Pakistan's Total Education Spending Surpasses its Defense Budget

Pakistan's public spending on education has more than doubled since 2010 to reach $8.6 billion a year in 2017, rivaling defense spending of $8.7 billion. Private spending on education by parents is even higher than the public spending with the total adding up to nearly 6% of GDP. Pakistan has 1.7 million teachers, nearly three times the number of soldiers currently serving in the country's armed forces. Unfortunately, the education outcomes do not yet reflect the big increases in spending. Why is it? Let's examine this in some detail.

Pakistan Education Budget:

The total money budgeted for education by the governments at the federal and provincial levels has increased from Rs. 304 billion in 2010-11 to Rs. 790 billion in 2016-17,  representing an average of 17.5% increase per year since 2010.

Source: Dawn Newspaper

Private Education Spending in Pakistan:

2012 Data from UNESCO and the World Bank shows that the private spending on education is about twice as much as the monies budgeted by federal and provincial governments in Pakistan.

Private/Public Spending on Education in Selected Countries. Source: Economist

Education Outcomes:

UNESCO and World Bank data from 2013 shows that only 52% of Pakistani kids and 48% of Indian kids reached expected standard of reading after 4 years of school, according to the Economist Magazine. It also shows that 46% of Pakistani children dropped out of school before completing 4 years of education.
Reading Performance in Selected Countries. Source: Economist

Education and Literacy Rates:

Pakistan's net primary enrollment rose from 42% in 2001-2002 to 57% in 2008-9 during Musharraf years. It has been essentially flat at 57% since 2009 under PPP and PML(N) governments.

Source: Economic Survey of Pakistan 2015-16

Similarly, the literacy rate for Pakistan 10 years or older rose from 45% in 2001-2002 to 56% in 2007-2008 during Musharraf years. It has increased just 4% to 60% since 2009-2010 under PPP and PML(N) governments.

Source: Economic Survey of Pakistan 2015-16

Pakistan's Human Development: 

Human development index reports on Pakistan released by UNDP confirm the ESP 2015 human development trends.Pakistan’s HDI value for 2013 is 0.537— which is in the low human development category—positioning the country at 146 out of 187 countries and territories. Between 1980 and 2013, Pakistan’s HDI value increased from 0.356 to 0.537, an increase of 50.7 percent or an average annual increase of about 1.25.

Pakistan HDI Components Trend 1980-2013 Source: Human Development Report 2014

Overall, Pakistan's human development score rose by 18.9% during Musharraf years and increased just 3.4% under elected leadership since 2008. The news on the human development front got even worse in the last three years, with HDI growth slowing down as low as 0.59% — a paltry average annual increase of under 0.20 per cent.

Going further back to the  decade of 1990s when the civilian leadership of the country alternated between PML (N) and PPP,  the increase in Pakistan's HDI was 9.3% from 1990 to 2000, less than half of the HDI gain of 18.9% on Musharraf's watch from 2000 to 2007.

Bogus Teachers in Sindh:

In 2014, Sindh's provincial education minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro said that "a large number of fake appointments were made in the education department during the previous tenure of the PPP government" when the ministry was headed by Khuhru's predecessor PPP's Peer Mazhar ul Haq. Khuhro was quoted by Dawn newspaper as saying that "a large number of bogus appointments of teaching and non-teaching staff had been made beyond the sanctioned strength" and without completing legal formalities as laid down in the recruitment rules by former directors of school education Karachi in connivance with district officers during 2012–13.

Ghost Schools in Balochistan:

In 2016, Balochistan province's education minister Abdur Rahim Ziaratwal was quoted by Express Tribune newspaper as telling his provincial legislature that  “about 900 ghost schools have been detected with 300,000 fake registrations of students, and out of 60,000, 15,000 teachers’ records are unknown.”

Absentee Teachers in Punjab:

A 2013 study conducted in public schools in Bhawalnagar district of Punjab found that 27.5% of the teachers are absent from classrooms from 1 to 5 days a month while 3.75% are absent more than 10 days a month. The absentee rate in the district's private schools was significantly lower. Another study by an NGO Alif Ailan conducted in Gujaranwala and Narowal reported that "teacher absenteeism has been one of the key impediments to an effective and working education apparatus."

Political Patronage:

Pakistani civilian rule has been characterized by a system of political patronage that doles out money and jobs to political party supporters at the expense of the rest of the population. Public sector jobs, including those in education and health care sectors, are part of this patronage system that was described by Pakistani economist Dr. Mahbub ul Haq, the man credited with the development of United Nation's Human Development Index (HDI) as follows:

"...every time a new political government comes in they have to distribute huge amounts of state money and jobs as rewards to politicians who have supported them, and short term populist measures to try to convince the people that their election promises meant something, which leaves nothing for long-term development. As far as development is concerned, our system has all the worst features of oligarchy and democracy put together." 


Education spending in Pakistan has increased at an annual average rate of 17.5% since 2010. It has more than doubled since 2010 to reach $8.6 billion a year in 2017, rivaling defense spending of $8.7 billion. Private spending by parents is even higher than the public spending with the total adding up to nearly 6% of GDP. Pakistan has 1.7 million teachers, nearly three times the number of soldiers currently serving in the country's armed forces. However, the school enrollment and literacy rates have remained flat and the human development indices are stuck in neutral.  This is in sharp contrast to the significant improvements in outcomes from increased education spending seen during Musharraf years in 2001-2008. An examination of the causes shows that the corrupt system of political patronage tops the list. This system jeopardizes the future of the country by producing ghost teacher, ghost schools and absentee staff to siphon off the money allocated for children's education. Pakistani leaders need to reflect on this fact and try and protect education from the corrosive system of political patronage networks.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

History of Literacy in Pakistan

Reading and Math Performance in Pakistan vs India

Myths and Facts on Out-of-School Children

Who's Better For Pakistan's Human Development? Musharraf or Politicians? 

Corrosive Effects of Pakistan's System of Political Patronage

Development of Pakistan's Human Capital

Asian Tigers Brought Prosperity; Democracy Followed


Riaz Haq said…
Should we double the education budget, or seek 100pc literacy?
Pakistan has doubled its budget in recent years, but enrollment has stagnated. As a result of the inefficient use of funds, access to quality education for children across the country stands compromised.

In recent years, the federal and provincial governments have undertaken numerous reforms with varying levels of success. Despite their efforts, a lot remains to be done to get kids into school and improve learning in the classrooms.

To address these educational challenges, the efficient and effective use of the available budget for education is key.

Note: The defence budget does not include military pensions, the cost of the nuclear programme (estimated at $747 million by the Stimson Center), or military operations in FATA.

Since 2010, education has been a provincial responsibility. Hence, Pakistan's education budget is derived by summing up the federal and individual provincial budgets.

Provinces have allocated 17pc to 24pc of their budgets for education in 2016-17. (The provincial budgets for 2017-18 will be released in the coming weeks).

The ‘current budget’ is for salaries and operational costs (non-salary), whereas the ‘development budget’ is for the construction and rehabilitation of schools. Recent history suggests that provinces tend to under spend on development and non-salary budgets, but overspend on salaries, so that they end up utilising most of the education budget.

Unesco recommends that countries disburse 15pc to 20pc of their budgets on education. The global average is 14pc. Compared to its total national budget, Pakistan spends 13pc.

In Pakistan's case, this spending amounts to 2.83pc of the GDP on education. According to Alif Ailaan, an additional Rs400 billion on education is needed this year to increase spending to 4pc of GDP, bringing the education budget to Rs1.2 trillion.

Cutting a federal programme or collecting more taxes may help Pakistan towards that target. Cutting a federal programme or collecting more taxes may help Pakistan towards that target, but the dilemma of solving the education crisis will persist.

While Pakistan has doubled its budget and brought it closer to military spending, enrollment rates have stagnated.

Parents will send their kids to a private school, charging a few hundred rupees a month, if they can afford it. Nearly 40pc of students in Pakistan go to private schools. Their parents spend as much as the government does on education and tuition. If we add what Pakistani parents spend on education, Pakistan’s education spending exceeds 4pc of the GDP.

