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History of education in pakistan

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Education
Wordcount: 5464 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Education provides the base for socio-economic development. An educational system which is of poor quality should be considered one of the most important factors hindering poor and developing countries from growing. In Pakistan, education is always considered of great importance as documented by almost every regime but still quality of education lacks, in terms of better schools, trained teachers, good infrastructure and needs improvement. This improvement is necessary in spite of the fact that the government’s past policies have initiated drastic measures in uplifting the quality of education. It has been observed over the years that in spite of all the incentives that the government is offering to the education sector, there’s an increase in overall enrollment rates but the quality of teachers is still not very impressive and does not come upto a decent standard. While, education for all is of great importance as mentioned by many reports and surveys, equality in education for both male and female, for adults and primary education are also extremely important and thus should be included as the main objectives of the education system. The government of Pakistan has realized the importance of education for all (EFA) and priority to basic education to children has been given since 1995 (World Bank, 1996). Many articles and reports encourage education since it encourages higher returns. It provides better health, lower fertility and most importantly higher productivity of the population (World Bank, 1996), (Munawar, 2003), (Monazza Aslam,2003).

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In 1947, Pakistan faced two major challenges; first one was multiethnic groups and a large number of Hindus migrated, who were working in the fields of economics, commerce and education. Many school and universities were shut down, while the rest were under the possession of refuges. (m.fayyaz,2006). Despite all efforts since that day, Pakistan’s population remains largely illiterate. There are many issues and concerns pointed out by different authors regarding the initiatives and policies that the government of Pakistan has adopted. One of the main features reported as a deficiency in the education system is the poor quality of teachers. Quality of teachers especially in Pakistan is still questionable. Teachers’ performance and their training is very important. Through training and improving basic skills to teach, we can transform the whole teaching system which will eventually lead to a better education system (Monaza Aslam, 2003).

“It is evident that without teachers’ transformation we cannot transform the education system for improving the quality of education”. (Ghulam, 2007).

In Pakistan, there is an increasing concern regarding education for all concerning both access to basic education in all the provinces and the quality of education. Quality of education as mentioned is highly dependant on the quality of instructors. Now the question is how to evaluate their quality? For that purpose one should understand the concept and a general definition of quality. Quality of education is related and linked with quality of teachers, for that many articles showed an attempt to give a general description about what is quality education and how will it be affected by the quality of teachers. To come up with a general definition of quality education many developed nations, such as U.S.A and education donor agencies World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) is putting effort in this context. It has been observed and realized that to define quality education, one has to first set forth its standards and a bench mark. From this they realized the importance of education history and international standards that can be used for setting up a target for improving education quality. (dr. iffat,1996).

The ministers and all participants in the decision making policy procedure were in agreement that there is a need to set forth a target for education system and how can one achieve that goal. A gap between the true effects of the policies and their actual goal is being observed by many authors (Monaza Aslam, 2007), (M. Fayyaz, 2006). Some policies are very general and are not specifically targeting the main goal which is to improve education quality (Munawar, 2003).

As mentioned earlier in this paper, for that purpose one has to be precise about the definition of quality education? How will it be measured? Can we generalize the definition of quality? Is there any link between quality of education and quality of teachers? If yes, than how can we define the quality of teachers. How will it be measured? Does the measurement standard apply to every developing country and in every situation? Answer to all these questions is important in understanding the concept of quality education and teachers as stated by Iffat (1996), Aslam (2003), Fayyaz (2006) and Aslam (2007). This literature review attempts to show that education reforms have stimulated growing enrollment rates in Pakistan; however deficiencies still exist in school quality due to various reasons and one of the most vital reasons is poor teacher performance.

The World Bank (1997) on Pakistan has also laid emphasis on the quality of education and quality of teachers. A similar report by Iffat (1996) supports the world bank and its emphasis on teachers’ quality. Where parents decide to send their children to school is dependant on the quality of education that they get in school and the return to their investment, which in turn depends on teachers quality, their professional attitude and school infrastructure (Munaza Aslam, 2006), (World Bank, 2003).

The World Bank (1997) report states:

“The best way to improve access is to improve quality which would make coming to school or staying in school a more attractive option from the perspective of parents as well as children. Moreover, effort to improve quality will tend to increase the efficiency of the public expenditure and will encourage parents to contribute to children education.”

