Pakistan - International Development Committee Contents

5  Education programme

64. Amendment 25A to the Pakistan Constitution makes universal education to the age of 16 a right of every Pakistani child, but there are 12 million of out-of-school children, the second highest population in the world. In 2011, only 56% of children were enrolled in primary school and the primary completion rate was just 54.6%.[82]

65. Pakistan state spending on education remains low. It is estimated to be around 2.4% of GDP[83] compared to the UN's recommended norm of 4-6%[84] in developing countries. Dr Ahmad, highlighted that the Pakistan Government can only estimate spend because its accounting systems are so poor.[85] Of the children in school in Pakistan about 60% of are in government schools, 40% are in low cost private schools and 1% are in madrasa.[86] Dr Nelson told us, the divide was not quite as simple as that:

    Children routinely spend half of their day in a Government school, and then spend some time in a madrasa in the afternoon, or go to a madrasa in the morning, or call a mullah from the madrasa to their home and then attend another school later in the day. [87]

66. We were told that Pakistan spends so little on education because the people who make the expenditure decisions do not use the government education system and are not properly accountable to the people who do. James Fennell said that as a result the political leadership did not have any incentive to put money into social services, which did not buy them votes, and which they did not use themselves.[88]

67. Education was seen to bring a range of benefits. It was claimed that education reduced extremism. Sir Michael Barber told us that the Chief Minister of Punjab believed that until people were educated, particularly in rural areas, the terrorist and security problem would never be solved.[89] The Secretary of State said

    If you look at some of the research, for example by the Brookings Institute, it shows that extremism can be correlated with low educational achievement. [...]it is more complicated than that, but certainly we know that well educated people will be less likely, perhaps, to rely on what they have been told by others, and they will form their own views. They are also more likely, frankly, to want to have the sorts of opportunities that we all want: to be successful, to have a family, to have a good job, and to feel that that is possible.

    We also know, in terms of education, that lack of access to education by low income people and minorities has been one of the things that have fuelled grievances.[90]

68. On the other hand, others saw little relationship between education and extremism. A recent article by a correspondent with Pakistan's Dawn newspaper stated

    the link between poverty and militancy is not as straightforward as commonly supposed—many militants actually come from relatively wealthy and educated backgrounds[91]

And Dr Matt Nelson from SOAS, who has been working extensively on the relations between education and extremism, told us:

    It is unhelpful to think that "extremists" are associated with a particular level of education. There is no correlation. We can find extremists with very sophisticated education here in London; we can find students with very little education, so again it is very difficult to draw a direct link between level of education and level of extremism, and we should avoid doing that. [92]

69. Nevertheless, regardless of the arguments about the links between education and religious extremism, there was widespread belief in the importance of education. Professor Lieven saw education as crucial for the future of Pakistan:

    education, especially women's education, is critical to the long-term development of the country. [It] is critical to building up a middle class that is not only capable of articulating its interests, but also has some feeling of responsibility to the masses.[93]

The Secretary of State said that education was a priority for DFID because of the young demographic profile of Pakistan.[94]

DFID's education projects

70. DFID has many on-going education projects within its overall Education Programme:

Table 5
Project title Description Budget
Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Education Sector Programme Improve access to, retention and the quality of education for all children in primary and secondary schools of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province in Pakistan £203,500,000
Punjab School Education Programme I Improve access to, retention and the quality of education for all children in primary and secondary schools of Punjab Province in Pakistan £80,000,000
Education Fund for Sindh To provide children in Sindh Province, Pakistan, with a minimum standard of literacy and numeracy through innovative and cost effective way to provide quality education at scale £39,800,000
Transforming Education in Pakistan Parents mobilised to demand and political leaders galvanised to deliver, better education for children in Pakistan. £8,112,267
Education Sector Voice and Accountability Project The purpose of the project is that education system is more accountable to the population £5,000,000
Innovation Fund for Education Increase in the number of innovative solutions, which are proven to increase access to quality education and are taken to scale £3,000,000
The Punjab Education Sector Reform Roadmap Sustained political will for the implementation of education sector reforms to improve access, retention and the quality of education for primary school children in Punjab Province, Pakistan £2,100,000
Pakistan Education Task Force Increased capacity of Federal and Provincial governments to implement education reforms set out in the National Education Policy £2,817,404
Punjab Education Support Programme II Improve access to, retention and the quality of education for all children in primary and secondary schools of Punjab Province in Pakistan £200,000

Box 3
DFID Pakistan's 2015 targets for education are:

?  support 4 million children in school;

?  help build 20,000 new classrooms; and

?  recruit and train 45,000 new teachers.

