Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Pakistan's Total Education Spending Surpasses its Defense Budget

Pakistan's public spending on education has more than doubled since 2010 to reach $8.6 billion a year in 2017, rivaling defense spending of $8.7 billion. Private spending on education by parents is even higher than the public spending with the total adding up to nearly 6% of GDP. Pakistan has 1.7 million teachers, nearly three times the number of soldiers currently serving in the country's armed forces. Unfortunately, the education outcomes do not yet reflect the big increases in spending. Why is it? Let's examine this in some detail.

Pakistan Education Budget:

The total money budgeted for education by the governments at the federal and provincial levels has increased from Rs. 304 billion in 2010-11 to Rs. 790 billion in 2016-17,  representing an average of 17.5% increase per year since 2010.

Source: Dawn Newspaper

Private Education Spending in Pakistan:

2012 Data from UNESCO and the World Bank shows that the private spending on education is about twice as much as the monies budgeted by federal and provincial governments in Pakistan.

Private/Public Spending on Education in Selected Countries. Source: Economist

Education Outcomes:

UNESCO and World Bank data from 2013 shows that only 52% of Pakistani kids and 48% of Indian kids reached expected standard of reading after 4 years of school, according to the Economist Magazine. It also shows that 46% of Pakistani children dropped out of school before completing 4 years of education.
Reading Performance in Selected Countries. Source: Economist

Education and Literacy Rates:

Pakistan's net primary enrollment rose from 42% in 2001-2002 to 57% in 2008-9 during Musharraf years. It has been essentially flat at 57% since 2009 under PPP and PML(N) governments.

Source: Economic Survey of Pakistan 2015-16

Similarly, the literacy rate for Pakistan 10 years or older rose from 45% in 2001-2002 to 56% in 2007-2008 during Musharraf years. It has increased just 4% to 60% since 2009-2010 under PPP and PML(N) governments.

Source: Economic Survey of Pakistan 2015-16

Pakistan's Human Development: 

Human development index reports on Pakistan released by UNDP confirm the ESP 2015 human development trends.Pakistan’s HDI value for 2013 is 0.537— which is in the low human development category—positioning the country at 146 out of 187 countries and territories. Between 1980 and 2013, Pakistan’s HDI value increased from 0.356 to 0.537, an increase of 50.7 percent or an average annual increase of about 1.25.

Pakistan HDI Components Trend 1980-2013 Source: Human Development Report 2014


Overall, Pakistan's human development score rose by 18.9% during Musharraf years and increased just 3.4% under elected leadership since 2008. The news on the human development front got even worse in the last three years, with HDI growth slowing down as low as 0.59% — a paltry average annual increase of under 0.20 per cent.

Going further back to the  decade of 1990s when the civilian leadership of the country alternated between PML (N) and PPP,  the increase in Pakistan's HDI was 9.3% from 1990 to 2000, less than half of the HDI gain of 18.9% on Musharraf's watch from 2000 to 2007.

Bogus Teachers in Sindh:

In 2014, Sindh's provincial education minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro said that "a large number of fake appointments were made in the education department during the previous tenure of the PPP government" when the ministry was headed by Khuhru's predecessor PPP's Peer Mazhar ul Haq. Khuhro was quoted by Dawn newspaper as saying that "a large number of bogus appointments of teaching and non-teaching staff had been made beyond the sanctioned strength" and without completing legal formalities as laid down in the recruitment rules by former directors of school education Karachi in connivance with district officers during 2012–13.

Ghost Schools in Balochistan:

In 2016, Balochistan province's education minister Abdur Rahim Ziaratwal was quoted by Express Tribune newspaper as telling his provincial legislature that  “about 900 ghost schools have been detected with 300,000 fake registrations of students, and out of 60,000, 15,000 teachers’ records are unknown.”

Absentee Teachers in Punjab:

A 2013 study conducted in public schools in Bhawalnagar district of Punjab found that 27.5% of the teachers are absent from classrooms from 1 to 5 days a month while 3.75% are absent more than 10 days a month. The absentee rate in the district's private schools was significantly lower. Another study by an NGO Alif Ailan conducted in Gujaranwala and Narowal reported that "teacher absenteeism has been one of the key impediments to an effective and working education apparatus."

Political Patronage:

Pakistani civilian rule has been characterized by a system of political patronage that doles out money and jobs to political party supporters at the expense of the rest of the population. Public sector jobs, including those in education and health care sectors, are part of this patronage system that was described by Pakistani economist Dr. Mahbub ul Haq, the man credited with the development of United Nation's Human Development Index (HDI) as follows:

"...every time a new political government comes in they have to distribute huge amounts of state money and jobs as rewards to politicians who have supported them, and short term populist measures to try to convince the people that their election promises meant something, which leaves nothing for long-term development. As far as development is concerned, our system has all the worst features of oligarchy and democracy put together." 

Summary:

Education spending in Pakistan has increased at an annual average rate of 17.5% since 2010. It has more than doubled since 2010 to reach $8.6 billion a year in 2017, rivaling defense spending of $8.7 billion. Private spending by parents is even higher than the public spending with the total adding up to nearly 6% of GDP. Pakistan has 1.7 million teachers, nearly three times the number of soldiers currently serving in the country's armed forces. However, the school enrollment and literacy rates have remained flat and the human development indices are stuck in neutral.  This is in sharp contrast to the significant improvements in outcomes from increased education spending seen during Musharraf years in 2001-2008. An examination of the causes shows that the corrupt system of political patronage tops the list. This system jeopardizes the future of the country by producing ghost teacher, ghost schools and absentee staff to siphon off the money allocated for children's education. Pakistani leaders need to reflect on this fact and try and protect education from the corrosive system of political patronage networks.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

History of Literacy in Pakistan

Reading and Math Performance in Pakistan vs India

Myths and Facts on Out-of-School Children

Who's Better For Pakistan's Human Development? Musharraf or Politicians? 

Corrosive Effects of Pakistan's System of Political Patronage

Development of Pakistan's Human Capital

Asian Tigers Brought Prosperity; Democracy Followed

25 comments:

Imad K. said...

You can spend as much money as you want but it will provide the desired outcome unless we change the education system/s. In Pakistan there are multiple education tracks, Urdu medium, English medium and then O/A levels. This needs to change immediately. Also the current education system promotes memorizing instead of thinking logically. This also needs to change. Finally the curriculum needs to be updated on an urgent basis, kids are still studying the same material that i had studied almost 20 years ago which was also what my parents had studied in their schooling days.

