Affordable private schools exist in most of the developing countries like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya, Dominican Republic, Nigeria, China, South Africa and other countries. Such schools are owned independently by local entrepreneurs who serve a large population of poor students and lower income groups by charging lower fees. These schools have a potential to provide access to good quality education to the deprived citizens of the country. Much has been written regarding the profile of affordable private schools in many countries. It is important to realize whether these schools perform better than public schools or not. About 50% of the affordable private schools are delivering acceptable standard of education to low income communities. However, there is another half, which performs below expectation (Capital, 2012). Often such private schools create an unfavorable impression in the minds of the people about affordable private schools. Not all affordable private schools perform uniformly. The market acceptance of such private schools depends upon the balance between affordability and quality of education.
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According to the Economic Survey of Pakistan (2011-2012), one of the primary concerns of government has been to improve the standards of education in Pakistan. Their vision is to expand the primary education by increasing the enrollment rate faster than the growth in population. The focus is towards the primary levels as it forms the core of literate population. The literacy rates have shown a little improvement in the past five years, however, it is still lagging behind many other developing countries. The scarcity of resources and insufficient facilities are the hurdles in the development of educational sector. Under the 18th constitution amendment, provinces are now responsible for their own syllabus, curriculum and standard of education up to grade 12. Standard beyond intermediate level is covered under the Federal Legislative List.
As mentioned in Pakistan Social and Living Standard Measurement Survey (PSLM) 2011, the literacy rate (10 years and above) for Pakistan have risen from 57% in 2009 to 58% in 2011. Literacy level is much higher in urban areas compared to rural areas. According to the report, Punjab takes the lead with a literacy rate of 60%, followed by Sindh (59%), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (50%) and Balochistan (41%) as shown in the table below. The Gross Primary Levels Enrollment Rate for the age group 5-9 years has slightly increased to 92% in 2011 whereas the Net Primary Level Enrollment Rate has decreased to 56% in 2011. The overall number of enrollment has increased to approximately 4.4%. In 2011, the number of educational institutes stood at 227.8 thousand as compared to 228.4 thousand in 2010. The number of teachers has increased from 1386.1 thousands in 2010 to 1409.4 thousands in 2011 showing an increase of 1.7%.
Literacy Rate (10 Years and Above)-Pakistan and Provinces (percent)
*Source: Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement Survey, 2010-11
The National Education Policy of Pakistan is used to cope with a number of issues including universal primary education, the quality and quantity of educational institutes, adopting free education, overcoming gender disparity at all levels, improved early children education and increasing the share of resources to both public and private schools. According to the National Education Policy 2009, education can be increased to 86% by 2015 through continuing efforts for adult literacy and imparting non formal education throughout the country. It is important to focus on universal primary education and to make sure that there are no dropouts especially at the primary level.
Pakistan Educational Statistics handbook 2006-2007 states that total number of students (beginning from age 3) enrolled in all the education institutions (schools, colleges and universities) is less than 37 million. Out of a total 70 million children between ages 5 to 19, only 27.9 million of children are enrolled in schools, which mean 60% of all such kids are not enrolled in any of the schools. This success demand is a burden on the system; Public, private, NGO and Madrasas. All their combined efforts cater to only 40% of the Pakistan's needs. Even though the non-state schools efforts in educating the little children are wonderful, they cannot cater to 42 million kids left uneducated in Pakistan. More importantly by putting the burden on the private sector, we are allowing the guilty party, the government- to get away scot-free. The salary of an average public school teacher is relatively high. Researchers at the Institute for Social and Policy Sciences in Islamabad have calculated average school teachers' salaries; primary teacher salary is around Rs 12,000, average middle school teachers' salaries is around Rs 15,000 and average high school teachers' salaries is around Rs 19,000.
