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Public Private Partnerships in Education: Practices in Pakistan.

Byline: Muhammad Nisar Ulhaq and Muhammad Munir Kayani


Partnership is a key concept to achieve _education for all' target. There is a dire need to create multiple partnerships and broad alliances which can give birth to a new dynamic. Such partnerships have several aspects. In order to mobilize support for education for all, more people need to feel they have a responsibility towards education. The introduction of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) across a wide range of sectors and countries at various stages of economic development has grown significantly since the last two decades. Various forms of Public Private Partnership have been implemented in different countries all over the world. This research study evaluated the current status of Public Private Partnership in education in Pakistan. Current study focused on different projects launched in Pakistan under the umbrella of partnership in the field of education. Researcher explored different documents to sort out policy provisions to private sector in different policies and documents since 1947.

Differen projects launched in Pakistan in National Education Policy 1998-2010 were studied. It was found that _Afternoon School Scheme' was the most successful and thousands of new schools were upgraded through this scheme. Keeping in view the progress of different partnership project, it is recommended that Partnership projects/ schemes must be introduced in rural areas also as government due to its financial constraints is not in position to initiate and operate new educational institutions along with all human and physical facilities. Special campaigns through electronic and print media may be introduced to invite private sector to come forward and play their role in national cause.

Keywords: Public Private Partnership, Education, New Dynamics, Pakistan


Education is a vital factor which plays a leading role in human development. Numerous empirical studies conducted by social scientists have established a strong correlation between education and national development (Kazmi, 2005). Education is such an important tool that government and international agencies decided to make it a joint priority and from the year 2000 adopted four new initiatives (The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Education for All (EFA), The United Nation's Literacy Decade (UNLD) 2003-2012 and The United Nations Decade of Education form Sustainable Development (DESD) 2005-2014) to work together for development and for education (Adams, 2006).

Public Private Partnership

Cambridge Learners Dictionary (2002) describes partnership as working together to achieve something; whereas, a partner is defined as a person who works with another person, in attaining a common aim. The nature of partnership is different in different scenarios, at different time period. Shaeffer (1994) highlights two terms _involvement' and _participation' with regards to partnership. Many analysts consider involvement and participation as weaker forms of activities, whereas, partnership requires more firm involvement. There is a lot of difference between partners and participants. Partners work for the attainment of a specific objective, whereas participants just cooperate in an activity.

Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) is a form to implement government programmes in joint venture with the private sector. The term private in PPP includes all non-government agencies; those may be individuals or group of individuals. The roles and responsibilities of the partners may vary from level to level and sector to sector. While in some programmes, the private contributor may have noteworthy involvement with regard to all aspects of implementation.

Objectives of Partnership

It is generally agreed that prime obligation to provide education rests with national, regional and local education authorities. At the same time it is also understood that the authorities cannot be expected to meet everybody's needs, for a variety of reasons foremost being the meager public funds. The scenario is more specific with developing countries where --Education for All|| is faced with setbacks. Renewed partnership between government and non - government organizations can effectively help in attaining this goal. Ever increasing demand in education has been countered by incorporating partnerships and delivery systems (Naidoo, 2003). Another very positive aspect, as highlighted by Grimsey and Lewis (2002) is that such partnerships reduce the burden on tax payers, as provisioning gets shared by private sector, which is otherwise associated with public sector.

Role of Public Private Partnership in Education

During the last decade, most of the Asian countries have experienced increased school population mainly due to following reasons:

a. Population growth

b. Reduction in infant mortality rate

c. Educational awareness

d. Financial uplift of societies

These factors have resulted into doubling and tripling of school admissions. Even if educational expenditure on a student does not change, increased number of students makes it impossible for government funding to effectively run the educational process. Same is the story with health sector too but we would restrict ourselves to education sector only. Such a situation badly calls for setting up of PPPs to cope with the public funding shortfall and also not to discourage the new intake of students. At the same time, maintaining respectable standards is also necessary.

Partnership: An Overview of Policy Provisions Since 1947

The first Education Conference, 1947 specified that education at all level is primarily the government responsibility. The conference did recognize financial constraints and encouraged private initiative in elementary education (Education in Pakistan, 2007).

In the Second Education Conference (1951), the participants were more open in identifying the probable role of private sector in education. The conference admitted that central, provincial and local bodies did not possess means, finances and infrastructure to cater for the educational needs of the country. So the participation of private sector was identified and welcomed. Later National Education Commission (1959) encouraged the NGOs to assume the leading role in the process. However the commission did not define any specific avenues where the private sector could be forthcoming. Commission on Student's Problem and welfare (1966) reported upcoming commercialization and profiteering in the education. These negative trends were further added by lack of quality.

