Political Economy Of Education In Pakistan Essay

Essay:- Education in Pakistan

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Education in Pakistan: Problems and its solutions

Education the basic need
Object of Education:
Importance of Education:
Background of Pakistan’s Educational System
Educational System in Pakistan:
Key Performance Indicators for Education Systems

1. Medium of Education:
2. Disparity of System at Provincial Level:
3. Gender Discrimination:
4. Lack of Technical Education::
5. Low allocation of funds:
6. Inefficient Teachers:
7. Poverty:
8. Corruption:
9. Social imbalance:
10. Mismanagement of System:
11. Infrastructure Problems:
12. Private school system:
13. Lack of educational policies:
14. Increase in population:
15. Lack of attention of the authorities:
16. Lack of uniform educational system:
17. Medium of Instruction:
18. Education as a business:
19. Delay in renewal of policies and syllabus
20. Political Interference:


1. English should be medium of Instruction:
2. Talented and qualified Staff
3. Fulfill the lack of teachers
4. Primary education should be made compulsory:
5. Increase in teachers incentives
6. Translation of foreign research to local language
7. Check on distinctive education:-
8. Scholarships and financial support to students:
9. Special Financial packages:
10. Betterment of education policies and teachers workshop:
11. Infused Technical Education:
12. Promotion of primary education:


Education the basic need
Education is the light of the life. Education proves to one of the most important factors for the development of human civilization. Education enhances human status and leads everyone to propriety. it is a continuous and lifelong process. It attributes most important, precious and permanent property of an individual. Education provides manpower, strengthens national unity and uplifts public awareness. It invites positive and constructive change in life. It makes our life really prosperous and meaningful. Everyone wants to be well educated. Life can be successful by the help of appropriate education. Educated person can only judge what is correct and what is wrong?? And takes the appropriate and right decision but uneducated person fails to do so.

Object of Education:
Robert Maynard Hutchins describes it as “The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.” We should give our youth the way to educate themselves. Edward Everett said that “Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army.”

Importance of Education:
We all know the importance of education. It is the most important aspect of any nation’s survival today. Education builds the nations; it determines the future of a nation. ISLAM also tells us about Education and its importance. The real essence of Education according to ISLAM is “to know ALLAH” but I think in our country we truly lost. Neither our schools nor our madrassa’s (Islamic Education Centres) are truly educating our youth in this regard. In schools, we are just preparing them for “Money”. We aren’t educating them we are just preparing “Money Machines”. We are only increasing the burden of the books for our children and just enrolling them in a reputed, big school for what, just for social status??? On the other hand in our madrassas we are preparing people who finds very difficult to adjust in the modern society. Sometimes it seems that they are from another planet. A madrassa student can’t compete even in our country then the World is so far from him. He finds very difficult to even speak to a school boy. It is crystal clear that Islamic Education is necessary for Muslims but it is also a fact that without modern education no one can compete in this world. There are many examples of Muslim Scholars who not only study the Holy Quraan but also mastered the other subjects like Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Astronomy and many more, with the help of Holy Quraan. I think with the current education system we are narrowing the way for our children instead of widening it. There is no doubt that our children are very talented, both in schools and in madrassas, we just need to give them proper ways to groom, give them the space to become Quaid-E-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Allama Iqbal, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Alberoni, Abnalhasam, or Einstein, Newton, Thomas Edison. The education system we are running with is not working anymore. We have to find a way to bridge this gap between school and madrassa.

