Country Listing

Pakistan Table of Contents


Structure of the System

Education is organized into five levels: primary (grades one through five); middle (grades six through eight); high (grades nine and ten, culminating in matriculation); intermediate (grades eleven and twelve, leading to an F.A. diploma in arts or F.S. science; and university programs leading to undergraduate and advanced degrees. Preparatory classes (kachi, or nursery) were formally incorporated into the system in 1988 with the Seventh Five-Year Plan.

Academic and technical education institutions are the responsibility of the federal Ministry of Education, which coordinates instruction through the intermediate level. Above that level, a designated university in each province is responsible for coordination of instruction and examinations. In certain cases, a different ministry may oversee specialized programs. Universities enjoy limited autonomy; their finances are overseen by a University Grants Commission, as in Britain.

Teacher-training workshops are overseen by the respective provincial education ministries in order to improve teaching skills. However, incentives are severely lacking, and, perhaps because of the shortage of financial support to education, few teachers participate. Rates of absenteeism among teachers are high in general, inducing support for community-coordinated efforts promoted in the Eighth Five-Year Plan (1993-98).

In 1991 there were 87,545 primary schools, 189,200 primary school teachers, and 7,768,000 students enrolled at the primary level, with a student-to-teacher ratio of forty-one to one. Just over one-third of all children of primary school age were enrolled in a school in 1989. There were 11,978 secondary schools, 154,802 secondary school teachers, and 2,995,000 students enrolled at the secondary level, with a student-to- teacher ratio of nineteen to one.

Primary school dropout rates remained fairly consistent in the 1970s and 1980s, at just over 50 percent for boys and 60 percent for girls. The middle school dropout rates for boys and girls rose from 22 percent in 1976 to about 33 percent in 1983. However, a noticeable shift occurred in the beginning of the 1980s regarding the postprimary dropout rate: whereas boys and girls had relatively equal rates (14 percent) in 1975, by 1979-- just as Zia initiated his government's Islamization program--the dropout rate for boys was 25 percent while for girls it was only 16 percent. By 1993 this trend had dramatically reversed, and boys had a dropout rate of only 7 percent compared with the girls' rate of 15 percent.

The Seventh Five-Year Plan envisioned that every child five years and above would have access to either a primary school or a comparable, but less comprehensive, mosque school. However, because of financial constraints, this goal was not achieved.

In drafting the Eighth Five-Year Plan in 1992, the government therefore reiterated the need to mobilize a large share of national resources to finance education. To improve access to schools, especially at the primary level, the government sought to decentralize and democratize the design and implemention of its education strategy. To give parents a greater voice in running schools, it planned to transfer control of primary and secondary schools to NGOs. The government also intended to gradually make all high schools, colleges, and universities autonomous, although no schedule was specified for achieving this ambitious goal.

Data as of April 1994