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Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) surveyed 97 urban blocks and 3,642 government and private schools, 84 rural and 3 urban city districts (Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar), 2,502 villages in 2011. It included 49,793 households and 146,874 children. According to ASER, 79.9% of 6-16 years old were enrolled in schools from rural Pakistan while the remaining was kept out of school. The figure has been steady since 2010. There is much higher number of girls out of school then boys except for 14-16 year old where there are more number of boys (3.1%) are out of school then girls (2.9%). Pre-school enrollment of 4-5 years old was 42.8%. The highest preschool enrollment was in Punjab (51.3%) and the lowest in Gilgit (29.4) where majority of the students are enrolled in government schools. For urban centers, the trend is the highest in Karachi, 68.9%, where majority of the students are enrolled in private schools. Private school enrollment is stated to be 25.5% in 2011. Surprisingly highest private school enrollment was seen in Gilgit, 43.6%, followed by Punjab, 33.2%. The enrollment rate of Madrasahs increased from 0.9 % to 2.1% in 2010-2011. Province wise highest Madrasah enrollment was found in Balochistan (6.5%) whereas district wise Bahawalpur (6.4%) had the highest enrollment rate of madrasa.
Moving on to the facilities provided by the schools of both public and private sector, according to ASER, there has been no improvement in useable water and toilet facilities provided by the schools. In Punjab, only 84% of the private schools had functional toilets and 94% had an access to useable water. The worst case is seen in Balochistan where only 12% of the government schools have useable toilet facilities and only 8% have an access to clean drinking water.
Useable Toilet Facilities
*Source: Annual Status of Education Report, 2011
Safe Drinking Water
*Source: Annual Status of Education Report, 2011
According to ASER report, the learning levels across schools have remained stagnant in past few years. However, the basic arithmetic levels in education have experienced a slight improvement. This means that percentage of a grade 5 student being able to solve a 3-digit division problem has been increased by 2% in 2011 compared to 2010. This improvement is experienced mostly Punjab and Gilgit. On the other hand, Urdu reading levels have declined a little. Only 47.5% of grade 5 students are able to read a class 2 storybook in Urdu. However, in Balochistan the percentage of grade 2 students being able to read a class 2 story Urdu in Urdu has almost doubled in the last one year. English reading levels have shown an increase from 40.6% in 2010 to 42.3% in 2011 which means 42.3% of classes 5 students are able to read English sentences; 46% of Private schools and 34% of Government schools. More than half of the small public and private schools are multi grade which means that a single classroom consist of student from different classes.
English Reading Levels by Type of Schools-Lahore
*Source: Annual Status of Education Report, 2011
Arithmetic Levels by Type of School - Lahore
*Source: Annual Status of Education Report, 2011
Reading Levels by Type of School - Lahore
*Source: Annual Status of Education Report, 2011
According to World Bank, although the Net Enrollment Rates in education has increased in Paksistan in last few years, still it is way being other South Asian Countries. Gender disparity is common in health, education and all other economic sectors. Moreover, Pakistan has an extremely low female labor force participation rates. Despite the low standards of education and health, the resources allocation as a percentage of GDP is still very low. According to the report, the literacy rate of Pakistan's youth (age 15-24) was 71.1% in 2008 whereas the literacy rate of adult (ages 15 and above) was only 55.5% in 2008. The primary school starting age of a student is 5 years from 2007 onwards with the duration of 5 years whereas the secondary school starting age has been 10 years with the duration of 7 years. The pupil-teacher ratio at the primary levels has been approximately 40% from 2007 to 2011. The net school enrollment rate at the primary level has increased from 67.9% in 2007 to 74% in 2011; the enrollment rate for females has increased from 60% to 66% whereas for male it has increased from 75% to 81%. The net enrollment rate at the secondary level has slightly increases from 27.7% to 28.9%; the enrollment rate for females has increase from 27.95 to 29% whereas for males it has increased from 37.4% to 38.4%. The school enrollment for the private secondary sector has remained constant at 31% for the past 5 years. World Bank report states that the number of teachers teaching at the primary level has increased from 450027 in 2007 to 263674 in 2011. Out of these, approximately 45% are females and only 85% out of the total are well trained in their field. It further states that in 2011 the number of children out of school at the primary level is 5125373, out of which there are more males as compared to females surprisingly.
