

National Plan of Action (2001-2015)

To honor the international commitment made in signing the Education for All Dakar Framework for Action (April 2000), the Government of Pakistan developed the National Plan of Action (NPA) on Education for All 2001–2015. The objectives of the NPA are to ensure access to education for disadvantaged rural and urban population groups, particularly girls and women; to promote community participation and ownership of basic education programmes; and to improve the relevance and quality of basic education. The National Plan of Action 2013 estimates a total of 6.7 million primary-aged out of school children during 2013-16. Of these 5.06 million children are expected to be enrolled in the country. The total cost estimated to be Rs. 189 billion.

National Education Policy (2009)

As per nature of the current situation of gender and rural- urban disparities regarding access of education, the New Education Policy aims to revitalize the education system. Policy also aims to enable Pakistan to fulfill all its international commitments regarding education on different forums and summits in general and EFA and MDGs in particular.


Education System in Pakistan

In Pakistan, education is now a provincial subject as a result of the 18th Constitutional Amendment legislated by the parliament during April 2010. The provincial/area governments enjoy greater autonomy in several social and economic sectors, including education. The Ministry of Education and Trainings and Standards in Higher Education (MET&SHE) at the federal level coordinates with international development partners and provides a platform to the provincial/area departments of education for exchange of information and creating synergy, synchronization and harmony.

Public sector formal school system, which is largest service provider in Pakistan, consists of 12 academic years. It starts from Primary and ends at Intermediate level or Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSSC). Pre-primary classes (local name Katchi class, translation: Pre-Primary; premature or not ripe yet) can be found in schools, but this level is not recognized in terms of budgetary provision or examination. Private sector caters for educational needs of about one third enrolled children having diverse streams, some following public sector national curricula, while others opting for curricula of Cambridge International Examinations.

The children of upper-middle classes, residing in urban localities, mostly attend high cost private schools, offering foreign curricula and international examination systems (O and A levels) and are staffed with qualified and trained teachers, well-equipped classrooms, all essential facilities of good quality, and imported teaching-learning materials.








Figure2: Basic Structure of education in Pakistan

In addition to the public and private schools, there is another stream of ‘Deeni Madrassas'(Religious Schools) offering free religious education with free boarding and lodging. These Madrassas are usually managed by local communities and are financed through charity and donations. These parallel systems of education in Pakistan have perpetuated inequalities and economic stratifications, and are root cause for behavioral divisions and social conflict in the society.

Majority of the children, residing mainly in rural and semi-urban areas and belonging to the low income families, attend public schools which offer free education but are characterized by poor quality of education due to lack of physical facilities, shortage or absence of teachers, and non-availability of suitable learning materials.

Private Sector Contribution in Primary Education

Private Sector is playing an important role in the promotion of education in Pakistan. Private sector enrollment is increasing because of its overall better quality of education as compared to public sector.

NEMIS (National Education Management Information System) data indicated that in 2012/13, there were 17,093 private primary schools in the country. In addition, there were 25,658 middle/lower secondary schools and 17,696 high schools in the private sector. At the primary level, overall 4.8 million (34%) children of 5-9 years age group are enrolled in private sector schools. It is estimated that 34% of boys and 33% of girls are enrolled in private schools.


 In Pakistan, there are two types of pre-primary education: (i) poor quality “Katchi” classes in government primary schools, and (ii) good quality ECE usually in private sector commonly termed as Nursery, Kindergarten, and Montessori etc.  Pre-Primary/Katchi class neither has a separate classroom nor a specific trained and qualified teacher. The children are usually those who accompany their older siblings to school and simply “sit around” in school premises. Mostly, one teacher, following multi-grade approach, teaches them and grades I & II simultaneously. This part-time or shared teacher daily assigns pupils of Katchi class some simple activity and over the year they learn simple alphabets and numbers only, and are not able to cover full national curriculum of ECE. Whereas, the more proper and good quality Early Childhood Education (ECE), with separate classroom, trained teacher and specific teaching and learning aids, is available mostly in urban private sector schools, where children from privileged families are enrolled. Although there are no separate pre primary/ECE budgetary allocations in public sector, however there is a clear national policy, standards, curriculum and teacher training packages for pre-primary/ECE. In public sector schools, pre-primary is a part of primary school and follows prescribed syllabus while private sector follows child-centered teaching methodology. The government has approved national curriculum which is implemented in selected schools, mostly supported by donors.

