9 Challenges Pakistan's Public Education System Needs to Overcome

By Hamza Ghaznavi | 26 Jul, 2015

As a nation, Pakistan has produced many intellectuals. But at the same time, if you look around you’ll find a significant number of people who can’t even spell or write the word ‘education’, let alone their own name.

Unfortunately, Pakistan has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world. With more than half of the population suffering from illiteracy, it’s not a surprise Pakistan faces so many challenges; one would think education would be the government’s top priority. Here’s what’s wrong with the education system and what needs to be fixed.


1. Lack of basic infrastructure.

Source: Guim

40 per cent of the educational institutions don’t have basic facilities such as electricity, water, guards, toilet and boundary wall. Even worse, they don’t have tables, chairs and even black boards. It is this lack of infrastructure that makes these students easy prey for religious fundamentalist to enroll and teach them all sorts of hate


2. Teachers are paid a whopping Rs. 2000 to 5000 in salary each month.


Source: Tribune

A single meal at Raiwand probably costs our government 4 to 5 times more that.


3. The teachers are hardly matric or FSC passed themselves – in some cases, not even that!

At this primary school in Shikarpur, Sindh, there is only one teacher and she only has basic training. She has to look after 100 girls over five different grades.
Source: Sindhi Dunya

You can’t really blame the teachers here – with this kind of salary what more do you really expect? The learning outcomes of students are not up to the mark, and according to a recent calculation by Alif Ailaan (An NGO raising a voice for education in Pakistan), 48 per cent grade 5 students are unable to read Urdu and English meant for grade 2. Instead of spending large sums of tax-payers money on VVIP protocol and extravagant dinners, it’s high time the government starts paying the educators of this country a proper salary and implements a genuine plan to train them.


4. Cow dung takes more precedence over education.

Local landlord in Talabama seized a government school and converted it into a shed for his livestock.
Source: Tribune

And you really can’t do much about them since they’re feudal lords and they run our political system. Plus if you protest, they threaten you and if you protest again, well you’ll probably get shot  #PakistaniEducation101


5. Pakistan’s youth ranks among the highest in the “illiteracy” category.

Mughalkhel Government Primary School in Hangu used to be filled with students, but then textbooks were replaced by FIRs and students with policemen – yes you heard that right, a whole school was given to the police!
Source: tribune

Pakistan is at number 2 when it comes to most children out of school – more than 6.7 million children are out of school and most of them are girls (62 percent). Pakistan has three times more out-of-school children than India, while her population is less than one-fifth of India’s population. But it’s not surprising when you learn most of your schools are being used for cattle farming or just being handed to the police because well they are doing such a stellar job no? Oh and just to make things clear, the official criteria for being declared literate is the ability to sign your name!


6. There’s a preference for bullets over pens.

weapons-543 (1)

Source: newstribe

Pakistan’s government spends 7 times more on ammunition than schools. It is estimated that just one-fifth of Pakistan’s military spending would be sufficient to finance the universal primary education.


7. The education curriculum is filled with lies.

Source: oup

These textbooks teach children how dictators were great, how Pakistan was only made for Muslims and the reason we lost East Pakistan / Bangladesh was because of Indians, otherwise they just absolutely loved us, and the list goes on. These sort of blatant lies have crippled the ideology of the nations’s youth and how they see the world – one of the major reasons for extremism and rampant amount of hatred brewing in our society.


8. We don’t mind shunning away knowledge as long as it makes our religious zealots happy!

Abdus Salam, Pakistan’s only Nobel laureate, helped lead to the discovery of the subatomic “God particle” – now his name is stricken from some school textbooks because he was a member of the Ahmadi sect.
After he was buried, the word “Muslim” was covered from his tombstone. 

9. Education has become a privilege, rather than a right.

Majority of Pakistani youth is getting education in these conditions.
Source: akamaihd



Source: ihspakistan


Gone are the days when education was a choice you made. If you’re not part of a certain class, your school might turn into a cowshed for a feudal lord/part time politician, a hangout spot for police or simply no one would be there to teach you.


“Develop a sound sense of discipline, character, initiative and a solid academic background. You must devote yourself whole-heartedly to your studies, for that is your first obligation to yourselves, your parents and to the State. You must learn to obey for only then you can learn to command.”

Quaid-e-Azam addressing the students at Islamic College, 1948



It’s rather unfortunate that Pakistanis don’t give much attention to the Quaid-e-Azam’s messages. And it’s not just the government, it’s also citizens that don’t care too much of degrading education system. There’s a bigger chance of your news feed being filled with stories about Muslims in Palestine, hate against Supreme Court ruling in U.S or Muslims in Burma rather than the deplorable condition of education in Pakistan or general suppression of freedom of almost every form here. Unless Pakistani citizens demand universal access to quality education, the general situation in Pakistan will continue to worsen.

“Degree degree hoti hai, Jali ho yah asli”

Chief Minister Balochistan, 2010




Pakistan Today, Daily Times, Daily Tribe, Express Tribune, UNESCO

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