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Published Date: Jan 15, 1999

History of Educational Policy Making and Planning in Pakistan (W-40)

History of Educational Policy Making and Planning in Pakistan (W-40)
Kaiser Bengali, SDPI


Pakistan achieved independence from over a century of British colonial rule in August 1947. The colonial period did witness some progress in education. However, the progress was largely limited to what emerged as India. The regions comprising Pakistan were relatively backward in all respects, including in education. At independence, 85 percent of the population was illiterate and in the more backward regions of the country, e.g., Balochistan, the literacy rate was even lower, with the rate for rural women therein being virtually zero.

It was realized then that the task of nation building would not be achieved without an educated and skilled manpower. And in recognition thereof, a National Education Conference was convened the same year, which recommended that universalization of primary education should be achieved within a period of 20 years. Since then, universal primary education has remained an important objective of all governments. And to this end, considerable resources have been expended in creating new infrastructure and facilities and various projects and schemes have been launched. Yet, the desired progress has not been achieved, either quantitatively or qualitatively.

Half a century down the road, Pakistan remains a largely illiterate country. Close to two-thirds of the population and over 80 percent of rural women are still illiterate.More than a quarter of  children between the ages of five and nine do not attend school. And for those who do, the quality of education is seriously wanting. One 1994 study conducted arithmetic and urdu language tests to grade-3 school children in Lahore and found that only 33 percent of students in government schools passed both the tests. The same test conducted in 1996 to test grade-3 students in 5 districts in Punjab found that only 22 percent of the students in government schools passed both the tests. The same test adminsitered to the teachers did not elicit an encouraging result either. This paper outlines this process from the education conference in 1947 to the education policy presented in 1998.