There are wide variations across provinces in Gross Enrollment Rates (GER) of ECE/pre-primary, though gender differences do not appear pronounced (Table 2). Since 2000, for all Provinces and Areas there have been steadily increases in the gross enrollment rates for a decade while all rates reflect a decline in 2012-13 due to an upward adjustment in population.

The national average for ECE/Pre-primary GER was 66% in 2012/13. While Punjab and Khyber Pakhtun-khwa (KP) demonstrate highest rates of gross enrollment in ECE/Pre-Primary, the pace of progress has been remarkably high in Sindh (Table 2).

Table 2: ECE / Pre-Primary: Gross Enrolment Rate from 2001-02 to 2012-13 by Province

Source: NEMIS (2001-13) & NIPS Projections (2005-25) Govt. of Pakistan

Primary and Secondary Education

In Pakistan, there are 422 Pre-Primary Institutions and 145,491 formal primary, 42,920 middle level, High/Higher Sec./Inter Colleges 35,792 Degree Colleges are 1,086; 75% are public sector schools; 10% private sector schools and the remaining almost equally divided between non-formal basic education schools and ‘Deeni Madrassas’

Table 3: Education Statistics at every Level

Source: National Education Management Information System (NEMIS) Database 2014 Govt. of Pakistan

On world community forum Pakistan is one of signatory regarding making its effort to achieve universal primary education (UPE) which is still a dream yet to come true. By utilizing less than 2 per cent of GDP, how it can achieve its targets in education sector. For the achievements of set targets it needs to raise the share of GDP for education and then assures transparent mechanism of implementation strategies to provide access and quality education for all. Increases in grass enrollment shows sincere efforts are being made and Pakistan has to multiply its efforts to achieve target of UPE.

Education Expenditure in Pakistan as % of GDP

During the past decade, Pakistan’s education expenditure as percentage of GDP has varied between 1.5% and 2.1%


Table 4: Education Expenditure in Pakistan as % of GDP

Source: Ministry of Finance; Government of Pakistan (2001-13)



Distribution of National Education Expenditures by Sub-Sectors

On average at the national level, 89% of education expenditures comprise current expenses such as teachers’ salaries (Figure 3). Only 11% comprises development expenditures, which is not sufficient to raise quality of education. Across provinces, too, an overwhelming proportion of total actual education expenditures are spent on current heads, mainly teachers’ salaries, leaving a very small proportion for development expenditures. For 2012/13, except in KP where development expenditures are 22% of the total actual expenditures, these range between 5% (in Punjab), 6% (in Sindh); and 9% (in Baluchistan).





Figure 3: Distribution of National Education Expenditures by Sub-Sectors

Source: Office of the Controller General, Accounts (CGA). 2013, Govt. of Pakistan


The National Plan of Action (NPA) to Accelerate Education-Related MDGs (2013-16)

The National Plan of Action (NPA) is designed to accelerate progress towards education related goals and targets identified by MDG for 2015/16.The NPA to Accelerate Education Related MDGs is a consolidation of 8 Provincial and Area Plans, each specific to its local conditions, challenges and interventions. The National Plan envisages increasing the national net primary enrollment from 68% in 2011/12 to 91% by 2015/16. Given the stock of 6.7 million out-of-school primary-aged children, the Plan expects to enroll an additional 5.1 million (2.4 million boys and 2.7 million girls) by 2015/16.


Education sector has faced myriad issues and challenges of access, equity and quality in the past. Current new political government has stoic resolve to enhance the allocation for education sector substantially in the next four years (FY 2014-15 to FY 2017-18). The political government in the election manifesto pledged to increase budgetary allocation from current 2% to 4% of the GDP by the year 2018. Right to education of every child of age 5-16 years is a constitutional obligation under Article 25-A. Immediately after taking over , the new government took stock of the situation and prepared a National Plan of Action to Accelerate education related MDGs and EFA targets.