Children are out of school in Pakistan because they get so little out of going to school. Teachers are either absent, or present, but not teaching.

The 2015 report of the independent Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) finds that only 44pc of third graders in rural schools (public and private) can read a sentence in Urdu. Of those who stay in school through fifth grade, only 55pc can read a story in Urdu.

It is a similar story for science at a grade four level. In 2006, 67pc of students scored below average in the National Education Assessment System (NEAS) assessment of fourth grade science. The situation further deteriorated in 2014, when the most recent iteration of the NEAS assessment divulged that 79pc of students had scored below average.
Riaz Haq said…
Should we double the education budget, or seek 100pc literacy?....Contd.
Pakistan has doubled its budget in recent years, but enrollment has stagnated. As a result of the inefficient use of funds, access to quality education for children across the country stands compromised.

The majority of children aged five to nine in Pakistan are in school. That’s 17 out of 22 million kids, according to the National Education Management System. Improving literacy and numeracy rates for them is our best shot at convincing the parents of Pakistan’s five million out-of-school children aged five to nine that school is worth it.

Private school teachers are paid $25 to $50 per month. Government school teachers are paid $150 to $1,000 per month, according to a paper by SAHE and Alif Ailaan. Government school teachers have more education and training than private school teachers.

In light of the difference in teachers' salaries, private schools spend less than half of what the government does per child. However, according to LEAPS, children who go to private schools are one and a half to two grades ahead of those in government schools, depending on the subject.

The danger of increasing the budget without a plan is that it could all go into salaries for non-performing teachers, as has happened in Sindh.

Sindh’s budget has octupled (increased by a factor of 8x) since 2010.

Meanwhile the salary budget has gone up 12 times.

Pakistan is also inefficient at spending money set aside for building schools. The “development budget” that is allocated for this purpose goes unspent year after year.

Pakistan is under-performing even at its current budget levels. The solution is not dramatic budget increases, but making sure the budget we have is translating into schools where children are learning.

Instead of asking the government to double the budget, we should ask them to double the efforts for improving quality of learning for children who have been in school for years.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan's #Punjab province acts to improve #science content and correct #history in new revised school #textbooks. #education
by Pervez Hoodbhoy.

The new books are cleanly printed on paper of decent quality, typographical errors are infrequent, and coloured cartoons show smiling girl children in class. Earlier textbooks typically showed docile boys facing grim-faced elderly teachers. My heart gladdened at suggested science experiments that are both interesting and doable. And, instead of beating the tired old drum of Muslim scientists from a thousand years ago, one now sees a genuine attempt to teach actual science — how plants grow and breathe, objects move, water makes droplets or freezes, etc.

On the history front one feels instant relief. Pakistan’s date of birth has thankfully been set at 1947 and away from 712 — the year Arab imperial conqueror Mohammed bin Qasim set foot in Sindh. Schoolbooks during Gen Ziaul Haq’s years contained this claim and no subsequent government dared to reset the clock. Astonishingly, one book frankly admits that Muslims had fought against other Muslims and ascribes the Mughal Empire’s downfall after Emperor Aurangzeb to his quarrelling sons rather than eternally scheming Hindu Rajputs.

But here’s the wonder of wonders: an Urdu translation of Quaid-i-Azam’s famous speech of Aug 11, 1947, has finally found its way into at least one social studies book! This declares that religion is a matter for the individual citizen and not of the state. The speech had hitherto been kept hidden for fear of polluting students’ minds and weakening the two-nation theory. Whether it will actually be covered in Matric examinations is difficult to say; if not then students and their teachers won’t take it seriously.

The older curriculum helped create a militant, intolerant mindset. A generation later, Pakistan saw jihad-obsessed youngsters emerging even from mainstream schools. Willing to kill and be killed, they are now everywhere and have to be crushed with Islamic-sounding operations like Zarb-i-Azb and Raddul Fasaad (for which great credit is claimed). Terrorist networks of students and teachers that target policemen, soldiers, and ordinary citizens have been discovered within many colleges and universities.

The eventual revamping of Punjab’s school textbooks owes to a belated realisation that thousands of Pakistani lives were needlessly lost to militancy fuelled by hate materials in textbooks. Many years will be needed for the new books to produce a more enlightened, less xenophobic generation. This welcome step needed to be taken sooner rather than later. I have no knowledge of the blacked-out province of Balochistan but Punjab’s bold move has not been matched by other provinces.

Sindh remains frozen. Its education ministry and the Sindh Textbook Board have long set the highest standards of laziness, depravity and stupidity. An earlier analysis of STB’s science books was published in this newspaper two years ago. It has had zero effect; matters are just as grim there today as then.

Those who rule Sindh continue to stifle education. Sindh could have outraced Punjab by taking advantage of the 18th Constitutional Amendment which frees the provinces from the federal diktat. Instead, secretaries of education in Sindh who worked to improve things were defeated and shunted out. Sindh’s misfortune has been the ideology-free money-grabbing PPP which oversees a system based upon patronage and unlimited corruption.

With KP’s cleaner administration one expected better. The earlier ANP government had considerably softened textbooks in KP. But after Imran Khan’s PTI entered into an alliance with the Jamaat-i-Islami (and now possibly with arch-conservative Maulana Samiul Haq), there was drastic backpedaling....

Riaz Haq said…
Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) ranks first among eight Pakistani territories with respect to the provision of quality education, according to the Pakistan District Education Rankings 2017 released by Alif Ailaan, an education campaign, on Thursday.

AJK is followed by Islamabad Capital Territory, Punjab and Gilgit-Baltistan. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) ranks fifth on the list. Sindh and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) have fallen to seventh and eighth positions, respectively, as Balochistan jumped two places from last year's rankings to sixth position.

According to Alif Ailaan, the education index covers retention from primary to middle and middle to high schools, learning among students and gender parity.

"The 2017 rankings show that while certain parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab have made marked improvements in school infrastructure, the pace of progress in Sindh, Balochistan and Fata remains a concern," the report noted.

It also highlighted that "authorities continue to prioritise school infrastructure at the expense of what happens in classrooms."

Soon after the report was released, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan tweeted: "Alif Ailaan has put out these amazing figures on District Education Rankings for 2017. Nine of the 10 top districts are from KP; only 1 from Punjab. In same survey for 2016, nine of top 10 were from Punjab; none from KP. A great achievement by PTI govt in KP in critical field of education."

However, seemingly validating the concern raised by Alif Ailaan, Khan chose to highlight the "primary school infrastructure scores" instead of overall education scores. Under the latter measure, only one KP district, Haripur — which is placed at the top of the rankings — is among the top 10. Five AJK districts and four districts from Punjab make up the remaining list.

According to the rankings, Faisalabad is Punjab's best performing district for the year while Karachi West (ranked 14 in the country) is the top-ranked district in Sindh.

In Balochistan, the provincial capital is top-ranked (ranked 45 in Pakistan) while Awaran is the worst performing district for the year. Awaran is also ranked at 137 in the country, two places above Sindh's lowest-ranked district for the metric, Sujawal.

"Strides to improve primary school infrastructure in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province are demonstrated by the fact that their lowest ranked district is Shangla at 62," the report highlighted.

Punjab and KP also dominate the "middle school infrastructure scores", with two top districts for the metric being Malakand and Swabi, while the next eight are from Punjab.

The rankings also reveal that a lot of school-going children are out of schools because of a lack of schools above the primary level, confirming previous concerns by the campaign on education.

"For every four primary schools in Pakistan, there is only one school above primary level. This means that most children who pass Class 5 do not have schools to continue their education. The large out of school population of the country is a direct product of this failure."

The report said that the disparities between districts within a province reflect the "failure of programming at the provincial level."

In a stark reminder about the gender gap prevalent in the country, the report revealed "there are more than 55 districts in Pakistan where the total number of girls enrolled in high schools is less than one thousand."

