Right to Education
Seminar: Trends in Privatization of Education and Shadow Schooling in Pakistan
The South Asian Forum for Education Development (SAFED) and Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) prepared the series of seminars devoted to the Article 25A, Right to education. The first seminar Trends in Privatization of Education and Shadow Schooling in Pakistan was held on January 6, 2012 at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in Lahore, Pakistan.
Pakistan has to face many challenges of education as the situation in the country is crucial. Under Article 25A the state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age five to sixteen years in such a manner as may be determined by law. However, the situation is different, right to education is not a fundamental right granted to every child in the country. The state is not able to provide adequate education to all and also private schools lack the quality. The private tuition industry is mushrooming in this environment. It is not necessary the privilege of the rich to effort the private tutoring.
Dr Monazza Aslam, a researcher at the University of Oxford and the Institute of Education, University of London, presented the new phenomenon of private coaching existing in Pakistan. The conducted research proved the shadow schooling does not cater only to the needs of students attending state schools in South Asian. Both public and private students are private tuition-takers. However, the preponderance of private tuition rises up with the ability to pay. Regardless of economical backgrounds, the average spending on tuition is $3.4 on any child per month. This is not an insubstantial amount given that 60 percent of Pakistan's population reportedly lives on under $2 per day.
Ms Aslam focused also on gender bias in education expenditure. She said at the primary level there is a pro-male gender bias in the decision to enroll children in private schooling but not necessarily a bias against girls in the amount spent on their schooling, once the decision to attend a private school has been made.
The impact of private coaching was highlighted during the presentation. The most significantly large effect occurs in reading and children in the poorest and richest quintiles appear to benefit equally. Less dramatic findings emerge from mathematics achievements. The children in government schools taking private tuitions perform better compared to poor students in government schools who do not take private tuitions. There are almost no such findings on learning in the private sector.
The importance of private tutoring is more far noticeable between pupils in government schools. Children from government schools taking private tuition and especially those belonging to the poorest classes appear to perform better than those who do not take private tuitions. This detection suggested that private tutoring does appear to substitute for poor quality schooling.
Dr Baela Raza Jamil, ITA Director Programs and Coordinator SAFED, investigated the trends in privatization in Pakistan. The study enquired for the role, nature and spread of the non-state actors, their interaction with state providers and the impact on social justice. The presented study was conducted for Rawalpindi and Peshawar in 2011.
There was a high increase of private schools in both regions while 92 percent of the non-state schools were for-profit private schools. The rest comprised of the schools run by civil-society organization, including NGOs, trusts and foundation schools.
Ms Jamil quoted 61 percent children were identified as enrolled in private schools, 38 percent in government schools and one per cent in madrassahs.
She said more that 50 percent of the teacher in rural and urban Peshawar are paid less than Rs. 5000 a month while the minimum wage is Rs. 7000.
Ms Jamil said that almost 84 percent of the tuition-takers take regular lessons to supplement their school learning, while meagre one percent uses tuitions to prepare for entrance tests. The main motivating factor behind the decision to take up private tutoring was grade improvement. Peer pressure by friends, parents and even teachers is another major factor stated as a reason for taking up private tutoring.
The interesting finding provided a closer evaluation of the expenditure on education. The costs of education for both public and private schools are quite high. The private school can comprise 26.4 percent of the total household expenditure, which accounting for the average number of children in the poorest quintile becomes 127 percent. Therefore parents pick and choose which kids to send to a private school. The figures for government school are lower. Expenditure per child is 9.1 percent and that on all the children of the family is 36.7 percent, quite substantial for this income group.
Gender discrimination was one of the topics Ms Jamil paid her attention to. The boys to girls ratio is 65:35 in private schools. In rural Peshawar it is 2.86 boys for each girl enrolled and in urban Peshawar 1.7 boys for each girl enrolled. The discrimination vanishes in Rawalpindi, 1 girl is enrolled for every boy.
She said that 56 percent of the students belonging to the low wealth category go to private schools as opposed to the relatively cheaper/free government schools. As the wealth of a household increases the probability of enrolling their children in private school also mounts. The school choices tend to expand as income level increases.
The seminar was the first of the series Right to Education organized by SAFED and ITA. There will be more similar seminars organized all around the SAFED region in the future.