Education plays a vital role in human capital formation. It raises the productivity and efficiency of individuals and thus produces skilled manpower that is capable of leading the economy towards the path of sustainable economic development. Like many other developing countries, the situation of the education sector in Pakistan is not very encouraging. The low enrolment rates at the primary level, wide disparities between regions and gender, lack of trained teachers, deficiency of proper teaching materials and poor physical infrastructure of schools indicate the poor performance of this sector.
The extremely low level of public investment is the major cause of the poor performance of Pakistan’s education sector. Public expenditure on education remained less than 2 percent of GNP before 1984-85. In recent years it has increased to 2.2 percent. In addition, the allocation of government funds is skewed towards higher education so that the benefits of public subsidy on education are largely reaped by the upper income class. Many of the highly educated go abroad either for higher education or in search of better job opportunities. Most of them do not return and cause a large public loss.
In Pakistan, the quality of primary and secondary education has a declining trend. It is realized that science education in particular is reaching lowest ebb and needs to be improved urgently. At the time of independence and thereafter there remained acute shortage of teachers, laboratories were poor and ill equipped and curriculum had little relevance to present day needs (Behrman, 1976).
The results suggest that certain minimum levels of enrolment at primary and secondary level represent a necessary condition for the development of functioning higher education. For relevant participation rates at university level, a net primary enrolment rate of 80 percent seems to be the minimum required. Similarly, about 80 percent of secondary net enrolment typically seems to be the minimum to develop higher education institutions with the potential to be listed in international university rankings, to employ the considerable number of researchers and to develop significant new ideas. Another relevant result of analysis is that the strong differences between educational institutions at secondary level may be detrimental for tertiary education quality (Katharina, 2006).
The Education Sector in Pakistan suffers from insufficient financial input, low levels of efficiency for implementation of programs, and poor quality of management, monitoring, supervision and teaching. As a result, Pakistan has one of the lowest rates of literacy in the world, and the lowest among countries of comparative resources and social/economic situations. With a per capita income of over $450 Pakistan has an adult literacy rate of 49%, while both Vietnam and India with less per capita income have literacy rates of 94% and 52%, respectively (Human Development Centre, 1998). Literacy is higher in urban areas and in the provinces of Sindh and Punjab, among the higher income group, and in males.
Education provides the bedrock for reducing poverty and enhancing social development. An educational system of poor quality may be one of the most important reasons why poor countries do not grow. In Pakistan, the quality of education has a declining trend. It is realized that science education in particular is reaching lowest ebb and needs to be improved urgently. There is acute shortage of teachers. Laboratories are poor and ill equipped and curriculum has little relevance to present day needs. The schools generally are not doing well. Tracing causative factors responsible for the present state is a critical need. These include defective curricula, dual medium of instruction at secondary level, poor quality of teachers, cheating in the examinations and overcrowded classrooms (Economic Survey of Pakistan, 2002).
In Pakistan efforts have been made to mould the curriculum in accordance with our ideological, moral and cultural values as well as our national requirements in the fields of science, technology, medicine, engineering and agriculture, etc. The rise in supply of educational infrastructure or removal of the supply side constraints can play an important role in raising literacy and education of the population. Development budget allocation for the social sector has been very low throughout and is evident from the budgetary allocation for education.
From the tabular data it can easily be concluded that government is not able to invest the requisite amount on education in accordance with the population growth. Allocations lag behind the developing countries in the region. The Role and Appointment of Teachers The quality of teachers, which is a key factor in any education system, is poor in Pakistan. The main reason is the low level of educational qualifications required to become a primary school teacher; which includes ten years of schooling and an eleven-month certificate program. It has been established through various studies that pupil achievement is closely related to the number of years of formal schooling of teachers. Thus, students of teachers with 12 years of schooling perform better than students of matriculate (10 years education) teachers, who in turn perform better than students of teachers with only grade eight qualifications.
The second factor relates to the quality of teacher certification programs, which suffers from the lack of adequately trained master trainers, little emphasis on teaching practice and non-existence of a proper support/monitoring system for teachers. In the absence of any accredited body to certify teachers, the mere acquisition of a certificate/diploma is considered sufficient to apply for a teaching position.
In addition, teacher appointment in schools is subject to interference from local interest groups seeking to place teachers of their choice within their constituency. This has opened the system to graft and rent seeking leading to high levels of teacher absenteeism accentuated by the absence of an effective supervision system. The appointment of teachers especially in primary schools is subject to the political influence or paying huge money. Training for Government Teachers The administration of teacher training in Pakistan is a provincial responsibility. However, the curriculum wing at the federal level is also responsible for teacher education institutions. Government primary school teachers are trained through Government Colleges for Elementary Teachers (GCETs), the distance education program of the Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), and teacher training courses run in secondary schools known as Normal Journal of Management and Social Sciences Schools or PTC units. Graduates of these institutions are taught a similar curriculum, and receive the Primary Teaching Certificate (PTC) or Certificate in Teaching (CT) at the end of one year. Generally, the number of applicants is far greater than the number of places available. There is also an acute shortage of teacher training facilities, particularly for female teachers in certain regions and especially in the province of Balochistan.
In-service training is the responsibility of the Curriculum Boards and Extension Centers. In addition, the provinces have assigned in-service responsibilities to one or more GCETs.
There are three different types of in-service education possibilities for the teachers:
• In-service training of untrained staff through full-time crash programs of three months duration provided by the government
• Short term refresher courses for those already teaching provided by the government
• Limited private sector initiatives (short as well as medium term)
• Varied donor-funded projects directed towards in-service training of government teachers
Each province has an Education Extension Center and/or Directorate of Staff Development responsible for in-service education. The intention is to provide one in-service training program to each teacher at least once every five years. A recent study of in-service refresher courses in the province of Punjab found that these INSET (In-Service Education and Training) courses reach an insignificant proportion of teachers. There are scores of teachers who are at the end of their career and have not had any in-service training.
Private School Teachers
The quality of education imparted by the majority of private schools is questionable owing to an acute dearth of properly trained and qualified teachers, and any kind of support mechanism for these teachers. Except for large school systems like Beaconhouse, City, Lahore Grammar, and others, which constitute a small percentage of the existing private schools the majority of others have appointed teachers who are qualified up to intermediate (12 years of schooling) or BA level (14 years of education), and are paid much lower salaries compared to their counterparts in the government sector in addition to no job security. The large schools and school systems have instituted their own teacher training programs or access specialized private institutions. There is less inclination in these schools to hiring teachers who have previously been trained by government institutions and hold degrees in B. Ed or M. Ed; their preference is for those fluent in English language. Thus, very few teachers hired by the private schools have had any pre-service training. There is a felt need to enhance the professional skills of those who are currently working through various inset programs.