Public education in Pakistan suffers from neglect, persistent low standards of education, and crumbling infrastructure. The overall state of public school education is grim: Of the country’s approximately 127,000 public primary schools, 11%t are without a building, 41% are without a boundary wall, 66% have no electricity, 38% are without running water, and 40% have no toilet facilities. Pakistan’s adult literacy rate of 56% is the lowest in South Asia with 68.9 % for men and 40 % for women (UNESCO 2011). These conditions are more pronounced in rural and relatively underdeveloped parts of Pakistan. For example regional literacy rates show stark variation between Balochistan, 36%and Punjab, 54%. These conditions together with persistent low investment in public education (less than 2% of gross domestic product) result in extremely poor outcomes: 50% of school children, age 6-16, cannot read a sentence in any language.

It is always a challenge for countries with such a large population to deliver basic services without significant participationfrom community. What is needed now is a mix of community level advocacy to work with school authorities and parents to convince them to make school enrolment as easy and accessible as possible and to support parents in the actual enrolment process. Communities need to foster an education friendly and conducive environment where education and its associated issues are discussed and action taken on relevant matters with authorities.

The British Council in partnership with 3 strategic partners, Children’s Global Network Pakistan (CGN), School of Leadership (SoL) and Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) as well as 15 delivery partners in year 1 and 30 delivery partners in year 2 proposes to implement the project ILMPOSSIBLE: Take a Child to School Today to respond some of these barriers, increase primary school enrollment, and improve retention in 60 districts in Punjab, Sindh, KP and Balochistan provinces over three years. Our project aims to address the demand side challenges of school enrolment and retention. Our core activity will be supplemented by advocating for communities and parents to take up issues of quality education and enabling communities to hold school authorities and government departments responsible. Strengthening and reforming the supply side of education i.e. addressing issues in quality of education, teacher training, adequate infrastructure etc is beyond the scope of the proposed project but In Pakistan hefty investments are being made by international aid agencies such as DFID, USAID and the provincial governments towards addressing some of these urgent concerns.