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan #Children #Literature Festival #CFL in #Lahore Makes #Education a Fun Activity

In January 2018, Lahore, the seat of government of Pakistan’s largest province, Punjab, played host to the Children’s Literature Festival (CFL), a unique experiment in making education a fun activity. Thousands of children gathered on the scenic lawns of the historic Lahore Fort to hear stories, listen to music and songs, and watch plays and dances.

But this was not an entertainment event alone. It was more like a gigantic, unconventional school, and in many cases the children were their own teachers.

January’s festival was not entirely new for the people of Lahore. In 2011 a similar event—albeit one a bit more serious—was held on the Punjab Public Library grounds. In 2014 Lahore again played host to the CLF.

The CLF has come a long way over the course of its six-year journey. The session in January was the 45th held in Pakistan since 2011. So far, the CLF has reached a million children. It is now a registered company with six directors and a secretariat at the Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (“Center for Education and Consciousness,” or ITA), the parent organization under which CLF was originally conceived. ITA provides secretarial and technical support to CLF so that the latter remains a lean organization with minimal overheads and maximum outreach. The CLF has gone all over Pakistan, from big cities to small towns. Over the years it has evolved and has crept into neighboring cities in India and Nepal as well.

Children participate in a puppet-making workshop at the Children’s Literature Festival. (Zubeida Mustafa)

How did it all begin? The United Nations recognizes education as a child’s right. Yet UNESCO estimates that 263 million children are out of school worldwide. Since education is linked closely to development and progress, the U.N. attached much importance to education when creating its Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015) and Sustainable Development Goals (2015-2030). The first blueprint sought universal primary education by 2015. The second has set the goal of quality education up to secondary level for all children by 2030. Pakistan never achieved the first. For that country, the second also appears to be beyond reach.

At present, almost 23 million children are believed to be out of school in Pakistan. It is not just lack of access that is a problem—the poor quality of education nullifies whatever small advantage is achieved in terms of enrollment. Both issues need to be addressed if the universalization of education is to be meaningful.

Of course, not all Pakistani children enrolled in school learn the basic literacy and numeracy skills needed to promote lifelong learning. Some of the statistics released from time to time are dismal in the extreme.
Riaz Haq said…

Out-of-school children to get non-formal education

National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) will put millions of out of school children in non-formal schools to help them catch up with studies through accelerated learning in short span of three years, said the commission’s deputy director.

In this regard, NCHD has inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with ARC for a period of three-years under Education Above All Foundation’s programme Educate-A-Child (EAC). NCHD Director General Samina Waqar and ARC Deputy Chief of Party Daud Saqlain signed the agreement.

Over the next three years, ARC will work to provide quality primary education to 1,050,000 marginalised Out-Of-School-Children (OOSC) in Pakistan. This project is being supported by Qatar Foundation. The purpose of this memorandum of understanding is to outline the respective roles, responsibilities and liabilities of ARC (American Refugee Committee) and NCHD in the implementation of “provision of access to OOSC ” in 12 districts of Punjab and Balochistan.

Earlier chairing a meeting, Samina Waqar said NCHD was looking for technical partnerships for development of curriculum for non-formal education. The second meeting of Technical Committee for Development of Teaching- Learning Resources for Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP) was held to finalise a list of potential writers for developing the accelerated learning courses for children of who did not get an opportunity to get enrolled in school.

Technical partnership for challenging task of development of Teaching Learning Resources for Non-Formal Education is prime concern of NCHD, this was observed by the experts in the second meeting of Technical Committee for development of Teaching- Learning Resources for Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP), at NCHD head quarter, the other day.

Experts of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) and NCHD were trying to strategise a detailed course of action for development and review of draft ALP Teaching Learning Resource and to finalise a list of potential writers for developing the accelerated learning courses in light of their expertise.

The courses are being designed with an idea to impart, character building and social learning along with literacy skills for out of school children of nine years and above, who have missed school and did not get an opportunity to enrolled in school.

The NCHD DG said there were still 22.8 million children of 5-16 years of age who were out of school. Among these children there are 6.4 million of 10 to16 years, those who cannot be enrolled in government primary schools due to their age factor. She said NCHD was devising a three-year plan to enrol all these children in non-formal schools.

This Teaching Learning Resource which will be prepared by the joint efforts of National Training Institute of NCHD, AQAL-JICA and AIOU would be helpful to impart non-formal education to these 6.4 million children enabling them to catch up with studies in a limited span of time, as they would be able to pass primary exam, Samina said.

NCHD always welcomed the idea of joint ventures in gearing up with other stakeholders for eradicating illiteracy in the country, she added.

NCHD had remained very successful in these joint ventures and served the purpose effectively and efficiently as well, she said. “ARC and NCHD cooperation and collaboration in the field of education under Educate-A-Child is another milestone for us, I hope that we will succeed in this venture as well,” she further added.

JICA country representative Chiho Ohashi and Daud Saqlain appreciated the expertise and professional ability of NCHD experts.

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan’s literacy rate stands at 58pc

Pakistan’s overall literacy rate remains static at 58 percent with literacy rate of males 70 percent and 48 percent of females, as due to the Population and Housing Census, the Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement was not carried out for 2017-18.

Therefore, the Pakistan Economic Survey says that the figures for 2015-2016 should be considered for the current year as well.

According to the Pakistan Economic Survey, 2017-2018, the literacy rate for entire Pakistan, includes ten years old and above is 58 percent. The national net enrollment for primary level for overall Pakistanstood at 54 percent while Punjab leading the rest with 59 percent, followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 53, Sindh by 48 percent and Balochistan 33 percent.

Similarly, the gross enrollment rate for Pakistan is 87 percent and again Punjab in the lead with 93 percent, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 88 percent, Sindh 78 percent and Balochistan 60 percent. The gross enrollment for males is 94 percent and 78 percent for females.

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to be 2.2 percent in financial year 2017 as compared to 2.3 percent of GDP in financial year 2016.

Likewise, the Economic Survey says that the education-related expenditure increased by 5.4 percent to Rs699.2 billion in financial year 2017 from Rs663.4 billion financial year 2016. It noted that the provincial governments also are spending sizeable amount of their annual development plans on education.

A total of 5.1 thousand higher secondary schools/inter colleges with 120.3 thousand teachers were functional in 2016-17. A decrease of 6.1 percent in higher secondary enrolment has been observed as it dropped to 1,594.9 thousand in 2016-17 against 1,698.0 thousand in 2015-16. It is estimated to increase by 9.8 percent i.e. from 1,594.9 thousand to 1750.6 thousand in 2017-18.

The overall education condition is based on key performance indicators such as enrolment rates, number of institutes and teachers which have experienced minor improvement. The total number of enrolments at national level during 2016-17 stood at 48.062 million as compared to 46.223 million during 2015-16. This shows a growth of 3.97 percent and it is estimated to further rise to 50.426 million during 2017-18.

The total number of institutes stood at 260.8 thousands during 2016-17 as compared to 252.8 thousands during last year and the number of institutes are estimated to increase to 267.7 thousands during 2017-18.

The total number of teachers during 2016-17 were 1.726 million compared to 1.630 million during last year showing an increase of 5.9 percent. This number of teachers is estimated to rise further to 1.808 million during the year 2017-18.
Riaz Haq said…
Privatization could fix Pakistan’s educational system
By Shi Lancha Source:Global Times Published: 2018/7/15 23:33:40

Education - especially primary and secondary schooling - is perhaps the most-discussed topic in Pakistan. Poor education has not only hindered the country's efforts to eradicate poverty and boost growth, but has also exacerbated issues like gender inequality, social conflicts and even terrorism. For an ethnically and socially diverse country like Pakistan, education carries heavy political significance for nation-building, as it builds common symbols and values.

Even though the provision of free and compulsory education for all children from 5-16 years old is mandated in the Constitution of Pakistan, the reality has long been lamentable, if not outright atrocious. A high drop-out rate in lower grades, a low graduation rate at higher grades, and the gender difference in enrollment which is even wider than that of Afghanistan have bedeviled education in Pakistan. For example, most Pakistani children drop out of school by the age of 9 and only 3 percent complete the 12th grade.

