Asim Ijaz Khwaja’s mammoth study of education in
Punjab teaches important lessons
Robert O’NeillIn the world of development economics, where Kennedy School Public Policy Professor Asim Ijaz Khwaja does much of his work, education is seen, along with health, as one of those great human capital investments that can help lift a country from poverty.
Despite much of the troubling news that has come out of Khwaja’s
native Pakistan in the past decade, he and his co-authors — Tahir
Andrabi, of Pomona College, and Jishnu Das, of the World
Bank’s research group — looked more carefully and saw a development
few others were noticing. Not the story that was being exaggerated
across much of the Western media: the rise of madrassas, Islamic schools
that were being blamed for increased fundamentalism and militancy
throughout the Muslim world. Those schools serve no more than 3 percent
of schoolchildren in the country.
What can government schools learn from private schools? Is the level of learning success higher in private schools because teachers are more closely monitored for their attendance? Is it that the teachers are more qualified, and therefore paid higher? Is it that parents who pay fees are motivated to make their kids study harder? Are children who go to private schools richer, and therefore healthier and smarter? Or is it that private schools, because they are for-profit institutions, are investing more back into their organisations? But into what specifically? Is it books? Better infrastructure?
Say you survey 800 schools across Punjab, conduct tests for 12,000 children, survey 5,000 teachers and 2,000 households. What would the results tell you?
By Tahir Andrabi, Jishnu Das, C. Christine Fair, and Asim Ijaz Khwaja
private schooling can save Pakistan's
Knowledge is power: The reality of Pakistan's private schools is far from the hysterical image of madrasas.
On May 3, the New York Times published a lengthy description of Pakistan's education system. The article, like so many before it, rehearsed a well-known narrative in which government schools are failing while madrasas are multiplying, providing a modicum of education for Pakistan's poorest children.
"The concentration of madrasas here in southern Punjab has become an urgent concern in the face of Pakistan's expanding insurgency," veteran Times reporter Sabrina Tavernise wrote. "The schools offer almost no instruction beyond the memorizing of the Koran, creating a widening pool of young minds that are sympathetic to militancy."
Unfortunately, this well-intentioned approach risks failure. First, contrary to the public hysteria about madrasas serving as "weapons of mass instruction," in 2005, just 1.3 percent of children in Pakistan's four main provinces attended madrasas. Most students attend public schools (nearly 65 percent), and the remainder attend nonreligious private schools (34 percent). Nor are madrasas the last resort of the poor. In fact, the socioeconomic profiles of madrasa and public school students are quite similar -- except that madrasas have more rich students than public schools. Of the extremely small number of households enrolling at least one child full time in a madrasa, 75 percent use other types of schools to educate their other children.
WASHINGTON, June 7: Contrary to a perception about proliferation of madressah education in Pakistan, just 1.3 per cent of children in the country’s four provinces attended seminaries, says a World Bank funded survey released recently in Pakistan.
Authors -- Tahir Andrabi, Jishnu Das, C. Christine Fair, and Asim Ijaz Khwaja – published an article in the June issue of the Foreign Policy magazine, discussing various options for reforming the education system in Pakistan.
According to this survey, nearly 65 per cent students in Pakistan attend public schools and about 34 per cent attend non-religious private schools.
by Emma-Kate Kunth-Symons
Anwar is one of the new breed of “edupreneurs” or educational entrepreneurs
transforming the school sector in India.
In 1987, he started a low-cost private high school with 34 students in a small, rented building in Hyderabad.
Today, M.A. Ideal High School has about 2,000 children enrolled.
Inspired by the work of Professor James Tooley, the Newcastle University professor of political studies in education and a leading international advocate of budget private schools for the poor.
Mr. Anwar opened another four branches under the same banner of M.A. Ideal High Schools in the slums of Hyderabad and in a poor, rural area.
All schools are coeducational; teaching is in English; and the target market is low-income families. Parents pay low fees of between $24 and $49 per annum.
“My school is popular with parents because they are satisfied with the education,” says Mr. Anwar. “There is a low-fee structure, good infrastructure, separate classes for high school girls, merit scholarships, and computer education.”
Disillusioned by chronic teacher absence and low-quality teaching, the poor in urban and rural India are flocking to private schools.
“In private schools, the management will pay only if teachers are present,” Mr. Anwar says. “If they are irregular in their attendance, they will be fired. More importantly, the management is always monitoring the teachers.”
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