Riaz Haq said...

Imad: "You can spend as much money as you want but it will provide the desired outcome unless we change the education system/s."


The problem of absentee teachers and ghost schools has little to do with whatever system of education you pick; it has to do with corrupt political system of patronage run by the unscrupulous politicians who dole out jobs and other favors to their supporters.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2017/07/political-patronage-pakistan-school.html

Nadeem Khan said...

Spending more money will help. Control other issues population and law & order. We have enough talent but not ways to consume them. Stop picking on corruption - if that is the problem than it is not politicians - it is every Pakistani in the position of authority.

Riaz Haq said...

NK: "Stop picking on corruption - if that is the problem than it is not politicians - it is every Pakistani in the position of authority."


Who puts the "Pakistani in position of authority"? Is it not the politicians who do it as a favor for political support? Or for a bribe? And it's not just education but other sectors as well where jobs are doled out as patronage in exchange for political support.

Read the following parts of my post again:


Bogus Teachers in Sindh:

In 2014, Sindh's provincial education minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro said that "a large number of fake appointments were made in the education department during the previous tenure of the PPP government" when the ministry was headed by Khuhru's predecessor PPP's Peer Mazhar ul Haq. Khuhro was quoted by Dawn newspaper as saying that "a large number of bogus appointments of teaching and non-teaching staff had been made beyond the sanctioned strength" and without completing legal formalities as laid down in the recruitment rules by former directors of school education Karachi in connivance with district officers during 2012–13.

Ghost Schools in Balochistan:

In 2016, Balochistan province's education minister Abdur Rahim Ziaratwal was quoted by Express Tribune newspaper as telling his provincial legislature that “about 900 ghost schools have been detected with 300,000 fake registrations of students, and out of 60,000, 15,000 teachers’ records are unknown.”

Absentee Teachers in Punjab:

A 2013 study conducted in public schools in Bhawalnagar district of Punjab found that 27.5% of the teachers are absent from classrooms from 1 to 5 days a month while 3.75% are absent more than 10 days a month. The absentee rate in the district's private schools was significantly lower. Another study by an NGO Alif Ailan conducted in Gujaranwala and Narowal reported that "teacher absenteeism has been one of the key impediments to an effective and working education apparatus."

Political Patronage:

Pakistani civilian rule has been characterized by a system of political patronage that doles out money and jobs to political party supporters at the expense of the rest of the population. Public sector jobs, including those in education and health care sectors, are part of this patronage system that was described by Pakistani economist Dr. Mahbub ul Haq, the man credited with the development of United Nation's Human Development Index (HDI) as follows:

"...every time a new political government comes in they have to distribute huge amounts of state money and jobs as rewards to politicians who have supported them, and short term populist measures to try to convince the people that their election promises meant something, which leaves nothing for long-term development. As far as development is concerned, our system has all the worst features of oligarchy and democracy put together."

Riaz Haq said...

Should we double the education budget, or seek 100pc literacy?
AHMAD ALI | NADIA NAVIWALAUPDATED JUN 07, 2017 01:47PM
Pakistan has doubled its budget in recent years, but enrollment has stagnated. As a result of the inefficient use of funds, access to quality education for children across the country stands compromised.


https://www.dawn.com/news/1335342


In recent years, the federal and provincial governments have undertaken numerous reforms with varying levels of success. Despite their efforts, a lot remains to be done to get kids into school and improve learning in the classrooms.

To address these educational challenges, the efficient and effective use of the available budget for education is key.

Note: The defence budget does not include military pensions, the cost of the nuclear programme (estimated at $747 million by the Stimson Center), or military operations in FATA.



Since 2010, education has been a provincial responsibility. Hence, Pakistan's education budget is derived by summing up the federal and individual provincial budgets.

Provinces have allocated 17pc to 24pc of their budgets for education in 2016-17. (The provincial budgets for 2017-18 will be released in the coming weeks).

The ‘current budget’ is for salaries and operational costs (non-salary), whereas the ‘development budget’ is for the construction and rehabilitation of schools. Recent history suggests that provinces tend to under spend on development and non-salary budgets, but overspend on salaries, so that they end up utilising most of the education budget.

Unesco recommends that countries disburse 15pc to 20pc of their budgets on education. The global average is 14pc. Compared to its total national budget, Pakistan spends 13pc.


In Pakistan's case, this spending amounts to 2.83pc of the GDP on education. According to Alif Ailaan, an additional Rs400 billion on education is needed this year to increase spending to 4pc of GDP, bringing the education budget to Rs1.2 trillion.

Cutting a federal programme or collecting more taxes may help Pakistan towards that target. Cutting a federal programme or collecting more taxes may help Pakistan towards that target, but the dilemma of solving the education crisis will persist.

While Pakistan has doubled its budget and brought it closer to military spending, enrollment rates have stagnated.

Parents will send their kids to a private school, charging a few hundred rupees a month, if they can afford it. Nearly 40pc of students in Pakistan go to private schools. Their parents spend as much as the government does on education and tuition. If we add what Pakistani parents spend on education, Pakistan’s education spending exceeds 4pc of the GDP.

Children are out of school in Pakistan because they get so little out of going to school. Teachers are either absent, or present, but not teaching.

The 2015 report of the independent Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) finds that only 44pc of third graders in rural schools (public and private) can read a sentence in Urdu. Of those who stay in school through fifth grade, only 55pc can read a story in Urdu.

It is a similar story for science at a grade four level. In 2006, 67pc of students scored below average in the National Education Assessment System (NEAS) assessment of fourth grade science. The situation further deteriorated in 2014, when the most recent iteration of the NEAS assessment divulged that 79pc of students had scored below average.

Riaz Haq said...

Should we double the education budget, or seek 100pc literacy?....Contd.
AHMAD ALI | NADIA NAVIWALAUPDATED JUN 07, 2017 01:47PM
Pakistan has doubled its budget in recent years, but enrollment has stagnated. As a result of the inefficient use of funds, access to quality education for children across the country stands compromised.


https://www.dawn.com/news/1335342


The majority of children aged five to nine in Pakistan are in school. That’s 17 out of 22 million kids, according to the National Education Management System. Improving literacy and numeracy rates for them is our best shot at convincing the parents of Pakistan’s five million out-of-school children aged five to nine that school is worth it.

Private school teachers are paid $25 to $50 per month. Government school teachers are paid $150 to $1,000 per month, according to a paper by SAHE and Alif Ailaan. Government school teachers have more education and training than private school teachers.