Other two negative trends added by the report were the promotion of elitism and snobbery by the private institutions. The report identified more disadvantages of private education rather than the advantages. The report culminated on stressing efficient alternatives to support public sector education and better government control over the private sector.

New Education Policy (1969-70), reported over charged school fees, under paid teachers and number of administrative irregularities in the private sector education. This report also identified private education as more of problematic, rather than an alternative as viewed by Commission on Student's Problems and Welfare (1966). New Education Policy (1969-70) also recommended government legislation to streamline the education process.

The Education Policy (1972) abruptly put an end to the existing complains about the private education by nationalizing them. Before 1972, most of the privately managed institutions were the total private education institutions of Pakistan. These institutions apart from obtaining government grants also received funds from foreign sources. Fees, incomes from associated property and donations provided additional income to these institutes. The government announced to take over all the privately run educational institutions. In this way following institutions were nationalized. (Govt. of Pakistan, 2004)




d.###Technical Institutes###-###5


The National Education Policy (1979) reviewed the nationalization policy. It was concluded that the experiment had failed and had resulted in the poor performance at all level. Active role of community participation was once again though necessary. It was decided that Ministry of Education (MoE) and subordinate education departments would permit private enterprise to establish institutions especially in rural areas. It was also decided that prevailing legislation on nationalization of education institutions would be suitably amended with the provision of not to be nationalized again (National Education Policy 1998-2010).

Further supportive measure like encouraging donations and tax relief etc were also put into practice. Subsequent to this policy, Punjab Private Educational Institutions (Promotion and Regulation) Ordinance was passed in 1984. Later the provinces of Sind and NWFP also enacted similar laws. Major reforms were seen in the National Education Policy (1992) with regards to involvement of private sector in the education process. Measures like interest free loans, provision lands for educational institute construction on reduced price, and tax exemptions were announced to attract the private sector to join in the education process. Donors and philanthropists were encouraged to donate. Investors were also invited to invest in the education sector. For better coordination with the private sector, National and Provincial Education Foundations were set up. Foreign support was also seeked by inviting accredited universities to open their campuses in Pakistan.

The positive impetus of the 1992 policy was rightly carried onwards in the National Education Policy 1998-2010. Government candidly recognized that the public sector lacks finances, expertise, skill and resources to undertake the education alleviation process. The government undertook further bigger steps in taking onboard the private sector and CSOs (Civil Society Organizations) on board. In the ongoing process of ESR (Education Sector Reforms), the public - private partnership has been given a great importance, with the active participation of NGOs. Following incentive package has been announced by the government for private operatives who wish to come forward and join in the process of education (Govt of Pakistan, 2003):

* Providing land for the institution free of cost or at rebated price in rural areas. Whereas in urban areas, establishing educational zones in residential areas.

* Provision of utilities like electricity, gas and water on non-commercial tariffs.

* Availability of sufficient grants through education foundations and Khushhali Bank.

* Exemption of custom and excise duties on import of educational equipment and teaching material.

* Fifty percent rebate in income tax to faculty members and management of private sector institutes.

The National Education Census of 2005 showed following: Total Institutions

Shami, (2007) is of the view that this proved that government is rapidly moving towards its goal of shifting the load of education to the private sector as was stated in National Education Policy 1998-2010. National Education Policy 2009 recommended the development of public private partnership to ensure uniformity in standards and purposes of education. Policy recommended that government shall aim to draw upon resources from the private sector particularly in the areas of teacher education and professional development programs through public private partnerships. Moreover, university- industry partnerships were recommended to enhance research and development capacity to achieve knowledge transmission to the productive sector.

This policy envisages public private partnerships to strengthen universities and colleges through local, regional, national and international partnerships in sharing their expertise and facilities to support socio-economic regeneration and growth. (National Education Policy, 2009)

Government Initiatives Regarding Public Private Partnership

Our history is full of political instability. This political stability has cast adverse effects onto the system of education. Enrollment and attendance at all levels is not at all satisfactory. Construction of new buildings and hiring of teaching staff to meet the government's goal of admitting hundred percent children to schools by 2015 seems farfetched, mainly due to financial effect. Government has put into effect many schemes which render privileges to private organizations which are ready to participate in education process. The main beneficiaries of these schemes are CSOs (Civil Society Organizations). These programmes include:

* Adopt a school and School Improvement Programme

* Introducing IT programmes in Government Schools

* Capacity Building of SMCs (School Management Committees)

* Education Foundation Programmes

* Maddaris Reforms

* Afternoon School System

Adopt a School and School Improvement Programme

This programme was included in the PPP scheme. Its main aim was to revive failing or low performing educational institutions of the public sector. For obvious reasons, certain regulations were defined. NGOs or CSOs, under a contract could take over the management of the schools through a mutually agreed memorandum, usually for a period of three years. It was later recorded that this programme resulted in revival of over 1800 schools including trained teachers, better equipped laboratories and libraries, increased enrollment and restoration of people's confidence (Govt of Pakistan, 2004).