In an attempt to define the quality of education, World Bank (1997) raised the importance of setting standards for a better education system. According to the World Bank, the quality of education can be assessed through policies which make a difference in a society overall in form of high productivity of labor and professionals, well trained teachers, better infrastructure, comparability of programs, and accountability for meeting the targets. It has been observed over the years that it is difficult to come up with a general definition of “quality education”. It is not possible due to the socio-economic differences between countries, to apply or generalize the definition for a good quality education system. Quality of education itself consists of a wide range of components which may vary from country to country and from time to time (Munawar, 2006), (Monaza Aslam, 2007). Some authors define quality of education through a better schooling system. Some are in argue of teachers’ performance as the main component, some reports support that better infrastructure means better education. Due to a wide range of variables that do affect the education quality it is difficult to generalize and point out only one feature as the most important one, as the situation changes from time to time and from country to country.

In the case of Pakistan, (Monaza Aslam, 2007) in an attempt to improve the education system it has been observed that over the years policies that were targeting teachers’ quality and performance come out to be more effective as compared to other policies. In Pakistan, to improve education quality it is critical to focus on improving teachers’ performance. This notion is also supported by Munawar (1996), Iffat (1996), Jang (2006). Teachers’ performance includes various factors such as teaching skills, their professional attitude, attendance and motivation towards learning and teaching (Henery, 1997), (Munawar, 2006). Teachers’ quality and performance needs to be evaluated and invested in on a continuous basis. Now how should we evaluate teachers’ quality is another issue. For evaluating teachers’ performance one has to come up with a precise definition of teachers’ quality performance. It has been observed that it is difficult to come up with a specific definition of teachers’ quality performance as it is consisted of many attributes and varies from region to region. According to some authors quality of teachers can measured through their efficiency in class, attendance and teaching skills like communication ability and paying individual attention to each student. Some past literature viewed quality performance of teachers as the learning outcomes of students and there achievement scores at the end of each term. Assessing student’s scores at the end can be used as a tool for measuring how effective the teacher is and any teacher targeting policy after its implementation. Different parents and schools set forth different achievement goals for their children. The goals may be higher or lower depending on school type and teachers characteristics. For example, private schools have higher objectives and try to maintain their standards by hiring qualified, well experienced teachers. However, government schools have a different approach and may go for less expensive and less qualified instructors (Munawar, 2006).

As also pointed out by Aslam (2003), Pardhan (2009), Aslam (2007), World Bank (1996), Kowsar (1995) and (Harold,2009), the quality of teachers’ performance and its output all depends on how one is evaluating, monitoring and assessing their performance. Monitoring and evaluation at each level, from policy making to the implementation process is of great importance. This is explained by Munawar (2003) in a presentation which was presented to World Bank, in an attempt to highlight the importance of assessment and monitoring at each level of policy making procedure. The following diagram was presented in that forum, which contributed in understanding and realizing the importance of assessment and monitoring. This diagram aims to emphasize that assessment and monitoring is important at every stage of the education process.


For any policy to work out, there is no doubt that assessment and monitoring at each level is very important. At the same time one should not forget the goal and the main objective of the policy, because assessing and evaluating policies that are not targeting teachers’ performance will result in no gain. Even before designing the policy that intends to target instructors, one should know what is the necessary teachers’ quality standard. Age, gender, qualification, school distance and school type employment are important characteristics of teachers and contribute to their performance (Henery, 1997), (Monaza Aslam, 2003), (Monawar, 2003), (Kowsar,1995). All these characteristics of teachers are important in order to establish a standard that is required of inctructors for better education and better schools.

The first characteristic that is widely considered by parents is the gender of instructors that will interact with their children. In Pakistan, as reported in literature, gender bias in schools lowers female educational achievements and lowers their chances of completing education. For a low income household it is important to save income than to send their children to school. Further, in case of girls’ education, such low income households are more biased. Parents generally prefer those schools where there is female staff in case of their girls’ education. Enrollment rates are lower for girls as compared to boys in all parts of the country (World Bank, 2003) and their average drop out rate in early stages is also very high. Many studies and policies have therefore started targeting female-teachers and gender based education system schools to encourage parents to send their girls to schools.

Many authors in this context are debating in order to answer the following questions. To what extent do the preferences of parents reflect this issue? Do low enrollments reflect a lack of availability of single-sex schools or teachers? Is there any obvious difference in parents’ choices for girls than boys when it comes to schooling? Findings suggest that gender bias definitely exists in rural areas of Pakistan and there is high demand for female teachers in these rural areas consequently (Monaza Aslam, 2003). Other studies (Borld Bank, 2003), (Fayyaz, 2006) on Pakistan reflected on this issue and discuss that parents choice for girls education is highly dependant on teachers’ gender. Teacher shortages are very common in rural areas and incentives are required to encourage female teachers to work in remote regions (Kowsar, 1995). Females constitute roughly half of the Pakistan’s population, but are still given less priority, because of socio-political, economic and cultural problems. In past literature it is proved that investing in girl’s education is more beneficial than boys, as they become teachers that will ultimately effects the gender-bias issue within the country (Anne, 1995).

