The Pakistani Spectator

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A look at Pakistan’s current literacy rate

By Umar Tosheeb • Sep 20th, 2010 • Category: Worth A Second Look • 12 Comments

Amongst all the bad news coming out from Pakistan, we need to highlight some good, which hasn’t been given much attention lately.

It has become a norm in west to do a comparative analysis of countries, which although useful at times, but doesn’t reflect clear picture when not done properly.

For example when analysts look at literacy rate in Pakistan, they are shocked by low level of literacy rate. If they knew history of literacy rate in Pakistan and history of Pakistan in general, they wouldn’t be so shocked.

In 1961, fourteen years after independence, literacy rate in Pakistan was 16.3%.  For female, it was even lower, only 8.2%.  This shows us that we had to start from a very weak literacy base.

In 2009, literacy rate in Pakistan was 57%. I’m using same source here as used for above numbers, some sources show slightly lower and others show slightly higher numbers, but all show numbers somewhere in 50s.  This shows a tremendous increase of 40.7%.  When it comes to women, their literacy rate in 2009 reached 45%.  Women had overall increase of 36.8%.

We could have done much better, but given the circumstance; there has been progress in this regard nonetheless, although somewhat slower when compared with some other countries.

These days most likely comparison is done with India.  It is said how India has far higher literacy rate than Pakistan. If we look at 1961 numbers, Indian had literacy rate of about 29% in that year.  This is about twice as much as Pakistan. It means India had much better base to start from.

India’s literacy at present is 66%, which is not that much better than Pakistan, despite having a much stronger base than Pakistan.  Pakistan has done well with all the political turmoil throughout its short history; on the other hand, India has had relatively peaceful government system in its short history.

Pakistan could have done much better if only it had stable governments. It hasn’t done that bad without one.

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Click For More Articles By Umar Tosheeb I have BA in History and Political Science. Planning on going to graduate school. After doing metric from Pakistan, I came to USA. Originally from Gujrat Pakistan. I have interest in Pakistani history, politics and languages.
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12 Responses »

  1. Corrections: The increase in literacy rate is not 40.7% overall and 36.8% for women, but 40.7 points overall and 36.8 points for women.

  2. This increase in literacy rate is what has threatened and stopped the advancement of extremists. Especially educating women to enable them to think liberally and rationally was an important step to confront this militant ideology. It is imperative that we strive more for it because the extremist ideology can only be defeated by a literate liberal and rational thinkers.

  3. Education is of immense importance and that too secular teachings which promote tolerance and eventually democracy at the end of day and defeat to the terrorist.

  4. Education is one tool with which we as citizens can cut the head of the Taliban who is enemy of the State. It is grave threat to their existence.

  5. @umar. So does that really change anything? I believe the overall situation remains same for Pakistan and the need of hour is to focus major on education to protect the fate.

  6. i very humbly submits that in Pakistan,generally two type of institutional education exists. One is the traditional schools and colleges/universities and the other is Madrasa. Both are pole apart. They instead
    of augmenting each other for the sake of better education are indulged in negating the overall progress of nation. There is mushroom growth of madrassas in every nook and corner of Pakistan , and serves as breeding grounds for extremists. can the author come with figures of students coming out of these two different school of thoughts. Yes, here we can say Madrassas are out smarting the traditional education.


  7. increase in education rate is good…but the factors you are defining in when compaering to India, i can just laugh at pakistani minds….why didn’t you consider the population?…reaching to so many people, and still giving every thing better then your country..leave it, coz,in India,we never compare to pakistan for anything…may pakistan develop and get out from ill system and state of mind…

  8. [...] that is more poor than all of africa’s poor you have a better literacy rate? lets see here. A look at Pakistan’s current literacy rate | The Pakistani Spectator 9 percent higher than Pakistan. Wow you people are so SMART. Reply With [...]

  9. inshallah it will continue to increse a time will come when surprise change will be seen

  10. just i have listen on Dawn News a program about education in Pakistan. so both respected guest who were from high profile position told that BEST( basic Education Stander Test) commenced in 2010 in Karachi. they have chosen English & Urdu medium school from Middle community areas. result showing 6.5% was successful in those test and this test was taken up-to six class… so it’s not fair…. we should be serious about quality literacy….. which is our prosperity sign.

  11. Please tell m the criteria how literacy rate is determined. I mean what must be the minimum education level to be called as educated man/woman?

  12. I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up!
    I’ll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back in the
    future. Cheers

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