Educational Success in Pakistan: Implications for Stability and Security
Despite the many challenges facing Pakistan, there have been a number of success stories. For example, its Punjab province has experienced tremendous progress in education reform. During the past two years, education reforms in Punjab province resulted in more than 1.5 million more children enrolled in school, 81,000 new teachers hired on merit and a 90 percent increase in school attendance. With 40 out of 70 million young people ages 5 to 19 in Pakistan not in school, reforms in Pakistan’s most populous province provide important lessons for the rest of the country.
On June 6, the Center for Universal Education (CUE) hosted a discussion on the progress on educating children and youth in Pakistan. The event began with a presentation by Sir Michael Barber, chief education strategist at Pearson, on his most recent report titled, The Good News from Pakistan. Barber explained the premise of his work supporting reforms in Punjab, where he serves as an advisor on a U.K. Department for International Development-funded project supporting local education reform priorities. The roadmap that Punjab has developed for education reform focuses on getting more children into schools, ensuring that the children in school are truly learning, holding teachers accountable for coming to work, and moving simple and effective policies through the Pakistani government. The most important part of the process, according to Barber, is the implementation of policy, which requires great attention to fieldwork on the ground. By creating clear and reachable targets for each of the 36 districts within the Punjab province, the Ministry of Education in Punjab measures the number of students coming to class and the average number of days teachers show up to work.
Following the presentation, Senior Advisor of the Aga Khan Development Network Iqbal Noor Ali and Senior Fellow and Director of the Intelligence Project at the Brookings Institution Bruce Riedel joined the discussion moderated by Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Universal Education Rebecca Winthrop. Noor Ali emphasized the importance of visionary leadership, clear objectives, an ability to stick to long-term goals and an innovative and results-driven approach. Riedel echoed his fellow panelists’ points, adding that while Pakistan currently stands as a nation under siege, it is also a nation at a crossroad. He further noted that the importance of addressing education at this unique time cannot be overstated.
The success stories shared during the event are inspiring; however, as each of the panelists made clear, education reform in Pakistan is by no means a finished job. Rather, it is a job that will require continued focus, work and collaboration.
For recent reports and information on global education, visit the Center for Universal Education’s Education + Development blog. To further monitor education reform in Pakistan, follow Sir Michael Barber on Twitter at: @MichaelBarber9.