All the governments, Federal and Provincial, through their manifesto are committed to people of Pakistan to gradually rise the spending on education to at least 4% of GDP by 2018. We pledge that Pakistan will increase the expenditure on education in public sector by an average of at least 1 percentage point per year from FY 2014-15 to FY 2017-18.

Government of Pakistan is fully committed to remove all types of disparities in the education service delivery in Pakistan as early as possible through making specific allocations for the education of disadvantaged and under-served groups especially girls, disabled and minorities.

Figure 4: Primary: Comparative territory wise enrollment

Source: ASER, Pakistan 2014

Situation Analysis

Primary Enrollment Rates

Table 5: Primary: Gross Enrollment Rate from 2001-02 to 2012-13 by Province

Source: NEMIS (2001-13) & NIPS Projections (2005-25) Govt. of Pakistan

Despite repeated policy commitments, primary education in Pakistan is lagging behind in achieving its target of universal primary education (UPE), 100% survival rates up to grade V, low/negligible dropout rates and good quality education. This is largely due to low budgetary allocations (2% of GDP) to education sector; shortage of schools especially for girls and also in remote and far flung areas; shortage and absenteeism of teachers; lack of trained teachers, especially female teachers; missing facilities such as water, toilets and boundary walls; weak supervision and mentoring; and a host of out-of-school factors such as conservative and tribal culture; insecurity and lawlessness; and poverty, compelling a large number of children to work rather than attend school.

Since 2005-06, for all Provinces and Areas there have been steady increases in the gross enrollment rates for a decade while all rates reflect a decline in 2012-13 due to an upward adjustment in population.

The overall gross primary enrollment rate in Pakistan is 86% (Table 5). ICT, KP and Punjab display higher than national average rate while Baluchistan, FATA, Sindh and AJ&K have lower than national average rate. It is encouraging to see that FATA and KP are showing progress despite years of uninterrupted conflict and militancy leading to aggression, insecurity and terrorism.

Table 6: Primary: Out of School Children 2012-13 by Province

Source: NEMIS (2001-13) & NIPS Projections (2005-25), Govt of Pakistan


Table 7: Net Primary Enrollment Rate of age 5-9 years (2013-14)

Source: National Education Management Information System (NEMIS) Database 2013-14, AEPAM, MET, Islamabad & Population Projection 2005-2025, NIPS, 2013

Primary School Survival Rates (2013-14) Grade 5

Also called Retention Rate, Survival Rate to Grade 5 is the proportion of a cohort of pupils who reached Grade 5 expressed as a percentage of pupils enrolled in the first grade of a given cycle in a given school year.

A Survival Rate approaching 100 percent indicates a high level of retention and low dropout incidence. Survival Rate may vary from grade to grade, giving indications of grades with relatively more or less dropouts. The distinction between survival rate with and without repetition is necessary to compare the extent of wastage due to dropout and repetition.


Table 8: Primary School Survival Rates Grade 5

Source: 1.National Education Management Information System (NEMIS) Database 2013-14, AEPAM, MET, Islamabad 2. Calculated through UNESCO Reconstructed Cohort Model


Figure 5: Survival Rate to Grade V

Source: Annual Report of Education Statistics. National Education Management Information System (NEMIS) Database 2013-14, AEPAM, MET, Islamabad Government of Pakistan


Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR)

PTR is one of the most common indicators used in educational planning for improvement of quality education. A low number of pupils per teacher indicate pupils will have a better chance of contact with the teachers and hence a better teaching learning process. The PTR should normally be compared to established national norms on the number of pupils per teacher for each level or type of education. A high pupil-teacher ratio suggests that each teacher has to deal with a large number of pupils and that; conversely, pupils receive less attention from the teacher. The ratio of students to teaching staff is also an important indicator of the resource Level wise PTR in public sector of education is shown in table 9 and figure 6.


Table 9: Pupil-Teacher Ratio by Level


Figure 6: PTR (Pupil Teacher Ratio)

Source: Annual Report of Education Statistics. National Education Management Information System (NEMIS) Database 2013-14, AEPAM, MET, Islamabad Government of Pakistan

Table 10: Quality of Education in Pakistan at Primary Classes

Source: ASER, Pakistan 2014


Figure 7:Learning Levels Province wise grade 5

 Source: ASER, Pakistan 2014

Quality of education also depends on the physical environment and availability of facilities such as water and sanitation in educational institutions. In this context, statistics on public sector schools show that availability of drinking water is positively related with the level of educational institution e.g. upper secondary schools, in relation to lower secondary and primary schools are best provided with drinking water facility e.g. 64% primary, 80% middle and 91% upper secondary schools have water available (Table 11).