Despite the Pakistani government's commitment to both Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Education for All (EFA), there were still more than 22.6 million children out of school in late 2016. More seriously, those in school suffered badly from teacher absenteeism and poor learning environments.

Poor education naturally leads to miserable student performance: Only about half of Pakistanis who complete five years of primary education are literate, and only just over 40 percent of third-graders from rural schools demonstrate passable arithmetic skills like subtraction and addition. Facing the likely scenario of their children learning nothing despite years in school, many parents decide to make the children help in the fields instead.

The Pakistani government, both at central and provincial levels, has undertaken major policy efforts to improve the coverage and quality of education. The education authority was devolved from the federal government to the provinces in 2010, and most provinces have more than doubled their education budgets since then. Impressively, in 2016 Pakistani provinces spent as much as 17 to 28 percent of their budgets on education agendas, whereas the global average was merely 14 percent.

However, despite growing financial resources and political capital being directed into the education system, the results remain largely uncertain. After all, given the fact that Pakistan's education problems are firmly rooted in the country's deeper social and political soil, it will not be easy to make progress.

What Pakistan needs is to spend better, not simply to spend more. The political element in education spending is so strong that increased budgets are often translated into jobs as political patronage, rather than yielding improvements in education. The logic is straightforward: Politicians hand out permanent teaching positions in exchange for their constituents' votes and loyalty, while these teachers function as the patron's political organizers.

In a sense, swelling the ranks of teachers appears to "kill two birds with one stone" for politicians: it appears to address educational problems, helping them to win over more supporters, and it buttresses their personal political base. It's no surprise that education departments have become the single largest employers in most provinces. Strikingly, Pakistan's educational sector is now as big as its armed forces, and the education budget of $8.6 billion in 2016 came second only to the $8.7 billion military bill.

As more and more over-paid teachers enter schools with patronage shielding them from any potential disciplinary proceedings, not only will existing issues like teacher absenteeism get worse, other much-needed social programs may also suffer from insufficient resources.
Riaz Haq said…
Launch of Access for Out of School Children to #Education and Safe Schools in #Pakistan's #Tribal Districts in #KP via @reliefweb

Currently in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) 1.1 million children are out of school. Mostly, out of school children live in areas that have suffered by insecurity and come from poorer households in rural areas. Emergencies have a devastating impact on a child’s education. This is particularly true for girls.

The aim of Access for Out of School Children to Education and Safe Schools in Pakistan (AcCESS) project is to improve access to quality education in emergencies, other situations of violence and early recovery phases. It is being implemented in 8 tribal districts and districts of KP which include Peshawar, Bannu, D.I. Khan, Swat, Khyber, Mohmand, Orakzai and Bajaur.

AcCESS aims to expand access to school for more than 81,469 children (50% girls) who are currently out of school or at risk of dropping out. These out of school children are selected on the basis of The Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies(INEE) guidelines. That means they will be Out of School Children (OOSC) from families of Temporarily Displaced Persons (TDP), host community, returnees moving back to areas of displacement, returnees to places of origin, registered Afghan refugees and undocumented Afghans in host communities.

AcCESS will enable access to education for OOSC, strengthen quality aspects of Education in Emergencies (EiE), including recruitment, provide capacity building and protection for teachers and link education to other life-saving humanitarian sectors, such as WASH and nutrition in order to reduce vulnerability of children affected by violence and threats.

The European Union aims to help children affected by humanitarian crises to have access to safe, quality, and accredited primary and secondary education. In this project the European Union is working closely together with several partners (communities, government, HOPE 87 and donors) to increase the enrolment of children. It is an investment in their long-term future and in the peace, stability and economic growth of Pakistan.

The targeted outcomes of the project are to i) create 868 facilities with better quality learning environments, ii) improve learning outcomes for 72,531 children (50% girls), particularly in early grades literacy and numeracy; iii) increase the number and effectiveness of 1,020 teachers; iii) establish 7,650 school management committees for promoting girls education and working to address school safety, iv) strengthen the capacity of 50 government staff for school disaster management and education in emergencies and v) engage 510 communities to pursue local solutions for girls' education.

Indirectly, the project will benefit 480,000 people through the impact that better educated girls have on communities through raising health and education levels, providing social services for women at local level, as well as creating a stronger teacher cohort.

In order to increase the school enrolment of children and decrease the drop-out rate the project will work closely together with communities. . This involves discussions with community elders, representatives and men/women from wider community to gain community approval and ownership of the idea of opening a community school; support communities in electing or Mohalla Committee (MC) or Village Education Committee (VEC) including men and women (equitable representation of Pakistani/Afghan parents in host communities.

Riaz Haq said…
Certain lobby is on rampage at defence #Budget2020

There's hardly .1% difference btw Education & Defence for FY2019-20 of GDP

Last year education ( 2.5% of GDP)

Punjab: 383b
Sindh: 239b
KPK: 143b
Bln: 60b
HEC: 45b
Total: 947b

Defence: 1152b (Share of GDP: 2.6%)
Riaz Haq said…
#Sindh to raise #Education spending to 25.2% of provincial budget. A total of Rs244.5 billion for education, up from Rs212.4 bn for 2019-20. Rs300m has been allocated as Endowment Fund for NED University of #Engineering & #Technology #Karachi, #Pakistan


Moreover, international donors also chip in with their share towards improving the quality of education in Sindh. The provincial government has adopted various key indicators for need assessments and performance evaluation of schools to help understand the needs and accordingly assign resources where needed. For FY 2020-21, Rs1bn has been allocated as grant in aid for Education Management Organization (EMO) for handing over management of various schools to EMOs.

“Moreover, we have allocated Rs6.6 billion for purchase of furniture and fixture, Rs6.1 billion for new activities with the help of international donor agencies, Rs2.3 billion for free textbooks, Rs1.8 billion for school management committee to meet the requirements of schools, Rs5 billion for repair and maintenance of school buildings, Rs480 million for an Emergent Need Fund for meeting new initiatives under Covid-19 and Rs663.4 million for educational assets of proscribed organisations of Sindh taken over by the government of Sindh,” the chief minister (Murad Aki Shah) said.

In school education, about the achievements in FY 2019-20, he said that they had profiled schools, provided essential facilities to 1,606 primary, elementary and high schools in 29 districts, carried out groundwork for making 15 English medium and six comprehensive schools operational under the PPP mode through EMOs.

In the next academic year, 10 more English medium and nine comprehensive high schools in nine districts are also going to be ungraded with all facilities of science/IT labs, libraries, etc. Also, there are plans for establishing 2,000 new early childhood care and education classrooms, training 2,500 early childhood education teachers and printing Rs4.93m sets of textbooks for all schools at taluka and district levels.

“In the next financial year 2020-21 we have set a number of targets under which we will provide requisite infrastructure, solar system, IT/science labs and auditoriums in 35 existing schools,” he added.

He also said that in the current FY 2019-20, Rs9.5bn was allocated for the Sindh Education Foundation (SEF) and that there has been no change in that amount.


There are a total of 146 boys’ colleges, 131 girls’ colleges and 50 co-education colleges in Sindh running under the administration of the college education department, whereas the total student enrolment is 436,980.

In order to manage college education in a Covid-19 perspective, the college education department is planning to launch a programme of distance learning by establishing computer labs, centralised teaching and utilising web services. For enhancing technology-based interventions in the college education department, Rs451m has been allocated in FY 2020-21.

Moreover, Rs300m has been allocated as Endowment Fund for NED University of Engineering and Technology Karachi and Rs30m is kept as grant-in-aid for the Government College for Information Technology Guru Nagar, Hyderabad.

Universities and boards

In the current FY 2019-20, sufficient funds were disbursed to public-sector universities as grant-in-aid. Education boards were also provided funds to pay examination fee, which was required to be paid by students earlier. The establishment of the Benazir Bhutto Chair at Shah Abdul Latif University Khairpur is expected to be completed in FY 2020-21.

