Pakistan: A dime a day

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Thu Dec 14 14:06:20 UTC 2006

A Dime a Day: The Possibilities and Limits of Private Schooling in

Pomona College - Department of Economics
World Bank - Development Economics Research Group (DECRG)
Harvard University - John F. Kennedy School of Government
November 1, 2006

World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 4066


This paper looks at the private schooling sector in Pakistan, a country
that is seriously behind schedule in achieving the Millennium Development
Goals. Using new data, the authors document the phenomenal rise of the
private sector in Pakistan and show that an increasing segment of children
enrolled in private schools are from rural areas and from middle-class and
poorer families. The key element in their rise is their low fees - the
average fee of a rural private school in Pakistan is less than a dime a
day (Rs.6). They hire predominantly local, female, and moderately educated
teachers who have limited alternative opportunities outside the village.
Hiring these teachers at low cost allows the savings to be passed on to
parents through low fees. This mechanism - the need to hire teachers with
a certain demographic profile so that salary costs are minimized - defines
the possibility of private schools: where they arise, fees are low. It
also defines their limits. Private schools are horizontally constrained in
that they arise in villages where there is a pool of secondary educated
women. They are also vertically constrained in that they are unlikely to
cater to the secondary levels in rural areas, at least until there is an
increase in the supply of potential teachers with the required skills and
educational levels.

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