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Article · January 2011


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5 authors, including:

Shaheen Ashraf Tahirkheli Saddaf Ayub

Allama Iqbal Open University University of Haripur


Shahinshah Babar Khan

Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission


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1 2 3 4*
Dr. Saeed-ul-Hassan Chishti , Shaheen Ashraf Tahirkheli , Saddaf Ayub Raja , Shahinshah Babar Khan
Assistant Professor, International Islamic University,
Research Associate, Allama Iqbal Open University,
Research Fellow, National Institute of Population Studies,
Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission Model College, Islamabad (PAKISTAN)
*Corresponding author: babar_pmc@yahoo.com


School education provides a pathway to higher education. Students join college and university level
education with the learning concepts which they gain at school level. The concepts, students learn at school level
help in understanding advance form of these concepts at higher education level. If students got sophisticated
concepts at this level, ultimately, will work smartly in higher education. This is possible only through quality
education. Presently, Quality education is need of the time. In Pakistan, school education is suffering due to many
reasons. Teachers’ education, curriculum and basic facilities are the pillars of quality education, and in Pakistan all
these are criticized on many forums. On the other hand, government of Pakistan is trying to overcome these
problems to ensure quality for its mass. For this purpose, government of Pakistan is taking initiatives and utilizing
local and international resources. The aim of this study was to investigate the challenges to quality education in
Pakistan, strategies for ensure quality education and steps taken by the government for quality education.
Documents were analyzed for knowing challenges and strategies to meet these challenges.


Education works a key role in the development of a nation. Educated persons can play their role more
effectively for the development of a nation. Educated persons not only participate positively in national
development but also individuals benefits from it. It is education which creates awareness, tolerance and
confidence, and guide towards right direction and differentiate between right and wrong. Education is a panacea for
all the ills of a society; and it is the prerequisite to al round development of the natural aptitudes which the child
must ultimately employ in the service of society when it grows up (Quddus, 1990).
School is a place which prepares young children for future. School education provides base foundation for
higher learning and the skills which are needed for practical life. School’s experiences remain unique in the whole
life of a student. College and university education depend upon learning of school. Students join the fields of
practical life with the taste which develop at school level. School education tells a student how to think?, how to
manage life and how to organize the scattered concepts?. Students enter college or university with all round
capabilities and higher learning polish these capabilities and prepare leadership force for different fields of life.
There is no second opinion, that only quality education can prepare students to meet the challenges of
global market. In Pakistan, school education is criticized over many forums that it has no quality and producing
students without understanding of basic concepts. When these students complete their education and come to
market with certificates in hands, found no space for them, because there is a mismatch between the supply skills
and jobs demanded in the actual market. Hussain (2005, p.40) states that there is a serious mismatch between the
jobs demanded by the emerging needs of the economy and the supply of skills and trained manpower in the
country….this mismatch has created waste and misallocation of resources on one hand and shortages of essential
skills to keep the wheels of the economy moving.
Government of Pakistan believes that quality education is the basic right of every child but facing serious
problems about quality in school education. There are many challenges to quality school education, right from
teacher training to curriculum. Government of Pakistan has taken many steps to resolve these problems and define
strategies to meet these challenges.

UNESCO (2010) highlighted that education counts because:
 It helps eradicate poverty and hunger
 It promotes gender equality and empowers women.
 It reduces child mortality.
 It helps improve maternal health.
 It combats HIV and AIDS, malaria and other life –threatening diseases.
 It helps ensure environmental sustainability.
 It is essential to a global partnership for development.
Sadker and Sadker (2000, p.203), quoted Hilda, a highly regarded educator, said “learning in school
differs from learning in life in that it is formally organized. It is the special function of the school to so arrange the
experiences of children and youth that desirable learning takes place”.

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Quality School education provides such skills and knowledge which are necessary for further education.
The World Education Forum, Dakar Framework of Action (2000) Emphasis on quality of education is included as
one of the six goals:
Improving all aspects of the quality of education, and ensuring their excellence of all so that recognized
and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills"
(Article 7(vi))
Robinson (1993, p.77) defines quality as a product of planning, monitoring, control and coordination.
Gandhe (n.d) consider the quality in education as a combination of
 Exceptional high standards
 Perfection and consistency
 Fitness for purpose
 Value for money
Dill (2003, p. 1) states that “academic quality is amorphous, non-measurable, (and) too ambiguous in
meaning as to be not appropriate for public regulation.” Beaton (1999, p. 4) argued that the “rhetoric of ... quality
is often vague ... lucks substance (and) is empty of meaning” and Pounder (1999) describes that quality is a
“notoriously ambiguous term” (p. 156). Quality of education is determined at the elementary or basic education
level. It prepares the individuals for subsequent educational levels and equips them with basic life skills (Ahmad,
According to UNESCO (2003):
Most of the people view quality of education as the learning outcomes of students which is the primary
concern of all stakeholders. But to achieve the desired quality the antecedents, that is the input and process should
also have quality in terms of efficiency, effectiveness, excellence, and social justice. The quality education output
can be achieved only if quality is ensured at each level of the educational process from standard setting, learning
environment, teacher training, teacher-learning process, assessment and monitoring. (p.10)

