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Pakistan's education system is divided into five levels: primary (grades one through five); middle (grades six through eight); high (grades nine and ten, leading to the Secondary School Certificate); intermediate (grades eleven and twelve, leading to a Higher Secondary School Certificate); and university programs leading to graduate and advanced degrees.
All academic education institutions are the responsibility of the provincial governments. The federal government mostly assists in curriculum development, accreditation and some financing of research.
The literacy rate ranges from 72.38% in Islamabad to 10.37% in the Musakhel District. Between 2000-2004, Pakistanis in the age group 55-64 had a literacy rate of almost 30%, those aged between 45-54 had a literacy rate of nearly 40%, those between 25-34 had a literacy rate of 50%, and those aged 15-24 had a literacy rate of more than 60%. These data indicate that, with every passing generation, the literacy rate in Pakistan is rising by around 10%.
Pakistan has public and private educational institutions. There are private primary, secondary and higher educational institutions in Pakistan. The private schools charge fees and in many cases provide better education to its students.
This stage consists of five classes I-V and enrolls children of age 5-9 years. Since independence, the policy makers pronounced to make primary education free and compulsory. According to Pakistan Integrated Household Survey (PIHS) 1998-99, the gross participation rate was 71 percent in 1999, for male it was 80 percent and for female it was 61 percent. For urban female it was 92 and for rural it was 50 percent. The lowest participation rate observed for rural female in Sindh Province that was 33 percent. The net enrolment rate was 42 percent, for urban male it was 47 percent and 37 percent for rural female.
The middle schooling is of three years duration and comprised of class VI, VII and VIII. The age group is 10-12 years. The participation rate at middle school was about 34 percent during 2000-2001. Males were 36 percent and females were 33 percent.
The high school children stay for two years in classes IX and X. The Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education conducts the examination. A certificate of secondary school is awarded to the successful candidates. The participation rate at high school was about 22 percent in 2000-2001 of which, 24 percent were males and 20 percent were females. Vocational Education is normally offered in high schooling. There are varieties of trades offered to the students and after completion of the course they get jobs as carpenters, masons, mechanics, welders, electrician, refrigeration and similar other trades. There are 498 vocational institutions with an enrolment of about 88 thousand in 2001-2002.
Higher Secondary Education:
The higher secondary stage is also called the "intermediate stage" and is considered a part of college education. Higher Secondary Education consists of classes XI to XII. During two years stay in this cycle of education, a student at the age of 16 years in this stage can opt for general education, professional education or technical education. The Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) conducts the examination and awards a Certificate of Higher Secondary School Education (HSSC). According to 1979 Education Policy, all schools were to be upgraded to higher Secondary Schools. Middle sections of high schools were to be linked with primary schools (designating elementary education). This system has limited success and some problems were experienced. Keeping in view the problems this system is being introduced gradually.
To obtain a degree, 4 years of higher education after 10 years of primary and secondary schooling is required. Students who pass their first-degree stage are awarded a Bachelor's degree in arts or science, typically at the age of 19 years. In order to complete an honors course at Bachelor's degree level an additional one year's study is required. Further, a two years course is required for Master's degree who has completed two years Bachelors' degree. A doctoral degree requires normally 3 years of study after the completion of a master's degree course.
Main laws/decrees Governing Higher Education:
Decree: National Education Policy Year: 1992
Academic year: Classes from: Sep to: Jun
Long vacation from: Jul to: Aug
Languages of instruction: English, Urdu
Stages of studies:
Non-university level post-secondary studies (technical/vocational type):
Polytechnics, technical and commercial institutes offer courses at Post-Secondary School Certificate level. They provide courses lasting between one and three years that lead to Certificates and Diplomas.
University level studies:
University level first stage: Bachelor's Degree:
Bachelor's Pass Degrees are normally obtained after a two-year course and Honours Degrees after a three year course in Arts, Science and Commerce. First degrees in Engineering take four years and in Medicine five years. New universities have also introduced a three-year Bachelor Degree course.
University level second stage: Master's Degree, BEd, LLB:
A Master's Degree requires two years' study after a Pass Degree and one year after an Honours Degree. The BEd requires one year's study beyond a Bachelor's Degree in Arts or Science. The LLB is a postgraduate qualification and entry to the three-year course is by the Bachelor's Degree in any other subject.
University level third stage: MPhil, PhD:
The Master of Philosophy (MPhil) takes two years after the Master's Degree. The PhD (Doctorate of Philosophy) is a research degree which requires three years' study beyond the Master's Degree.
University level fourth stage: Higher Doctorate:
The degrees of Doctor of Literature (DLitt), Doctor of Science (DSc) and Doctor of Law (LLD) are awarded after five to seven years of study.
