Quality and Learning Outcomes

Annual Status of Education Report 2013. (2014). ASER-Pakistan

ASER Pakistan 2013 provides data on educational indicators from 138 rural districts and 10 urban districts. Since this report is published each year, it helps evaluate the differences if any in the educational outcomes when compared to the previous year. It also serves as an indirect evaluation mechanism of government programs that’s have been implemented in the past year. According to the report more children are out of school in rural areas than urban areas. Government schools are a dominant source in rural areas unlike urban areas despite the fact that children in government school perform worse than those in private schools throughout Pakistan. Another aspect that the report highlights is that paid private tuition while an urban phenomenon has also started spreading to the rural areas. Moreover, if the education indicators are considered provincially then Punjab outperforms every province. However, these differences may be due to different policies and financial resources pointing to a need of concentrating on bringing all province indicators at the same level. Thus, ASER reports are an important tool for policymakers to identify gaps in learning outcomes from different aspects.

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Andrabi, T., Das, J., &Khwaja, A. I. (2013). Report cards: The impact of providing school and child test scores on educational markets. World Bank, Washington, DC.

This paper examines how an exogenous increase in information through the dissemination of report cards containing school and child-level test scores affects educational outcomes in rural markets with public and private schools. The findings from this paper demonstrate that information provision through report cards affected test scores, private school fees and enrollment. Test scores were higher and fees in private schools for children in treatment villages were lower. Thus, to the extent that households altered their investments in children, it appears that this investment may have been directed toward greater pressure on the school rather than investments at home. Two types of quantity adjustments accompanied these quality and price movements, through enrollment gains and through alternate schooling options. Hence, the paper makes an important contribution by focusing on capturing outcomes for all relevant players in the market, which few studies are able to do given the substantial data requirements. Furthermore, it shows that the dissemination of credible and comparable information on learning quality is an intervention that can improve performance in the private sector and simultaneously strengthen the public sector; such interventions can therefore become an integral part of government policy in an environment where the public and private sectors jointly provide a service.

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Andrabi, T., Khan, S., Khan, Y., Naseer, F.(2012). Learning in public schools. International Growth Centre.

This report focuses on the quality of education in the public primary schools in Punjab and studies the recent teacher development initiative in this context. The authors’ main point of interest is to discover the variation in average test scores across public schools and what school factors are correlated with that variation. Through the use of PEC data, they demonstrate that the quality gap between good and bad district is relatively smaller compared to the gap between good and bad school within any given district. They also corroborate findings in the literature by demonstrating that schools with higher student-teacher ratios perform poorly compared to other schools in terms of PEC scores, though the effect is small. The authors also lay the foundations of evaluating the government initiative, Continuous Professional Development (CPD), the new teacher professional development intervention and investigate the potential impact it has on student achievement. Preliminary findings suggest that activities organized under the CPD programme are rated favorably by all teachers but most prominently by teachers from low-performing schools. However, some problems exist in the design of the programme which if improved can help teachers become more effective and raise the quality of learning in schools.

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Dundar, H., &Waheed, H. A. (2010). Expanding Access to Quality Education. The Transformative Path, 11.

This World Bank policy note points out the two major challenges for Pakistan’s education sector, which are access and quality. However, it focuses on quality. The authors attribute low enrollment numbers and poor learning outcomes to poor teacher quality and accountability, inadequate and inefficient funding, and weak management and governance. They recommend developing and implementing policies that focus on teacher performance and management. Moreover, they suggest an increase in funding to improve resource-use efficiency and learning outcomes, which can be achieved by leveraging the contribution of the private sector. They also emphasize on the role of the federal government in promoting cohesion of the education system nationwide. Finally, they recommend enhanced learning-assessment systems to monitor progress in learning outcomes and in improvements in schooling quality over time.

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Behrman, J. R., Ross, D., & Sabot, R. (2008). Improving quality versus increasing the quantity of schooling: Estimates of rates of return from rural Pakistan. Journal of Development Economics, 85(1), 94-104.

In this paper, rates of return are compared of improving school quality versus increasing school availability, with both working through cognitive achievement to affect adult productivity as represented by wages. Cognitive achievement is determined by time schooling attainment, school quality and individual characteristics in a cognitive achievement production function. Due to the amount and difficulty of data required, this study is first in its kind. However it has important implications for policy makers faced with tradeoffs between investment in quality or quantity of schools and between focus on primary or secondary schools. The paper demonstrates that for the conditions facing Pakistan in the early 1990s, the rate of return to improving the quality of primary schooling was substantially greater than the rate of return to increasing access to middle school, although it is somewhat lower than the rate of return to expanding enrollment in low-quality primary schools.In this context, it appears that productivity and equity concerns both pointed towards expanding primary schools, even if they are of lower quality. However, it must be taken into account that these results are conditional on the context in which the data was collected. Thus, these results may be true for the early 90s, yet they may be vastly different for present times.

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Education in Pakistan: What Works & Why. (2007). Campaign for Quality Education.

This report highlights the issues of quality education by collecting data from five to six quality schools, each at eight different sites across Pakistan. The findings of this study suggest that current investments in direct delivery of educational services such as teacher training, creation and training of school councils, supply of missing facilities, and financial and other incentives for students to attend schools, many of which may be achieving worthwhile intermediate results, are not a sufficient condition for sustainable reform. What appears to be crucially missing from the equation is a strategy for identifying the human resource with the potential to take reform forward, and a focused effort to create or sustain selective apex institutions with real depth and capacity. Thus, this study recommends focus on identification and promotion of the promising human resources present within schools, provision of a meaningful system of incentives to teachers and school leaders in improving the quality of schools, and reconceptualizing the current focus on the ability of schools councils to ensure community support to schools.

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