Background of Pakistan’s Educational System
Numerous international assessments could explore that Pakistan is lagging behind many countries in achieving the Education for All goal (EFA). We were the signatory to the treaty under Dakar Framework where it was decided by all the developing countries that they will be trying to achieve the target of EFI in the meeting held in Senegal in 2000. UNESCO rates in Pakistan are at a lower EFA development Index (EDI) because of low; enrolment at primary school, adult literacy, gender equity and equality, equalities in education and quality of education. The adult literacy in Pakistan, in spite of concerted efforts, fail to go beyond the border line of 50 percent. The women literacy is much more belittling as thirty three percent of the adult women cannot even read. The more embracing would be that we would not be catching the target to achieve the adult literacy by 2015. Progress towards the achievement of the targets is exceptionally slow, while gender parity goal is at risk of not being achieved by 2015. Moreover, more than 6 million children are out of school.
Educational System in Pakistan:
Education system in Pakistan is really having a bad configuration at the moment. There is no doubt in accepting the fact that education stands the backbone for the development of nations. Looking at the history of nations, we may safely reach the conclusion that the advanced nations of the world could reach the zenith of prestige and power taking support from education. The allocations for education are too meager, and in spite of allocation, the amount is not spent for what it was meant for as the corruption is found in all the tiers of education and also because of the same delivery from the government institutions that is much below the desired and aspired levels. Private education in Pakistan is far reaching for the poor and the turnover of this quality education does not serve the country the way they are supposed to. Planning for education does not go in congruence with the needs and implement remains ever ignored, so by this way the system is getting more spoiled rather than flourishing. Our universities have failed to produce the planners, developers, implementers, and decision makers. Rather the turnover is a mismatch with the ground realities, the half backed persons we are producing are of no use to us. The students we come across are degree seekers rather than the knowledge. The increase in number of colleges and universities does not mean that we are going by the standards rather these are worsening, a simple evidence of which is that no Pakistani university could find a space among the top 1000 universities of the world. The socio-economic scenario is directly attached with the status of Education in the country. The developed world managed to scale up their education in line with the needs and market requirements. Despite the recent achievements, a lot more is needed to be done as the country still faces numerous challenges which cause deterrence. We are under obligation to raise the education of our population to the level of our South Asian neighbors, to combat our own social and economic wants to the satisfactory level.
The very scale of Pakistan’s education sector -- more than 150,000 public education institutions serving over 21 million students and a huge private sector that serves another 12 million – presents formidable challenges.
Education is found to be the cheapest and tangible defense mechanism for a nation on the social, political, and economic fronts. But the down trodden condition of education in Pakistan bears an ample testimony of the fact that it is unable to defend its own sector. Over the span of 64 years, the nation has been given the 23 policies and action plans but we could not start the march towards success and are waiting for a savior who could take the system out of turmoil. There were ample spending in the government of Pervaiz Musharraf on education and due to which, we could see the visible positive educational change in Pakistani society. Currently the economic situation in Pakistan is under severe stress and education sector has received the highest impact in Pakistan. The Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan has led to the fact in the following words,
“The state of Pakistan shall remove illiteracy and provide free and compulsory secondary education within minimum possible period.”
In Human development Report, Pakistan is placed at 136th position because its 49.9% population comes under the definition of education. The dropout rate is alarmingly high at the primary level; consequently, it is revealed by the Data Center of UNESCO, that 33.8% females and 47.18% in males could pass through the most initial level of education. We may be conclusive about the ground reality that people in the 6th largest country of the world have no access to the basic education even.
Key Performance Indicators for Education Systems
The frequently used indicators for assessing education and its systems are adult literacy rates, male and female enrollment at different levels of education, participation rate in the different areas of the country; the dropout rates, the amount of resources allocated to education as a proportion of the GDP and some measures of the quality of education being pursued. At the moment, the workability of these indicators rests on the footing of authenticated and recent data so that the planning details may be worked out with confidence. Irony of fate, the indicators, their footings and the quality of data all want more authenticity, but unfortunately, Pakistan's record lacks objectivity and rationality on all counts.
1. Medium of Education:
The system of education in Pakistan is operative in match with the local needs and ground realities. It is almost a decisive factor that the education in the mother tongue surrenders more dividends but we have the system more segregated and diversified just contrary to our requirements. A good example of it is that we fail to decide about the Medium of education over the span of 64 years. Different mediums are operational in both, public and private sector. This creates a sort of disparity among people, dividing them into two segments.
21. Disparity of System at Provincial Level::
The Regions of Pakistan in the name of provinces are not at par as regards the infrastructure, availability of staff, their training, content mastery allocation of resources and their utilization. This develops a disparity not only in the system but in the turnover too. There is a need to revisit the schools in Baluchistan (The Largest Province of Pakistan by area) because these are not that much groomed as that of Punjab (The Largest Province of Pakistan by Population). In FATA, the literacy rate is deplorable constituting 29.5% in males and 3% in females. The conditions are to be made more congenial about teaching and learning in all parts of the country without any discretion.
22. Gender Discrimination::
We should have know how of the population comprising females, unfortunately their education is not attended to the way it was deemed fit. The gender discrimination is a cause that is contributing towards the low participation rate of girls at the basic level of education. The male and female participation ratio is projected at the primary school in the shape of ratio of boys & girls as 10:4 respectively. In the decade passed, government invited private sector to shoulder the responsibility of education of the youth. The intent was also to provide the education at the doorstep to the children especially the female students. The private sector took up the challenge and there was an increase in the growth of private schools but this step didn’t cause the increase in the students or the quality. The masses could not be attracted because of precious education. It created clear cut tiers of society and created a gap among those with the haves and have not’s.
23. Lack of Technical Education::
There is a craze for the white collar jobs for the same pupils. Select the general rut of education, though they have the least tilt or the capacity to cope with the demands. China, Japan and Germany have the ruts for those who have a taste for and do not achieve the excellence in the general rut of education. We have kept the opportunities open for all to participate in general education at all levels especially the university level. We could not attract the general masses towards technical education making them to earn of their own act as the entrepreneurs and make their living without being the burden on the government. Education system is needed to be revamped making a space for the science, IT, management, and pupil with the excellence to go to the higher education pursuing the education of their own choice. Lesser emphasis on technical education means the lesser manpower for industry and hence the lesser finance generation.
24. Low allocation of funds::
The allocation of funds for education is very low as it never went beyond 1.5 to 2.0 percent of the total GDP. Even this amount was not utilized and had to be surrendered back to the government because of want of expertise and the knowledge of codal formalities and in time release of funds. There is a need to increase it around 7% of the total GDP keeping in view the allocations by the neighboring countries, there is also a need to rationalize the share at the different levels not ignoring any.
25. Inefficient Teachers::
Government fails to attract the potential candidates for teaching with the zeal vigor and excellent carrier. Teaching is rated as the lowest among the jobs for the youth, because of lesser incentives, slow promotions and lesser fringe benefits. The teachers in government schools are not well groomed and equipped with knowledge and training. People who do not get job in any other sector, they try their luck in educational system. There is a need to reorganize pre-service and in-service trainings making them matched with the requirements rather to keep them ideal, unique and novel.
26. Poverty::
Poverty is growing over the years. The average class is vanishing like anything. It happens to be a curse for the nation that exists without having the average income group. The escalation of poverty has restricted the parents to send their children to tasks for child labor or at least to public or private schools. In these schools, the drop out is very high because schools are not the attractive places, the curriculum is dry and the teaching does not match the live situations. Poor parents are constrained to send their children to madressahs where the education is totally free.
27. Corruption::
Corruption causes the educational policies, plans and projects to fail because of being the major contributing factor. There is no accountability and transparency in the system, the salaries are low, the incentives are too less to be accounted and even those are uneven. An estimated Rs. 2,594 million out of a total of Rs. 7,016 million provided for improvement of school facilities such as buildings, electricity, drinkable water, etc had gone unaccounted during the fiscal periods 2001-06 (UNESCO Bano, 2007). Similarly, more than 70% literacy centers in Punjab remained inoperative or exist only on paper (ADBP, 2007). The chances of ghost schools should be evaded by involving the community in the processes of inspection and monitoring.
28. Social imbalance::
The students from the elite class follow the "O" and "A" levels curriculum instead of Pakistan's routine orthodox and stagnant curriculum. They have little or no awareness of their religion and culture whereas those passing out from Urdu medium schools are usually destined to work in clerical and lower level positions. Religious madrassas churn out yet another class that is usually unaware of the world outside their own perception.
29. Mismanagement of System::
Teachers’ absenteeism, poor professional training, sub-standard materials and obsolete teaching methods act as the major contributive factors towards the low enrolment in schools. Burki (2005), opines that most of the public schools are either mismanaged or poorly managed. They are found imparting education of second-rate quality through substandard textbooks and curricula that do not cater the needs of the 21st century. The education should be based on learning outcomes through suggesting multiple books rather than following a single book as an obligation.
30. Infrastructure Problems::
The dropout rate of those lucky enough to be enrolled goes beyond 45% as has been divulged by the several reports. Most of the public sector educational institutions stay in a status of poor condition lacking even basic facilities, resultantly shaking the presupposed standards of education. There are four areas that snivel for pressing concentration which are curriculum, textbooks, examinations, and teacher training (Hoodbhoy, 2001). The textbooks need be made more facilitating, student and learning friendly.