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In a country such as Pakistan, the need of a reliable and a quality education system is strongly desired. Fortunately, the educational system of Pakistan has shown signs of improvement in the past one decade, even though it is not as efficient or as contemporary as that of developed countries. According to the State Bank of Pakistan, Pakistan has been able to built reputable educational institutes in the public sector; however, the high achievers on national and international level come mainly from the private educational system that has impressed the public perception. Thus public confidence lies within the private sectors to create demand for more schools. Unfortunately, the floods have made the situation worse. Throughout semi-urban and rural areas of Pakistan, the infrastructure has been completely destroyed as a result of massive floods. According to United Nations, more than 10,000 schools have been destroyed by floods throughout Pakistan. Like in many other developing countries, the educational sector of Pakistan is not very impressive. Few of the reasons for this poor performance has been the low levels of enrollment, extremely low levels of investment by the public sector and lack of well trained teachers. Although the primary enrollment level has increased in past few years but the level remains low when compared to other countries of the region, providing a potential for demand of education in the private sector. Despite the lack of interest shown by the Federal Government in promoting education, the initiatives are being taken up by provincial governments. Plans such as Parha Likha Punjab, Danish School Systems and Zindagi Trust in Punjab are needed to promote primary education. Due to high demand of education and shortage of supply by the government, private sector has also taken steps to provide education to children. New private schools are opened to cater to the extremely lower income group who cannot even afford the basic necessities of life. They not only provide primary education but also aim at providing the new state of art educational techniques. The recent publicity of educational programs has increased the awareness amongst people to gain education, increasing the demand for private educational institutes. As mentioned in the report of State Bank of Pakistan, out of the 2% of GDP spent on education, 95% comprises of teacher's salaries. This spending has slightly decreased by 0.05% of GDP in 2011 as compared to 2010 and so the responsibility is left on the private sector to educate the masses of Pakistan (figure shown below).
Public Expenditure on Education
*Source: State Bank of Pakistan, 2011
In an article written by Ali (2011), he mentions about private and public schools in following words:
"A delegation from the UK to Pakistan has also noted a lack of desks, books, blackboards, electricity, doors, and windows, not to mention the problem of overcrowded classrooms. And the phenomena of "ghost schools", institutions which receive government grants but do not exist, are now common knowledge".
"There are more than 90,000 affordable private schools in Pakistan and more than 60 per cent of them are recognized by the Department of Education. From 1999-2009 private provision multiplied almost three fold from 36,000 schools to over 90,000 at primary and secondary levels spreading across urban and rural areas. Punjab has the highest growth out of all provinces, with over 32 per cent of primary school students enrolled in private schools. Private provision in Pakistan is seen to be providing a 'choice' for even poor families who are willing to buy quality education for their children".
The reasons for Pakistan's low educational status are varied but one important factor is that Pakistan's educational system is highly fragmented and segmented. Pakistan has suffered immensely because of this fragmented educational system coupled with issues of access, quality, and governance. According to World Bank's report Pakistan's primary and secondary enrolment ratios in 1991 were 46 and 21 percent of the relevant age groups - only one-half the average for all low-income countries. Therefore, it is important to understand the difference between level and stage. Ministry of Education reports that institutions are categorized in terms of levels i.e. primary, middle, secondary, higher secondary etc. on the other hand the stage term refers to a particular grouping of classes i.e. we have primary ( class 1-5 ) , middle ( 6-8 ) and similarly high and higher secondary stage. There are 182,477 (71%) education institutions in the public sector and 73611 (29%) in private sector according to Education Statistics Report 2007-2008. Enrollment wise public sector has an enrollment of 25213894 (67%) in various categories of educational institutions whereas 12248990 (33%) enrollment is in the private sector. The total teaching staff is 1363501 out of which 0.756 million (56%) is in the public sector and 0.606 million (44%) is in the private sector.
