The Crisis of School Education in Pakistan. Of Government's Failure and New Hopes in the Growing Private Education Sector

  • Andreas Benz (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


The school education sector in Pakistan has been in a deep crisis ever since Pakistan’s independence more than 60 years ago. Pakistan currently ranks among the bottom 18 countries worldwide in terms of educational performance and is characterized by tremendous gender, regional, class-specific and rural urban disparities in education levels. Government sector schools, which account for about two thirds of enrolment, are criticized for their weak performance and poor quality of education. The high aims put forward in successive official education policy papers have remained mere lip service due to a pervasive lack of political will to bring about real development in the education sector. The deficient government sector has long since been bypassed by the civil and military elites, who support a separate sector of elitist English-medium schools that offer top-quality education for high tuition fees. Since the mid-1990s, a new type of non-elitist private sector education institution has mushroomed throughout the country in response to the growing demand of the middle class – and even of the poor – for affordable quality education, which the government sector has proved unable to provide. The rapidity of expansion and the changed characteristics of the new non-elitist private sector schools have fuelled an ongoing controversial debate in Pakistan that is reassessing the private sector’s role in the country’s education system and its potential contribution to overcoming the educational crisis.