31. Private school system::
Private Schools in Pakistan enroll more students than in other countries of the region. They least bother about the capacity and facilities available, they rather over burden the teaching staff. The rapid mushroom growth of private schools and academies of teaching reflect the people's lack of trust in the public sector schools coupled with a deficiency of sufficient educational institutions to cater to the needs of the fast growing population. However, there are certain private schools which are slightly better than the public ones. In the elite schools where the quality education is offered, heavy fees is charged that continues to be a problem. These private sectors schools are meant only for a special sector of the population and are out of the reach of general masses. The private sector schools should be brought under the control of rules making these somewhat accessible for the common population.
32. Lack of educational policies::
The National Education Policy (1998-2010) was developed prior to Dakar. It has a clear cut vision and direction to support the education department. Since the 2001, the Ministry of Education has developed a number of policy documents including that of National Education policy (2009) but the endeavors remain focused on paper work more rather than the operationalization, though the involvement of NGOs and international development agencies is very much there. The simple reason is that the plans are vicious and not the ground reality based. The policies should be environment friendly. .
33. Increase in population::
Literacy in Pakistan has risen from 45 to 54 percent within the span of 2002 to 2006, simultaneously primary enrollment rates have also increased from 42 to 52 percent. The population explosion could not enable to catch the targets. In spite of the increase in the certain parameters, the participation rate in Pakistan remains the lowest in South Asia. Alongside it, there are marked male-female, inter-regional and rural-urban disparities: Only 22 percent of girls, compared to 47 percent boys, complete primary schooling. Female literacy in rural Baluchistan is only 32 percent compared to high urban male literacy rates (and 80 percent among the urban male in Sindh)
34. Lack of attention of the authorities::
Most of the criticisms leveled against the education procedures and practices may be rationalized through improving governance and accountability. It would be tangible and workable if we could go for considering the merit, enabling capacity building, increasing investments in education as an industry and finally giving the heir and fire powers to the administrative heads. The private sector and the banks should finance the educational milieu with confidence, as at the moment, we are spending 2.3 percent of GDP which is the lowest in South Asia.
35. Lack of uniform educational system::
There is a crying need for quality which calls for homogeneity among the procedural formalities like the observance of the curriculum. Had it been uniform the working for it, further extension becomes easier and getting the intellect skimmed out of masses becomes possible. Currently, the poor are deprived of education in the elite institutions which are causing the development of a special class. This class doesn’t work for the nation; they work elsewhere but are fed through the national resources.
36. Medium of Instruction::
We took a long period in deciding that what our medium of instruction would be, till now we don’t have a clear picture before us. It is good to have the National language as the medium of communication provided; we have a rich treasure of knowledge. In our case, we do not fail to develop Urdu to cope with the intellectual needs nor do we translate the treasure of knowledge available for our national use.
37. Education as a business::
Education has been pursued by some of the people as an industry but because of being illiterates, they fail to cope up with the stipulated standards. The leader with vision spoils the mission as well as the projects undertaken. Their only intent is money making that has caused the decay in the standards, induction of sub-standard staff, and depriving the deserving to grow. They don’t want to catch with the move of success but they try to be good entrepreneurs.
38. Delay in renewal of policies and syllabus/Political Interference::
There is a need to continuously update the curriculum because if it goes stale, it does not equip the beneficiaries with the saleable skills and expertise. At the first place, the problems cited have arisen due to lack of commitment and inefficient management on the part of state. The policies lack long term vision and its implementation strategies are being affected by undue political interference. In addition to it, the measures taken are not evidence based and geared by the vested interests of the authorities. Whatever strategies have been applied failed to promote the rational and critical thinking skills amongst the students.
At the second place, we find lack of resource commitment and realistic implementation alongside poor allocated resource utilization. As relevant statistics are not available, implementation of the education policy has not been successfully executed.
At the third place, we come across weak budgetary planning because of staggered data and least coordination among the data maintaining units (USAID, 2006). The coordination, match with the assessment, project design and implementation are not to the desired level within the government and with the donor agencies. The harmonization is missing too between the federal and provincial governments which cause drastic problems in the policy implementation.
The policy formulating, planning and implementing bodies work in isolation as the water tight compartments. The government's consultation is very much restricted and does not go beyond its specific quarters. It should have to be extended to non-state sectors to initiate and mobilize the action. Teachers does not normally form the part of policy making process, hence the process of sharing and consultation remains missing. It leads to implementation of educational policies without consultation, thus the efforts go in vain (UNESCO, 2007).
Over the span of time, what we have learnt is to go for dialogue, and keeping the private and public sector on board. The matter of access to education and challenges to quality remain at stake as being unresolved despite much policy deliberation.
Recently, Minister of Education announced a new Education policy for that next 10 years ignoring the fact that the previous educational policy span still persists that was from 1998 to 2010. The policy has projected new plans and promises to the nation pointing to the fact that all the public schools will be raised to the level of private schools within the shortest period of time. In the absence of a plan of action, the suggested plan of action would not work. The schools have been put under obligation to use the national curriculum and encourage the students of 5th and 8th class to take board exams. This has disturbed the students of private sector also.
It is urged that the Universities should be the research centre’s and must not be allowed to act as the examining bodies for graduate or post-graduate examinations. Allocations are supposed to be made to the aspired levels as UNO suggests a country to allocate at least four percent of its GDP towards education but here in Pakistan we are just allocating less than two percents of GDP. Even that is not fully utilized because of procedural formalities.