Table 11: Drinking Water Facility 2012-13

Source NIMS 2012-13, Govt. of Pakistan

Data for sanitation facilities in public sector schools, too, show better availability by levels of educational institutions e.g., 66% primary, 85% middle and 91% upper secondary girls’ schools have sanitation facilities while 54% primary, 76% middle and 85% upper secondary boys’ schools have access to sanitation facilities.

Table 12: Sanitation Facility 2012-13

Source NIMS 2012-13, Govt. of Pakistan

Education is considered as the cheapest defense of a nation. But the down trodden condition of education in Pakistan bears an ample testimony of the fact that it is unable to defend its own sector. Though 62 years have been passed and 23 policies and action plans have been introduced yet the educational sector is waiting for an arrival of a savior. The current government invested comparatively good in education sector and that era saw a visible positive educational change in Pakistani society. Now days, the economic situation in Pakistan is under stress and education is the worse effected sector in Pakistan.

Education Key Challenges in Pakistan

The key challenges to Pakistan’s education are: (i) lack of access to education; and (ii) poor quality of education; (iii) equity; and (iv) governance. Other influencing factors include budgetary constraints and weak management, which indirectly accentuate the lack of access and poor quality; and a set of external factors such as poverty, adverse law and order situation; and devastation due to natural disasters especially devastating floods of 2010 and annihilating earthquake of 2005.

These challenges are strongly interlinked with poor teaching quality, teacher absenteeism, truancy and/or lack of textbooks etc. As cumulative effect this generates lack of interest/motivation among students who dropout from school – adversely affecting every EFA goal and its corresponding targets.

Improving the quality of education is one of the key objectives of the National Plan of Action (2013) for education. For each strategy to be adopted for increasing enrollments, 15% of the total current and development costs have been additionally included for quality improvement measures. In this, the provinces and area governments will be free to select the most appropriate mix of investment e.g. in teachers’ training, distribution of free textbooks, provision of missing school facilities such as water, toilets, electricity, better supervision or any other facility.

Recently, minister of education announced a new Education policy for that next 10 years even the previous educational policy from 1998 to 2010 is still not expired. It is said in this policy that all the public schools will be raised up to the level of private schools because level of private schools considered good as public schools. Now a notice is issued to private schools to induct government course in 5th and 8th class and these classes will bound to take board exams.

Solutions for Educational System: 

Estimating the value of education, the Government should take solid steps on this issue. Implementation instead of projecting policies should be focused on. Allocation of funds should be made easy from provinces to districts and then to educational institutes. On their end, provinces will need to make higher financial allocations to education, both formal and non-formal and literacy; strengthen their capacities to design and implement education policy. Workshops must be arranged for teachers to enhance their professionalism, regular training of teachers, timely provision of textbooks, and effective monitoring and supervision is necessary for quality of education. Besides, undertaking more public-private partnerships, involvement of the community and participation of parents in school matters (through school management committees) should be encouraged. Lessons learned from public-private partnership experiences show that it produces better quality education at lower cost with improved management and greater coordination between parents and teachers. LSS (Learning Support Systems) Explanation: “Create systems of learning support to enable students to achieve extraordinary learning results in classrooms, laboratories and beyond.” should be inducted in Pakistani schools to improve the hidden qualities of children. Technical education must be given to all the classes. Promotion of the primary education is the need of time must have to work on UPE. Teachers, professors and educationists should be consulted while devising any plan, syllabus or policy; and develop a strong field force of supervisors and monitors for tracking progress (or lack of it) in the education sector. International development partners can assist Pakistan in its efforts to meet the international commitments. They can assist in:

  1. Development of a well-organized consultative process among different stakeholders in education;
  2. Establishment of a Consortium of Sponsors to Education in Pakistan;
  3. Simplify the procedures required for approval of project/programme.

