Pakistan Institute of Development Economics



Who Gets Primary Schooling in Pakistan: Inequalities among and within Families

The chances of Pakistani children’s entering school and completing the primary level are extremely low even in comparison witli the relatively poor situation in other South Asian countries. This paper uses the 1991 Pakistan Integrated Household Survey to explore some of the determinants of parents’ decisions about their children’s schooling, giving particular attention to factors at the household and community levels. The results indicate that inequalities across households provide a major explanation for variations among children in primary schooling levels. Even the basic decisions relating to children’s entry into school and completion of the primary level are largely determined by parents’ education, particularly that of mothers, and household income. Primary school is not compulsory and even attendance at public school requires substantial monetary outlays. With only a small percentage of school-age children in Pakistan having mothers with any education or parents with sufficient income, the cycle of poverty and unequal opportunity is perpetuated. The accessibility of “appropriate” single-sex schools and the availability of quality schools are important additional factors in children’s schooling outcomes, particularly for girls in the rural areas.

Zeba A. Sathar, Cynthia B. Lloyd

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