Suggested Solutions for Educational System:

13. English should be medium of Instruction:
English language should be the medium of instruction from beginning to the higher levels of learning. National language should be a supporting language for communication facilitation and every day business. Efforts should be made to enhance the knowledge treasure in the national language through translation of the research based information.

14. Talented and qualified Staff
Hiring should be made from amongst the highly qualified and the teachers should be paid not according to the level of education but the qualification of the staff.

15. Fulfill the lack of teachers:
Efforts should be made to bring down the student-teacher ratio to 15:1 in lieu of current 40:1. Consequently, the number of teachers will have to be enhanced, leading to the rise in number of teachers and enabling the competent persons to be inducted to the system of education.

16. Primary education should be made compulsory:
Primary education should be made compulsory and free (it is already free of cost but not compulsory). It should also be made appealing, impressive, interesting and utilitarian to attract the general masses.

17. Increase in teachers incentives
Teachers should be offered more financial benefits by increasing their pays.

18. Translation of foreign research to local language
University professors should be encouraged to conduct and share the research to the concerned stakeholders. They should also be asked to translate the foreign research into local languages for sharing it with the lower formations of education enabling them to implement/take benefit out of it.

19. Check on distinctive education:-
Government should strictly check all private educational institutions for keeping a balance of standards and level of practices.

20. Scholarships and financial support to students:
Students should be offered more scholarships and government should support the intelligent and outstanding students to prosper, develop and serve their local community rather than migrating to the big cities.

21. Special Financial packages:
The dilemma here in Pakistan is that students are genius but they use their intelligence in negative way, hence, contributing nothing towards the development of country. Another problem with Pakistan is brain drain. Capable and outstanding professionals prefer foreign jobs instead of serving in their own country. This is due to the low financial benefits and indifferent attitude of government towards them. Recently Government should provide them facilities and special financial packages to encourage them to stay in their own country.

22. Betterment of education policies and teachers workshop:
In the view of importance of education, the Government should take solid steps towards implementation instead of projecting policies. In this regard, the allocations should be made easy and timely from provinces to districts and then to educational institutes. Workshops must be arranged for teachers as a continuous feature for learning.

