Pakistan Table of Contents
At independence, Pakistan had a poorly educated population and few schools or universities. Although the education system has expanded greatly since then, debate continues about the curriculum, and, except in a few elite institutions, quality remained a crucial concern of educators in the early 1990s.
Adult literacy is low, but improving. In 1992 more than 36 percent of adults over fifteen were literate, compared with 21 percent in 1970. The rate of improvement is highlighted by the 50 percent literacy achieved among those aged fifteen to nineteen in 1990. School enrollment also increased, from 19 percent of those aged six to twenty-three in 1980 to 24 percent in 1990. However, by 1992 the population over twenty-five had a mean of only 1.9 years of schooling. This fact explains the minimal criteria for being considered literate: having the ability to both read and write (with understanding) a short, simple statement on everyday life.
Relatively limited resources have been allocated to education, although there has been improvement in recent decades. In 1960 public expenditure on education was only 1.1 percent of the gross national product (GNP--see Glossary); by 1990 the figure had risen to 3.4 percent. This amount compared poorly with the 33.9 percent being spent on defense in 1993. In 1990 Pakistan was tied for fourth place in the world in its ratio of military expenditures to health and education expenditures. Although the government enlisted the assistance of various international donors in the education efforts outlined in its Seventh Five-Year Plan (1988-93), the results did not measure up to expectations.
Data as of April 1994