Unfortunately, Pakistan’s education system has not been regarded as well as one would want, and understandably so. Nonetheless, time heals all wounds, as is the case with Pakistan’s education system in which, year on year, there is an obvious improvement in the level and quality of education being provided in schools. Pakistan is currently a hub of schools and colleges, both private and government coming together towards a mutual goal. Every morning, Lahore comes alive with students sprinting to make it to school on time (we use the word sprint from personal experience), with roads bottle-necked by university students piled high on motorcycles (a sight NOT to be missed). Unfortunately, the rural parts of Lahore do not see as much of this hustle-and-bustle as illiteracy rates there are still relatively low; a reigning problem, especially among girls. The literacy rates of Lahore and Karachi hover around 60% while Islamabad boasts a whopping 84%.
The education system in Pakistan can be categorized into 4 major phases: Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, Secondary and Higher Secondary Education, and Higher Tertiary Education.
It is a generally-accepted point of view that Early Childhood Education in Pakistan is lacking in quality,
Where the country’s matriculation system has lagged, the private sector has upped its ante and different shades of education systems have started to colour the country. In Lahore we see mostly-English-medium private schools such as International School of Choueifat offering the American education system, and schools like Lahore Grammar School and Beacon House offering a British-styled education. This education is costlier, and therefore, attended mostly by children from families who can afford it. There is a school of thought that argues that private education is more of a profitable business in Pakistan than a cause for real education.
For those who cannot afford private education, there are government schools such as Central Model School for Boys, Comprehensive and Queen Mary. The much talked-about madrasah-style education, a religious-oriented approach, has always been the source of much debate, with some finding it too extreme and religious in its approach, while others find it is vital to maintaining strong religious and even cultural traditions. Most madrasahs offer mostly Islamic subjects (to do with the Quran, the Hadith, Fiqh etc) and some non-religious subjects such as Finance, Philosophy, Arab literature etc. The government has established a Madrasah Education Board, tasked to ensure a balance. Public schools do see a drop-out rate among boys once they reach about 10 years of age, when many low-income families end up choosing employment for them over education.
Tertiary education in Lahore includes Lahore College and Kinnaird, both of which provide high-quality education for females, while Forman College (FC) and Government College (GC) are undefeated champions in the education of males. There are several universities in Lahore, offering high-quality education at affordable prices, and they include King Edward (KE), University of Engineering and Technology (UET) and Sheikh Zayed Medical College, to name a few. These universities provide education in Medicine, Engineering, Social sciences and Information Technology, among others. Included in this list is the pride and joy of Lahore, the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). LUMS is a teaching institute for many of the most successful personalities of Pakistan, with undergraduates frequently attending international programs and its newest advancement as the first university in the country to conduct bilateral exchange programs for undergraduates. Its Master in Business Administration (MBA) is a highly renowned program, which invites a huge application demand, and churns out top-notch professionals, ready for the corporate world. In addition, colleges such as CMH Lahore Medical and Dental College, and the University of Punjab, have given the private sector in Lahore a big boost.
Lahore is also a hub for many competition and projects; the city is determined to showcase the talent of its youth, arranging and organizing vibrant, dynamic events on a regular basis. People travel to Pakistan from all over the world to participate in some of these events, with high encouragement from local schools for students to participate. The space settlement program provided by NASA has also been a success in Lahore as most recently a team of students from Lahore Grammar School won the chance to travel to India! The graffiti project by the National School of Arts has changed the face of Lahore with colourful and vibrant graffiti walls carrying deep social meanings, many a cry for awareness on issues long ignored. Art competitions and business planning competitions are aplenty. The Pakistan International Education Exhibition in Lahore is a lively event with a purpose to connect and form a bridge between education seekers and education providers. International Education Fair Lahore is also an event solely for institutions planning to recruit students from the Gulf region.
According to the Pakistan Data Portal, Punjab’s “Education Affairs & Services have been allotted PKR 59.4 billion budget (a little over 5% of total current expenditure), with secondary education affairs receiving PKR 27 billion and tertiary education PKR 26 billion. In contrast, PKR 1 billion has been set aside for pre-primary and PKR 7.3 billion for higher education”. Many Pakistanis claim that the government does not invest enough in the education of the country, among many other grievances to be had with the government. Indeed, for any society to flourish, it is vital that a much keener eye be kept on the education of the current and future generations than is currently the case in Pakistan. As with all other sociological institutions in Pakistan, corruption and lack of infrastructure need to be addressed before true progress can be made.