In FY 2020-21 the allocation of Rs5bn is proposed for grant to universities, Rs2bn to educational boards and Rs1.2bn for scholarship to position holders/A1 graders in Sindh. Besides Rs392m is allocated for various cadet colleges while Rs259m is for various public schools. A further Rs50m is proposed for performance incentive under ‘Programme for Results’.
Riaz Haq said…
1. More than 4.5 million children are enrolled in Sindh's schools
2. 133,000 teachers have been appointed for 49,103 schools
3. In 26,260 schools, facility for drinking water is not available

More than 10,000 government schools are nonfunctional in Sindh, the Reform and Support of the Sindh Education and Literacy Department has revealed in a report.

Titled "Profiting for Government Schools," the report shows data from 2018-19 and has been released after a gap of two years. According to the report, there are more than 4.5 million children enrolled in the province's schools.

The report says that 133,000 teachers have been appointed for 49,103 schools, out of which only 36,659 schools are functional.

In 26,260 schools, there is no facility for drinking water, while 19,469 are without washrooms' facility. The report further revealed that more than 31,000 schools do not have electricity.

Moreover, 21,00-plus schools do not have boundary walls, while over 47,000 schools are deprived of lab facilities, while as many as 36,000 do not have playgrounds.

It is pertinent to mention here that a chunk of schools, more than 47,000, do not have libraries in them — a necessary facility for students' grooming.

The report said that 2,812,000 male and 1,749,140 female students were enrolled in the schools.

As many as 2,91,9862 students are enrolled in primary, 185,047 in middle, 140,032 in elementary, 918,706 in secondary, and 397,493 in higher secondary schools.

Meanwhile, out of the total 49,103 school buildings in the province, 14,998 are considered to be in satisfactory conditions, 8,426 are weary, while 14,977 need repairs.


25.2pc of revenue to be spent on education, says Murad

While presenting Sindh’s education budget for the fiscal year 2020-21 on Wednesday, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said that the budget of education sector, in a macro perspective, had been increased to Rs244.5 billion when compared with Rs212.4bn for 2019-20.

“Despite resource constraints we have allocated funds which is 25.2 per cent of our current revenue budget,” he said.

He said that education was one of the key priority areas for the government of Sindh. “We aim at improving access to equitable, inclusive and quality education for all to realise their fullest potential and contribute to the development of society and economy, thus creating a sense of nationhood, inculcating values of tolerance, social justice and democracy in students,” he said.

He explained that in order to manage education-related functions in an efficient manner, enhance the quality of education and provide better facilities at educational institutions, the department of education was divided into two departments — the school education and literacy department (SELD) and the college education department (CED) back in 2016.
Riaz Haq said…
The missing third: An out-of-school children study of Pakistani 5-16 year-olds

The proportion of out-of-school children at the district, provincial and national level has been extracted from the Pakistan Social and Living Measurements Standards survey 2019-20 (PSLM). PSLM is conducted every two years by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, with data collection at the provincial and at the district levels in each alternate iteration.

Out of all children in Pakistan between the ages of five to 16 years, 32 per cent, i.e. one third, are out of school (Note: 49% of these never enroll while 51% drop out by the age 16). This amounts to an estimated total of over 20 million. Balochistan has the highest proportion of OOSC at 47 per cent followed by Sindh at 44 per cent.

In absolute terms, Punjab has the largest total population of OOSC roughly estimated at 7.7 million followed by Sindh at 6.5 million.


There are two types of OOSC (Out of School Children):

• Children who have never attended school

• Children who have attended school in the past but have since dropped out

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan Economic Survey: Education 2021-22

Pakistan is committed to transform its education system into a high-quality global
market demand driven system in accordance with the Goal 4 of Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs) which pertains to quality of education. The progress
achieved by Pakistan so far on Goal 4 of SDGs is as under:
 Primary, Lower and Upper Secondary Education Completion Rate stood at 67
percent, 47 percent and 23 percent, respectively, depicting higher Primary
attendance than Lower and Upper Secondary levels.
 Parity Indices at Literacy, Youth Literacy, Primary and Secondary are 0.71, 0.82, 0.88
and 0.89, respectively.
 Participation rate in organized learning (one year before the official primary entry
age), by sex is 19 percent showing a low level of consideration of Pre-Primary
 Percentage of population in a given age group achieving at least affixed level of
proficiency in functional; (a) literacy and (b) numeracy skills is 60 percent.

Literacy, Gross Enrolment Rate (GER) and Net Enrolment Rate (NER)
During 2021-22, PSLM Survey was not conducted due to upcoming Population and
Housing Census 2022. Therefore, the figures for the latest available survey regarding
GER and NER may be considered for the analysis. However, according to Labour Force
Survey 2020-21, literacy rate trends shows 62.8 percent in 2020-21 (as compared to
62.4 percent in 2018-19), more in males (from 73.0 percent to 73.4 percent) than
females (from 51.5 percent to 51.9 percent). Area-wise analysis suggest literacy increase
in both rural (53.7 percent to 54.0 percent) and urban (76.1 percent to 77.3 percent).
Male-female disparity seems to be narrowing down with time span. Literacy rate gone
up in all provinces, Punjab (66.1 percent to 66.3 percent), Sindh (61.6 percent to 61.8
percent), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (52.4 percent to 55.1 percent) and Balochistan (53.9
percent to 54.5 percent). [Table10.2].
Table 10.2: Literacy Rate (10 Years and Above) (Percent)
Province/Area 2018-19 2020-21
Male Female Total Male Female Total
Pakistan 73.0 51.5 62.4 73.4 51.9 62.8
Rural 67.1 40.4 53.7 67.2 40.8 54.0
Urban 82.2 69.7 76.1 83.5 70.8 77.3


During 2021-22, PSLM Survey was not conducted due to upcoming Population and
Housing Census 2022. Therefore, the figures for the latest available survey are reported
Table 10.3: National and Provincial GER (Age 6 -10 years) at Primary Level (Classes1-5)(Percent)
Province/Area 2014-15 2019-20
Male Female Total Male Female Total
Pakistan 98 82 91 89 78 84
Punjab 103 92 98 93 90 92
Sindh 88 69 79 78 62 71
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
(Including Merged Areas)
- - - 96 73 85
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
(Excluding Merged Areas)
103 80 92 98 79 89
Balochistan 89 54 73 84 56 72
Source: Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement (PSLM) District Level Survey, 2019-20,
Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.


Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)
Annual Status of Education Report (ASER-Rural) 2021, is the largest citizen-led
household-based learning survey across all provinces/areas: Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab,
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Gilgit Baltistan (GB), Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) and
Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK). According to the ASER 2021, 10,000 trained
volunteer/enumerators surveyed 87,415 households in 4,420 villages across 152 rural
districts of Pakistan. Detailed information of 247,978 children aged 3-16 has been
collected (57 percent male and 43 percent female), and of these, 212,105 children aged
5-16 years were assessed for language and arithmetic competencies. Moreover, 585
transgenders were also a part of the surveyed sample. Major findings of ASER 2021 and
its comparison with 2019 is given in Box-II
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan boosts #defense budget by nearly 6% in PKR to $7.19 billion in FY 2023. Official figure for #military expenditures amounts to about 2.2% of its gross domestic product — a drop from 2.45% of its #GDP compared to the fiscal 2021-2022 time frame.

Though mainly covering salary increases, some of the extra money is earmarked for infrastructure such as the continued development of Jinnah Naval Base in Ormara, the Navy’s main operational base, and a naval air base in Turbat.

Official figures state the 83 billion rupee (U.S. $412 million) increase pushes the defense budget up to nearly 1.45 trillion rupees (U.S. $7.19 billion). That implies the 2021 defense budget was about $7.49 billion.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, a Sweden-based think think, found that Pakistan’s military-related expenditures for 2021 came to $11.3 billion. However, the difference could come down to how the procurement budget is created.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, a Sweden-based think think, found that Pakistan’s military-related expenditures for 2021 came to $11.3 billion (including pensions). However, the difference could come down to how the procurement budget is created.

