Education System in Pakistan

Foundation of Education

Education System in

Pakistan emerged as an Islamic Republic state on August 14, 1947. Pakistan comprises of four provinces: Punjab, North West Frontier Province, Balochistan and Sindh and some federating units which include Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Northern Areas (FANA). Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan, which was constructed in the beginning of 1960s. The national language is Urdu. The constitution is Federal parliamentary.
Pakistan education policies
After independence the country dealt with several issues along with education. Since 1947, many attempts have been made to relate the education system to the needs and inspirations of the country. The first Education Conference was held in 1947 as per directives of the founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He provided the basic guidelines for the future development of education by emphasizing on such education system which should suit with our history, culture and instill the highest sense of honor, integrity, responsibility, and selfless service to the nation. The 1959 Report of the Commission on National Education focused on educational reforms. In 1973 the civilian democratic government came up with a 1973 constitution which provided that the state shall:
(a) promote unity and observance of the Islamic moral standards; (b) promote with special care the educational and economic interests of backward areas; (c) remove illiteracy and provide free and compulsory secondary education within minimum possible period; (d) make technical and professional education generally available and higher education equally accessible to all on the basis of merit; (e) enable the people of different areas, through education , training, agriculture and industrial development , and other methods to participate fully in all form of national activities including employment in the services of Pakistan; and (f) ensure full participation of women in all the spheres of national life (Shah, 2003).
Each policy stressed on: (a) Islamic ideology and character building; (b) the universalization of primary education and promotion of literacy; (c) science education; (d) quality of education; and (e) reduction in inequalities of educational facilities (Shah, 2003)

When we look at the history of our education system we always feel that more improvement is required to bring positive change in education system, what we as a nation should feel proud of. According to Gelles and Levine (1995), the Americans claim to value education, believing it is the key to success in life and feels proud of their educational system, which provides universal elementary and secondary public education and the curriculum is considered comprehensive and the teachers are given high respect in the society. Let’s look at the some aspects of the education system in Pakistan.

Formal Education System in Pakistan
According to Shah, (2003) and Saleem, (1999) the formal education system in Pakistan is consisting of the following units;
Pre Primary Schooling: Pre-primary education is functional and managed in schools through out country. Public schools provide pre-primary education as part of socialization process. The students attending pre-primary class are called Kachi.
Primary Schooling: This stage consists of five classes I-V and enrolls children of age 5-9 years.
Middle Schooling: The middle schooling is of three years duration and comprised of class VI, VII and VIII. The age group is 10-12 years.
High Schooling: The high school children stay for two years in classes IX and X. The Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education conducts the examination.
Higher Secondary Education: The higher secondary stage is also called the “intermediate stage” and is considered a part of college education. Higher Secondary Education consists of classes XI to XII.
Higher Education: To obtain a degree, 4 years of higher education after 10 years of primary and secondary schooling is required. Students who pass their first-degree stage are awarded a Bachelor’s degree in arts or science, typically at the age of 19 years.
Professional and Technical Education: The duration of post secondary education varies in technical and professional fields. The polytechnic diploma is a three-year course. A bachelor’s degree in medicine (MBBS) requires 5 years of study after intermediate stage (12 years of schooling).
Madrassah Education: Side by side with modern education system there is also religious education system, which provides Islamic education. These institutions have their own management system without interference from either the provincial or federal governments. Efforts have been made by the present government to bring the Madrassah in the mainstream under Education Sector Reforms. The main purpose of mainstreaming Madrassah is to enlarge employment opportunities for their graduates. Pakistan Madrassah Education Boards are established to regulate the Madaris activities.
Non-formal Education: There are millions of people in Pakistan who have no access to formal education system. Non-formal Basic Education School scheme has been introduced for those who have no access to formal education. This scheme is very cost-effective.
Examinations: Examinations are usually held annually, which are the main criterion to promote the students to higher classes or to retain them in the same class. In some schools students are promoted without exam at pre-primary level. At class five and eight level public exam is conducted for promotion to next grade. The Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) conducts the examinations of Secondary and Higher Secondary. The degree level examinations are conducted by the respective universities. Some universities follow the semester system; others, the annual-examination system (Haq & Haq, 1998).
Teachers’ Training
In Pakistan, there are 90 Colleges of Elementary Education which offer teachers’ training programs for Primary Teaching Certificate (PTC) and Certificate in Teaching (CT) to primary school teachers. For secondary school teachers, there are 16 Colleges of Education, offering graduate degrees in education and there are departments of education in 9 universities which train teachers at the master’s level. There are only 4 institutions which offer in-service teachers’ training. Besides these, the Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad, offers a very comprehensive teachers’ training program based on distance learning; its total enrolment is about 10,000 per annum of which 7,000 complete various courses every year. (Fact & Figures Pakistan, 2002)