Given the fast approaching deadline of 2015 for meeting the internationally agreed goals and commitments, the international development partners should come forward and generously support educational development in Pakistan, strictly in line with national priorities. Investment in the education sector will help improve quality of life of the people through improved awareness and lead to the creation of a literate, tolerant, and development oriented society in Pakistan.

Model of Quality Control in Education

Adams (1993) included six elements of quality, i.e. reputation of the institution, resources and inputs, process, content, output and outcomes, and value added. Since the concept of quality control and quality management have come from industrial and management sciences, the models of quality control are essentially based on the same philosophy. The industrial models were later on applied and adapted to the educational settings. The educational planners have been defining the quality out-put and have been searching for educational quality correlates. The quality out-put is defined in terms of learning achievement in three domains, i.e. cognitive, affective and psychomotor. Other indicators of quality output are decreasing rates of dropout and increasing rates of stay-ins, number who complete the program cycle and, gender and social equality.

Lockheed and Verspoor (1991) in a study of developing countries have identified various input and process determinants of educational output. These include orderly school environment, academic emphasis in the form of clearly defined learning outcomes and standards, curriculum, particularly the “implemented curriculum” (textbooks, other learning materials), time for learning, and effective use of school time, qualified teachers and healthy children. The developed countries show the similar results with a varying level of quality inputs. For example literature on Educational Reforms in the United States describes that standards of education can be improved through redefining basic curricula, and setting performance standards required from students at the completion of the program (Paliakoff and Schwartizbeck, 2001). Farguson, as cited in Paliakoff and Schwartzbeck (2001), after his examination of student achievement in 900 Texas school districts concluded that the quality of teachers is the most critical aspect of schooling and that it has a direct impact on student learning.


The study:

This study designed to achieve the following objectives;

  1. To analyze the current situation of primary education in terms of enrollment.
  2. To find out the quality of education regarding academic achievement in different school subjects at primary level through different documents and
  3. To find out the differences of quality education in light of MDGs and
  4. To devise a strategy of managing quality education at primary level in Pakistan.



Research questions:

Following research questions were constructed to guide the study;

  1. What is the enrollment rate at primary level in Pakistan?
  2. What is the completion / survival rate of primary education?
  3. What is the academic achievement of the students at primary level?
  4. How quality education can be controlled in order to achieve millennium development goals (MDGs), objectives of Education for All (EFA) and targets of Universal Primary Education (UPE).



Research design was mixed method. Qualitative objectives (Obj. # 1 & 2) and satisfactory answers of all four research questions were found through document analysis technique. Different national and international reports, online books, research articles and education policies were consulted. For quantitative part of the study a ASER Pakistan (Annual Status of Education Report) survey reports 2013/14 and NEMIS (National Education Management Information System) Database 2013-14, AEPAM, Government of Pakistan was used.




Research question # 1: What is the enrollment rate at primary level in Pakistan?

On average, Pakistan’s gross primary enrollment rate (GER) is 86%, with 92% for boys and 119% for girls. KP displays the second highest GER of 104%, followed by ICT (89%), Punjab (88%), FATA (88%) and Sindh (76%).

In Pakistan, of all the primary-aged (5-9 years) children, 68% are enrolled in primary school (Table 7 on page 8). The highest net primary enrollment rate is in KP (81%) where 92% of all boys (aged 5-9 years) and 68% of all girls (aged 5-9 years) attend primary school. This is followed by Glt.B (76%); Punjab (70%); and ICT (70%). About two-thirds of children attend school in Sindh (63%) and FATA (62%) while only one-half children in Baluchistan (51%) are enrolled in primary schools. ICT is also the only area in the country where primary enrollment rate is higher for girls (72%) than boys (68%) while AJ&K has almost an equal enrollment rate (58%-59%) for boys and girls.

Research question # 2: What is the completion rate or survival rate of primary education?

For Pakistan, estimated information reveals that of all the children entering primary school, 70% reach Grade 5 (Table 8 on page 08). For boys this rate (71%) is slightly above than that for girls (68%). Among the provinces and areas, the highest rate of survival is for ICT (91%) while Glt.B (32%) is lowest. In Sindh, FATA and KP, almost two-thirds of the children reach grade 5 while in Baluchistan only one-half survive up to the final primary class.

