The Pakistani school system is severely disadvantaged. A rapid increase in population is tempting in the education sector, whose budgetary allocation over the years has been held back by military investments. Ambitions in the 2000s and 2010s to correct the shortcomings have had limited success.
Since 2010, all children have a constitutionally protected right to attend school for at least ten years from the age of five. Tuition is free of charge but not compulsory. In reality, it is far from all children who receive the education they are entitled to. According to the UN agency Unicef, Pakistan is one of the countries in the world that has the greatest drop-out of compulsory school pupils. More than 22 million children do not attend school. The worst is the situation in the Pashtun clan areas in the northwest and in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where only over half of the children over ten years can read and write.
- COUNTRYAAH: Country facts of Pakistan, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.
Even in the 1990s, not even half of the girls were registered as low school students, but the differences between girls and boys have slowly diminished since the turn of the millennium.
After a five-year low school, three years in middle school and a two-year high school and a two-year high school follow. For higher education there are a large number of both state and private universities and colleges in all provinces, including agricultural universities and technical colleges. Only a small proportion of Pakistanis have higher education.
The language of instruction in public schools is usually Urdu, although less than one in ten Pakistanis are native speakers and there is a shortage of Urdu teachers. In private schools and higher education, teaching is usually in English.
The problems in the school system are rooted in deep class differences, where a feudal elite has safeguarded its own children and ignored the right of the majority of the people to education. Largest government resources were invested in higher education for a long time, which favored the elite who could still afford to keep their children in private elementary schools. The Pakistani power elite – a triumvirate made up of the military, religious establishment and feudal landlords – have feared that an educated underclass would begin to question the injustices.
However, the main reason why many children do not attend school is poverty. The parents cannot afford to save their labor or to buy the compulsory school uniforms and teaching materials. Competent teachers are poor and the school buildings are poorly maintained.
The shortcomings of the public school system have since the 1980s led to a sharp increase in the number of private Koran schools, mattresses, run by religious parties or foundations. Some Quran schools – where the Taliban movement was born – have spread fundamentalist ideas, but extreme thoughts are also considered to have been rooted in the state schools’ substandard curricula that attached greater importance to the heroes and religious patriots than to the natural sciences and languages. The Koran schools also attract many students because they do not have to pay for uniforms or school supplies there.
Teenage girl Malala Yousafzai from Swat Valley in northern Pakistan became world famous and was awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize 2014 for her fight for all girls’ right to education. The Taliban’s attempt to murder her in 2012 drew attention to the unfair conditions in conservative parts of the country and the major shortcomings of the Pakistani education system.
- Andyeducation: Introduction to education system in Pakistan, including compulsory schooling and higher education.
FACTS – EDUCATION
Proportion of children starting primary school
76.5 percent (2017)
Number of pupils per teacher in primary school
Reading and writing skills
57.0 percent (2014)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP
13.8 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget
13.8 percent (2017)
National Action Plan on Terrorism
The government launches a 20-point national action plan to combat terrorism. Special military courts should be set up to deal with suspected terrorists, prohibited organizations should be prevented from re-emerging under new names and their funding should be stripped. A special anti-terrorist force will be formed and stricter rules will be introduced for the Koran schools where young people are indoctrinated into radical Islamism. According to the government, some of the measures require an addition to the constitution.
Six executions are executed
Two convicted prisoners are executed: one is convicted of an attack on the army headquarters, one for attempted murder at Musharraf. A day later, another four men are executed by hanging. Government officials say around 500 executions are planned over the next few weeks.
Temporary stop for executions is lifted
The day after the massacre, Prime Minister Sharif abolishes the temporary halt to the executions of sentenced terrorists that have been in effect since 2008.
Over 130 schoolchildren are killed in Taliban attacks
In one of the worst terrorist attacks in Pakistan in several years, a group of Taliban enters an army-run school in Peshawar and opens fire on the students. 132 children and 16 employees are shot dead before soldiers can kill all nine attackers after eight hours. TTP says the attack is a revenge for the army offensive in North Waziristan, where at least 1,600 people, most Islamists, have been killed. Most of the students at the school are children of defense personnel. The nine Taliban must have entered the school by dressing in military uniforms. A spokesperson for TTP says the men had orders to shoot the older students. In school, children between the ages of 10 and 18 years of age.
Malala is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
Malala Yousafzai, 17, is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at a ceremony in Oslo. Malala is the youngest Nobel laureate ever and she receives the prize for her risky struggle for all girls’ right to education. Malala received particular attention when she was shot in October 2012 by Taliban in Swat Valley who disliked her work. Malala shares the award with Indian Kailash Satyarthi, who for decades has worked against child labor and child slavery (see India, calendar).
Murder of four polio workers
Four medical workers, who are participating in the polio vaccination campaign, are shot dead in Baluchistan. Three other healthcare workers are injured.
Four are sentenced to death for stoning
A federal court sentenced four men to death for stoning a pregnant woman to death in an honor-related murder. In 2013, Pakistani media reported 869 honor-related murders, according to the Pakistan Human Rights Commission.
Christians are murdered by mobs
A Christian married couple is murdered by a mob in a small town in Punjab. According to the perpetrators, the pair must have forged the Qur’an. According to witnesses, the murder was in fact a personal settlement of money. Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy law (blasphemy) can result in the death penalty and is often used by critics in personal vendettas and quarrels.
Bhutto Zardari is running for election
PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari announces that he is planning to run in the 2018 general elections.