Another important feature of teacher’s performance is their qualification, which is mentioned in many studies. Basic skills and training for teaching is necessary to maintain quality education and is sadly absent in many parts of Pakistan (Monaza Aslam, 2003), (Iffat,1996). A simple matric or 10th grade qualified teacher may be beneficial at the primary level schooling but for higher education more experienced and qualified teachers are required. Without proper training and diploma in teaching, one can not prove to be a good teacher (Anne, 1995). Some government schools hire teachers on the basis of their experience in the field, while overlooking the required qualifications for that post. Moreover, there is a higher salary cost attached with highly qualified teachers. To attract more qualified teachers, schools have to pay higher salaries resulting in les qualified individuals being hired , hence the lack of qualified instructors.

School type is another important characteristic in teachers’ performance. Some schools are private and some are government owned schools. Generally, most Urdu medium schools are owned by the government while private schools are mostly English medium. Parents may prefer to send their children to an English medium school and teachers also prefer to teach in English medium schools owned by the private sector because they will be paid more as compare to public schools. Teachers in English medium schools are more efficient and have more learning on day-to-day basis as compare to Urdu medium schools. A study by the World Bank (1996), showed that students performance is also related with school type,. Mostly what has been seen in Pakistan is that private schools are more motivated towards students achievement and scores. They provide better education and highly qualified teachers. Government schools go for a low, medium qualified teacher because of the higher cost attached with a better qualified teacher. Another study showed that incentives in private schools are more as compared to government schools that will motivate teachers to work hard, no matter what qualification they have at the time of their appointment. That is the case found in Lahore, in a comparison study conducted by the World Bank in 1996 on government and private schools in relation with teachers’ qualification (Fayyaz, 2006).

School infrastructure is another feature of schools that may attract better teachers to come to schools. In Pakistan, as the previous studies showed that government schools have a poor infrastructure due to which the absenteeism rate of students and teachers is high. Distance from schools is another important characteristic which is related with school infrastructure. Better infrastructure of a school includes a good attractive building, better facilities and services, new methods of teaching and equipment and reasonable access to school (Monaza Aslam, 2003). Teachers’ preference to teach in a school is highly affected by the distance to school. Even well qualified teachers avoid going far away from home for teaching. They prefer to teach at schools nearby unless and until one is offered an attractive salary and benefits package. School distance affects teachers’ decision for a school as well as for students. One study showed that increased distance to school decreases enrollments compared to the other schools (Munawar, 2003). Many parents and teachers consider the time as an opportunity cost that they have to forgo in case of a further situated school. In that case then they go for the nearby schools no matter what quality and standard of the school is (Harold, 2009).

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When discussing literature on teachers’ performance, it becomes important to include and consider international policies that target better performance and quality. It is also important to consider how various international influences have affected Pakistan in managing teachers’ performance. Many developing countries such as India and Bangladesh are following strategies that were implemented by developed nations to improve teachers’ performance. In Pakistan it has been observed that over the last decade there is an increase and improvement in education sector, as the policy makers are now setting forth their targets in the right direction and adopting international strategies and incentives that were used to improve teachers’ performance. For that purpose they started with adopting the international definition of quality education. And than observed for how long it can be generalized in case of Pakistan (Monaza Aslam, 2003).

According to the Dakar framework of action 2000, and Munawar (2003), they defined quality of education as in terms of measureable learning outcomes especially in literacy and essential life skills. The article further elaborates the quality in terms of learning needs of teachers, trainers and students. Teachers and their life experiences are of great help in understanding the main problem in teaching system. The U.S school reform movement launched a program named as “Scale-up Movement” that has been adapted into the policies of the Pakistani government to achieve a higher standard in education (Shahid Akbar, 2007). The “Scale-Up” program intended to change how to motivate teachers for training and aiming to improve their skills by giving monetary benefits. The program changed the usual educational practices, and pointed out that, teachers’ performance and their behavior towards teaching can be improved by training and learning.