Professional and Technical Education
The duration of post secondary education varies in technical and professional fields. The polytechnic diploma is a three-year course. A bachelor's degree in medicine (MBBS) requires 5 years of study after intermediate stage (12 years of schooling). Similarly, a bachelor's degree course both in engineering and veterinary medicine is of 4 years' duration after the intermediate examination.
Side by side with modern education system there is also religious education system, which provides Islamic education. These institutions have their own management system without interference from either the provincial or federal governments. However, grants-in-aid are provided to these institutions by the government. During 2000 there were 6761 religious institutions with an enrollment of 934,000, of which 132,000 were female students in 448 institutions (Khan, 2002). Efforts have been made by the present government to bring the Madrassah in the mainstream under Education Sector Reforms. The main purpose of mainstreaming Madrassah is to enlarge employment opportunities for their graduates. Pakistan Madrassah Education Boards are established to regulate the Madaris activities.
There are millions of people in Pakistan who have no access to formal education system. It is not possible for the formal system to meet educational needs of the rapidly growing population. Non-formal Basic Education School scheme has been introduced for those who have no access to formal education. This scheme is very cost-effective. Under this scheme primary education course is taught in forty months. Non-formal schools are opened in those areas where formal schools are not available. Government provides teacher's salary and teaching material whereas community provides school building/room. There are 6371 NFBE schools functioning in the country.
Examinations are usually held annually, which are the main criterion to promote the students to higher classes or to retain them in the same class. However, recently a system of automatic promotion up-to grade-III has been introduced in some schools. In the primary classes, examinations are conducted by the respective schools. However, at the end of the fifth year of the primary stage a public examination is held by the education department for promotion to the next grade. Another examination is held for the outstanding students to compete for the award of merit scholarships. Similarly, the examinations in Middle Schools are held by the individual schools but there is a public examination at the end of grade VIII conducted by the Education Department for awarding of scholarships. The Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) conducts the examinations of Secondary and Higher Secondary. The degree level examinations are conducted by the respective universities. (Fact & Figures Pakistan, 2002)
In Pakistan, there are 90 Colleges of Elementary Education which offer teachers' training programs for Primary Teaching Certificate (PTC) and Certificate in Teaching (CT) to primary school teachers. For secondary school teachers, there are 16 Colleges of Education, offering graduate degrees in education and there are departments of education in 9 universities which train teachers at the master's level. There are only 4 institutions which offer in-service teachers' training. Besides these, the Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad, offers a very comprehensive teachers' training program based on distance learning; its total enrolment is about
10,000 per of which 7,000 complete every courses every year.
Private Education Sector:
Private sector involvement in education is encouraging. The Federal Bureau of Statistics survey (1999-2000) indicates that there are 36,096 private educational institutions in Pakistan. About 61 percent of the institutions are in urban areas and 39 percent in rural areas. The percentage share of private sector in enrollment is 18 percent at primary school level, 16 percent at middle school level and 14 percent at high school level.
It has been observed that most of the private schools select their own curricula and textbooks, which are not in conformity with public schools. Majority of the schools are "English Medium" which attracts the parents for sending their children to these schools. Most of the schools are overcrowded and do not have adequate physical facilities. These schools are usually charging high fees from the students. Most of the schools are unregistered; therefore, in most cases the certificates issued by these institutions are not recognized by public schools. Majority of these institutions are functioning in the rented buildings.
The National Education Policy 1998-2010 proposed that there shall be regulatory bodies at the national and provincial levels to regulate activities and smooth functioning of privately managed schools and institutions of higher education through proper rules and regulations. A reasonable tax rebate shall be granted on the expenditure incurred on the setting up of educational facilities by the private sector. Grants-in-Aid for specific purposes shall be provided to private institutions. Setting up of private technical institutions shall be encouraged. Matching grants shall be provided for establishing educational institutions by the private sector in the rural areas or poor urban areas through Education Foundation. In rural areas, schools shall be established through public-private partnership schemes. The government shall not only provide free land to build the school but also bear a reasonable proportion of the cost of construction and management. Liberal loan facilities shall be extended to private educational institutions by financial institutions.
Despite all shortcomings of private education mentioned above, PIHS survey indicates that enrolment rates in public schools have declined since 1995-96 particularly a large decline has been observed in rural areas. It is generally perceived by parents that quality of education in private schools are better than the public schools, therefore, those parents who can afford prefer to send their children to private schools. These trends indicate that the public education system is unable to meet public demand for providing quality education in the country.
Administrative and Supervisory Structure and Operation
According to the Constitution of Pakistan (1973), the Federal Government is entrusted the responsibility for policy, planning, and promotion of educational facilities in the federating units. This responsibility is in addition to the overall policymaking, coordinating and advisory authority; otherwise, education is the provincial subject. The Federal Ministry of Education administers the educational institutions located in the federal capital territory. Universities located in various provinces are administered by the provincial governments, but are exclusively funded by the federal government through the Higher Education Commission.