In light of the difference in teachers' salaries, private schools spend less than half of what the government does per child. However, according to LEAPS, children who go to private schools are one and a half to two grades ahead of those in government schools, depending on the subject.

The danger of increasing the budget without a plan is that it could all go into salaries for non-performing teachers, as has happened in Sindh.

Sindh’s budget has octupled (increased by a factor of 8x) since 2010.

Meanwhile the salary budget has gone up 12 times.

Pakistan is also inefficient at spending money set aside for building schools. The “development budget” that is allocated for this purpose goes unspent year after year.

Pakistan is under-performing even at its current budget levels. The solution is not dramatic budget increases, but making sure the budget we have is translating into schools where children are learning.

Instead of asking the government to double the budget, we should ask them to double the efforts for improving quality of learning for children who have been in school for years.

nayyer ali said...

It would be ideal if the government was less corrupt and more functional, but as your chart shows most education spending is private. I would assume parents spending their own money would send their children to functional schools. Many of us overseas Pakistanis support NGOs providing private schools for poor kids, and we should do even more.
Culturally with rising education levels and use of smart phones the need for literacy becomes compelling for even the poor and the desire to get education for their children should increase. For girls the lack of separate girls schools and adequate toilet facilities also hinders enrollment.
While it is true that net primary enrollment has not improved, gross primary enrollment is actually over 90%. Net enrollment is the fraction of children in age 5-9 in primary schools, while gross is the actual number of students in primary school as a percent of 5-9 age group. The higher gross enrollment is a result of many kids going to primary school at a later age, which means that eventually they do attend. Pakistan has done pretty well at higher education and even secondary education compared to India, but it must provide a decent primary education to 100% of the population and keep them in school for at least 8 years, and not just 5.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan's #Punjab province acts to improve #science content and correct #history in new revised school #textbooks. #education
by Pervez Hoodbhoy. https://www.dawn.com/news/1372660


The new books are cleanly printed on paper of decent quality, typographical errors are infrequent, and coloured cartoons show smiling girl children in class. Earlier textbooks typically showed docile boys facing grim-faced elderly teachers. My heart gladdened at suggested science experiments that are both interesting and doable. And, instead of beating the tired old drum of Muslim scientists from a thousand years ago, one now sees a genuine attempt to teach actual science — how plants grow and breathe, objects move, water makes droplets or freezes, etc.

On the history front one feels instant relief. Pakistan’s date of birth has thankfully been set at 1947 and away from 712 — the year Arab imperial conqueror Mohammed bin Qasim set foot in Sindh. Schoolbooks during Gen Ziaul Haq’s years contained this claim and no subsequent government dared to reset the clock. Astonishingly, one book frankly admits that Muslims had fought against other Muslims and ascribes the Mughal Empire’s downfall after Emperor Aurangzeb to his quarrelling sons rather than eternally scheming Hindu Rajputs.

But here’s the wonder of wonders: an Urdu translation of Quaid-i-Azam’s famous speech of Aug 11, 1947, has finally found its way into at least one social studies book! This declares that religion is a matter for the individual citizen and not of the state. The speech had hitherto been kept hidden for fear of polluting students’ minds and weakening the two-nation theory. Whether it will actually be covered in Matric examinations is difficult to say; if not then students and their teachers won’t take it seriously.

The older curriculum helped create a militant, intolerant mindset. A generation later, Pakistan saw jihad-obsessed youngsters emerging even from mainstream schools. Willing to kill and be killed, they are now everywhere and have to be crushed with Islamic-sounding operations like Zarb-i-Azb and Raddul Fasaad (for which great credit is claimed). Terrorist networks of students and teachers that target policemen, soldiers, and ordinary citizens have been discovered within many colleges and universities.

The eventual revamping of Punjab’s school textbooks owes to a belated realisation that thousands of Pakistani lives were needlessly lost to militancy fuelled by hate materials in textbooks. Many years will be needed for the new books to produce a more enlightened, less xenophobic generation. This welcome step needed to be taken sooner rather than later. I have no knowledge of the blacked-out province of Balochistan but Punjab’s bold move has not been matched by other provinces.

Sindh remains frozen. Its education ministry and the Sindh Textbook Board have long set the highest standards of laziness, depravity and stupidity. An earlier analysis of STB’s science books was published in this newspaper two years ago. It has had zero effect; matters are just as grim there today as then.

Those who rule Sindh continue to stifle education. Sindh could have outraced Punjab by taking advantage of the 18th Constitutional Amendment which frees the provinces from the federal diktat. Instead, secretaries of education in Sindh who worked to improve things were defeated and shunted out. Sindh’s misfortune has been the ideology-free money-grabbing PPP which oversees a system based upon patronage and unlimited corruption.

With KP’s cleaner administration one expected better. The earlier ANP government had considerably softened textbooks in KP. But after Imran Khan’s PTI entered into an alliance with the Jamaat-i-Islami (and now possibly with arch-conservative Maulana Samiul Haq), there was drastic backpedaling....

Anonymous said...

UNESCO data on education in Pakistan

http://uis.unesco.org/en/country/PK

Riaz Haq said...

Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) ranks first among eight Pakistani territories with respect to the provision of quality education, according to the Pakistan District Education Rankings 2017 released by Alif Ailaan, an education campaign, on Thursday.

AJK is followed by Islamabad Capital Territory, Punjab and Gilgit-Baltistan. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) ranks fifth on the list. Sindh and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) have fallen to seventh and eighth positions, respectively, as Balochistan jumped two places from last year's rankings to sixth position.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1376593

According to Alif Ailaan, the education index covers retention from primary to middle and middle to high schools, learning among students and gender parity.

"The 2017 rankings show that while certain parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab have made marked improvements in school infrastructure, the pace of progress in Sindh, Balochistan and Fata remains a concern," the report noted.

It also highlighted that "authorities continue to prioritise school infrastructure at the expense of what happens in classrooms."

Soon after the report was released, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan tweeted: "Alif Ailaan has put out these amazing figures on District Education Rankings for 2017. Nine of the 10 top districts are from KP; only 1 from Punjab. In same survey for 2016, nine of top 10 were from Punjab; none from KP. A great achievement by PTI govt in KP in critical field of education."

However, seemingly validating the concern raised by Alif Ailaan, Khan chose to highlight the "primary school infrastructure scores" instead of overall education scores. Under the latter measure, only one KP district, Haripur — which is placed at the top of the rankings — is among the top 10. Five AJK districts and four districts from Punjab make up the remaining list.