Amid the ongoing threat of domestic terrorism and the need to maintain a credible deterrent against India, the fate of Pakistan’s economy does not bode well, according to Pakistan expert Claude Rakisits, who teaches at the Australian National University.

“Pakistan’s economic situation is in dire straits. This makes it difficult for the government to buy new hardware or even plan ahead for new acquisitions,” he said.

Brian Cloughley, an analyst and former Australian defense attache to Islamabad, has tracked developments in Pakistan for decades, and he doubts the government’s fiscal approach will be different from previous ones that failed to address underlying issues, including the country’s elite effectively ruling for their own benefit, leading to Pakistan’s cycle of economic woes.

“It is likely, however, that there will be announcement of deferment of expenditure plans for at least some acquisitions, if only to try to convince the [World Bank and International Monetary Fund] that their present, fairly benevolent policy on Pakistan should be maintained,” he said.

But he also believes Pakistan can likely rely on its allies and other friendly nations to carry the load. “The Chinese and the Saudis will probably continue to support Pakistan’s military posture and plans, and the current — most serious — economic crisis will have little effect on the military overall.”

Rakisits agreed that Pakistan might rely on China, although Beijing will likely step in for its own benefit.

“China has a vital interest in ensuring that not only does Pakistan’s economic situation not get worse, which could threaten the overall stability of the country and the viability of its CPEC project, but that it is in a position to maintain its defense capability,” Rakisits said, referring to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is meant to improve infrastructure to strengthen trade between the two countries.

“Accordingly, It’s almost certain that Beijing will assist Pakistan financially in one way or another, especially in light of the West’s increased interest in selling military hardware to India,” he added.
Riaz Haq said…

AaDiL Jillani 🇵🇰
Military Pension should be the part of Defense Budget, Effectively, its 2nd biggest Expense (Rs1918 bln) after Interest payments in Current Expenditure, Eats up 27.37% of Tax Revenues needs to "Rationalize" for creating Fiscal Space at the Centre!


military pension is almost 3 times civilian pension for fed govt
Riaz Haq said…
Defence allocation for 2022-23: Views of experts and industry
In his view, “As has become the norm, defence pensions account for almost 23 percent of the total defence budget.”


Chris Kay
Pensions eat up nearly quarter of #India's defense outlay. “The argument that pension bills will drop because of short-term employment is doubtful. But soon there will be a large body of weapons and combat trained men without employment”
Riaz Haq said…
Defence allocation for 2022-23: Views of experts and industry
In his view, “As has become the norm, (Indian) defence pensions account for almost 23 percent of the total defence budget.”


Chris Kay
Pensions eat up nearly quarter of #India's defense outlay. “The argument that pension bills will drop because of short-term employment is doubtful. But soon there will be a large body of weapons and combat trained men without employment”

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan: Technology boosts education reform in remote areas

Education in Pakistan’s Balochistan and Sindh provinces has been hampered by natural disasters, poor infrastructure and remoteness, and further exacerbated by political, economic and security problems.
From WhatsApp groups to biometric fingerprint systems, innovative technology has helped with building and restoring schools and improving teacher retention in these remote regions.
Since 2014, GPE’s support has led to 53,000 previously out-of-school children enrolled in school in Balochistan, and the tracking of educational data in all 29 districts in Sindh.

Supported by a US$34 million GPE grant, the government of Balochistan set up digital profiles to record land transfers and follow school construction, supporting the completion of schools and allowing education officials to track progress.

Large-scale surveys gathered geospatial data, an innovative and cost-effective way to identify abandoned buildings that could be transformed into schools.

Balochistan also established criteria for the selection of school sites, ensuring no other school existed within a 1.5 km radius and that locations enabled at least 20 out-of-school children to attend. This resulted in schools being built in remote areas with the most need.

Since 2015, 700 schools with new or renovated buildings have been completed and more than 100 girls’ primary schools upgraded to secondary. With GPE support, education authorities began to track real-time data in 14,000 schools, including teacher attendance and enrollment.

This has helped with the allocation of funding to locations with the greatest need. Android apps also record the physical infrastructure of schools, providing timely information on the functionality of toilets, drinking water and electricity.

School monitoring using technology
Both provinces use tech solutions to support management and ensure accountability in the education system. In Balochistan, apps keep track of teacher attendance, recording when teachers are within a certain geo-radius of the school; they work offline in more remote areas, uploading information when there is network access.

Through a US$66 million GPE grant, the Sindh province used tech tools to ensure teachers were deployed to the areas where they were most needed. Fingerprint-based biometric and photograph systems supported by GPS coordinates are also able to track teaching hours.

Greater incentive and validation for teachers
In a significant boost to quality learning, GPE supported the recruitment and training of qualified teachers, with emphasis placed on hiring female teachers to increase girls’ enrollment. Since 2015, 1,200 teachers have been recruited in Balochistan after passing the national testing service exam.

Better teaching and consistently open schools have helped increase student enrollment, with over 56,000 more girls enrolling in public elementary, primary and middle schools in Sindh.
Riaz Haq said…
No School Stands Alone
How market dynamics affect the performance of public and private schools

Jishnu Das

In the United States, 9 percent of K–12 students attend private schools, but in low- and middle-income countries, private schools account for 20 percent of all primary enrollment and are rapidly gaining ground. In Pakistan, the number of private schools rose to more than 70,000 by 2015, up from 3,000 in 1982; by 2015, these schools educated 34 percent of Pakistani children enrolled in primary schools. In contrast to private schools in the United States, Pakistan’s are highly affordable, and the majority are secular.

This growth in private schooling comes at a unique moment in global education: low-income countries have managed to substantially increase enrollments at all levels of schooling, but they have yet to improve what children learn. For instance, the unprecedented speed at which primary (and now secondary and college) enrollment has risen in low-income countries dwarfs the historical experience of today’s rich countries. Yet, in countries such as India and Pakistan, when children are tested at the end of 3rd grade, one-third of them cannot subtract two-digit numbers, less than a sixth can read a simple sentence in English, and less than half can read a simple sentence in the vernacular language, Urdu. Across low-income countries, test scores are so low that the situation has been dubbed a global learning crisis by organizations such as the World Bank and UNESCO.

The growth in private schools, coming at the same time as the shift in focus from enrollment to learning, has polarized the education community in low- and middle-income countries. Some people favor heavily regulating or even shutting down private schools, based on the belief that they provide substandard education to children of parents who are unable to assess the quality of schools; others believe that private schools should be encouraged and indeed subsidized through the public purse because they provide a valuable option in places with failing public schools. Missing from this debate is a detailed empirical picture of what the growth of private schools means for education markets more broadly. How does the rise in private schooling affect demand for schools in both the private and public sectors, and how do schools respond to any changing demand? Does more competition increase quality? Should governments maintain their focus on improving the quality of public schools, alleviate constraints on private alternatives—or perhaps do both?

Learning from the LEAPS Project

Research from the Learning and Education Achievement in Pakistan Schools project, or LEAPS, sheds light on these questions and holds implications for public policy in Pakistan and around the globe. To understand how the growth of private schools was transforming the education landscape in low-income countries, in 2003 I teamed up with Tahir Andrabi of Pomona College and Asim Ijaz Khwaja of Harvard University to launch the LEAPS project, a study of all the schools in 112 villages in the province of Punjab. The province has more than 100,000 schools, of which 60,000 were private in 2015. (By comparison, the state of California, with the largest public-education system in the United States, has about 10,000 public schools.) The villages in the LEAPS project were selected from those that had at least one private school in 2003; these villages are larger and somewhat wealthier than the average village in Punjab, which in turn has the lowest poverty rate of all Pakistani provinces. At the time the project began, about 60 percent to 70 percent of the province’s rural population lived in villages with at least one private school. Between 2003 and 2011, the LEAPS team tracked more than 800 schools in these villages, interviewed more than 1,000 principals and 2,000 teachers, and tested more than 70,000 children to gauge their foundational skills in literacy and numeracy.