Many aid agencies and donors have also launched some educational programs in developing countries including Pakistan to contribute to developing the education system. One of the most active donor agencies in Pakistan is the United States (USAID). It has structured “Pakistan’s Interim Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2004-2006”, (Kjell Enge and Shahid Akbar, 2007). One of the main objectives of the plan was to increase knowledge, training and infrastructure to improve the quality of education for females and males throughout Pakistan. Under this broad objective, it was also realized to improve the capacity of teachers, trainers and education administrators. The plan set forth the following objectives to improve overall quality of teachers. First objective is to increase the number of teachers and administrative trainers in schools and education facilities. Second objective is to increase the percentage of trained and well-qualified teachers. These two objectives were structured to meet the third objective which was to lead to good scores of students.

In Pakistan another plan known as the “Pakistan Teacher Education and Professional Development Program” (PTEPDP) was structured based on international examples. It was a three-year project implemented between June 2003 and 0ctober 2006. The program was designed to increase the base and improve the teaching methodology of teachers and trainers by introducing teachers’ training colleges in Pakistan. Faculty from different US universities was invited to visit Pakistan in December 2005 to assist the three selected training institutes in Islamabad. The following institutes participated in this initiative: the National University of Modern Languages (NUML) for ESL, the National Institute of Science and Technical Education (NISTE) for science, and the Federal College of Education (FCE) for math (Kjell Enge and Shahid Akbar, 2007). The purpose was to assess these training institutes and to suggest recommendations on further improvements that could be made to improve their performance.

Some studies also suggested developing training courses, conducting workshops for teachers, and giving them incentives to attend these seminars and training workshops. Others are in favor of increasing salaries of more qualified teachers so it will motivate the existing staff to work harder and improve their qualifications. Unfortunately, it has been observed that almost all international school reform policies were largely focusing on an already good schooling system rather than on how to create a good school (Henery, 1997). The following strategies were recommended based on international standards supported by (Dr. munawar,2003), (Dr. iffat,1996), and (Kjell Enge , Shahid Akbar,2007).

As learned and observed by the international school reforms, it is very important to maintain a specific and focused aim. Donor agencies are effective only if their resources are handled wisely on building facilities, developing curriculum and textbooks, and providing library instructional materials for teachers and equipment. Multimedia such as speakers and computer based management through online portals also can be assisting facilities for instructors. Developing the skills of teachers can be done through many techniques such as using videos showing successful teaching techniques that can act as a tool for guidance to school staff. Monitoring of training programs is also important, evaluation of trainers and staff at each level could be used to assess the effectiveness of the policy. To motivate teachers to participate in training and learning programs their contracts and terms for teaching should be revised after at least each programe. The work environment and relations with other staff members is very important in encouraging learning amongst teachers. Examination and assessment procedure should be more technical while using different innovative devices to avoid cheating. Parent-teacher and school community meetings should be held on a monthly basis. Students feed back and evaluation should be considered by the authorities in helping the education system. Successful head teachers and training programmes for the trainers should be introduced in schools. At each of these steps, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) can participate in maintaining standard and providing different important resources .

All the above mentioned input strategies that were used internationally showed a positive result in teachers’ performance and school quality, however the problems of implementation and how to evaluate the results still exist and needs further research. Some of the possible issues and problems related to the above mentioned strategies are still debated by many forums such as USAID, Asian Development Bank and World Bank (Henery, 1997).

The following diagram is a better representation of the forces and problems in educational reforms faced by many organizations internationally:

Source: framework for scaling up reforms , by F.Henery (1997).

Problems and short comings of training programs can be assessed through teachers’ class room practices and student achievement scores. Some of the lessons learned and the shortcomings of the training programs that were operating in Pakistan are discussed by Henery (1997), Iffat (1996), Kjell Enge and Shahid Akbar (2007). They pointed out that many training institutes do not know their main objective. What they state is a general objective, which was infact teachers’ own self interest objective rather than learning objective. Another main issue raised by these authors was that trainers in these training institutes were not aware of what they are supposed to teach. Their preparation and discussion session assignments showed that still there is a gap which exists between their target and their current actions. Trainers themselves are not qualified for training others. Most of the teachers that were trained in these institutes ended up adopting the same teaching style as of their trainer. Hence, many teachers continued to lack technical and required skills even after attending these training programs. It was also observed that there was no participation by the students in discussion sessions. Teachers were not encouraging questions from students that again reflects a weakness in the education of the students. There was no follow up on these programs and no monitoring was taking place. Here comes another important factor that is teachers’ absentiseem from schools and from training classes. Trainers’ absentiseem rate was even much higher than teachers that also contributed in the poor outcome of the programe.