Apart from access UNESCO, the quality of education is very poor in Pakistan. A decaying infrastructure, lack of proper facilities, irrelevant curricula, along with untrained teaching staff, staff absenteeism, paucity of books and teaching aids adversely affect the quality of education. This results in low levels of learning achievement, wastage of resources through grade repetitions, and high dropout rates. Pakistan's education system focuses strongly on primary education. Despite this concentration, however, there are still many children between 5 to 9 years of age that are not attending school and it would appear that the primary system needs to expand if universal primary enrolment is to be achieved.
It is obvious that affordable private schools can only survive with low fees if their cost is also low. Two strategies can be used to keep the cost at lower levels: the use of coeducational schools and the use of female teachers who are locally resident (Andrabi, 2005). By examining the salary structures of such schools, we get to know that the teachers are paid exceptionally low wages. Since wage costs of teachers constitute the bulk of educational budgets around the world, lowering wages significantly reduces the overall cost of providing education. The teachers are mostly young, married, moderately educated and untrained women living near the school who would even teach for extremely low wages, as teaching is one of the safest professions for any woman. Affordable private schools are mostly located in an area where educated female teachers can be found. Andrabi has shared the views of an entrepreneur in the following words:
"The big problem", he said,"is teachers. In most villages, I can set up a private school, but who will teach? All the men are working and if I pay them what they want, I will never make a profit. I cannot get women from other villages-who will provide the transport for them if it gets dark? How will she be able to work in another village if she is married? The only way we can work is if there are girls who can teach in the village-that is why, I go to every house and ask if there is an educated girl who can teach. I can pay them Rs.800 ($14) a month and run the school. Otherwise there is no possibility."
The donor community should focus on striking change in Pakistan's educational landscape (emerging of affordable private schools) rather than focusing on public schools and madrasas. According to the 2005 educational census, private schools now enroll about one third of the students in Pakistan. This sector is expanding dramatically. In 1983, there were almost the same number of private schools and madrasas in Pakistan; 2563 madrasas and 2770 private schools. However by 2005, the number of private schools increased by five times. Surprisingly the growth in private schools has enlarged since 9/11 terrorist attacks, while the number of madrasas has stayed relatively flat. Fortunately, private schools are now cost effective and affordable. It is easy to keep the cost at lowest level because they are mom and pop managed schools opened to gain profits and to meet the local needs of education. There is no dispute that the educational standards are poor across Pakistan, private schools outperform public schools at all income levels. Research was done in three districts of Punjab taking a sample of more than 25000 primary grade students after which it was concluded that private school students outperformed government school students by a large margin. Beside this, the data also showed that the same students have learned more when they are shifted from public to private schools. Affordable private schools are expanding in urban and suburban areas of Pakistan because many of these private schools charge a monthly fee of less that is less than a day's wage for an unskilled worker. The question arises why are these schools able to deliver quality education at affordable prices? Affordable private schools take advantage of the untapped supply of labor that is willing to work at extremely low wages. They rely on moderately educated young females from local neighborhoods from whom teaching is the best option available to earn a living. Thus, private schools are the largest source of regular income for the females of Pakistan. Private schools take notice of the teacher absenteeism so that the wastage is minimized and more time is spent learning. Private schools use their salary structure to reward better teacher producing results and punish those who do not perform well. These private schools are not affiliated with any religious groups. They use a curriculum similar to those of public schools, but with greater emphases on English. Majority of the schools are coeducational at primary levels whereas the public schools are mainly single-sex (Fair, 2009).
There are around 2800 public schools in Karachi whereas private are even more in number (Roghay, 2012). Syed Khalid Shah of the All Private School Management Association states:
"There are about 6,000 registered private schools, and a conservative estimate will reveal that there are 4,000 unregistered private schools in the city."
