F -Education

Pakistan has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world. In 2003 only 45.7 percent of adult Pakistanis were literate. Male literacy was 59.8 percent, while female literacy was 30.6 percent. From 1976 to 2001 the number of primary schools doubled, but so did the population. High levels of population growth continue to hamper educational development in the country. The government launched a nationwide initiative in 1998 with the aim of eradicating illiteracy and providing a basic education to all children.

According to the constitution, it is the state’s responsibility to provide free primary education. Five years has been established as the period of primary school attendance, but attendance is not compulsory. While the enrollment rate in primary school is high for boys, less than one-half of girls attend school. In the 1999–2000 school year 96 percent of primary school-aged children were enrolled in school, while only 39 percent of secondary school-aged children attended. In 1996, 3.5 percent of Pakistan’s college-aged population attended institutions of higher education. The wealthiest and best students seek education in British and American universities.

At the time of independence Pakistan had only one university, the University of the Punjab, founded in 1882 in Lahore. Pakistan now has more than 20 public universities. Among Pakistan’s leading public institutions of higher education are Quaid-e-Azam University (1965), in Islāmābād, the University of Karāchi (1951), the University of Peshāwar (1950), and the University of Sindh (1947), near Hyderābād.

Since 1978 the government has encouraged the privatization of education at all levels. This led to the creation of three major private universities: Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Agha Khan University Medical College (in Karāchi), and Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology (in Topi, North-West Frontier Province). The National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), in Rāwalpindi, conducts research in the fields of science and technology for both the public and private sectors.


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