Source: DFID, UK aid: Changing lives, delivering results in Pakistan, Summer 2012


71. The Punjab Road Map is DFID's flagship project in Pakistan. The roadmap was launched in March 2011 with the aim of getting all primary aged children into school and significantly raising levels of achievement within two years. The programme is headed by DFID's Chief Education Representative in Pakistan, Sir Michael Barber.

Box 4

The Punjab Road Map

The main elements of the reform programme are included in the table of DFID programmes above and consist of:

?  a nationwide media campaign targeted at parents to increase demand for education

?  an expansion of low cost-private schooling through 3 programmes

i.  education vouchers for out of school children to be redeemed at approved schools

ii.  new schools program through funding for entrepreneurs to establish low cost private schools

iii.  foundation assisted schools, providing government funding to high performing low cost private schools.

?  An innovation fund to identify education entrepreneurs to help them develop and scale their institutions

Source: Whole system revolution: The Punjab School Reform Roadmap

72. We were informed that the roadmap was based on a series of clear targets for each district which were carefully assessed with monthly data on key indicators and fed back to the districts. The project is monitored by an independent team who observe progress and mediate disputes.[95] There are also high level progress reviews chaired by Shabaz Sharif, the Chief Minister of Punjab, and Sir Michael Barber.[96]

73. Moazzam Malik, explained that the road map was about leveraging Pakistani Government resources:

    We are leveraging an improvement in the quality of their spend, and we are leveraging their policy choices, so with relatively small amounts of money we are shaping what they are doing. For example, in Punjab in education, for roughly £60 million to £70 million a year we are influencing a £1 billion a year budget.[97]

The Secretary of State told us that DFID was looking to support the programme over the next five years at least, in theory, until the next election in Pakistan.[98] Moazzam Malik confirmed that a five to seven year timeframe was usual for DFID's large change programmes.[99]

Box 5
Progress to date on the roadmap:

In the first 18 months since the programme started DFID said that:

?  1.5 million additional children enrolled in schools

?  80,000 new teachers recruited on merit

?  Teacher absenteeism is down from 19% to 12%

?  Teacher guides have been created and distributed to 60,000 schools although usage remains low

?  180,000 teachers have been trained to use their guides

?  10,000 teachers have received individual coaching

?  Number of schools visited by monitoring officers each month has increased from 54% to 88%

?  New education officials have been appointed based on merit

?  140,000 additional children from poor families have enrolled in voucher scheme

Source: Whole system revolution: The Punjab School Reform Roadmap


74. Sir Michael Barber was clear that the Punjab Road Map involved risks. These included: losing key officials during the election period; the political results of the election and whether new politicians and officials would be committed to the programme; the fast pace of the change programme; and external risks such as terrorism and natural disasters.[100] However, he concluded that these risks were far smaller than the risks of doing nothing or going too slowly.[101]

75. The programme is heavily reliant on the political support of Punjab's Chief Minister, Shabhaz Sharif; there is considerable concern about the programme should he no longer be Chief Minister after the next election. The Secretary of State informed us that to mitigate this risk, DFID had held talks with "with other politicians who are not necessarily in power at the moment to help them understand why this programme has been effective, and how it works" in order "to get political buy in from political leaders today as well as look ahead and get broader political buy in, not just from current political leaders but perhaps those people who might be taking those decisions in the future."[102]

76. We also questioned witnesses about the risks of running such a large programme and the scaling up of DFID resources to an unprecedented level. Michael Green was concerned that there was no Plan B if the programme showed signs of failing:

    The danger is, when you make a very big bet like this, that even if it starts going wrong you carry on betting on it because you cannot admit it is failing. That is a big danger to the DFID programme. A clear plan B, knowing what to do as an alternative—not just turning off the taps—and responding to reality will all be crucial.[103]

ICAI concluded that "the conditions of scaling up needed to be clearly articulated with the flexibility to reallocate funds and a better balance across government and non-government delivery channels."[104]

77. Several witnesses were concerned about the sustainably of the programme specifically whether it would continue once DFID withdrew its support. We were told by Dr Matt Nelson from SOAS about a $100 million USAID education sector reform project which worked with the Chief Minister of Sindh on a management information system to capture education data. He said that despite one of the key achievements was seen to be the USAID relationship with the Chief Minister the management information system only lasted while the US was involved and funding it.[105]

78. The Secretary of State told us that if the DFID programme were to be sustainable, "it had to sit alongside a broader strategy around education in Punjab."[106] She explained that this was being done by investing in teachers, schools and text books but also, on the demand side, by encouraging parents to send their children to school and closely monitoring the programme to prove to politicians the strategy was working.[107]