According to the rankings, Faisalabad is Punjab's best performing district for the year while Karachi West (ranked 14 in the country) is the top-ranked district in Sindh.

In Balochistan, the provincial capital is top-ranked (ranked 45 in Pakistan) while Awaran is the worst performing district for the year. Awaran is also ranked at 137 in the country, two places above Sindh's lowest-ranked district for the metric, Sujawal.

"Strides to improve primary school infrastructure in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province are demonstrated by the fact that their lowest ranked district is Shangla at 62," the report highlighted.

Punjab and KP also dominate the "middle school infrastructure scores", with two top districts for the metric being Malakand and Swabi, while the next eight are from Punjab.

The rankings also reveal that a lot of school-going children are out of schools because of a lack of schools above the primary level, confirming previous concerns by the campaign on education.

"For every four primary schools in Pakistan, there is only one school above primary level. This means that most children who pass Class 5 do not have schools to continue their education. The large out of school population of the country is a direct product of this failure."

The report said that the disparities between districts within a province reflect the "failure of programming at the provincial level."

In a stark reminder about the gender gap prevalent in the country, the report revealed "there are more than 55 districts in Pakistan where the total number of girls enrolled in high schools is less than one thousand."

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s lessons in school reform

What the world’s sixth most populous state can teach other developing countries


https://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21734000-what-worlds-sixth-most-populous-state-can-teach-other-developing-countries-pakistans-lessons

Pakistan has long been home to a flourishing market of low-cost private schools, as parents have given up on a dysfunctional state sector and opted instead to pay for a better alternative. In the province of Punjab alone the number of these schools has risen from 32,000 in 1990 to 60,000 by 2016. (England has just 24,000 schools, albeit much bigger ones.)

More recently, Pakistani policymakers have begun to use these private schools to provide state education. Today Pakistan has one of the largest school-voucher schemes in the world. It has outsourced the running of more government-funded schools than any other developing country. By the end of this year Punjab aims to have placed 10,000 public schools—about the number in all of California—in the hands of entrepreneurs or charities. Although other provinces cannot match the scope and pace of reforms in Punjab, which is home to 53% of Pakistanis, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are implementing some similar changes on a smaller scale.

The results are promising—and they hold lessons for reformers in other countries. One is that “public-private partnerships” can improve children’s results while costing the state less than running schools itself. A paper published in August by the World Bank found that a scheme to subsidise local entrepreneurs to open schools in 199 villages increased enrolment of six- to ten-year-olds by 30 percentage points and boosted test scores. Better schools also led parents to encourage their sons to become doctors not security guards, and their daughters to become teachers rather than housewives.

Other new research suggests that policymakers can also take simple steps to fix failures in the market for low-cost private schools. For example, providing better information for parents through standardised report cards, and making it easier for entrepreneurs to obtain loans to expand schools, have both been found to lead to a higher quality of education.

Another, related lesson is that simply spending more public money is not going to transform classrooms in poor countries. The bulk of spending on public education goes on teachers’ salaries, and if they cannot teach, the money is wasted. A revealing recent study looked at what happened between 2003 and 2007, when Punjab hired teachers on temporary contracts at 35% less pay. It found that the lower wages had no discernible impact on how well teachers taught.

Such results reflect what happens when teachers are hired corruptly, rather than for their teaching skills. Yet the final and most important lesson from Pakistan is that politicians can break the link between political patronage and the classroom. Under Shahbaz Sharif, Punjab’s chief minister, the province has hired new teachers on merit, not an official’s say-so. It uses data on enrolment and test scores to hold local officials to account at regular high-stakes meetings.

Shifting from “the politics of patronage” to “the politics of performance”, in the words of Sir Michael Barber, a former adviser to the British government who now works with the Punjabis, would transform public services in poor countries. Pakistan’s reforms have a long way to go. But they already have many lessons to teach the world.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan is home to the most frenetic education reforms in the world
Reformers are trying to make up for generations of neglect

https://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21733978-reformers-are-trying-make-up-generations-neglect-pakistan-home-most-frenetic

It is against this background that organisations like The Citizens Foundation (TCF) have developed. The charity runs perhaps the largest network of independently run schools in the world, educating 204,000 pupils at not-for-profit schools. It is also Pakistan’s largest single employer of women outside the public sector; in an effort to make girls feel safer in class, all of TCF’s 12,000 teachers are female. At its Shirin Sultan Dossa branch near a slum on the outskirts of Karachi, one girl is more than holding her own. At break-time on the makeshift cricket pitch she is knocking boys’ spin-bowling out of the playground.

In 2016 TCF opened its first “college” for 17- and 18-year-olds at this campus in an attempt to keep smart poor pupils in school longer. Every day it buses 400 college pupils in from around the city. It builds schools using a standard template, typically raising about $250,000 for each of them from donors; it recruits and trains teachers; and it writes its own curriculums.

Since 2015 TCF has taken over the running of more than 250 government schools in Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It gets a subsidy of around 715 rupees per month per child, which it tops up with donations. So far it has increased average enrolment at schools from 47 to 101 pupils, and test results have improved.

The outsourcing of state schools to TCF is just one part of the Sindh government’s recent reforms. “Three years ago we hit rock bottom,” says a senior bureaucrat, noting that 14,000 teaching jobs had been doled out in one year to supporters of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party. Since then it has used a biometric attendance register to cut 6,000 ghost teachers from the payrolls, and merged 4,000 sparsely attended schools into 1,350. Through the Sindh Education Foundation, an arms-length government body, it is funding “public-private partnerships” covering 2,414 schools and 653,265 pupils. As well as the outsourcing programme, schemes subsidise poor children to attend cheap private schools and pay entrepreneurs to set up new ones in underserved areas.

This policy was evaluated in a paper by Felipe Barrera-Osorio of Harvard University and colleagues published last August. The researchers found that in villages assigned to the scheme, enrolment increased by 30% and test scores improved. Parents raised their aspirations—they started wanting daughters to become teachers, rather than housewives. These results were achieved at a per-pupil cost comparable to that of government schools. “Pakistan’s education challenge is not underspending. It is misspending,” says Nadia Naviwala of the Wilson Centre, a think-tank.

While Sindh has pioneered many policies, Punjab has taken them furthest. The Punjab Education Foundation (PEF), another quasi-independent body, oversees some of the largest school-privatisation and school-voucher programmes in the world. It has a seat with the ministers and administrators at Mr Sharif’s quarterly meetings. The Punjab government no longer opens new schools; all growth is via these privately operated schools. Schools overseen by PEF now teach more than 3m children (an additional 11m or so remain in ordinary government-run schools).

