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K7: Keynote 7: Nikita Pate
The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Education in Pakistan
At the time of Pakistan’s independence, there were many educational systems left behind, that were created during the British rule of the subcontinent. However, they were all special purpose educational systems, that were addressing specific segments of the population. Unfortunately, even when combined, they only catered to 10% of the entire population.
The Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 lays down that “State shall be responsible for eradication of illiteracy and provision of free and compulsory education up to secondary level, within minimum possible time” (Article 37-B, 1973 Constitution of Pakistan) The Article 25A – Right to Education – of the Constitution states that: “The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as may be determined by law.”
However, the current literacy rate of Pakistan is 55%, is one of the lowest in the world. Currently, the overall Pakistani population is 223,915,538 of which 113,776,170 are males (50.8%) and 110,139,368 (49.2%) are females. Hence nearly half the population of Pakistan gets marginalized in its lower socio-economic sector due to gender alone. Politics poverty and patriarchy have deeply impacted the promotion of female education across the country (Fernandes et.al, 2018). This has led to a huge gap in the education sector and in human resource development across the nation.
There are three main educational systems in place in Pakistan: public schools, Islamic religious schools, and private schools.
The public sector is serving 28.68 million students to complete their education while the remaining 21.60 million students are in private sector of education. In primary years of which male are 10.7 million 8.6 million and are female. These numbers drop down to 3.6 million boys and 2.8 million girls at the lower secondary level, where more boys remain in school than girls.
According to UNICEF Pakistan Currently, Pakistan has the world’s second-highest number of out-of-school children (OOSC) with an estimated 22.8 million children aged 5-16 not attending school, representing 44 per cent of the total population in this age group. In the 5-9 age group, 5 million children are not enrolled in schools and after primary-school age, the number of OOSC doubles, with 11.4 million adolescents between the ages of 10-14 not receiving formal education. Disparities based on gender, socio-economic status, and geography are significant; in Sindh, 52 percent of the poorest children (58 percent girls) are out of school, and in Baluchistan, 78 percent of girls are out of school.
The Islamic religious schools or Madrassas are run by Islamic organizations and have increased in enrolments and numbers over the last three decades. These were subdivided according to various fractions of the Muslim communities that exist in Pakistan. These Islamic institutions initially provided a purely religious education in their curriculum. But, over time, these systems have developed to incorporate and encourage students to get a general education alongside their religious studies. These schools cater mostly to the lower-socio economic populace within Pakistan especially in those areas where access to public schooling is not available or unsafe
The private educations system has previously catered to the middle class of Pakistan but in the province of Punjab there has been a growing number of low-cost private schools developing across the country. About 38% of private educational institutions are serving or facilitating 43% of students showing a slightly higher per-institution enrollment ratio in the private sector compared to the public sector. In the last decade, we have witnessed increased public interest and trust in the private sector, resulting in a gradual growth in the private sector. In terms of teaching staff, 49% of teachers work in the public institutions, compared to 51% in the private sector. It is evident that the public sector has a deficiency of teachers as compared to private sector.
Education is seen as a major force for eliminating gender inequities within the society, though addressing inequalities within the education system itself is a tremendous challenge. 56% male students compared to 44% female students are enrolled in education institutions. Whereas 39% of male teachers and 61% of female teachers teach in the entire education system (up-to degree colleges). Ratio of male teachers is higher in public sector whereas ratio of female teachers is higher in private sector. (Pakistan Education Statistics 2016-17)
The education sector in Pakistan has taken a major hit due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic. Factors like lack of technological infrastructure and resources have put a further strain on the already fragile system. Sixty-six percent of households are not using technology for learning at all. Among households with access to a TV and a mobile, only 47 percent are using technology for distance learning, while richer households are 55 percent more likely to do so compared to the poorest households. (Maryam Akmal, Lee Crawfurd, Susannah Hares, and Ana Luiza Minardi. 2020. “COVID-19 in Pakistan: A Phone Survey to Assess Education, Economic, and Health Related Outcomes” CGD Policy Paper 188. Washington, DC: Center for Global Development)
This presentation provides insight into how one private education network has stepped up in the time of crises and the steps they are taking to continue some semblance of uninterrupted education. It discusses the role of leadership and the building the capabilities within the network to address the 126,000 students enrolled as of 2018. This is an elite school system with a few others that exist like it that provide a Cambridge education offering within Pakistan. It is considered as an elite school system and has grown in numbers and spread over the last 40 years with over 160 schools in 49 cities because of the growing middle class in Pakistan that prefers to have their children attend reputable private schools over public schools that can demonstrate a substantial quality of internationally-paralleled education within its schools.
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