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The Pakistan Education Statistics 2021-22: A Much-Awaited Report! By Kashif Mirza


Jan 28, 2024

The writer is an

economist, anchor,

analyst and the

President of All

 Pakistan Private

Schools’ Federation



The significance of education in shaping the future of Pakistan is undeniable. As a cornerstone for national development, it demands a prominent place in policy discussions and decisions. Education policies should not only reflect current needs but also anticipate future challenges, shaping a system that is resilient, inclusive, and forward-thinking. Education bears a fundamental position with regard to human, social, and economic development. The credible information, an important part of which is data-centered evidence, enables the understanding of the education system’s landscape in Pakistan, and its key characteristics, and forms a basis for the formulation of future policy-related actions. The Pakistan Education Statistics 2021-22 is a much-awaited publication as it shall be an authentic source of information in the post-COVID scenario. Undoubtedly, the leadership of Mr. Waseem Ajmal Choudhary, Secretary Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training (MoFE&PT), and under the supervision of Dr. Muhammad Shahid Soroya, Director General PIE and his team during the whole process was exemplary. The personal interest taken by him was remarkable in improving the report. The data released through this report not only provides an account of the current state of the education system across the country but also displays insights into the impact of COVID-19 on the education sector. The findings of the report refresh the commitment of the MoFE&PT to fulfillment of its obligations enshrined in the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan under Article 25-A – Right to Education. The report also offers insights into investments in education made by the federal and provincial governments. The Pakistan Education Statistics 2021-22 report examines the Education Landscape in Pakistan and offers a comprehensive view of Pakistan’s education sector. It covers a network of 313,418 education institutions, catering to 54,870,964 students with the support of 2,139,631 educators. Within this network, 227,506 institutions, accounting for 73%, are formal schools ranging from primary to higher secondary levels. Additionally, the report includes 43,613 religious schools or deeni madaris, making up 14% of the total, and 8% (25,106) are non-formal basic education institutes. The remaining institutions comprise 3% (10,087), which are schools of education foundations, 1% (4,182) technical & vocational institutes, and another 1% (2,487) degree colleges. The education landscape is further enriched with 220 universities and 217 teacher training institutes across Pakistan. The school education system encompasses 227,506 institutions, serving 42,576,130 students and employing 1,625,747 teachers. There is a total of 313,418 both public and private schools including 2,088 other public categories across all levels in the school education system in Pakistan. This distribution is also reflected in the enrollment figures, where a significant 53.5% (29,359,376) of students are educated in public schools (including other public category enrolment), predominantly primary level institutions (78%), followed by middle (11%), high (10%), and higher secondary (2%). In contrast, 46.5% (25,511,588) of students are enrolled in private sector schools. Whereas, according to the latest report of All Pakistan Private Schools Federation (APPSF) regarding the Pakistan Private Education Statistics 2022-23 report, 53.1% (299,110,980) of students are enrolled in private sector schools. Moreover, as per APPSF Report 2021-22, private schools employ 61% of these teachers (1,549,746), this data is very close to the PIE’s Report 2021-223, in which public schools show that employs the remaining 42% (889,885), underlining the critical role both sectors play in shaping Pakistan’s academic landscape. Complementing this division, the education workforce consists of a total of 2,139,631 teachers. Additionally, public-private partnerships (PPPs) play a significant role. In the sphere of Non-Formal Education, the public sector emerges as the primary service provider, encompassing 86% of the student population in this segment and employing 78% of the teaching workforce. The Technical and Vocational Education & Training (TVET) enrolls 65% male students and employs 74% male teachers, exhibiting stark gender imbalances. The education landscape is further marked by a significant presence of religious schools, or Deeni Madaris, totaling 43,613. These institutions are managed by religious seminaries, contributing to the country’s diverse educational system. Pakistan has a total of 220 universities and higher education institutions, of which 38% are managed by the private sector. This sector demonstrates a strong female presence, with women accounting for 45% of the total enrollment of 2,226,251 students, underscoring the growing inclusivity of women in tertiary education in Pakistan.
Intake and Participation.

There is imminent need for strategic planning and sustainable investment in critical sectors like education to build resilient and inclusive societies.