Riaz Haq said…

Jishnu Das

The high concentration of private and public schools in Punjab Province has transformed education markets there. Figure 1 shows a village in the LEAPS sample. It took me (and two young children) 15 minutes to traverse the village, yet it has five private and two public schools. Data gathered by the LEAPS team show that in 2003, the average fee for private schools in rural Punjab was equivalent to about $1.50 a month, or less than the price of a cup of tea every day. The number of schools in the village portrayed here is typical of the sample—in fact, the average LEAPS village in 2003 had 678 households and 8.2 schools, of which 3 were private.

The proliferation of private schools in Punjab has enabled such considerable school choice that, once we account for urban areas, some 90 percent of children in the province now live in neighborhoods and villages like the one illustrated in Figure 1. Such “schooling markets” are not just a Pakistani or South Asian phenomenon. Schooling environments in Latin America and parts of Sub-Saharan Africa also offer extensive variety for local families.

One question widely examined by education researchers is whether children in private schools learn more than those in public schools. Is there a private-school “premium” that can be measured in terms of test results or other metrics? One impediment to answering that question is that children enrolled in private schools are not randomly drawn from the local population, and researchers often cannot convincingly correct for this selection problem. In my view, though, a larger obstacle is that the concept of an “average” private-school premium is elusive when families can choose from multiple public and private schools and the quality of schools differs vastly within both sectors. Comparing a high-performing public school to a low-performing private school will yield a very different result than comparing a high-performing private school to a low-performing public school.

The LEAPS research team looked at this question in a study published in 2023. We defined school value-added as the gain in test scores in Urdu, math, and English that a randomly selected child would experience when enrolled in a specific school. The team found that the value-added variation among schools was so large that, compounded over the primary school years, the average difference between the best- and the worst-performing school in the same village was comparable to the difference in test scores between low- and high-income countries.

Figure 2 shows what this variation implies for estimates of private-school effectiveness. Each vertical line in the figure represents one of the 112 LEAPS villages. Schools in each village are arranged on the line according to their school value-added, with public schools indicated by red triangles and private schools by black dots. The red band tracks the average quality of public schools in the villages, from weakest to strongest, and the gray band shows the average quality of private schools in the villages. The private schools are, on average, more successful in raising test scores than their public-sector counterparts. As is clear, however, every village has private and public schools of varying quality, and the measure of any “private-school premium” depends entirely on which specific schools are being compared. In fact, the study shows that the causal impact of private schooling on annual test scores can range from –0.08 to +0.39 standard deviations. The low end of this range represents the average loss across all villages when children move from the best-performing public school to the worst-performing private school in the same village. The upper end represents the average gain across all villages when children move from the worst-performing public school to the best-performing private school, again within the same village.

Riaz Haq said…

Jishnu Das

Parents’ Choices

The relevant question, then, is not whether private schools are more effective. The questions are: How well are parents equipped to discern quality in a school—public or private—and choose the best one for their children? And can policy decisions affect these choices?

As to the first question, the team found that parents choosing private schools appear to recognize and reward high quality. Consequently, in the LEAPS villages, private schools with higher value-added are able to charge higher fees and see their market share increase over time. In contrast, parents choosing public schools either have a harder time gauging the school’s value-added or are less quality-sensitive in their choices. This is particularly concerning in the case of students enrolled in very poorly performing public schools where after five years of schooling they may not be able to read simple words or add two single-digit numbers.

Given that parents who opt for public schools appear to be less sensitive to quality, one reform instrument often supported by policymakers is the school voucher, whereby public money follows the child to the family’s school of choice. The idea is that making private schools “free” for families will allow children to leave poorly performing public schools in favor of higher-quality private schools. This strategy assumes that parents, when choosing among schools, place significant weight on the cost of the school, manifest in its fees. What’s more, one may reasonably expect that such “fee sensitivity” will be higher in low-income countries and among low-income families. Yet a 2022 analysis of the LEAPS villages showed that a 10 percent decline in private-school fees increased private-school enrollment by 2.7 percent for girls and 1 percent for boys. From these data we estimated that even a subsidy that made private schools totally free would decrease public-school enrollment by only 12.7 and 5.3 percentage points for girls and boys, respectively. This implies that most of the subsidy, rather than going to children who are leaving public schools, would be captured by children who would have enrolled in private schools even without the tuition aid. Further, most of the children induced to change schools under the policy may come from high- rather than low-performing public schools, limiting any test-score gains one might expect.

One alternative to trying to move children out of poorly performing public schools is to focus on improving those schools. A LEAPS experiment that my co-authors and I published in 2023 evaluated a program that allocated grants to public schools in villages randomly chosen from the LEAPS sample. We found that, four years after the program started, test scores were 0.2 standard deviations higher in public schools in villages that received funds than in public schools in villages that did not. In addition, we observed an “education multiplier” effect: test scores were also 0.2 standard deviations higher in private schools located in grant-receiving villages. This effect echoes an economic phenomenon that often occurs in industry—that is, when low-quality firms improve, higher-quality firms tend to increase their quality even further to protect their market share. In the LEAPS villages, the private schools that improved were those that faced greater competition, either by being physically closer to a public school or by being located in a village where public schools were of relatively high quality at the start of the program. The same was true of private schools in villages where the grants to the public schools were larger.
Riaz Haq said…

Jishnu Das

The education multiplier effect increases the cost-effectiveness of the grant program by 85 percent, putting it among the top ranks of education interventions in low-income countries that have been subject to formal evaluation. But beyond that, accounting for private-school responses also changed the optimal targeting of the policy. For instance, our analysis shows that if policymakers consider test-score increases in public schools only, a policy that divides resources equally across villages also maximizes test-score gains; there is apparently no trade-off between equity and effectiveness. Once private-school responses are considered, however, equal division of resources exacerbates existing inequalities in learning among villages. This implies that a government that values equity should distribute more resources to villages with poorly performing public schools.

Implications for Policymaking

With 90 percent of Pakistani children living in neighborhoods with multiple public and private schools, the days when government could formulate policies that affected only public schools are long gone. The same is true of many other low-income countries where parents also have significant school choice, ranging from Chile to India. Every policy will have an impact on both public and private schools, even if a policy only targets public schools. Policymakers can choose to ignore these additional effects, but to do so is to miscalculate the policy’s full impact. Our studies are still too premature to help factor parental and private-school responses into the design of policy. A key insight from the LEAPS research is that there is significant variation among schools in terms of performance and among parents in terms of their preferences for quality. A policy to improve public schools can lead to an education multiplier effect in one context but cause private schools to exit in another. A broad understanding of the dynamics of education markets, such as parents placing a very heavy weight on physical distance to school in their choices, can shed some light on this variation. Yet the data requirements to make detailed predictions about how policies will play out in specific settings may be too onerous, at least for now.

How then to proceed? Three broad principles are emerging from the LEAPS project.

First, there is little evidence that parents choosing to send their children to private schools in low-income countries are being fooled or hoodwinked into receiving a substandard education. On the contrary, the parents choosing private schools seem to be more informed and better able to reward school quality. The bigger problem is the substantial population of children enrolled in very low-performing public schools, even when there are better public schools nearby. Unfortunately, policies that seek to move children from public to private schools by means of vouchers may end up spending a lot of money on children who were already going to private schools. What’s more, the test-score gains from such policies may be limited if most of the children who do switch from a public to a private school come from higher-performing public schools. Indeed, a 2022 study by Mauricio Romero and Abhijeet Singh showed that both of these dynamics play out in India’s Right to Education Act, which established one of the world’s largest voucher schemes. Subsidizing private schools in a way that consistently improves test scores by moving children out of low-performing public schools remains an elusive goal.