Research question # 3: What is the academic achievement of the students at primary level?

According to ASER (2014), (Table 10 on page 9), analysis of reading ability in Urdu/Sindhi/Pashto shows that 49% of Class 5 students could not read Class 2 story compared to the 50% in  2013. 84% of Class 3 children and 30% of Class 1 children could not able to read letters in Urdu/Sindhi/Pashto as compared to 31% in 2013. 58% of Class 5 students could not able to read English sentences of level 2 compared to 57% of children in 2013. 86% of Class 3 children could not read class 2 level English sentences .38% children enrolled in class 1 cannot read capital letters as compared to 39% in 2013. 89% children enroll in class 3 could not do two digit division as compared to 88% in 2013. 30% of class 1 children could not do number recognition (1-9) as compared to 30% in 2013.

Research question # 4: How quality education can be controlled in order to achieve millennium development goals (MDGs), objectives of Education for All (EFA) and targets of Universal Primary Education (UPE)?

The following findings of quality inputs and quality processes were emerged from data gathered and analyzed by ASER survey 2014 and Pakistan EFA review report 2015.

  • In 2014, 21% of the children (age 6-16) were reported to be out of school which has almost remained the same as compared to the previous year (21%).15% children have never been enrolled in school and 6% have dropped out of the school for various reasons.
  • 46% of the boys as compared to the 39% of girls could read language sentences the other side 49% of the boys as compared to the 42% of girls could read at least English words. Similarly, 42% of boys as compared to 38% of girls were able to do at least subtraction.
  • In communities parents 24% of mothers and 48% of fathers in the sampled households have completed at least primary education.
  • In multi-grade teaching, 43% of surveyed Government schools and 25% of private schools had class two sitting with other classes where as 10% of Government and 17% of surveyed private schools had class 8 sitting with other classes.
  • 15% children in surveyed Government schools and 10% of private schools were absent where as 12% teachers in Government schools and 7% in private surveyed schools were absent too.
  • 33% teachers in surveyed Government schools have done graduation as compared to 39% teachers of private schools where as in term of professional qualifications 38% of Government teachers are professionally qualified as compared to 49% of private school teachers.
  • 41%of Government schools have computer labs as compared to the 36%in private surveyed schools where as 49% of Government schools did not have toilets in 2014 as compared to 53% in 2013. Similarly, 25% surveyed private primary schools were missing toilets facility in 2014 as compared to 24% in 2013.
  • 43% of Government primary schools did not have drinking water in 2014 as compared to 36% in 2013. Similarly, 21% of surveyed primary schools did not have drinking water facility in 2014 as compared to 17% in 2013.
  • 39% of surveyed Government primary schools and 27% of private primary schools were without complete boundary walls as compared to 28% in 2013 and 68% Government Primary schools and 62% private primary schools were without playgrounds.


The Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan says,

“The state of Pakistan shall remove illiteracy and provide free and compulsory secondary education within minimum possible period.”

In Human Development Report, Pakistan is placed at 136th position for having just 49.9% educated populace. The primary completion rate in Pakistan, given by Data Center of UNESCO, is 33.8% in females and 47.18% in males, which shows that people in the 6th largest country of the world are unable to get the basic education. Following conclusions and recommendations need to be discussed bellow.

Firstly, the educational system of Pakistan is based on unequal lines which directly effects on quality of education and especially at primary level. Medium of education is different in both, public and private sectors at every level. This creates a sort of disparity among people, dividing them into two segments. One division is on the basis of English medium language while the other is Urdu medium language. There should be better to standardize the medium of education in all over the country to maintained quality education.

Secondly, regional disparity is also a major cause which also affects the quality education. The schools in Baluchistan (The Largest Province of Pakistan by Area) are not that much groomed as that of Punjab (The Largest Province of Pakistan By Population). In FATA, the literacy rate is deplorable constituting 29.5% in males and 3% in females. Here it should be equal treatment to all the provinces to improve educational system and quality.

Thirdly, the ratio of gender discrimination is a cause which is projecting the primary school ratio of boys & girls which is 10:4 respectively. For the last few years there has been an increase in the growth of private schools. That not only harms the quality of education but create a gap among haves and have not’s. Here its need to work on gender harmony in order to achieve educational goals.