Army: “Great successes in North Waziristan”
The army announces that at least 910 resistance men have been killed in the offensive in North Waziristan since the operation began in June. During the same period, 82 soldiers have fallen. How many civilians who have been put to life do not realize. The army also claims that all major locations in the clan area are now controlled by the army and that the number of Taliban attacks has decreased significantly.
March against electoral fraud, deadly crows
PTI leader Khan organizes a march from Lahore to Islamabad with thousands of participants. The march is a protest against the government, which he accuses of cheating in the 2013 election. Khan demands Sharif resign, as he did not commission an investigation into the cheating suspects. The protesters block two main roads into Islamabad and also pass through the barricades around the capital’s so-called red zone, where parliament, embassies and other public buildings are located. Riot breaks out and three people are killed and hundreds injured. The national broadcaster PTV’s broadcasts are temporarily suspended when protesters storm its headquarters.
New attacks against ahmadiya
A woman and two little girls are killed in the city of Gujranwala when a crowd attacks members of the ahmadiyah movement (see Religion) in protest against a man making a “scathing post” on Facebook.
The army occupies the city of Miranshah
Just over a week into the month, federal authorities say about 800,000 civilians have been forced to flee their homes in North Waziristan since the army offensive began. The Minister of Defense says it will continue until it has achieved its goal of “ending terrorism”. A week later, the military command says the army has driven the Taliban out of Miranshah.
Field offensive in North Waziristan
The army launches a ground offensive against Taliban in North Waziristan. According to army sources, more than 370 Taliban have been killed in air raids carried out earlier this month. The military says it has found a tunnel system and underground weapons factories in the Northern Waziristan capital, Miranshah.
US resumes drone attacks
The US is once again launching drone attacks in Pakistan after Prime Minister Sharif found that four and a half months of dialogue with the Taliban were unsuccessful.
Taliban attack on Karachi airport
About 40 people, including all ten perpetrators, are killed when Taliban attack the Karachi International Airport. The men open fire inside a freight terminal and try to hijack an aircraft. A multi-hour firefight erupts. Among the dead are many security guards and airport employees. The Taliban say the attack is a revenge for the Waziristan military offensive. Later, Uzbekistan’s Islamist movement (IMU) takes on the attack for the same reason. The IMU is affiliated with the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
Deep crack in the Taliban movement
The influential clan Mehsud in South and North Waziristan leaves TTP on the grounds that the organization has become Islamic. They refer to kidnappings, blackmail and bomb attacks against public places such as Islamic acts. Mehsud forms his own group, called the Tehrik Taliban of South Waziristan.
Flight offensive against Taliban mounts
More than 60 people are killed when Pakistani flights bomb Resistance brackets of Taliban and al-Qaeda groups in North Waziristan. Tens of thousands of Pakistanis have been killed in similar aerial bombings since 2007 when the Taliban and al-Qaeda-inspired groups began their fight against the government in Islamabad.
Heathen law requires another death victim
Lawyer Rashid Rehman Khan, who is known for defending people accused of blasphemy (blasphemy against Islam), is shot dead in the city of Multan.
Ministry of Defense: “shut down Geo TV”
The Ministry of Defense demands that Geo TV, one of Pakistan’s largest news channels, be shut down for accusing ISI military intelligence service of attempted murder of one of Geo TV’s most famous news anchors.
Christians are sentenced to death
A Christian couple is sentenced to death for sending a text message to the local imam in which Prophet Muhammad must have been insulted.
Train bomb in Baluchistan
At least 13 people are killed and dozens injured when a bomb is blown aboard a train in Baluchistan. Separatist group Baluchistan’s United Army (UBA) says the act is a revenge for the military launching an offensive against separatist groups in the province.
Attacks in Islamabad
At least 20 people are killed and dozens injured when an explosive charge detonates in a market on the outskirts of Islamabad. No group is taking on the deed, which is the second in the capital since the ceasefire between TTP and the government was concluded.
Shorter punishment for the doctor in the bin Ladin case
The doctor sentenced by a local traditional court to 33 years in prison for assisting in the assassination of Usama bin Ladin gets his sentence shortened to 23 years by a Peshawar court (see May 2012).
Many victims in the polio campaign
Two police officers are shot to death in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the northwest as they escort health care personnel working on polio vaccination. More than 40 people related to the polio vaccination program have now been murdered in Pakistan since 2012.
New talks divide the Taliban
TTP announces a month’s truce, and the government promises to stop the bombings in the clan areas. A day later, a suicide attack is carried out at a court building in Islamabad. Eleven people are killed and nearly 30 are injured. The suspicions are directed at Taliban sub-groups who dislike TTP trying to negotiate with the government.
Peace talks with the Taliban fail
The Taliban umbrella organization TTP and the government are holding an inaugural meeting in a new peace dialogue. The US pauses the drone attacks to facilitate the talks. But the dialogue has barely begun until the government’s negotiating group gives up. The reason is that TTP announces that they killed 23 semi-military soldiers, who were kidnapped by the Taliban in 2010. The following day, Pakistani fighter jets launch bombs against Taliban strongholds in North Waziristan and South Waziristan, with dozens of casualties as a result.
New attacks on polio workers
A total of ten people are killed in two blast attacks in Karachi and outside Peshawar against staff working with polio vaccinations. The medical services are accused of participating in a Western conspiracy to sterilize Muslims. The prevalence of polio is increasing in Pakistan, partly as a result of Islamists’ opposition to the vaccination program.
Aerial bombings against Taliban mounts
Pakistani flight bombs suspected Taliban moorings in clan areas in the northwest. At least 15 people are killed in the bombings, which is a response to the recent military attacks on the military. Just since the turn of the year, more than 110 people have been killed by the Pakistani Taliban movement TTP.