Are public schools not good enough for you?

Published: May 9, 2012

Standards of education in government institutions can only improve if all politicians and policy makers sent their children to public institutions. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN

It was surprising to hear that a senior official of the Capital Administration and Development Division had his three children enrolled in a private school. But what was even more shocking was that over 95 per cent of bureaucrats, politicians, business tycoons and corporate employees send their children to private elite schools rather than to government institutions.

I asked the official why he preferred to enroll his children in a private school since he himself is looking into the government education system in the Islamabad Capital Territory. His answer was indirect but simple:

If you have the choice to buy an electronic device from either a Chinese or Japanese company, you would prefer to buy Japanese even though it is more costly. But you are satisfied because it is, at least, durable.

I asked him when would standards in government institutions improve, and he said that this would happen only if, like in developed countries, all politicians and policy makers sent their children to public institutions.

This is a matter of great concern for the majority of Pakistanis. Because of the discriminatory education system, those from the poorer segments will remain at the losing end since they cannot afford expensive private education. Their only option is to send their children to the crumbling state system.

The most glaring example of our political elite’s indifference is that it did not take any steps to make legislation in any provincial assembly for implementing Article 25-A (which made primary education compulsory) even after two years had passed since its enactment.

Despite insistence from the international community, civil society and people in general, the rulers again show their indifference when no substantial increase was made in the annual allocation to education. Instead of being provided with uniform education by the state, ordinary Pakistanis are forced to buy it from the market at exorbitant prices amid runaway inflation.

The lesson to learn in all of this is that in a country like Pakistan, reform will take place, it seems, only when the rot directly affects the decision-makers and policymakers (and their loved ones).

Read more by Peer Muhammad here.

Peer Muhammad

Peer Muhammad

A correspondent for The Express Tribune in Islamabad.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Fahad Raza

    Why an analogy from the Official..? He goes for the durability ignoring the cost. Pure hippocratic when he said that this would happen only if, like in developed countries, all politicians and policy makers sent their children to public institutions.

    He does not worry about the cost as WE THE TAXPAYERS are paying for the education for his children. Recommend

  • Oh please

    Even in us most politicians, if not all, send their children to private schools along with upper middle income class. I guess that’s why schools here are failing too. Hm Recommend

  • curious

    It doesn’t matter where you go, the main thing is that at home you learn and study as knowledge is learnt by oneself. You just need good parents to guide you.Recommend

  • Conan

    Obama sends his daughters to a private school in D.C, even though there’s a public school near the white house and it’s WAY better than any elite private school in Pakistan.

    The main reason Obama sends his children to private school is because he can afford it with his hard earned money, and he doesn’t want to deny his children that privilege.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Your last paragraph gives one solution, although not one you could expect to see materialise.
    We may one day get a set of leaders who who would decide to spend at least 4% of GDP as recommended by the UN and not less than 1% which is being spent today with the express aim of destroying what ever education base is left in the country.Recommend

  • Zaheer

    I ask the writer; did.nt you have anything better to write about? Wasting time over petty matters wont change anything. He who can afford, will send his child to a private school, and those who cant will go for public. Your article would.nt effect anyones decisions. Public schools need funding and EDUCATED teachers, not those who’ve barely passed matric. Even in the US most of the higher class people, including politicians or the govt officials go for home-schooling or private ones.
    Sorry if i’m being rude, but its trueRecommend

  • Ali

    Pointless subject?
    This is the most important subject facing our country and people on this blog are calling it pointless!! Unbelievable!!!!

    Private schooling is an individual’s right, but education/public schools are something the government must invest in. Every year we invest less money in education and are surprised to see abysmal results in international tests.

    Why do we invest so little in education. SIMPLE: The rich and elite do not pay their fair share in taxes: they cheat and hide their assets and as a result the government has no money to spend on education.

    Neither the PML-N or the PPP will change this state of affairs. Between them they had about 2 decades in power and things have only got worse.
    Ignore the hot air they bellow and all their ammendments: the elite live by their own laws.Recommend

  • Conan

    That’s not his point.
    He talking about improving public schools, public schools in Pakistan are terrible compared to American ones.

    Americans public schools in good neighborhoods are WAY better than any elite private school in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Vigilant

    Raised a striking point….very true if policy makers or rulers are not sending their kids to public institution nothing will improve….Recommend

  • mrk

    By the way, in U.S. bureaucrats or politicians are not high-class people, as the Pakistani mindests have spoken here. Politicians imply thousands and thousands of local/provincial/fed govt officials, most of who make as much as an american white collar american or less.

    If by politician you mean just a hand-full of people like the president or the secretary of state etc, they yes those are the very top of a particular class. But that’s true of top of anything beit a top actor, a multi hundred millionaire basketball player, or a ceo/cfo of a major firm. Even in the comparison of tops, the ‘top politicians’ come in the lower pecking order.Recommend

  • Sana

    Even if I were a honest politician I would not use my own child as a geneau pig to the system. I think you are pulling the legs in very wrong way. Yes they must do something to improve the system, but sending their own kids is a personal choice.Recommend

  • Online Quran

    It is mandatory to improve education level in order to development of technology and modern sciences. But how this happened, when the all students have an equal opportunity for getting education and have resources for their experiments.Recommend

  • Nandita.


    Conan sounds like an American name and your comment smacks of racism ….. How could you possibly know if american public schools are better than Pakistani private schools ? I am sure the Pakistanis who write on this website could teach you a thing or two about your own language- English. And if the American education system was that good, you wouldn’t have had Indians running the IT industry of America. Please, keep your bigoted ideas and thoughts to yourself ! Recommend

  • Mufazzil

    @Sana: I agree to some extent, but they should set an example for the nation by enrolling their own kids in Government educational institutions.Recommend

  • Mufazzil

    Education should get nationalize in our country, there shouldnt be any class difference atleast in getting primary education. I am ashamed of being Pakistani, where uniform of elite school are designed by Deepak Perwani.Recommend

  • Sane

    Hahaha….. our government is so poor that they can not invent in education sector; because elites and rich (MNAs, MPAs, Political Leaders & Bureaucrats) do not pay taxes. Well …. Good Point…. Isn’t it. But, at the moment ‘Prime Minister’ of Pakistan visiting UK with 90 delegates and all staying in Churchil Hotel, one of the most expensive hotel. Plus fleet of limousine, traveling and much much others. Alas….. but poor government has no money to invest in education.Recommend

  • waitwhat

    are you conanO’brien? @Conan: Recommend

  • Abid P Khan


    “…..But, at the moment ‘Prime Minister’ of Pakistan visiting UK with 90 delegates and all staying in Churchil Hotel, one of the most expensive hotel….”

    Cowasjee, once wrote in his column that he spotted the then Swedish Prime Minister, Olof Palme sitting in the same airplane. Palme was on his way New York, to address the UN General Assembly. Cowasjee enquired about the staff that was accompanying him. Palme said,” He had one assistant with him. In case something needed to be typed, they can ask for help from the permanent staff of Swedish UN office.”

    It is meaningless to compare a lone Viking with the Grand Vizier of a Moghul emperor. Recommend