Fourthly, the allocation of funds for education is very low. It is only 1.5 to 2.0 percent of the total GDP. So, it’s very low budget to fulfill the basic necessities of the education sector at every level which definitely affect the quality of education.  It should be around 7% of the total GDP. Political government currently plans to increase budgetary allocation from current 2% to 4% of the GDP by the year 2018.

Fifthly, the teachers in government schools are not well trained. The education sector if fully influenced by the political parties so the teachers even not professionally equipped can get easy job in education sector without any tough criteria. They are not professionally trained teachers so they are unable to train a nation by delivering good quality education. However, professionally more trained people can educate the people to build a good nation.

Sixthly, irrelevant curriculum, non-availability of textbooks and shortages of other learning materials affect learning levels especially in primary level. Lack of regular supervision and monitoring has failed to check teacher absenteeism and misuse of resources. So, these problems should be tackling according to the proper needs to improve good quality.

Finally, Educational outcomes are one of the key areas influenced by family incomes which directly effects quality education. Children from low-income families often start school already behind their peers who come from more affluent families, as shown in measures of school readiness. The incidence, depth, duration and timing of poverty all influence a child’s educational attainment, along with community characteristics and social networks. However, it represents that the effects of poverty can be reduced using sustainable interventions to enhance quality education.


Pakistan Education-For-All (EFA) National Review Report 2015 Islamabad: Ministry of Education (AEPAM),Government of Pakistan.

Dakar Framework of Action, Education-For-All (EFA), UNESCO, April 2000.

Pakistan Education Statistics 2013-2015, National Education Management Information System (NEMIS): Academy of Education Planning and Management (AEPAM), Government of Pakistan.

Govt. of Pakistan National Plan of Action to Accelerate Education-Related MDGs (2013/14-2015-16) Achieving Universal Quality Primary Education in Pakistan.

National Annual Status of Education Report ASER-Pakistan 2013-14,Alif-Ailaan and  (NEMIS) Academy of Educational Planning and Management Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training Government of Pakistan.

Govt. of Pakistan. (1998). National Education Policy 1998-2010. Islamabad: Ministry of Education.

Govt. of Pakistan. (NCHD) National Commission for Human Development Annual report 2013-14.

Govt. of Punjab and UNICEF. (2003). Universal Primary Education: Guidelines for District Education Department, Punjab. UNICEF.

Lockheed, M.E. et al. (1991). Improving Primary Education Developing Countries. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Paliakoff, A. and Schwartzbeck, T.D. (Edits). (2001). Eye of the Storm: Promising Practices for Improving Instruction. Washington D.C: CBE.

Alvi, N. A & Alam, A. (2004). Pakistan Institute of Quality Control. Quality Review, Vol. 1. J Ibrahim Publisher. Lahore.

Pakistan Education Roadmap for Universal Primary Education and Skills Education, A report of the world economic forum’s Global Agenda Council on Pakistan (2012-2014).

All EFA Global Monitoring Reports 2012-2015 on Educational Quality, UNESCO.

The Millennium Development Goals Report

2014 United Nations New York, 2014.

USAID Study of Education Research and Policy making in Pakistan (June 2013)

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UNESCO: Dakar Framework for Action – Education for All: Meeting our Collective Commitments.

Adams, D. (1993). Defining Education Quality. Improving educational Quality Project Publication # 1, Biennial Report Arlington, VA: Institute for International Research.

Govt. of Pakistan and UNESCO. (2001). Learning Achievement in Primary Schools of Pakistan: A Quest for Quality Education. Islamabad.

National Education Policy 1998-2010. Islamabad: Ministry of Education.

UNESCO. (1990). The World Declaration on Education for All.

UNICEF. (2000). Defining Quality. (A paper presented at the International Working Group on Education Meeting, Italy).

UNESCO. (2000). World Education Forum: Dakar Framework for Action 2000. Paris: UNESCO.

Schneider, Karl Heinz and Bergmann Herbert (2002). The Impact of PEP-ILE: Teacher In-service Training and Textbooks on Pupil Achievement and Teacher Behavior. Peshawar: GTZ.


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