Private Education Sector: Private sector involvement in education is encouraging. The Federal Bureau of Statistics survey (1999-2000) indicates that there are 36,096 private educational institutions in Pakistan. About 61 percent of the institutions are in urban areas and 39 percent in rural areas. The percentage share of private sector in enrollment is 18 percent at primary school level, 16 percent at middle school level and 14 percent at high school level (Shah, 2003).
Administrative and Supervisory Structure and Operation

The Federal Ministry of Education is headed by the Minister of Education. The most senior civil servant in the Ministry is the Education Secretary assisted by Joint Secretary and Joint Educational Advisors of each wing. There are 6 wings in the Federal Ministry of Education and each wing is headed by Joint Educational Advisor (please see annex A).
The provincial Education Departments are headed by their respective Provincial Education Ministers. The civil servant in charge of the department is the Provincial Education Secretary. The provinces are further divided into districts for the purpose of administration. The head of the Education Department in a district is Executive District Officer (EDO). Literacy Department functions separately in case of Punjab and Sindh only it is headed by Executive District Officer (EDO) literacy. In the Provinces of NWFP and Balochistan, literacy is the part of Education Department. The hierarchy then runs down to the District Education Officer, Sub-district Education Officer, Supervisors or Assistant Sub-district Education Officers (please see Annex B).

Education in the last six decades has remained an arena of experimentation, and implementation of divergent, often contradictory, policies. Human Development in South Asia 1998 states that “while South Asia is the most illiterate region in the world, Pakistan is the most illiterate country within South Asia” (Haq and Haq 1998: 51). Unofficial but authoritative sources put Pakistan’s literacy rate at about 38%. The literacy rates for males and females are 50% and 24%, respectively. Of the total adult population of 76 million, of which 60% are women, 49 million, about two thirds, are illiterate. Moreover, of all primary-school-age children, 37% of the boys and 55% of the girls do not go to school (Ahmad, nd). Only out of school children are not the challenge, but those who go to different schools studying different curriculum are the issues.

According to Rahman (nd), “What is really alarming, and relatively less known, is the fact that the students of these institutions (the vernacular-medium schools, English-medium schools and madrassas) have such different opinions as to live in different worlds” (p. 3).

Education system in Pakistan is improving at the higher education level and also focusing on primary and secondary education, but still it is at the access level while there is a great demand to improve the quality of education to prepare our generation for international competition.


Gelles, R. J. & Levine, A. (1995). Sociology: An introduction (5th ed.). New York:

Haq, H. & Haq, K (1998). Human development in South Asia. Karachi: Oxford
University Press

Rahman, T. (nd). Denizens of Alien World: A survey of the education system of
Pakistan. Retrieved on December 20, 2006 from

Saleem, M. (1999). Pakistan country report: education for all. Retrieved on December
18, 2006 from

Shah, D. (2003). Decentralization in the education system of Pakistan: Policies and
Strategies. Retrieved on Dec. 19, 2006 from


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