Public Demand for Education Reform | pakistanpolicyideas | Some Reflections

Another delightful article on education that I had the opportunity to read today, speaks of absence of enough pressure by citizenry for quality education in Pakistan, despite a strong demand for education revealed in the survey research.  Interesting and important problem to think about! As put by Dr. Faisal Bari:

We know that the demand for education, revealed in surveys as well as revealed through the willingness of parents to pay for education, is quite strong in Pakistan. And it does not matter where in Pakistan you do these surveys. The demand for education comes out to be fairly strong across all the usual divides that we talk of: income, gender, rural-urban, and geography. We also know that the general perception of the quality of education being imparted at public schools is poor, and most parents are aware of that. Yet, the politicians said that they do not have parents coming to them and breaking down their doors demanding better quality education through the public sector.

via Public Demand for Education Reform | pakistanpolicyideas.

I use this quote to raise questions for the readers of just-questions blog.

We do know that in the case of Pakistan we are woefully short of the education-activism by the country’s influential political elite, as evident from the fact that education has never been much of an issue in the nation’s legislative assemblies as well as the courts.  We also know that a lot of pressure for access to quality education is coming from the forces within the international order of things.  There are obviously some actors out there who imagine, based on their own experience with mass education, that quality universal education for Pakistani children would presumably have powerful positive externalities for the rest of the world. Pakistani political elite, however, does not seem to be part of that pro-mass-education-in-Pakistan fraternity.

Questions: Is demand from the bottom up a necessary condition, a pre-requisite, for putting a functional education system in place [in the first place]?  Or, is education advocacy by a proactive political elite more of a prerequisite for ensuring quality education for all? Is there historical evidence for the development of mass public education as a result of pressure from below, especially from the poor and disenfranchised parentry [just to rhyme with peasantry]? Or does the evidence favour the presence of a proactive elite as a prerequisite for mass education?

Would love to know more about it, and will keep posting thoughts and information as they become available.

About Irfan

I am an independent researcher and blogger interested in everything under the sun, but more so in the philosophy and history of education and education reform generally, and specifically in the so-called post colonial contexts


  1. The Revolution, Napoleon, and Education | Just questions! - 29/07/2011

    […] I will discuss this and a few other pieces from histories of mass education for the readers of this blog as I find some more time over the weekend.   The purpose of this series of posts in history of mass education will be to initiate a conversation and develop insights about the role of various segments of society, including the significance of the role of ‘elites,’ in creation of the institution of mass education in different countries and regions. This need for such a conversation arose via questions raised by an earlier post about the role of public demand and elite. […]

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