23. Infused Technical Education:
Technical education should be infused into the regular system stream. The education board of Punjab has projected a plan to give tech- education to the children of industrial workers.

24. Promotion of primary education:
Promotion of the primary education should be made possible by consulting teachers, professors and educationists while devising any plan, syllabus or policy for it. There should be a balance in reliance on public and private for enabling education to reach the general masses in its true shape. Students’ outlook is to be broadened by taking them out of the books into the practical realities. Education is the only cure of disability of the state and for bringing revolution through evolution and by eradicating the social evils through education.

Education serves as the backbone for the development of nations. The countries with the effective impressive need oriented, saleable and effective system of education comes out to be the leaders of the world, both socially and economically. It is only education which can turn a burden of population into productive human resource. Pakistan's current state demands that the allocations for education be doubled to meet the challenges of EFI, gender disparity and provision of teachers in the work places earlier than 2018 as per stipulated qualifications. Millennium Development Goals are yet to be realized latest by 2015.
The natural calamities, political turbulence, provincialisms, and political motivations make the best planned, fail. The allocations towards the sector of education could not be enhanced because of the earlier. We have to revisit our priorities to keep the country on the track of progress.

Last edited by Shooting Star; Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 08:49 PM. Reason: Do not use red colour.

Nonpartisan Education Review / Essays: Volume 4, Number 2
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Challenges in Higher Education: Special reference to Pakistan and South Asian Developing Countries

Syed Zubair Haider

The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, Pakistan


Higher education has great importance in the development of a country. But unfortunately, its importance is yet to be realized in South Asian developing countries. For over a decade, countries have been working to uplift their educational standard by providing quality higher education to their citizens but there are many obstacles and hurdles that are emerging. These challenges (quantity, equity, quality, etc) are very common in nature but require proper procedure to address in the best manner.


Education is a basic need of every society. A better education system can enhance the social, scientific, and technological improvement of a country. The human resource development of a country depends upon the quality of education imparted in country (Mohanthy, 2000). Higher education caters to the education in the colleges and universities. Allen (1988) observed “It is academically consider suitable to present distinctive feature of two stages for the purpose of clarity of concepts and avoiding duplication” Higher education is admittedly a separate stage quite distinct from primary, secondary, elementary, and higher secondary stage. (Best, 1994)

Higher education is recognized today as a capital investment and is of paramount importance for economic and social development of the country (Barnet, 1990). Institutions of higher education have the primary responsibility for equipping individuals with advanced knowledge and skills required for positions of responsibility in government, business, and other professions (Mughal & Manzoor, 1999). Quality higher education is a source of great potential for the socio economic and cultural development of the country. Stone, Horejs, & Lomas (1997) found “The nation can be transformed into a developed nation within the life time of a single generation.” Factors such as the distinctive nature of higher education institutions, international mobility of students, and teachers accessibility of computer based learning pursuit of research and scholarship, globalization of economy, and emerging challenges of the 21st century have a direct impact on the future development of higher education. (Mughal & Manzoor, 1999).


The purpose of higher education is not simply to impart knowledge in certain branches of knowledge; it has deeper meaning and objectives. The purpose may be multidimensional and may be termed as personal, social, economical, and cultural (Moore & Farris, 1991). Education and particularly higher education cannot be divorced from its milieu and social context. Religious, moral, historical, and cultural ethos permeates through the fabric of the educational system of a country (Best, 1994). Allen (1988) found “In the time of rapid international, political, and economical changes, the universities in South Asia and in developing countries are being transformed. Public expectations about access to higher education direct concern about role that universities can play in innovation and economic development” The applications of principles of market economies to the university systems of all countries have created a new context for higher education (Rao, 2003).


The people in Pakistan and South Asia are neither deficient in talent nor in moral qualities in comparison to any other nation of the world, but about two centuries of foreign rule and blind imitation of western attitudes and methods, unsuited to the genius and spiritual conditions of its people, have spoiled some of the virtues and have brought a bad name to their intellectual capacities (Siddiq, 1978). Hassan (1990) observed “Pakistan is unfortunately really backward in education as in certain other spheres of intellectual activities but luckily people are not inherently incompetent or morally incurable.” It is however necessary that the diagnosis about maladies should be correct and the measures for curing these maladies should be appropriate in the light of that diagnosis (Abdullah, 1992).



Challenges in Higher Education


South Asian countries are facing a critical period in their history, and on that account, everybody concerned with education has a responsibility for knowing what he is trying to do in bring up the next generation and why he is trying to do it (Mohanthy, 2000). Higher education is faced with very severe challenges in the shape of various economic, social, political, and moral changes, and its future depends on the response made by its people to these challenges (Rao, 2003).


Hayes (1987) found “The problems plaguing the educational system of Pakistan and South Asian countries are multidimensional like population explosion, lack of resources, non participation of the private sector, scarcity of qualified man power, inconsistency in the policies of various regimes, political instability, inefficient educational management system, wastage of resources, and poor implementation of policies and programme etc.”