This use of the private sector is coupled with the command-and-control of Mr Sharif, who is backed by Britain’s Department for International Development, which helps pay for support from McKinsey, a consultancy, and Sir Michael Barber, who ran British prime minister Tony Blair’s “Delivery unit”. The latest stocktake claimed an “unprecedented” 10% increase in primary-school enrolment since September 2016, an extra 68,000 teachers selected “on merit”, and a steady increase in the share of correct answers on a biannual test of literacy and numeracy.

Riaz Haq said...

CDWP approves eight higher education projects worth Rs28.9bn

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/01/15/cdwp-approves-eight-higher-education-projects-worth-rs28-9bn/

The Central Development Working Party (CDWP) has approved eight projects pertaining to higher education worth Rs28.9 billion for providing scholarships and strengthening of infrastructure and other facilities.

A mega project worth Rs20.9 billion for Overseas Scholarships (Phase-III) has been approved to send 2,000 Pakistani scholars to foreign universities for doctoral studies.

Other approved projects include establishment of College of Nursing and Community Medicine at Peoples University of Medical Sciences, Nawabshah, with a cost of Rs603 million, establishment of sub-campus of National Textile University at Karachi at a cost of Rs875.5 million, and establishment of Science Laboratory and Creative Art Centre, IBA University, Sukkur at a cost of Rs852.6 million.

Other projects include the development of academic and research facilities at the University of Kotli at a cost of Rs13389 million, the establishment of Women Campuses at Kohat and Bannu worth Rs1958 million and Institute of Science and Technology at Bahawalpur at a cost of Rs2290 million.

It is pertinent to mention that most of the development projects will be executed in less-developed areas such as Nawabshah, Sukkur, Kotli, Bahawalpur, Kohat and Bannu.

HEC, since its establishment in 2002, has been carrying out a comprehensive programme of higher education reforms and institution building and has adopted a holistic approach for expansion and improvement of the sector.

The ultimate goal of the whole effort is that access to quality higher education is increased and the academics, researchers and higher learning institutions play an effective role for developing a knowledge-based economy and identify and provide solutions for various challenges faced by Pakistani society.

Anonymous said...

Hello Sir and visitors on this blog of Mr.Riaz Haq Sahab,

This is to inform you that according to my recent search on internet, the literacy rate in Pakistan has decreased 2 percent since last few years. Pls check on Google search.

I have few questions.

Q.1 Is it true that literacy rate in Pakistan has fallen by 2 percent?

Q.2 How will this country have bright and secure future if the literacy of this country falls?

Q.3 The HDI(Human Development Index), highly depends on education and health of citisens living in a country, It is sad to know that in HDI index, Pakistan was ranked better than India before and during 2010, but after 2010, the ranking of Pakistan in HDI index has fallen and India is ranked better than Pakistan in HDI index.
Are their other factors which also improves the ranking of a country in HDI index?

Thank you

Regards.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "The HDI(Human Development Index), highly depends on education and health of citisens living in a country"

I share your concern.

But I'm hopeful of a turn-around with recent focus and increases in funding for education.

Some of it is detailed in a recent piece in The Economist titled "Pakistan is home to the most frenetic education reforms in the world"

https://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21733978-reformers-are-trying-make-up-generations-neglect-pakistan-home-most-frenetic

Here's a link to the education chapter (chapter 10) in 2016-17 economic survey of Pakistan:

http://www.finance.gov.pk/survey/chapters_17/10-Education.pdf

Naveed S. said...

I encourage you to study the UWR (United We Reach) System. It is probably the best holistic approach to primary education. It takes care of improving curriculum, teacher training, teaching support, assessments, remedial, analytics, monitoring and is based on STEM and delivered to poor Govt/private school students.

I am part of the team that developed that System, we have invested $7-8m of our money to develop the system after researching literally 100’s of systems world wide.

We are giving that system to Pakistani (and eventually worldwide) kids for free and we continue to invest millions per year to improve it.

I led the software effort.
I mostly contributed to AI and data analytics part of it.

Overall team size is 125 people, 30 of those are teachers in silicon valley. 45 are software in Lahore, others are school Operation, Logistics, Business Development etc.

The goal is make a massive scale effort to improve Govt schools, poor private schools.

Tablets that we use are designed by us to be lowest cost in the world. Our 7 in tablet cost $27 and 10 in tablet is $57. We have a world class expert in LA chapter who helped us to lower these costs.

I encourage you to learn more about the System and not base your opinion on one article.

Article is written by a very young, bright rising star in pskistan. He worked in uwr for sometime.

Finally, we are charity hence all of us work for free for this organization to betterment of Pakistani kids. We dont make any money, so I don’t know why you got an idea of corruption.

Naveed S. said...

Another important point is transparency - in all of our schools, we know when classes start/end?, which teachers showed up ? what was taught?, who attended or missed ?, what was learned?, etc

We don’t have depend on Govt or any other agencies to collect and report data. We know the data!

This data will ensure that we/govt can no longer lie about the state of our education. Honestly accepting the facts is the only way we will improve.

In our existing schools, we get enormous of data per day. We analyze the data in our data center and give feedback to teachers, students, administrators, Govt and parents.
This has made a huge difference.

We have discovered facts - which are unknown to academic community, since such data collection has never been done even in USA.

For example, we have learned that 6 minute review of lesson plan by a teacher a day before the class can lead to 15-20% improvement in student SLOs. While conclusion is obvious, the statistical data and its range was not known (or published).

Since we know if a teacher has reviewed the lesson plan or not, we already know that students SLO performance will be low or high.

We have also discovered the impact of asking questions in an assessment in a certain order. If you ask the harder question first, as opposed to easier questions first, students perform differently.

We are also looking at gender, economic background, etc differences and are there any statistically significant trends.

Riaz Haq said...

From Economist:


Most Pakistani children who start school drop out by the age of nine; just 3% of those starting public school graduate from 12th grade, the final year. Girls from poor families are least likely to attend (see chart); Pakistan’s gap between girls’ and boys’ enrolment is, after Afghanistan’s, the widest in South Asia. Those in school learn little. Only about half of Pakistanis who complete five years of primary school are literate. In rural Pakistan just over two-fifths of third-grade students, typically aged 8 or 9, have enough grasp of arithmetic to subtract 25 from 54. Unsurprisingly, many parents have turned away from the system. There are roughly 68,000 private schools in Pakistan (about one-third of all schools), up from 49,000 in 2007. Private money currently pays for more of Pakistan’s education than the government does.