Pakistan grapples with one of the world’s most significant challenges of out-of-school children (OOSC). Pakistan comes in after Nigeria and India where the number of OOSCs is the highest in the world. According to the report’s findings, Punjab tops the list with 10.11 million children lacking access to education, followed by Sindh with seven million, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa with 3.6 million, and Balochistan with 3.1 million. Additionally, the federal capital, Islamabad, has 80,000 children who are not attending school. The report highlights that 39% of these children are not attending school for various reasons, with Balochistan having the highest percentage of 65% of OSC. Despite recent progress in reducing the percentage of OOSC from 44% in 2016-17 to 39% in 2021-22, the absolute number has risen from 22.02 million excluding AJK and GB to 26.21 million, largely attributed to population growth. This increase underscores the persistent and pressing issue of education access and retention in the country. The proportion of OOSC is alarmingly high across various education levels. In primary education, 36% (10.77 million) of children are out of school. This issue extends into middle school with 30% (4.94 million) OOSC, and is even more pronounced in high school and higher secondary levels, with 44% (4.55 million) and 60% (5.95 million) respectively. Punjab and Sindh report the highest numbers of OOSC, with 11.73 million and 7.63 million respectively. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) faces 3.63 million cases of OOSC, while Balochistan reports 3.13 million. The Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) has the lowest figure, with 0.08 million OOSC. A notable gender disparity persists, with a higher percentage of female students being out of school compared to their male counterparts at all education levels. Moreover, economic factors play a significant role in this issue. A staggering 51% of children from the poorest quintile are not attending primary school, and this pattern continues in middle education, with 55% OOSC in the same economic bracket. The COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on education systems worldwide, with Pakistan being no exception. The closure of schools, done as a preventive measure to curb the virus, disrupted the regular learning routines of millions of students. Moreover, the economic repercussions of the pandemic have had a direct bearing on education access and participation across the country. Families grappling with job losses, income reductions, and overall financial instability may prioritize immediate economic needs over educational expenses. This could result in increased dropout rates, particularly among vulnerable populations. In this challenging context, policymakers and stakeholders in Pakistan face the critical task of implementing strategies to mitigate the long-term impact of COVID-19 on education and ensure equitable access for all students. The disparity becomes even more pronounced at higher education levels, where the poorest quintile accounts for 75% of OOSC. The Pupil-School ratio across Pakistan averages at 162, suggesting that each school accommodates about 162 students. On the other hand, the Teacher-School ratio stands at an average of 5, implying that each school has around five teachers.
The Pupil-Classroom ratio, which reflects the average number of students in each classroom, is observed to be 37 for primary, 33 for middle, 45 for high, and 52 for higher secondary levels. There is a notable disparity in the availability of essential facilities across different regions of Pakistan. The ICT, Punjab, and KP exhibit relatively better conditions in this regard. However, other provinces, particularly Balochistan, face significant challenges. In Balochistan, only 23% of primary schools have access to safe drinking water, the lowest among all provinces, followed by Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K) at 31%, Sindh at 61%, and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) at 63%. The situation is not much better in middle schools, with 40% in Balochistan and 52% in AJ&K having access to safe drinking water facilities. Similarly, toilet facilities are scarce in primary schools, with only 33% in Balochistan, 42% in AJ&K, and 57% in Sindh having access. Moreover, boundary walls, crucial for school security, are present in only 59% of Sindh’s schools, 39% in Balochistan, 31% in AJ&K, and 61% in GB. Electricity availability shows significant regional discrepancies. While Punjab and ICT have managed to provide electricity to all primary schools, the figures are starkly lower in other provinces and regions: only 15% in Balochistan, 21% in AJ&K, 38% in Sindh, and 44% in Gilgit-Baltistan. Between 2016-17 and 2021-22, there has been some progress in enhancing these facilities. Schools with electricity increased slightly from 67% to 70%, and those with toilet facilities from 76% to 79%. Similarly, schools equipped with boundary walls rose from 77% to 79%, and those with access to drinking water improved from 76-78%.

Traditionally, Pakistan has been allocating around 2% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) towards education. However, the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-21 brought a significant reduction in this allocation, decreasing the education spending to 1.4% of GDP. There has been a slight improvement in the following year, as reported by the Pakistan Economic Survey 2022-23, with education spending recovering to 1.7% of GDP in 2021-22.  The results from key assessments conducted by the Pakistan Institute of Education’s (PIE) National Assessment Wing’s two primary testing activities, specifically the Trends in International Mathematics & Science Study (TIMSS) and the National Achievement Test (NAT), highlight the urgent need to improve learning outcomes among students. According to the TIMSS 2019, only a quarter (27%) of students at the end of primary school in Pakistan reach at least a minimum proficiency level in mathematics. This statistic is a stark indicator of the challenges in achieving adequate proficiency in fundamental subjects. The NAT 2019 results show that just 60% of primary students attain mean scores in reading. A review of gross enrollment ratio figures from primary through secondary education in Pakistan indicates a discernible gender gap. This disparity extends to the Adjusted Net Enrollment Rates, where 65% of male students are enrolled in primary to secondary education, compared to 57% of their female counterparts. In terms of the Survival Rate, which measures the percentage of students who continue their education at a given level, there is relative parity between genders. The rate is 77% for male students and marginally higher at 78% for female students. However, gender differences become more apparent in the Effective Transition Rates. This report shall serve as a valuable resource for policy and decision-makers, academicians, scholars, CSOs, and other actors in the education system. The report shall truly contribute to shaping the education policies, sectoral plans, and priorities of the Government for efficient use of resources to increase access to education while improving the quality and governance dimensions. Data collection and analysis serve a dual purpose: firstly; it illuminates key areas that require improvement, guiding policymakers in addressing these challenges effectively, secondly; it aids in formulating strategic educational plans that can bring about transformative changes. Moreover, this data plays a critical role in highlighting the sector’s progress and accomplishments, providing a factual basis for celebrating successes and understanding shortcomings. The policy-makers and planners had to make difficult decisions regarding budget allocations to address the multifaceted challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. During and after the peak of the pandemic, there was a pressing need to divert funds towards healthcare infrastructure, vaccine procurement, and social protection measures to support the most vulnerable segments of the population. The unprecedented nature of the pandemic and its wide-ranging impacts compelled governments to prioritize immediate and urgent needs, often at the expense of other sectors, including education. This could explain the decline in the number of schools with basic facilities from 2016-17 to 2021-22, as there have been insufficient budgetary allocations (1.4% of GDP) for the repair, maintenance, and upgrading of educational infrastructure. Balancing competing priorities in resource allocation remains a complex challenge for governments. There is an imminent need for strategic planning and sustainable investment in critical sectors like education to build resilient and inclusive societies.

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