The major challenges in higher education include:



Despite the constraints of resources, the quantitative expansion has been highly spectacular in the post independence period. The institutions have not only been multiplied, the student enrollments at colleges and universities have registered exceptionally high rate of growth (Aeth, 1975). “The numbers of new entrants is now more than the total number of students in higher education prior to independence” (Iqbal, 1981). “The demand of higher education has thus increased by leaps and bonds. In spite of quality control as well as consolidation, it will continue to grow constantly for a long time to come” (Adeeb, 1996).


“The quantitative expansion is evident due to increasing aspiration of the people and social, economical, and political forces influencing the development of higher education. In the post independence period, the role of higher education has been very well recognized in the development of science and technology, as well as various arenas of human advancement” (Mohanthy, 2000).



The major break through was evident in the democratic countries of the world where franchise was given to all adults irrespective of caste, creed, sex, and economic or social status (Barnet, 1990). Qureshi (1997) stated “The ideal of equity was severely constrained by exiting in qualities in the distribution of property and productive resources, low level of education and awareness among the people, and strong influences exercised by individual and group to further their own sectional interest rather than total social interest.”


“The philosophy of social justice is very much akin to the principle of equity. It is a welcome development over the concept of inherent inequality which was sought to be explained by biological differences among individuals” (Bayli, 1987).


1.   The philosophy of equality of men being applied to political process, distribution of property, and productive resources is viewed as the source of inequities in society. This approach helped the development of capabilities among men through equal distribution of higher educational opportunities both in quality and quantity.


2.   There is the philosophy of inequality as a natural hereditary, biological phenomena, without any scientific rational evidence. This concept is rooted in sectional interest rather than in societal interest.


The growing numbers of colleges and universities have provided access to higher education to the people in various parts and sections of developing countries in South Asia. “But the enrollments of students especially female students is relatively very small” (Varghese, 1980).



Development of society not only depends upon quantity of goods and services produced, but also on their quality. “It again leads to quality of life of the people and the quality of the society in general” (Hayes, 1987). It is rightly said that the philosophical basis of quality is the innate characteristics of a human being to attain a higher standard and the need of excellence for attaining a higher stage in the development (Quddus, 1990).


The scope of the idea of quality is severely limited by two widely prevailing views.


1. Quality is a selective phenomenon and only few can attain it.


2. Quality for quality sake or with regards to specific area rather than quality as mutually exclusive and emphasize selectively at the expense of equity.


Attempts to realize specific objectives of quality tend to narrow down the scope and discourage efforts to attain quality in various walks of life. Allen (1988) determined that “Various programs have been developed and are being implemented for the last two decades for improving the quality of teachers and their proficiency in discharging their duties and responsibilities.”


“The higher education commission has been providing financial assistance for these programs of faculty improvement which enable teachers to keep abreast with the latest development in their subject and conduct research studies as well as interact with experts in their own subject’s area and related field” (Hassan, 1990). “These programs aim at improving the professional competence of teachers so that they can impart high quality instructions and contribute significantly to raising the standard of higher education in developing countries” (Quddus, 1990).


Student Unrest

Among the challenges of higher education is the vital role of addressing students unrest. Bayli (1987) studied that “The condition of higher education in universities and colleges is not satisfactory in the eyes of students. Lack of physical and educational facilities is bringing much hindrance in the way of development”. Iqbal (1981) states “Teachers are less motivated to do certain research work. Most teachers are not competent, and they are teaching in higher education institutions.” They have limited knowledge about subject matter they taught and many of them have no clear idea about the subject. “Even in Pakistani universities, the teacher at M.Phil. and Ph.D. level, are not competent” (Rao, 2003). “They feel it difficult to indulge in research work due to lack of knowledge about research methodologies” (Mughal & Manzoor, 1999).


“Most students with backgrounds in arts, humanities, and management rather than in engineering technology, science, and medicine get involved in political activities. Therefore social or academic background is an important factor in determining the attitude of the students toward social economic and political issues” (Allen, 1988). Barnet (1990) found that “Therefore studies are necessary to fulfill the hope of the government and the aspirations of the youth as well as to cope with the changes which are the demands of all students of today”. The university students should learn to think about possible solutions to this fast changing world. “So in order to achieve this, the students at the university level need to get much deeper knowledge about the citizenship role in society and the new opportunities that open to the student due to economic development and technological advancement” (Qureshi, 1999).


Emotional Integration

Education can play a vital role in strengthening emotional integration. It is felt that education should not aim at imparting knowledge but should develop all aspects of a student’s personality. Allen (1988) found that “It should broaden the outlook, foster the feeling of oneness, nationalism, a spirit of sacrifice, and tolerance so that narrow group interests are submerged in the largest interest of country.”


“Students, the future citizens of the country, should be trained in democracy, its value and ideals so that they will have sense of justice which is conducive for the development of national integration especially in the particular situation of developing countries which are striving to build up a structure of democratic living” (Rao, 2003).