It is in part the spread of private options that has spurred politicians like Mr Sharif into action. The outsourcing of schools to entrepreneurs and charities is on the rise across the country. It is too early to judge the results of this massive shake up, but it seems better than the lamentable status quo. If this wholesale reform makes real inroads into the problems of enrolment, quality and discrimination against girls that bedevil Pakistan, it may prove a template for other countries similarly afflicted.

There are many reasons for the old system’s failure. From 2007-15 there were 867 attacks by Islamist terrorists on educational institutions, according to the Global Terrorism Database run by the University of Maryland. When it controlled the Swat river valley in the north of the country, the Pakistani Taliban closed hundreds of girls’ schools. When the army retook the area it occupied dozens of them itself.

Poverty also holds children back. Faced with a choice between having a child help in the fields or learn nothing at school, many parents rationally pick the former. The difference in enrolment between children of the richest and poorest fifth of households is greater in Pakistan than in all but two of the 96 developing countries recently analysed by the World Bank.

Yet poverty is not the decisive factor. Teaching is. Research by Jishnu Das of the World Bank and colleagues has found that the school a child in rural Pakistan attends is many times more important in explaining test scores than either the parents’ income or their level of literacy. In a paper published in 2016, Mr Das and Natalie Bau of the University of Toronto studied the performance of teachers in Punjab between 2003 and 2007 who were hired on temporary contracts. It turned out that their pupils did no worse than those taught by regular ones, despite the temporary teachers often being comparatively inexperienced and paid 35% less.

https://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21733978-reformers-are-trying-make-up-generations-neglect-pakistan-home-most-frenetic

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan #Children #Literature Festival #CFL in #Lahore Makes #Education a Fun Activity

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/pakistani-festival-makes-education-fun-activity/

In January 2018, Lahore, the seat of government of Pakistan’s largest province, Punjab, played host to the Children’s Literature Festival (CFL), a unique experiment in making education a fun activity. Thousands of children gathered on the scenic lawns of the historic Lahore Fort to hear stories, listen to music and songs, and watch plays and dances.

But this was not an entertainment event alone. It was more like a gigantic, unconventional school, and in many cases the children were their own teachers.

January’s festival was not entirely new for the people of Lahore. In 2011 a similar event—albeit one a bit more serious—was held on the Punjab Public Library grounds. In 2014 Lahore again played host to the CLF.

The CLF has come a long way over the course of its six-year journey. The session in January was the 45th held in Pakistan since 2011. So far, the CLF has reached a million children. It is now a registered company with six directors and a secretariat at the Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (“Center for Education and Consciousness,” or ITA), the parent organization under which CLF was originally conceived. ITA provides secretarial and technical support to CLF so that the latter remains a lean organization with minimal overheads and maximum outreach. The CLF has gone all over Pakistan, from big cities to small towns. Over the years it has evolved and has crept into neighboring cities in India and Nepal as well.


Children participate in a puppet-making workshop at the Children’s Literature Festival. (Zubeida Mustafa)

How did it all begin? The United Nations recognizes education as a child’s right. Yet UNESCO estimates that 263 million children are out of school worldwide. Since education is linked closely to development and progress, the U.N. attached much importance to education when creating its Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015) and Sustainable Development Goals (2015-2030). The first blueprint sought universal primary education by 2015. The second has set the goal of quality education up to secondary level for all children by 2030. Pakistan never achieved the first. For that country, the second also appears to be beyond reach.

At present, almost 23 million children are believed to be out of school in Pakistan. It is not just lack of access that is a problem—the poor quality of education nullifies whatever small advantage is achieved in terms of enrollment. Both issues need to be addressed if the universalization of education is to be meaningful.

Of course, not all Pakistani children enrolled in school learn the basic literacy and numeracy skills needed to promote lifelong learning. Some of the statistics released from time to time are dismal in the extreme.

Riaz Haq said...

Out-of-school children to get non-formal education

https://dailytimes.com.pk/213850/out-of-school-children-to-get-non-formal-education/


National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) will put millions of out of school children in non-formal schools to help them catch up with studies through accelerated learning in short span of three years, said the commission’s deputy director.

In this regard, NCHD has inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with ARC for a period of three-years under Education Above All Foundation’s programme Educate-A-Child (EAC). NCHD Director General Samina Waqar and ARC Deputy Chief of Party Daud Saqlain signed the agreement.

Over the next three years, ARC will work to provide quality primary education to 1,050,000 marginalised Out-Of-School-Children (OOSC) in Pakistan. This project is being supported by Qatar Foundation. The purpose of this memorandum of understanding is to outline the respective roles, responsibilities and liabilities of ARC (American Refugee Committee) and NCHD in the implementation of “provision of access to OOSC ” in 12 districts of Punjab and Balochistan.

Earlier chairing a meeting, Samina Waqar said NCHD was looking for technical partnerships for development of curriculum for non-formal education. The second meeting of Technical Committee for Development of Teaching- Learning Resources for Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP) was held to finalise a list of potential writers for developing the accelerated learning courses for children of who did not get an opportunity to get enrolled in school.

Technical partnership for challenging task of development of Teaching Learning Resources for Non-Formal Education is prime concern of NCHD, this was observed by the experts in the second meeting of Technical Committee for development of Teaching- Learning Resources for Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP), at NCHD head quarter, the other day.

Experts of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) and NCHD were trying to strategise a detailed course of action for development and review of draft ALP Teaching Learning Resource and to finalise a list of potential writers for developing the accelerated learning courses in light of their expertise.

The courses are being designed with an idea to impart, character building and social learning along with literacy skills for out of school children of nine years and above, who have missed school and did not get an opportunity to enrolled in school.

The NCHD DG said there were still 22.8 million children of 5-16 years of age who were out of school. Among these children there are 6.4 million of 10 to16 years, those who cannot be enrolled in government primary schools due to their age factor. She said NCHD was devising a three-year plan to enrol all these children in non-formal schools.

This Teaching Learning Resource which will be prepared by the joint efforts of National Training Institute of NCHD, AQAL-JICA and AIOU would be helpful to impart non-formal education to these 6.4 million children enabling them to catch up with studies in a limited span of time, as they would be able to pass primary exam, Samina said.

NCHD always welcomed the idea of joint ventures in gearing up with other stakeholders for eradicating illiteracy in the country, she added.