Riaz Haq said…

Jishnu Das

If we cannot move children out of low-performing public schools, the alternative is to improve those schools. The second principle, then, is that governments should maintain a focus on improving the quality of public schools. Results of the first generation of efforts to do so in low-income countries were mixed at best, but studies of newer reform efforts that emphasize improved pedagogy, incentives, teacher recruitment and training, and school grants are all showing positive results. A 2021 study by Alex Eble and colleagues, for instance, showed dramatic improvements in test scores in The Gambia with an intervention that used a variety of strategies: hiring teachers on temporary contracts, making changes in pedagogy, monitoring teachers, and giving them regular feedback. Again, the benefits of these policies may extend beyond the public schools they target. In schooling markets, the education multiplier effect will create positive knock-on effects for private schools.

Third, leaders should consider an entirely different class of policies. These are policies that do not privilege either the public or private sector but acknowledge that both parents and schools face constraints and that alleviating these constraints can lead to significant improvements in both sectors, regardless of the preferences of parents or the cost structures of schools.

Studies by the LEAPS team present two examples of such policies. In the first, the team provided parents and schools with information on the performance of all schools in a village—public and private—through school “report cards.” We found that this intervention improved test scores in both public and private schools and decreased private-school fees. The policy, in this case, pays for itself and has been recognized as a global “great buy” by a team of education experts.

As a second example, in 2020 the LEAPS team provided grants to private schools, but in some villages, we gave the grant money to a single school and in others to all private schools in the village. We found that in the first scenario, the school used the money to upgrade infrastructure and expand enrollment but with no resulting improvement in test scores. However, when all the private schools in a village received a grant, schools expanded enrollment and increased student test scores. These schools anticipated that simultaneous capacity improvements by all the private schools would lead to a price war, driving profits to zero, so they focused largely on test-score improvements to maintain profit margins. In both scenarios, the combination of boosted enrollment and higher fees increased the schools’ profits. These increases were large enough that, had the schools taken the money in the form of loans, they would have been able to repay them at interest rates of 20 to 25 percent or more. Finally, the schools improved even though the grant terms did not explicitly require them to—showing that the market generated the incentives for improvement without additional monitoring and testing by external parties, which in Pakistan has proven to be both costly and difficult.

These interventions leverage the fact that many children in Pakistan and around the globe now live in neighborhoods with multiple public and private schools. In these environments, progress relies on alleviating broader constraints in the education market rather than focusing on specific schools or school types. Moving beyond “public versus private,” we now need policies that support schooling markets, not schools—the entire ecosystem, not just one species.

Jishnu Das is a distinguished professor of public policy at the McCourt School of Public Policy and the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, India.
Riaz Haq said…
The education spending multiplier: Evidence from schools in Pakistan
Tahir Andrabi Natalie Bau Jishnu Das Naureen Karachiwalla Asim Ijaz Khwaja / 11 Jun 2023

Private schools in Pakistan, as in many other countries, are financed almost entirely through school fees. Therefore, when public schools improve, private schools must also improve or risk losing valuable revenue as parents opt for public schools. This column examines the effect of a public school grants programme in rural Pakistan and estimates the ‘education multiplier’ for the effect of public funding on private sector school quality. The authors find that grants given to public schools increase test scores in both public and private schools as a result of increased competition.

In the past, policymakers worried that there were not enough schools for children in low- and middle-income countries. But today, millions of children in these countries live in villages or neighbourhoods where they can choose from multiple public or private schools. Figure 1, for instance, shows a typical village in the Learning and Educational Achievement in Pakistan Schools (LEAPS) study. The village takes 20 minutes to cross on foot, but has five private and two public schools. The average village in the LEAPS sample has 7.3 schools, and 60 to 70% of the rural population in Punjab (Pakistan’s largest province) lives in such environments. If we include cities, that fraction rises to more than 90%.

That is a big deal for public policy, which has historically failed to account for the relationship between public policy and the private sector in education.

To see why, note that private schools in Pakistan, like in many other countries, are financed almost entirely through school fees, which parents must be willing to pay. Therefore, when public schools improve, private schools must respond, or face the risk of losing valuable revenue as children opt to attend improved public schools. Thus, understanding the total impact of any programme - even those targeted purely to public schools - requires considering its effect on all other schools in the market, not just on the school where the intervention was implemented, as accounting for the total effects can lead to very different conclusions about effectiveness. Our new paper (Andrabi et al. 2023) measures the effect of a public school grants programme in rural Pakistan and estimates the ‘education multiplier’ for the effect of public funding on private sector school quality.
Riaz Haq said…
The education spending multiplier: Evidence from schools in Pakistan
Tahir Andrabi Natalie Bau Jishnu Das Naureen Karachiwalla Asim Ijaz Khwaja / 11 Jun 2023

Private school fees and their entry or exit into the schooling market are not affected
Interestingly, we do not find evidence of a treatment effect on private school fees, exits (or entries) or market shares - by 2011, the market share of private schools was the same in treatment and control villages. The fact that market share did not change does not mean that parents do not respond to or observe improvements in school quality. Rather, enrolment shares in 2011 are an equilibrium outcome following quality changes in both sectors.

Using standard methods from the literature (Dhaliwal et al. 2013), we then show that the intervention increased test scores in public schools by 1.18 standard deviations for every US$100 in additional spending. But once we factor in improvement in private schools as well, cost-effectiveness increases by 85% to 2.18 standard deviations for every $100 in additional public funding, putting the programme among a small group of highly cost-effective interventions (see Evans and Yuan 2022). Finally, the education multiplier also had fundamental implications for how programmes should be targeted. We show that regardless of whether the government is interested in maximising test score gains from the programme or is interested both in equity and gains, accounting for the education multiplier changes the optimal geographical targeting and distribution of grants across villages.
Riaz Haq said…
The education spending multiplier: Evidence from schools in Pakistan
Tahir Andrabi Natalie Bau Jishnu Das Naureen Karachiwalla Asim Ijaz Khwaja / 11 Jun 2023

Our first main result, that grants to public schools increased test scores, contrasts with an earlier literature where null effects were more common (e.g. Das et. al. 2013, Mbiti et. al. 2019). We may now need to move beyond such ‘grant pessimism’ precisely because we have learned from the previous failures. In contrast to previous grants in India and Zambia, which were offset by parents because they were small, the grants here were much larger and could be used for infrastructure improvements (Das et al. 2013). Indeed, grant size and test score improvements are positively correlated in this programme.

In addition, the schools could use the grants to hire teachers on temporary contracts. Again, this policy reflected what we had learned from prior research, which has consistently shown that teachers hired on temporary contracts may be more effective because they face stronger career incentives (Duflo et al. 2015, Muralidharan and Sundararaman 2013, Bau and Das 2020).

Finally, to avoid the problems of centrally mandated expenditures that are not responsive to local needs as well as potential misuse, schools worked with a reputed NGO and a reconstituted school council to determine investment priorities that were then funded through the grant.

Beyond showing that public school grants can increase test scores, this study demonstrates the existence of a large education multiplier from the public to the private sector. Hundreds of millions of children live in neighbourhoods/villages with substantial school choice, and many of the schools that they can choose from are private schools that survive on school fees. In this highly interconnected world, the idea that there are `programmes for public schools’ and `programmes for private schools’ and that the two can be kept separate is no longer tenable. Failing to account for the effect of public sector interventions on the private sector - ex-ante in the design of the programme and ex-post in its evaluation – leads to less effective interventions and inaccurate evaluations. In our case, restricting the focus to public schools would have led to an entirely different estimate of the programme’s cost effectiveness.

While we show that taking the private sector into account is crucial, spillovers on private schools need not always be positive. Dinerstein and Smith (2021) find that in New York City a public-school improvement programme led to children leaving private schools, and these schools then shutting down. In the Dominican Republic, Nielson et al. (2020) show that a huge school construction programme led to the closure of some private schools, but with quality improvements among the survivors. But across all these studies, the clear message is that the days when public school programmes would have effects only on public schools are over. We need to think of the full schooling environment and not just the part in which we have intervened.

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