Administrative Reform

In the last fifteen years or so, Pakistan and countries in South Asia have been giving increasing attention to the problems of university administration (Adeeb, 1996). Abdullah (1992) observed “They have noticed that despite the resources available for university expansion, they have not been able to obtain the best possible results.” “Further they have also begun to realize that much of this is due to lack of proper administration and what the outcome is on the development of higher education” (Aeth, 1975).


Social and cultural factors, which are often ignored, are as significant as any of the purely technical factors in the formulation and implementation of administration policy. Barnet (1990) states that “The linkages between the policy and these factors are neither casual nor limited to the contemporary period so the university administration clearly demonstrates that the success or failure of university administrative reforms hinges on the presence and absence of certain variables given below.”


1. Strong commitment and determined leadership


2. Appropriate political environment


3. Supportive social environment


4. Types of reform agents


5. Nature of reforms


6. Favourable bureaucratic attitude towards change


However bureaucratic resistance to reform is a phenomenon which can be found both in the advanced and the third world countries (Mohanthy, 2000). “Resistance to reform within a bureaucracy usually manifests itself in the behavioural patterns and attitudes of its members” (Hayes, 1987). “These responses may be grouped in two broad categories, those that seek to project the university administration service as an institution, and the individual responses to various threats, perceived from within and outside the bureaucracy. In both cases changes in the status quo are regarded as a potential threat to survival” (Varghese, 1980).



The current size of present faculty is very small according to the general international standard. Mughal & Manzoor (1999) found that “The teacher/student ratio is very small even according to many third world countries standards. The quality of university education at the college has decreased because of the exiting faculty”. “Many present faculty members are teaching courses which are not their own specialization” (Bayli, 1987). “Many faculty members in most of universities are just master degree holders with little or no practical knowledge and higher education experiences” (Iqbal, 1981).


“The salary, financial rewards and benefits for the faculty is very low according to the rising cost of living in Pakistan. The higher education commission is making an effort to provide facilities to their teachers and hiring foreign faculty for the uplift of educational standards in Pakistan” (Rao, 2003). Still the staff and technical support of the teaching professor are not present. Adeeb (1996) found that “There is no real plan or set of rules for teaching evaluation or teaching effectiveness. The above problem is a great challenge for higher education in Pakistani and South Asian developing countries.”


“Studies include: an examination of the present supply and future prospects for attracting competent faculty members in sufficient number to meet requirements in various areas; appropriate action should be taken to provide an attractive and competitive faculty salary; reasonable teaching and research assignments; and fringe benefits to attract top ranking educators” (Allen, 1988).


Educational Policies

The faculty should have primary responsibilities for determining the educational policies of the institution. Barnet (1990) found “If this responsibility is not conferred and defined by the character of the institution, it should be expressed in legislation of the governing board.” “Educational polices include such fundamental matters as the subject matter and methods of instruction, facilities and support for the research work of faculty members and students, standards for admission of students, etc” (Aeth, 1975).


Hayes (1987) identify that “They also include those aspects of student life that relate directly to the educational process.” Mohanthy (2000) observed that “The faculty should also actively participate in decisions made on other matters that may directly affect the educational policies for which it is primarily responsible.” “These matters include major changes in the size of the student body, significant alteration in the academic calendar, establishment of new colleges and universities or division, the provision of extension services to the community, and assumption by the institution of research or service obligations to private or public agencies” (Allen, 1988).


Academic Freedom

The right of academic freedom must be recognized in order to enable the faculty members, researchers, and students to carry on their roles. Gibbons (1998) studied “The freedom of universities in making professional appointments, tenure research, salary scales, and all academic decision.” “Academic freedom and university autonomy are sometimes regarded as synonymous, but they are two quite different concepts, although they overlap at many points” (Taylor & Tashakkori, 1997).


Rao (2003) found that “These two functions are the essence of the progress and development of the higher education and administrative endeavours.” Quddus (1990) studied that “The basic function of a college or university is to preserve, augment, criticize, and transmit knowledge and to foster creative capacities.” “These functions are performed by a community of scholars who must be free to exercise independent judgment in the planning and execution of their educational responsibilities” (Varghese, 1980).


“Unfortunately a university may find it difficult to earn the academic freedom or autonomy and retain it in a new state where most, if not all, the cost of university education is a direct charge on the government” (Siddiq, 1978). Qureshi (1997) identified that “The board of trustees should be more concerned with matters affecting the relations of the university with the outside bodies and general policy than with the routine administration work which is dealt with by the university council.”


Courses and Curricula

The courses and curricula are not designed in accordance with the standard of higher education of the present day. Iqbal (1981) observed that “There is no continuity of some of the important courses: there is also no relationship between the related courses of common or similar knowledge.” Bayli (1987) studied that “So many important and modern courses required for higher education are not taught at all.” “The curricula are not written in detail and are left to the professors personal likes, dislikes, interests or experience” (Adeeb, 1996).


Quddus (1990) observed that “The basic science courses are not designed well to fit the need of the students, and they are not well organized, or correctly supervised by the department.” “Generally speaking, there are not enough well equipped faculty and administration offices, classrooms, or engineering, science, and other laboratories for the growing student body and faculty members” (Hassan, 1990).