According to Punjab Minister for education, Mian Mujtaba Shuja ur Rehman, Lahore has around 1300 government schools and 5000 registered private schools. These figures are sufficient to show how badly the government has ignored the establishment of new schools. This aspect of shortage of schools has also been highlighted in a recently launched book, Education in Pakistan: Developmental Milestones, written by Punjab University Faculty of Education Dean Prof Dr Hafiz Muhammad Iqbal. During Musharraf's regime, the number of primary schools decreased from 159,330 in 1998-99 to 156,400 in 2009-10.
In countries such as Pakistan, the government spending on education has more or less remained constant. Primary enrolment rate and completion rates have no strong relationship with government expenditure on education. Flug, et al. (1998) also highlights the fact that there is no relationship between government expenditure and student enrolments. This relationship has also been stated by Roberts (2003). Public spending on education can be either progressive or regressive. Studies, like Gupta, et al. (2002) and SPDC Report (2004) shows that in country like Ecuador, Columbia, Philippine, Malaysia, and Pakistan the public expenditure on health care, education (primary and secondary), infrastructure and public transport have a progressive benefit incidence. Research done by Al-Samarrai and Zaman (2002) in Malawi, Selden and Wasylenko (1992) in Peru, Shahin (2001) in Côte d'Ivoire and Sabir (2003) in Pakistan, show that females of schools received lesser benefits than their male counterpart. Jorge (2001) used the benefit incidence approach in order to analyse the incidence of expenditure and came to the conclusion that average benefits for female students is quite smaller than that of male students. The effect of the public expenditure on different groups depend upon the composition patterns; what programmes are being implemented and how much financing is going to each, e.g., basic education versus university level education. Demery and Verghis (1994), Younger (1999), David and Stephen (2000), have examined the education expenditure incidence. Their studies show that primary education is the most progressive one followed by secondary education, government universities, and private universities.
The share of benefits from public spending can vary amongst different income groups. Mozambique, Rasmus, et al. (2001) has estimated that the poorest quintile gets 14% of the total education spending by government; the poorest half receives 36% share, while the richest quintile receives 33% of the share. Sakellariou and Patrinos (2004), Norman (1985), and Hamid (2003) have shown that public expenditure on education benefits upper income group more than the lower income groups. It is stated in an article (faheem Jehangir, 2007),
"Only 16 percent of benefits accrue to the poorest quintile. In contrast, the richest quintile receives about 27 percent of benefits, more than its share in the population. There is little evidence, however, of middle-class capture; on average, the middle 60 percent of the population distribution receives about 58 percent of the total benefits Expenditure shares on education decreases with the increase in the income. Bjorn and Shi (2004) have investigated how such expenditures affect poverty assessments and came to the result that although mean expenditures on education increase with disposable income, expenditure shares decrease rapidly by deciles. For example, in China the lowest deciles spent 4.6 percent of total education expenditure on education as of 1995, the corresponding percentages for the highest deciles was 1.0 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively."
Sabir (2003) concluded that public expenditure/subsidies directed towards primary level education are pro-poor in all provinces; Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and NWFP. Moreover, females are the disadvantage group when it comes to attaining education. Government subsidies that are directed towards higher education level is poorly managed and poorest income group gets less than richest income group and unfortunately favour only those who are better off. Husain (2003) highlighted the fact that there are no disparities in allocation of funds to educational sector between districts. Nevertheless, economic growth is necessary but sufficient condition for the human development.
