THE PAKISTAN DEVELOPMENT REVIEW
Transition in Primary and Secondary Schooling in Pakistan: Gender and Age Cohort Analysis
This study assesses the changing pattern of school attendance through age cohort analysis for both males and females in Pakistan. Based on the 1998 census data on educational attainment, the results indicate a profound rise in school attendance among younger age cohorts contributing to elimination of gender gap in primary-level schooling in urban areas only. The disadvantaged situation of rural females is reflected by a combination of low school entries/attendance to begin with, and high chance of discontinuing education before completing primary levels. The pattern of school transition reveals that among those few who have completed Class Five, the chances of staying through the secondary level are much higher—after which dropout accelerates rapidly. Two overall conclusions emerge from these results. First, the bulk of the deficit from universal primary education comes from females population, especially in rural areas. Second, the key to reducing dropouts and gender gap in school attendance lies in actions that raise the demand for schooling of girls, with equally matched availability of quality primary- and secondarylevel schools. It appears that achieving universal primary education by 2015, as mandated in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), remains a tall order for Pakistan.