NCHD had remained very successful in these joint ventures and served the purpose effectively and efficiently as well, she said. “ARC and NCHD cooperation and collaboration in the field of education under Educate-A-Child is another milestone for us, I hope that we will succeed in this venture as well,” she further added.

JICA country representative Chiho Ohashi and Daud Saqlain appreciated the expertise and professional ability of NCHD experts.

Riaz Haq said...


ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan's finance minister announced a 10 percent increase in defense spending as part of a new federal budget as opposition politicians criticized his appointment to the post just hours earlier.

Finance Minister Miftah Ismail presented the 2018-2019 budget in the National Assembly on Friday. In his televised speech, Ismail said the budget also promises more funds for health, education and social programs.

Opposition politicians in parliament were outraged that Ismail was sworn in as a Cabinet minister hours before presenting the budget.

Ismail is not a member of parliament, but the government says the country's constitution allows it to elevate him to the position of minister.

Pakistan's economy has been hard hit by a drop in foreign investment due to militant violence and high poverty rates.

http://dailysentinel.com/news/article_860b6c54-14ae-5e0a-8330-d9a44c0e86c4.html

Riaz Haq said...

Given that this is PML-N's election year budget, with constituents and power players to appease, nearly all heads under current expenditures register marked increases from last year's budgeted amounts.

The government's interest obligations on both foreign and domestic debts are also higher — to Rs229bn and Rs1,391bn — representing increases of 73.5pc and 13pc respectively.

Pension payments register a whopping 37.9pc increase to Rs342bn, of which military pensions will account for Rs259.8bn (up 44.2pc from Rs180bn budgeted last year) while civil pensions will account for Rs82.2bn (up 21.2pc from Rs67.8bn last year).

Defence affairs and services are similarly up 19.6pc to Rs1,100bn from the budgeted Rs920.2bn last year, mostly due to a 19.6pc increase in defence services, which account for employee-related expenses, operating expenses, physical assets and civil works, will swallow up Rs1,098bn of the budget.

Separately, subsidies have also been jacked up 25.9pc.

For itself, the government has budgeted a 23pc increase for the running of the civil government. Salary disbursements will be 15.2pc higher to Rs242.7bn and non salary expenses will be jacked up 33.3pc.

Law courts have been given a 8.8pc increase in their budget, which now stands at Rs5.63bn. Meanwhile, the allocation for police has been bumped up by 21.5pc to Rs122.9bn from Rs101.1bn a year ago.

The federal health budget, on the other hand, has been bumped up by only 8.2pc to Rs13.89bn, of which hospital services will eat up Rs11.66bn.

The federal education budget has been enhanced by Rs6.9bn (7.1pc) to Rs97.4bn, with the increases mainly provisioned for provision of services from pre-primary through tertiary education. The tertiary education budget on its own has been increased by only 5.23pc.

Public Sector Development Programme
After being jacked up last year, the federal Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) has been slashed by 20pc compared to last year's budgeted amount, falling to Rs800bn this year.

Although the government mentions the total federal PSDP will be equal to Rs1,030bn, the additional Rs230bn will not come out of the federal government's pockets, instead being provided by "self financing by corporations and authorities".

The allocation for the water division has been more than doubled to Rs79bn in 2018-19, with the announcement coming just days after the provinces and the federation agreed to a national water policy. The Clean Drinking Water for All programme, with a Rs12.5bn allocation in the current year's budget, has been scrapped completely.

The allocation for the National Highway Authority (NHA) has also been cut by a significant 34pc as major projects including the Karachi-Hyderabad and Sukkur-Multan motorway near completion. The power division also gets a Rs24bn cut, and is down to Rs36bn in the upcoming budget.

The provinces' share of PSDP has also been slashed by around 24pc to Rs850bn, bringing both the federal and provincial PSDP closer to revised spending in the current year of Rs750bn and Rs800bn, respectively.

Meanwhile, the Capital Administration and Development Division will get 2.6 times the current amount in the coming fiscal year. The Interior Division, which had a Rs15.7bn budget this year, will get an additional Rs8.3bn.

Among other divisions gaining generous bumps next year is the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, the budget of which has been hiked by a whopping 88pc to Rs28.3bn.

A new allocation of Rs10bn has also been made for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) 10 Year Plan.

Meanwhile, the allocation for the housing and works division has been cut by almost half to Rs5.4bn. The budget for the national health services has also been reduced by 49pc from Rs48.7bn to Rs25bn.

Railways would also get Rs8.5bn less than the current year, which could be because of a reduction in its losses. However, it could also be because the division used only Rs22bn from this year's budget, leaving Rs20bn unspent.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1404217

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s literacy rate stands at 58pc

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/309542-pakistan-s-literacy-rate-stands-at-58pc

Pakistan’s overall literacy rate remains static at 58 percent with literacy rate of males 70 percent and 48 percent of females, as due to the Population and Housing Census, the Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement was not carried out for 2017-18.

Therefore, the Pakistan Economic Survey says that the figures for 2015-2016 should be considered for the current year as well.

According to the Pakistan Economic Survey, 2017-2018, the literacy rate for entire Pakistan, includes ten years old and above is 58 percent. The national net enrollment for primary level for overall Pakistanstood at 54 percent while Punjab leading the rest with 59 percent, followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 53, Sindh by 48 percent and Balochistan 33 percent.

Similarly, the gross enrollment rate for Pakistan is 87 percent and again Punjab in the lead with 93 percent, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 88 percent, Sindh 78 percent and Balochistan 60 percent. The gross enrollment for males is 94 percent and 78 percent for females.

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to be 2.2 percent in financial year 2017 as compared to 2.3 percent of GDP in financial year 2016.

Likewise, the Economic Survey says that the education-related expenditure increased by 5.4 percent to Rs699.2 billion in financial year 2017 from Rs663.4 billion financial year 2016. It noted that the provincial governments also are spending sizeable amount of their annual development plans on education.

A total of 5.1 thousand higher secondary schools/inter colleges with 120.3 thousand teachers were functional in 2016-17. A decrease of 6.1 percent in higher secondary enrolment has been observed as it dropped to 1,594.9 thousand in 2016-17 against 1,698.0 thousand in 2015-16. It is estimated to increase by 9.8 percent i.e. from 1,594.9 thousand to 1750.6 thousand in 2017-18.

The overall education condition is based on key performance indicators such as enrolment rates, number of institutes and teachers which have experienced minor improvement. The total number of enrolments at national level during 2016-17 stood at 48.062 million as compared to 46.223 million during 2015-16. This shows a growth of 3.97 percent and it is estimated to further rise to 50.426 million during 2017-18.