Comparative Analysis of Affordable Private Schools and Government Schools
There is a crystal clear picture of the awful condition of Pakistan' education system. The lack of proper education leads to unemployment problems due to which individuals become a liability of the society. Generally, education is considered the backbone for the progress and development of any nation. Pakistan is a third world country in its developing stage and so needs to give high priority to education in order to progress. Pakistan's educational system is divided in the name of class, cast and status; a lower income family cannot send their children to upper class schools because they are unaffordable (Noorani, 2007). Many say that the condition of our educational system is due to that fact that our government never follows an educational policy with consistency. The new government in power changes the educational policies made by the old government and so the steps undertaken go in vain (Afridi, 2002). However there are many reasons why Pakistan had failed to provide quality education. Firstly the budget allocated to education is not sufficient to handle the necessaries of an education system. Presently, Pakistan does not have the sufficient infrastructure to educate its people. There are too many children and too few schools. Data from the recent National Education Census (NEC) 2005 shows that 1 out of f every 5 villages has no school at all. In mountainous areas, 10-20% of the students trek around 2-5 kilometers to reach their schools. Apart from this, teacher absenteeism and non- existent funding makes it difficult for the school to deliver education and eventually they have to close down. According to The State of Education in Pakistan (2003-4), 42% of all primary aged students attend private schools, this is because the public schools are easy to build but not difficult to run (McCutcheon, 2007). Private school teachers receive only 20% of the pay as of public school teachers, which leaves them more money to invest in other facilities. Moreover, the teachers of private schools are employed on hire n fire basis whereas it is impossible to do that in public schools. The lack of coverage by the government schools has lead to massive growth in non formal education throughout Pakistan (Amjad 2012). Schools can be setup within a month in local homes providing basic education to people living below poverty levels.
The educational system of Pakistan has failed to equip Pakistani individuals with necessary skills for the development of the state. The government schools no doubt educate a vast majority of the masses. However, their performance is rather poor if compared to any private sector school. After the passage of the 18th Constitutional Amendment, education has become a provincial subject. However, there is a doubt if provinces have the capacity and resources to manage the standard of education in a satisfactory manner. Unfortunately, Pakistan is falling short of its constitutional obligation of providing universal education at primary level (Qadri, 2007).
According to Economic Survey of Pakistan 2011-2012,
"â€¦32.7 percent schools up to elementary level, 32 percent are without boundary wall, 33.6 percent without drinking water facility, 35.4 percent without latrines and around 60 percent schools are without electricity. For higher accessibility of education particularly for girls in low income household and to enhance the enrolment, existing schools should be upgrade with the provision of necessary infrastructure to improve both output and quality of education."
Missing Facilities in Government Schools 2009-2010
Source: Pakistan Education Statistics 2009-10, NEMIS, AEPAM, Ministry of Education
The negative experiences of government schools have forced the parents of the students to shift their children to affordable private schools. The inadequate basic facilities and poor learning has reduced the enthusiasm of parents for public schools (Muhamad, 2012). Moreover, various studies have exemplify the cost effectiveness of affordable private schools as compared to government schools in proving basic educational facilities (Amjad 2012). The Learning and Education Achievements in Punjab Schools (LEAPS) study has sued a detailed Punjab's data set to evaluate the educational sector of Pakistan. The study from 2003 to 2007 found a significant role of affordable private school not only in urban areas but also in rural areas of Pakistan. Despite of the fact that public school teachers receive higher salaries and these schools use twice the resources to operate as compared to affordable private schools, the learning outcomes in affordable private schools continued to be better than the outcomes of government schools. The strength of these schools is the moderately educated females available locally who have no prospects outside their neighborhood. They are employed at extremely low wages to minimize the fee structures, however promising better learning outcomes as compared to public schools. In areas with absence of supply of moderately educated females, it might be difficult to establish affordable private schools. The difference between the productivity of private and government schools varies in magnitude from one country to another. In countries with strong functioning public sector, such as United States of America, the difference is less than in countries with a poor functioning public sector such as Pakistan or India. The private sector alone cannot cater to the vast majority of population. Moreover, it would not participate in areas where there is no profitability. On the other hand, the public sector has much higher outreach and accessibility than the private sector. However, the debate of whether the learning outcomes are higher for affordable private schools or public schools should not be the concern, the fact remains that learning outcomes of both remain poor in absolute sense. Holistically speaking if we look at the problems of education in Pakistan, the advantage of affordable private schools over public schools is marginal. Therefore, the policy development should cater to support and improve both the sectors and not either of the two (Sathar, 1994).
