The delivery of education services in Pakistan is severely impacted by economic, political and security challenges that the country has been facing for some years.
The 18th Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan, approved in 2010, devolved responsibility for education delivery and spending to provincial governments. The federal ministry retains some limited mandates, mainly in curriculum development, accreditation and the financing of research and development.
Transforming education in Balochistan
Balochistan faces several challenges including low literacy rates, high numbers of out of school children, poor quality education, and gender disparities in learning. The province reports the highest out-of-school rate in Pakistan, with 65% of 5 to 16-year-old children not in school.
Balochistan also has the lowest literacy rates (44% for 10-year-olds and older) in the country. The government of Balochistan has shown commitment to addressing the various challenges that exist in the sector.
Between 2009-2010 and 2019-2020 the education budget increased five-fold. However, despite this increased spending, learning outcomes have not improved. Issues pertaining to weak governance and limited management capacity within the education system present challenges to translating increased spending into better learning outcomes.
The Education Sector Plan 2020-2025 focuses on 2 policy priorities: learning, and access and participation.
To achieve these priorities, two critical enablers have been identified: 1. Improved governance and management framework 2. Improved data and research. To achieve the policy priorities and improve education delivery, the BESP notes the importance of 4 cross-cutting areas: standards; capacity; gender inclusiveness; partnerships with non-governmental actors.
Transforming education in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Since 2015, education reforms in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have led to an increase in student attendance, improved teacher attendance, and the recruitment of over 40,000 teachers.
Yet despite this progress, high numbers of children remain out of school, and those that do attend school struggle to gain basic literacy and numeracy skills and experience high dropout rates. While all children encounter these challenges, girls are disproportionately affected.
The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has committed to making gender equity a key priority and ensuring a gendered approach to education reform. The Education Sector Plan 2020-2025 outlines 3 goals for education reform, coupled with numerous objectives to help achieve them:
- Ensure access to inclusive and equitable education and lifelong learning opportunities for all children, youth and adults
- Deliver quality and relevant education for all to nurture productive citizens
- Provide effective leadership, responsive governance and efficient management at all levels to achieve educational goals
Transforming education in Punjab
Following numerous reforms within the education sector, Punjab has made improvements in education delivery and learning outcomes. Student literacy and numeracy levels have risen, primary level participation has increased from 84.8% in 2011 to 90.4% in 2017, and approximately 95% of all government schools in the province now have toilets, electricity and running water.
Despite improvements, a number of challenges persist: Large levels of education inequity remain, with regional and gender disparities contributing to approximately 5 million out-of-school children; Children from the southern areas of Punjab experience limited access to education and make up the highest numbers of out-of-school children; Girls also encounter challenges to learning, being less likely to enroll in school and more likely to drop out compared to their male counterparts; The quality of education presents obstacles to learning, with a lack of teachers and standardized assessments, as well as a focus on recall learning.
An effective response to these challenges is hindered by poor governance and management, with a lack of data-informed decisions, financial inefficiency and limited capacity.
The Education Sector Plan 2019-2024 sets out 4 objectives to improve education outcomes:
- Promote quality education in a safe and inclusive learning environment
- Improve teaching and learning practices for better learning outcomes
- Improve access to education
- Strengthen the governance of the education sector. In order to address these challenges.
Three strategic areas have been identified: Quality and learning outcomes; Access, retention and equity; Governance and management.
The sector plan outlines 5 priority programs:
- Improve teaching and learning practices for better learning outcomes
- Provide adequate and sufficient access to education for children from pre-primary to secondary, including marginalized and children with special needs
- Promote quality education in a safe, inclusive and conducive learning environment for children
- Strengthen good governance of the education sector for equitable access and high-quality education
- Promote effective leadership and management of the education sector for better service delivery.
Transforming education in Sindh
Although the government of Sindh has increased investment in education in recent years (from 13.4% in 2011 to 18.5% in 2017), the provision and quality of education in the province remains a challenge. Poor school infrastructure means that many students continue to lack drinking water and washrooms – particularly affecting girls.
Several schools consist of single rooms or have only one teacher, with the province also reporting a shortage in middle and secondary schools. While literacy rates have increased (55%) they remain behind the national average (58%), with girls and children living in rural areas reporting particularly low rates.
Sindh is faced with low participation and retention rates, with 6 million out-of-school children and approximately 50% of children dropping out of school by grade 5.
In order to tackle the low participation, retention and quality of education, the Education Sector Plan 2019-2024 sets out 3 key goals:
- Equitable Access
- Increase equitable access to formal education for out of school children
- Increase equitable access to NFE programs and create linkages with TVET for illiterate youths
- Expand provision of school infrastructure to meet evidence-based needs and ensure learning friendly environment
- Increase equitable enrollment and retention at all levels, especially for girls and marginalized children
- Quality and Learning
- Ensure meritorious recruitment of qualified teachers and support within well-resourced, efficient and effectively governed systems
- Implement policy on cluster-based continuous professional development for teachers, headteachers and administrators
- Improve formal and non-formal student curriculums with focus on local needs and global trends, inclusive education and life skills, gender equality, cultural diversity and citizenship
- Improve provision of textbooks and learning materials based on the revised curriculum in appropriate languages
- School specific student assessment and reporting system.
- Governance and management
- Establish management mechanisms to strengthen performance and accountability
- Improve transparent and sustainable allocation and utilization of non-salary budget
- Improve organizational capacity and resources for integrated sector planning including district planning, implementation and quality assurance through district education groups, local education group, Implementation of Education Sector Plan and joint sector reviews.