Research Questions
The research questions for the study were:
1. What are the challenges to quality school education in Pakistan?
2. What are the steps taken by the government for improving quality education?
3. What are the strategies of government of Pakistan for quality school education?s

Quality Education in Pakistan

The single most important factor that impacts the future of the country and its young population is access
to quality education. Education is the level, and its quality and access to it are the main attributes to be applied for
Pakistan to achieve great financial and social development (Xhaferri & Iqbal, 2010). National Education policy
(2009, p. 42) stated that defining quality is elusive but some parameters will need to be drawn. There is an
impending need to debate and agree on what constitute quality at each stage of education and the system overall.
Government of Pakistan gave much importance to education from its inception. Government of Pakistan
organized an educational conference in Karachi soon after its inception in 1947 and pointed out that a national
system of education should be based on the strong foundation of free and compulsory primary education.
Commission on National Education (1959, p.10) , documented that educational system of a country should meet
the individual and collective needs and aspirations of the people of that country. National Education Policy (1992)

The World Bank (1997) in its reports on elementary education in Pakistan states:

The best way to improve access is to improve quality which would make coming to school or staying in
school a more attractive option from the perspective of parents as well as children. Moreover, effort to improve
quality will tend to increase the efficiency of the public expenditure and will encourage parents to contribute to
children education."

Challenges to Quality Education in Pakistan

Teachers are the most important element in the whole educational system of a country. Without quality
teachers, quality education is only a dream. Quality education can be achieved through quality teachers. The
“World Declaration on Education for All “describes the role of teacher as:
The pre-eminent role of teachers as well as of other educational personnel in providing quality education
needs to be recognized and developed to optimize their contribution ……improve their working conditions and
status notably in respect to the recruitment, initial and in-service training, remuneration and career development
possibilities." (Article 1.6 para 33, p. 58).
National Education Commission (1959) documented that no education system is better than its teachers.
Memon (2007) is of the view that Teachers are perhaps the most critical component of any system of education. It
is also said that teachers join their job without required skills and pedagogies. Even after joining teaching as a
profession, teachers do not show interest in their jobs and think that once they become a teacher, now they are
teachers for ever. Association for Teacher Education in Europe (2006) describes in its policy paper entitled “the
quality of teachers” that the quality of teachers affects both the quality of schools and the learning of pupils.

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Curriculum of teacher training and curriculum of school education are criticized within Pakistan. It is
common perception that curriculum of teacher training is old and does not fulfill the requirements of the
technological era. Teachers learn this curriculum only for degree, not for knowledge. School curriculum does not
prepare the students for the market. Students rote selected topics and appear in the examination. When these
students come in market place with degrees, face many problems and found unable to fulfill the requirements of
work place. Baloch (2003, p.192) describe the condition of present school curriculum as: It is obvious that all the
educational objectives are concerned with the development of the individual and with the quality of his behavior in
various life situations. The school curriculum must center, therefore, on the individual in his social environment. Our
present curriculum is centered on textbooks and subjects. Our whole educational practice primarily aims at
teaching the texts and developing the subjects.
National Education Policy (2009, p. 35) tells that quality is the most central strategic education policy
priority and painted that Ministry of Education has adopted following vision:
Our education system must provide quality education to our children and youth to enable them to realize
their individual potential and contribute to development of society and nation, creating a sense of Pakistani
nationhood, the concept of tolerance, social justice, democracy, their regional and local culture and history based
on the basic ideology enunciated in the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. (p.17)

Basic Facilities
Basic facilities like school building, electricity, laboratories drinking water are necessities for education.
Without these facilities education is very difficult. For quality education, these facilities are compulsory. Inadequate
facilities are one of the challenges in the way of quality education.