Public sector schools actually had more number of students enrolled with them than the private sector schools. The results of private schools for class 10th students in board exams were much better off than compared to public schools (Kasuri, 2012). Moving on to the ownership of the school building, almost 98% of the public schools had their building whereas majority of the private school building were rented out at high cost. In private schools, the teacher student ratio was lower as compared to public schools. The owners of the private schools acted as better heads regarding the involvement of subordinated stuff in decision making than of public schools. However, heads of public schools were academically and professionally more qualified as compared to any private school. Similarly, the teachers of public schools were more qualified having command over teaching methodology than of private schools. Public schools provided training of their teachers giving them the job security with a good pay structure. On the other hand, private schools lacked these kinds of facilities. However when it comes to creativity, private schools teachers were more motivating and encouraged questioning amongst students, trying to enhance their awareness. The physical facility of both the sectors, public and private, was more or less the same. Curriculum for both the sectors was not up to date and was not been revised on regular bases. The author has given some recommendations to improve our education system. The teachers and heads of the schools should be held responsible for raising the academic standard of their schools. The public schools should take the problem of low pass percentage seriously and try to overcome this issue. Public school teachers should be given incentives to produce good results. Teachers of both the sector should get training to improve their teaching skills (Imran, 2006). Public school children are restricted to an outdated syllabus that is unable to compete in the competitive job market against the students of affordable private schools that follow a different curriculum and emphasize on the teaching of English. Many of the teacher rise through the public educational system despite having little or no interest and experience. The concept of ghost schools is common where the teachers exist only on paper. This shows the level of corruption in this sector. Provincial educational department do not have sufficient resources to monitor the rampant bribery and manipulation at local level. There is lack of trained and qualified teachers, especially females. Imran states:
"An estimated 30,000 "ghost schools" - nonfunctioning schools that exist only on paper - can be found throughout Pakistan. In Pakistan's second largest state, a survey conducted by the Reform Support Unit of the Govt. of Sindh came up with an exact figure of 6,480 ghost schools and 7,4902 shelter homes."
Public schools lack the basic facilities, which include clean drinking water, functional toilets, proper furniture etc. Like always, government is spending large amounts of budget on defense whereas education should have been their top most priority. In fiscal year 2010-2011, Rs 445.2 billion was allocated for defense purpose (Nasir, 1999). The condition of public schools along with the quality of education has been deteriorating over the years. There are many government schools whose infrastructure is beyond dilapidated; without any roof, no furniture in classrooms, lack of teaching staff. One of the major issues of any government schools is the availability of clean drinking water. Many schools have no water tanks and some do not even have drinkable water. The water tanks are not clean enough; in fact, they are infested with insects. Because of such condition, parents have found one alternative or the other (Alderman, 2001). According to National Education Commission, there are around 12,737 empty schools in Pakistan. More than half of the public schools exist without a boundary wall, no drinking water facility and no latrine. Approximately 740000 public schools operate without electricity and 9000 have no proper building. Students sit on floor, a blackboard in any public school is a luxury. According to the report of World Bank, 1% of students leave government schools to attend madrasas that not only offer religious education but also food and lodging. Middle or lower middle families send their children to affordable private schools. Many of the publically owned schools are currently dysfunctional and of extremely poor quality; they are mismanaged, are underfunded, have poor educational standards, no proper monitoring and evaluation system, no proper human resource system, low morale teachers working, poor infrastructure and lack of direction and motivation is all the educational departments (Bari, 2008). Keeping all this in mind, it would not be wrong to say that private schools are far better than public schools. If people have the choice and resources, they would definitely prefer to send their children to private institutions (Aslam, 2004). Even though private sector education should be allowed to expand and flourish, there should not be seen as a panacea for the educational problems of Pakistan. Private sector education is not the only solution to education sector problem that we face. They providing better education standards should not be taken as a reason to jettison public sector; in fact, it should be seen as a challenge for the government sector schools (Arif, 2003). Rather than lessening the pressure on government, we should increase the pressure on government to provide quality education at all levels. If we are to solve the problems of Pakistan's education system, there is a need to create a movement for demanding quality education system from the public sector.