All these problems along with many other issues as indicated earlier showed that irrespective of what the educational system has done so far to improve the quality of teachers and their trainers, the result is still not very impressive and satisfactory. These results then motivated the policy makers to adopt some other incentives such as revised salaries of teachers on the basis of their performance and their achievement in training institutes (Henery, 1997). Another policy was pointed out is of great importance is monitoring and evaluating past policies and incentives. And on the basis of past experience new policies were made (Monaza Aslam, 2003).

As mentioned by the (World Bank, 1996), Pakistan’s poor educational system and poor performance of the educational institutes is thought to be because of two broad reasons. Firstly due to a less and weak demand for education by the households especially in rural areas and secondly because of insufficient, low and poor quality teachers in rural areas. Some articles pointed out that it was observed over the years in Pakistan that “those who can’t do anything….. they teach” (Fayyaz, 2006).Teaching was considered to be a simple and easy job, that anyone could do without much effort. This general behavior and attitude towards teaching adversely affect the quality of teachers and their performance. Because of this misconception about teachers, good and motivated teachers were also being ignored by the education sector. They were not recognized and rewarded for their good performance which again in return adversely affectsthe teaching system of Pakistan.

Aslam (2003) pointed out in her article that teachers’ family background also is a main contributor to their performance and qualification. If a teacher comes from a well educated family he or she will be definitely trained and will probably prove to be a good teacher. Teachers’ family background is as important as any other variable in education process. If a family has an educational background, parents literacy rate is high, such as mothers and grandparents are educated and will positively affect the teacher’s performance. Moreover it was observed that in developing countries such as Pakistan, families with high educational background encourage their children to select teaching as a profession (Monaza Aslam, 2003), (Fayayz, 2006), (World Bank, 1996). Also any help provided to teachers at home has a positive affect on achievement rates in schools (Monaza Aslam, 2003). Teachers’ working in government schools generally belong to a different family background. As in case of Pakistan, most government school teachers do not belong from a well educated family and have consequently never been through any sort of training for teaching. For these individuals, teaching is just a job which earns them a reasonable amount. Whereas, in private schools it is observed that teachers were from educated families and in majority cases, their parents were also in the same teaching profession (Monaza Aslam, 2003), (Fayyaz, 2006). Similarly, students with a well educated background have higher rate of return as compared to illiterate parents’ children.


As mentioned earlier in this paper that qualification and year of experience in teaching is an important factor that cannot be overlooked for improving teachers’ performance. Many articles and reports in past literature discuss the importance of teachers’ qualification and educational background. According to (Santosh, 1998) and (Monaza Aslam, 2003) years of experience and qualification of teachers is extremely critical in attaining the goals for a better education system. A study showed that teachers’ salaries are directly related with their qualification and years of experience. A well experienced teacher is paid higher as compared to an inexperienced teacher. Many schools employ a simple policy of determining salaries using years of experience. However, years of experience is not the only criteria which should determine pay of an instructor. This encourages further discrimination and discourages morale (Santosh, 1998). Salaries should be structured so that they encourage individuals for gaining further skills in teaching and alter their attitude towards learning. However, the cost of this strategy is higher than basing salaries on years of experience alone. A fundamental problem that this refers to is accurately stated as “teachers cost too much and earn too little” (ADEA, work shop, 1998). Many studies show that while highly qualified teachers result in higher costs, it is not necessary that positive outcomes result immediately instead they appear in the longer term. The immediate effect of pay based incentives is hard to evaluate and monitor. Secondly, many authors argued that the return to this incentive to hire more qualified and well experienced teacher is less and on the low side (Santosh, 1998).

Regarding the cost factor of this policy there were many studies and articles discussing how to manage the high cost while at the same time how to gain maximum benefit out of this policy. In a study on managing costs and quality of teachers by (santosh,1998), mentioned the evidence on the relationship between teacher qualification and their salaries. In 1980s qualifications of the trained teachers in many developing countries including Pakistan went up, because of these incentives such as on the job training and learning, monetary terms benefits were given to highly qualified teachers. At the same time a large number of new teachers were appointed, because of lack training in formal professional qualification for teaching. Developing countries conclude that “teachers should be paid as much as is necessary to attract and maintain people with desired qualification”.(santosh,1998). This approach is applicable today as it attracts more and more teachers to improve there qualification that will help in improving their teaching skills as well. Some argued that “teachers’ salaries as incentives are not the same as teacher costs”, it was observed that substantial savings in teacher costs can improved their utilization, and more efficient teachers can be developed by just fo


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