The total number of institutes stood at 260.8 thousands during 2016-17 as compared to 252.8 thousands during last year and the number of institutes are estimated to increase to 267.7 thousands during 2017-18.

The total number of teachers during 2016-17 were 1.726 million compared to 1.630 million during last year showing an increase of 5.9 percent. This number of teachers is estimated to rise further to 1.808 million during the year 2017-18.

Riaz Haq said...

76% Pakistan youth drop out of education: UNDP

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1701028/1-76-pakistan-youth-drop-education-undp/

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pakistan launched its National Human Development Report (NHDR) – Unleashing the potential of a Young Pakistan on Wednesday at a local hotel. The report reveals that 76.9 per cent youth in Pakistan leave education for financial reasons and hope for a second chance at education.

The NHDR report-2017 reveals that Pakistan currently has the largest generation of youth ever recorded in its history, making it one of the youngest countries in the world and the second youngest in the South Asian region after Afghanistan.

The study aims to understand Pakistan’s human development challenges and opportunities from the prism of youth. It focuses on how to improve human development outcomes by empowering young people, addressing the root causes of the obstacles, and by proposing innovative ways to surmount challenges.

The Pakistan NHDR 2017 has reached out to nearly 130,000 individuals across the country out of which 90 per cent were youth making it essentially a report “by the youth, for the youth”.

According to the report in Pakistan, 64 per cent of the total population is below the age of 30 and 29 per cent is between the ages of 15-29 years. Therefore, it presents a unique window of opportunity for the country and by investment in quality education, employment and meaningful engagements, primarily can help to empower youth.

“In Pakistan the current median age of 22.5 is expected to hover at around 31 years by 2050, beyond which, the window of opportunity will start to close for good,” anticipates the report.

The study further reveals that in Pakistan youth between the age of 15-29 years make up 41.6 per cent of the county’s total labour force. In addition, almost four million youth attain working age every year.

“In order to absorb this populace into job market…Pakistan needs to create 4.5 million new jobs over the next five years which indicates 0.9 million jobs annually,” suggests the report.

Human Development Index (HDI)

The NHDR highlights wide differences in the state of choices and opportunities available for people living in different cities/localities in Pakistan. Among major cities of the country, Islamabad has the highest HDI of 0.875, followed by Azad Jammu and Kashmir with an HDI 0.734; whereas Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) recorded the lowest HDI at 0.216.

On the other hand, Punjab has the highest HDI of 0.732 whereas Balochistan has the lowest HDI of 0.421. The other two provinces, Sindh and K-P perform relatively better and fall in the medium human development category.

With regards to the district-wise breakdown, the report reveals that out of the ten top performing districts, four belong to K-P, three to Punjab, and two to Sindh, whereas six of the ten worst performing districts belong to Sindh and four to Balochistan.

Education

The report highlighting the current net enrollment growth rate of the country of 0.92 per cent predicts that it will take another 60 years to reach the target of zero out-of-school children.

It further states that a staggering 9.45 million children at the primary level were estimated to be out of school in 2015.

“Therefore to achieve this goal by 2030…Pakistan must increase its net enrollment ratio to a yearly growth of 3.8 per cent,” suggests the report.

The study reveals that Pakistan’s increased educational attainment levels have failed to reduce the socio-economic deprivation of a significant section of the population.

Youth vote

The report while quoting National Youth Perception Survey states that only 24 per cent of youth expressed to have trust in politicians. However, approximately 90 per cent male and 55 per cent female expressed their intention to vote in the 2018 general elections.

http://nhdr.undp.org.pk/

Riaz Haq said...

Privatization could fix Pakistan’s educational system
By Shi Lancha Source:Global Times Published: 2018/7/15 23:33:40

http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1110944.shtml

Education - especially primary and secondary schooling - is perhaps the most-discussed topic in Pakistan. Poor education has not only hindered the country's efforts to eradicate poverty and boost growth, but has also exacerbated issues like gender inequality, social conflicts and even terrorism. For an ethnically and socially diverse country like Pakistan, education carries heavy political significance for nation-building, as it builds common symbols and values.

Even though the provision of free and compulsory education for all children from 5-16 years old is mandated in the Constitution of Pakistan, the reality has long been lamentable, if not outright atrocious. A high drop-out rate in lower grades, a low graduation rate at higher grades, and the gender difference in enrollment which is even wider than that of Afghanistan have bedeviled education in Pakistan. For example, most Pakistani children drop out of school by the age of 9 and only 3 percent complete the 12th grade.

Despite the Pakistani government's commitment to both Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Education for All (EFA), there were still more than 22.6 million children out of school in late 2016. More seriously, those in school suffered badly from teacher absenteeism and poor learning environments.

Poor education naturally leads to miserable student performance: Only about half of Pakistanis who complete five years of primary education are literate, and only just over 40 percent of third-graders from rural schools demonstrate passable arithmetic skills like subtraction and addition. Facing the likely scenario of their children learning nothing despite years in school, many parents decide to make the children help in the fields instead.

The Pakistani government, both at central and provincial levels, has undertaken major policy efforts to improve the coverage and quality of education. The education authority was devolved from the federal government to the provinces in 2010, and most provinces have more than doubled their education budgets since then. Impressively, in 2016 Pakistani provinces spent as much as 17 to 28 percent of their budgets on education agendas, whereas the global average was merely 14 percent.

However, despite growing financial resources and political capital being directed into the education system, the results remain largely uncertain. After all, given the fact that Pakistan's education problems are firmly rooted in the country's deeper social and political soil, it will not be easy to make progress.

What Pakistan needs is to spend better, not simply to spend more. The political element in education spending is so strong that increased budgets are often translated into jobs as political patronage, rather than yielding improvements in education. The logic is straightforward: Politicians hand out permanent teaching positions in exchange for their constituents' votes and loyalty, while these teachers function as the patron's political organizers.

In a sense, swelling the ranks of teachers appears to "kill two birds with one stone" for politicians: it appears to address educational problems, helping them to win over more supporters, and it buttresses their personal political base. It's no surprise that education departments have become the single largest employers in most provinces. Strikingly, Pakistan's educational sector is now as big as its armed forces, and the education budget of $8.6 billion in 2016 came second only to the $8.7 billion military bill.

As more and more over-paid teachers enter schools with patronage shielding them from any potential disciplinary proceedings, not only will existing issues like teacher absenteeism get worse, other much-needed social programs may also suffer from insufficient resources.