Steps Taken for Quality by the Government of Pakistan

Education Sector Reforms (2002) describes the following strategies for quality improvement at all levels:

1. Benchmarking competencies.
2. Continuous improvement of curricula.
3. Staff development, teacher education and training, and professional development of planners,
managers and staff at all levels.
4. Establishment of National Educational Assessment System (NEAS).
5. Strengthening the Teacher Training institutions.
6. Setting Academic Audit through linkage of grants/incentives with quality.
7. Increase of non-salary budget for provision of conducive educational environmental.
8. District based educational planning and implementation under the Devolution Plan.
9. Public-private partnership and community participation.
Pakistan Economic Survey (2008, p.177) documented that government has undertaken a number of
reforms to widen access to education and raise its quality in the country. This document highlighted the following
steps of government taken for imparting quality education to its mass:

Establishing National Education Assessment System

Government of Pakistan launched National Education Assessment System (NEAS) to improve and
assess the quality of education at elementary level.

Formulation of a National Textbook and Learning Materials Policy

National Textbook and Learning Materials Policy (2007) has been prepared to prop up the quality of
education at all levels through better quality textbooks at affordable prices and other learning materials for
promoting Pakistan as a knowledge based society.

National Commission for Human Development (NCHD)

NCHD is a public-private partnership aims to improve quality of education through budgetary measures,
and eliminate gender disparity at primary and secondary level by 2015.

Strengthening of Teacher Training

The government has taken several substantial initiatives for teacher’s education and professional

Technical and Vocational Education

Realizing the role of skilled and technically educated manpower for the economy, the government has
established the National Technical and Vocational Education Commission (NAVTEC) in November 2006.
National Educational Policy (1998-2010, p. 39) tells that the quality of schooling is linked with the
qualification of teachers, curriculum, educational materials, teaching methodologies, equipment and physical
facilities. This policy further narrated that the quality of education is directly related to the quality of instruction in the
classroom… the quality of textbooks in teacher training education is poor. National Educational Policy (1992,p. 23)
highlights that the quality of public instruction has deteriorated rapidly. This is particularly so in sciences,

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mathematics and languages and define a strategy to ensure quality through curriculum and medium of instruction,
textbooks, teachers, physical facilities and evaluation.

Curriculum and Medium of Instruction

 A new cycle of curriculum development will be initiated and a major effort will be directed towards
improving the delivery of the curriculum.
 The curricula shall encourage enquiry, creatity and progressive thinking through projected-oriented
 The professional base of institutions involved in curriculum development shall be enlarged.
 All vocational curricula shall be related to employment market.
 The linkage among curriculum development, textbooks writing, teacher training and examination will
be reinforced.
 Science curricula will be revised and made compatible with the demands of new knowledge.
 A special mathematics course shall be introduced for students studying social sciences. The teaching
of language will be improved in order to enhance communication skills.
 Overcrowding and overlapping of concepts in the curricula shall be removed.

 Textbooks shall be revised and updated to incorporate new knowledge.
 Curriculum development and book development shall be coordinated.
 Incentives shall be provided to teachers for producing new and attractive learning materials, making
use of audio, video and print media.
 For each course, multiple textbooks may be approved and the institutions may be allowed to select
any one of these texts.
 Use of library materials will be encouraged by teachers, through various types of academic

 A separate unit for organizing teacher training shall be set up by each provincial education department
and at the federal level.
 Mobile trainings units may be set up for on-the-job training of teachers.
 Teacher training institutions will be equipped and strengthened, and their faculty will be provided
training to update their knowledge and skill.
 A regular in-service training programme will be launched for teachers at all levels.
 Deficiency of science, mathematics and languages teachers shall be removed.
 Teacher training curricula will be updated and the need for increasing the duration of teacher training
will be assessed.

Physical Facilities
 Science laboratories shall be provided in all middle schools.
 Science kits will be developed with emphasis on new and modern experiments and shall be provided
to all middle schools.
 Arrangements will be made for computer education at all levels through phased program starting with
secondary schools.

A system of continuous internal evaluation culminating in the annual examination will be used to evaluate
the performance of students.


In the technological era, development depends on education. Quality education is the only source for
survival in the globalization. If a country does not provide adequate access to quality education, its survival in the
21 century will be very difficult. Quality is not a concrete that can be presented to someone. Quality education
depends upon teachers, learning materials and basic facilities. Quality can not be attained if one of these elements
is missing.
Government of Pakistan is trying its best to provide quality education to its mass. For this, government is
utilizing its local resources as well as international funds and human resources are also utilizing.
Still, there are some problems which affect these efforts and slow down the pace towards quality
education. To overcome these problems, government of Pakistan welcomes the international cooperation. Teacher
training, development of textbooks and curriculum of international level are the priorities of government of Pakistan.
In this regards, many steps have been taken and there is a lot to be done in future.

B a k u , A z e r b a i j a n | 975


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