Taylor & Tashakkori (1997) studied that “The workshops at the higher level are not suitable for training, because necessary materials, equipment, space, and techniques are not up to the mark according to the required standard.” “Equipment is old and not fit for some of the more specialize laboratory experiments” (Quddus, 1990). Varghese (1980) identify that “There has been constant change in and lowering of the standard of syllabi and courses leading to lazy mindedness resulting in lack of urge for higher achievements.” “Frequent change of study material and difficulties in availability is another contributory factor” (Quddus, 1990).



“While education cannot directly reduce unemployment, except by requiring more teachers, a reform of the educational system could help alleviate its impact especially on young people” (Mohanthy, 2000). Hayes (1987) found that “There is a marked mismatch in terms of the field and specialization of graduates and the absorptive capacity of the labour market.” “In the sense of employment, the planners of higher education are handicapped in the assessment of the actual labour market needs for skills in various sectors of the economy” (Aeth, 1975).


Barnet (1990) studied “Even though empirical evidence justified investment in higher education for economic growth, except for direct self-consumption, higher education failed to create additional employment since the type of education offered restricted the entrepreneurial spirit and initiative and discourages self employment.”


Budgeting and Financing

Central to all the foregoing is a new concept of budgeting and financing at the higher level. Bayli (1987) observed “The conventional system of an annual budget is probably the most confusing and least understood.” “The budget of course, performs a number of essential functions which even the most frustrated will acknowledge” (Rao, 2003). Allen (1988) identify “The concern here is with the budget as an instrument of academic planning which may promote the special aims of each college and constitute a practical means by which all university purpose may be realized ideally it must not only insure financial solvency of the university, but should also place responsibility and commensurate authority where it may be exercised most.”


Gibbons (1998) observed “Concerning other elements of the budget and the allocations made by officers or governing boards among competing demands, the faculty should be informed of important developments in administrative planning including proposed capital expenditures, and the faculty should also be consulted on major issues of policy involved in such development.” Taylor & Tashakkori (1997) says “Obviously any viable plan must be designed as to capitalize as fully as may be consistent with academic standards upon all of these, and hopefully to forestall periodic crises.”


Rao (2003) studied “In fact realistic planning and decisive action are the only way to prevent educational strategies from degenerating into spasmodic reactions to unforeseen exigencies.” “The university’s aim should be to fashion a system which in its year to year operation may provide for its own continuing renewal” (Adeeb, 1996).


Population Explosion

“The fast growing population in Pakistan and South Asian developing countries is another problem by causing over crowding in the higher educational institution because the number of higher level institutions is deficient” (Hayes, 1987). Mohanthy (2000) observed “The demand for the quantitative expansion of education at all levels remains one of the primary concerns because of the continuous population expansion.” Adeeb (2000) stated “The developing countries will account for nearly 50% of the total world population compared with 66% in 1950.” “The population of Asia as a proportion of the world’s total population (a reduction of 29.4% to 18.4%) is in a much weaker position than some ten to fifteen years ago” (Allen, 1988).



Suggestions to meet the Challenges


1.   Stress is laid on the need for improving the quality of education at every stage so that a proper foundation can be laid for advanced study in science, engineering, agriculture, and those other areas which are most closely allied to the national economic development and reconstruction of the nation as a whole.


2.   To begin from the top without reforming the lower stages is against the law of nature; it is against the law of evolutionary progress. Before any restrictions are imposed on the higher education, the earlier stages should be improved so as to produce better students for the higher stage.


3.   A critical point to be considered by educational planner is the adaptation of a multidimensional, flexible, and dynamic education system, which serves people according to their ability and aptitude and is responsive to their economic, social political and cultural needs.


4.   The new system of higher education should be flexible enough to offer a variety of courses, formal and non formal, full time and part time, correspondence and media based to fit every individual as well as the economic needs of the country


5.   Economic conditions of the people cannot be ignored in all matters in which the question of equal opportunities to all is involved. In an atmosphere of economic depression as it is today in Pakistan how could one expect from our youth to be able to develop their potential qualities in desired way.


6.   The test of qualities must be made reliable upon examination and more effective; the teaching method must be made more rational and natural; and last of all, the teachers must be kept fully satisfied. It is well known, that a foreign medium of instruction and examination is seriously hampering the progress of education. Pakistan will have to determine its policy with regards to this question also.


7.   There is great question of availability of qualified university teachers, suitably equipped libraries, and fully developed plants and laboratories. It is a matter of common knowledge that our resources in all these areas are very merger. Any unnecessary addition to the number of the universities at present would therefore mean nothing, but more ill-fed and ill-equipped institutions with no specially or individuality of purpose.


Higher education institutions must be responsive to the challenges of the rapidly changing and challenging new world: expectation of society and growing demands of the rising student population. This policy therefore looks forward to a new beginning in higher education in South Asian developing countries.

Citation: Haider, S. Z., (2008). Challenges in Higher Education: Special Reference to Pakistan and South Asian Developing Countries. Nonpartisan Education Review / Essays, 4(2). Retrieved [date] from http://www.nonpartisaneducation.org/Review/Essays/v4n2.pdf

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