Introducing IT Programmes in Government Schools

This programme was launched to cope up with the latest world wide information technology. This was done by establishing computer labs in government owned schools. The government for this purpose reached out to private organizations through agreements for the provisioning of computer hardware including installment, backup support and IT related curriculum at the government schools. Under this programme IT labs were established in over 5000 schools. (Govt of Pakistan, 2004)

Capacity Building of School Management Committees

For this programme, the government preferred to reach out to NGOs which were more organized and had effective potential to reach out to the community. The Education Ministry after undertaking requisite legalities allowed the School Management Committees and Parents Teachers Associations to be registered as CCBs (Citizen Community Boards). Once registered, these bodies gain legal standing which makes them eligible for share in District Development Fund including 20% funding from the local communities. (Shami, 2007)

Education Foundation Programmes

Government entrusted another initiative to promote private sector partnership by incorporating six Educational Foundations, out of which two were in NWFP. These foundations took a leading role in educational development by incorporating innovations in school and college education. Under the recommendation of these foundations, a lot of restructuring has been undertaken, to fully incorporate private participation in education process (Govt of Pakistan, 2004).

Maddaris Reforms

Government appreciated the idea of integrating the systems of formal education and Deeni Maddaris as close together as possible. The Maddaris were to be brought into main stream education through allocation of funds, better salaries for teachers, provision of text books and teacher's training. Change from traditional Maddaris curriculum was undertaken by introducing subjects like English, Mathematics, Pakistan Studies, Science and Computer Education. This change was incorporated in 8000 Maddaris at primary, middle and secondary level (Govt of Pakistan, 2004).

Afternoon School System

The government of Punjab took a decision in February 2001 to incorporate community participation projects in order to upgrade the schools. For this purpose pilot projects were launched in districts of Chakwal, Sargodha, Narowal and Bahawalnagar. A system of monitoring and evaluation was also put in place. Under this programme 6911 schools were upgraded which included 39% boys and 61% girls schools. Not only that the schools were upgraded but the government was also able to save a handsome amount of cost. It was reported that the government saved approximately Rupees eight lacs per primary to elementary level up gradation, approximately Rupees fifteen lacs per elementary to secondary level up gradation and approximately Rupees twenty lacs on a higher secondary level up-gradation (Govt of Pakistan, 2003b). Under this programme the government run morning school was responsible for provision of infra structure like building and furniture to afternoon school free of cost.

Afternoon school students were also given the status of regular students. The private sector groups operating afternoon schools, known as --licensees|| were responsible to upgrade school structures and pay utility bills, in lieu of rent relaxations. A licensee was given a license to operate a school for a period of five years (extendable).

Discussion and Conclusion

The most successful partnership practice was observed in afternoon school scheme. About 7000 institutions were upgraded through this scheme in Punjab province. A research study _Education in Pakistan: Role of Private Sector, carried out by Shami and Hussain (2007) discussed that the concept of CPP is sound and has much potential, there had been considerable challenges in successfully implementing the program. According to them the assumptions used when configuring the program in different geographic areas tended to be static rather than dynamic, making them difficult to adapt to each specific community's need. Moreover, they point out that the morning school is reluctant to take on the additional challenges presented by afternoon school, including the sharing of premises, required administration work and teacher resources. Shami (2007) mentioned that the equitable allocation of electricity costs and monitoring of the program on the part of the government.

However, he suggests that CPP should be given due consideration, requires rigorous review of the scheme and support needed to succeed. Some shortcoming of the scheme were observed in the report _White Paper on Public Private

Partnership' submitted by Hayat (2004), She indicates that the private sector did not show much interest in taking over the schools in the rural areas, considering them unprofitable, the maximizing of profit objective prevailed and slowly many defaults cases emerged; e.g. many private partners defaulted in payment of their share in the utility bills, or abstained from depositing 10% share of their gross income in the school fund.


Partnership practices were introduced in national education policy 1998-2010. Majority of institutions taken in different projects of partnership agenda were from urban areas, in the rural areas where the participation rate is seriously low, particularly the access to education for girls education are still deficient in education facilities, Partnership projects/ schemes must be introduced in these areas also as government due to its financial constraints is not in position to initiate and operate new educational institutions along with all human and physical facilities.


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Shami, P.A., and Hussain, K. S. (2007). Education in Pakistan: Role of Private Sector, AEPAM. Islamabad, Ministry of Education.
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Author:Ulhaq, Muhammad Nisar; Kayani, Muhammad Munir
Publication:Journal of Educational Research
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Jun 30, 2011
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