About the LEAPS Project

The Country Context

Pakistan, a country of 164 million people, is off-track in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) relating to education for all. Educational performance, as measured by literacy and enrollment indicators reported in household survey data, is poor both in absolute terms and relative to the average income of the country. With an adult literacy rate of 50 percent compared to 58 percent for the South Asian average, and primary school net-enrollment rate (for 2004) of 66 percent compared to 90 percent for India, 97 percent for Sri-Lanka and 78 percent for Nepal, Pakistan is clearly in a struggle to meet the educational needs of its large population. Compounding the problem, more than half the population is below 17 years of age and the proportion of the young in the population is still increasing. With less than 70 percent of children enrolled in school, there are already signs of stress. Mean student-teacher ratios in government schools exceed 35 and have been rising. Yet with enrollments up 10 percentage points between 2001 and 2005, and an increase in the number of private schools from 32,000 to 47,000 in nearly the same period, there are some signs for hope.

In an effort to provide policymakers with the information needed to take full advantage of this potential opportunity, the World Bank, Pomona College and Harvard University in collaboration with the Government of Punjab and highly trained local counterparts launched the Learning and Educational Attainment in Punjab Schools (LEAPS) project in 2001. As its name implies, the goal of the LEAPS project is to better understand how much learning is actually taking place in Pakistani schools, and to identify what factors determine the quality of the education children receive.

To measure learning outcomes, the LEAPS project administered detailed exams on English, Math, and Urdu to students in Grade III, then followed those same children and tested them again in Grade IV, Grade V, and Grade VI. Teachers were also tested and given extensive surveys so that child-learning outcomes could be linked to teacher qualifications, and parents were surveyed to provide information on educational contributions made at home.

In addition to providing these data, the LEAPS project has also authored a summary report which provides a comprehensive analysis of everything from the state of school facilities to the differences between government and private school approaches to teaching. The report is available on this website, and together with the LEAPS data, we hope it will become a valuable resource for policymakers interested in educational reform.

The Learning and Educational Achievement in Punjab Schools Survey

The Sample

The LEAPS Survey consists of data from 823 schools in 112 villages in 3 districts of Punjab—Attock, Faisalabad and Rahim Yar Khan. These districts represent an accepted stratification of the province into North (Attock), Central (Faisalabad) and South (Rahim Yar Khan). The 112 villages in these districts were chosen randomly from the list of all villages with an existing private school. This allows us to look at differences between private and public schools in the same village. Although these villages are thus bigger and richer than average villages in these districts, we believe this is a forward-looking strategy and the insights earned here will soon be applicable to a significant fraction of all villages in the country.

The Questionnaires

As previously discussed, the LEAPS project consists of a variety of questionnaires distributed to different groups in each village in order to obtain a complete picture of the educational environment.

  1. School Survey: Head teachers and school ownders were asked a variety of questions about about infrastructure, prices, costs and other facilities available in the neighborhood of the school.
  2. Teacher surveys: The LEAPS project administered three sets of teacher surveys. A shorter roster was administered for all teachers in the school and for all teachers who had left the school in the previous two years. This roster yields information on above 5000 teachers in the LEAPS project schools. A longer questionnaire was administered to the teachers of the tested children. This questionnaire includes detailed socioeconomic information about the teacher and yields data on just above 800 teachers. In addition, a questionnaire was also administered to the head-teacher (where the head-teacher was different from the class teacher) with questions on management practices and bonus schemes, along with other modules.
  3. Child Tests: All children in Class 3 (approximately 12,000) were tested in the LEAPS project schools with specially designed tests in Urdu, Mathematics and English. These tests were administered by the LEAPS team to ensure impartial test circumstances. Further, for a sample of 10 randomly selected children in every class (roughly 6000 in total), a short questionnaire was administered to the child with information on parental literacy, family structure and household assets (in classes with less than 10 children, all children were chosen).
  4. Household surveys: Information on the educational inputs that children receive from home, a full-fledged household questionnaire was fielded for 1800 households in the sampled villages, with a special focus on covering those households with a child enrolled in class 3. To ensure that we could compare the activities of enrolled with out-of-school children we also sampled households with eligible kids who were not in school in a stratified fashion.

The LEAPS Report

The LEAPS report, authored by members of the LEAPS team at Harvard University, Pomona College, and the World Bank, is divided into four analytical sections, each dealing with a different actor in the educational system: schools, teachers, parents, and of course the students themselves. The report includes both cursory descriptive statistics on topics like the state of school facilities and child test performance and also extensive analysis of certain subjects, like what factors and qualifications make a teacher effective. Together, it is our belief that this report provides a thorough, detailed picture of the educational landscape as a whole, and provides anyone wishing to read it with a solid grasp of the strengths and weaknesses of the current educational system.


This project requires a high degree of coordination and cooperation across the researchers, different networks within the World Bank, the Ministry of Education in Punjab Province and funding bodies. The project was initiated with Charlie Griffin as Sector Director, SASHD and we thank him for his early contributions. John Wall (Country Director, Pakistan) has provided exceptional support and encouragement throughout the duration of the project. Assistance and support from Michelle Riboud (SASHD, Sector Manager, Education), Julian Schweitzer (SASHD, Sector Director) and Shanta Devarajan (Chief Economist, South Asia Region) in Washington and Tahseen Sayed (SASHD, Lead Education Economist) is also gratefully acknowledged. In Pakistan, Khalid Gillani (Project Director, Project Monitoring and Implementation Unit and Secretary of Education Punjab), Khushnood Lashari (Chief Secretary, Punjab), Shahid Rashid (Secretary of Education, 2004-2005), Adnan Qadir (Project Monitoring and Implementation Unit, 2003), Sohail Raza (Project Monitoring and Implementation Unit) all either currently at the education department or previously associated with it, have extended their cooperation and assistance at all times. Also in Pakistan, the exceptional expertise and cooperation from the district Nazims as well as educational department staff of Attock, Faisalabad and Rahim Yar Khan is gratefully acknowledged. The Federal Bureau of Statistics has also provided invaluable support and guidance to the project at various stages.

The project has received funding from several sources. In brief, SASHD and the Knowledge for Change Trust Fund have provided the bulk of the funding for this project. In addition, a grant from the Poverty and Social Impact Analysis fund is also acknowledged. The final year of the survey will be funded through the BNPP Trust Fund under their educational impact evaluation agenda.