    If you have those different elements in place, you do start to get sustainability. At that stage you have parents starting to understand why schooling is so important, and seeing good quality schooling happening, and you then start to see politicians realising that, if they want to get elected again, continuing these sorts of really effective programmes, which are really making a difference on the ground and which are very valued, is probably one of the best ways to achieve that. You try to create a virtuous circle[108]

Moazzam Malik said that the key to sustainability of the programme was "building strong public private partnerships" and that one of the mistakes of the past was " to work just with the very dynamic private sector and to lose sight of the fact that the public sector had to provide the bulk of the finance."[109] He added that in Punjab DFID was looking at how Pakistani public resources could be used to finance low-cost private schools where they were more efficient and more effective. He emphasised that since its contribution was relatively small - less than a 10% share of Government resources—if DFID needed to scale down or withdraw from the programme, it should be possible for the public authorities to continue it. [110]

Next step

79. Up until now the programme's priority has been to increase the numbers of children and teachers in schools rather than improve the quality of education. In our visits to schools in Pakistan, we observed that that although there were many children in the schools their level of learning was often poor—for example in one school we visited children were learning 'parrot fashion' the English names for parts of a plant but when we flicked through their exercise books all other pages were empty.

80. Teacher quality was something that Sir Michael Barber was very aware of. He told us that there would be a focus on teacher quality in 2013.[111] A project was being piloted in some districts of Punjab with District Teacher Educators becoming coaches and mentors to teachers.[112]

81. Other improvements were suggested. Dr Nelson told us that the quality of the teaching could be improved through examinations:

    it would be helpful to see from DFID is a very astute assessment of how the existing exam system is politicised and undermined, so that if a new exam system is introduced, it can address some of those problems. The question is not, "What questions are on the exam?" The question is, "How do people manipulate the results of said exam?"[113]

Sir Michael agreed that the exam board should be looked at, but had not been a focus up until now because there was "so much they were already working on already".[114]

82. The content of the curriculum and text books were seen as a problem in Pakistan. James Fennell told us that since the 1970s Pakistan's education system had become narrow-minded, strictly Sunni and non-inclusive.[115] This is an extremely culturally sensitive issue. Anwar Akhtar suggested it should be left to civil society groups and Pakistani diaspora organisations as opposed to someone such as Sir Michael Barber who, as he said himself, could be seen as potentially having a white, colonial, Christian agenda. He said the UK could help by empowering the civil society and diaspora organisations to "have the arguments on their terms, and within their value systems and their narratives".[116]

83. The connections between education and extremism are unclear. The UK Government believes that education will counter extremism, but others are sceptical. Nevertheless, recruitment into a jihadist movement would seem likely to be easier where there is hardship, poverty and unemployment.

84. All are agreed that it is vital that the quality and coverage of education is dramatically improved in Pakistan. The Punjab Road Map looks to be a good project, but DFID will need to be able to adapt it should there be a change in Chief Minister with a successor less enthusiastic about the programme. A similar US programme in Sindh failed once the US withdrew funding. To help ensure this does not happen in Punjab and that the programme is sustainable, DFID should continue to help the Government of Punjab build widespread public support for an improved education policy and programme. The aim is to build informed demand from parents and an accountable response from education managers and the teaching profession that continues from one political administration to the next.

85. We are concerned by the quality of education provided by the schools we visited in Punjab, but are pleased that DFID's Punjab education programme has planned improvements to teacher quality and action against corruption of the examination system. DFID should report regularly on progress in improving the quality of education.

82   Ev 53 Back

83   2.4% of GDP,  Back

84   UNESCO states that Governments are encouraged to invest 4-6 per cent of GNP and 15-20 per cent of public expenditure in education, depending on the country's demographic and economic status, Back

85   Q88 Back

86   Q64 Back

87   Q65 Back

88   Q42 Back

89   Q63 Back

90   Q137 Back

91 Back

92   Q65 Back

93   Q19 Back

94   Q134 Back

95   Whole system revolution: The Punjab School Reform Roadmap Back

96   Whole system revolution: The Punjab School Reform Roadmap Back

97   Q110 Back

98   Q135 Back

99   Q135 Back

100   Q66 Back

101   Q66 Back

102   Q133 Back

103   Q58 Back

104   ICAI, Report 15 Evaluation of DFID's Bilateral Aid to Pakistan, October 2012 Back

105   Q67 Back

106   Q109 Back

107   Q109 Back

108   Q109 Back

109   Q132 Back

110   Q133 Back

111   Q67 Back

112   Q77 Back

113   Q77 Back

114   Q78 Back

115   Q 52 Back

116   Q63 Back

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Prepared 4 April 2013