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The People of Pakistan, Education

Azam University, University of Peshawar, Lahore University of Management Sciences, University of Sindh, free primary education

Pakistan has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world. In 2001 only 65 percent of adult Pakistanis were literate. Male literacy was 77.7 percent, while female literacy was 51.5 percent. From 1976 to 2001 the number of primary schools doubled, but so did the population. High levels of population growth continue to hamper educational development in the country. The government launched a nationwide initiative in 1998 with the aim of eradicating illiteracy and providing a basic education to all children.

According to the constitution, it is the stateís responsibility to provide free primary education. Five years has been established as the period of primary school attendance, but attendance is not compulsory. While the enrollment rate in primary school is high for boys, less than one-half of girls attend school. In the 1998 school year 86 percent of primary school-aged children were enrolled in school, while only 37 percent of secondary school-aged children attended. In 1996, 3.5 percent of Pakistanís college-aged population attended institutions of higher education. The wealthiest and best students seek education in British and American universities.

At the time of independence Pakistan had only one university, the University of the Punjab, founded in 1882 in Lahore. Pakistan now has more than 20 public universities. Among Pakistanís leading public institutions of higher education are Quaid-e-Azam University (1965), in Islamabad, the University of Karachi (1951), the University of Peshawar (1950), and the University of Sindh (1947), near Hyderabad.

Since 1978 the government has encouraged the privatization of education at all levels. This led to the creation of three major private universities: Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Agha Khan University Medical College (in Karachi), and Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology (in Topi, North-West Frontier Province). The National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), in Rawalpindi, conducts research in the fields of science and technology for both the public and private sectors.

Article key phrases:

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