Spotlight home page image


Pakistan’s education service delivery is currently witnessing arguably the most differentiated set of schools than ever before in its history, in part because of the rapid expansion of low cost private schools in the last 20 years. While quality differentials have been known to exist even within the public sector itself, the growth of an unregulated private schools market has most likely increased variations. Expectations of better outcomes of education have persuaded parents to invest in their children’s education in private schools. Does school choice really assist in better earnings and social mobility for children? Are these differentials in earnings substantively related to school effects?

These questions cannot be answered in wide generalizations due to lack of substantive research and because of the lack of standardization of schools. In the absence of standards, and regulation, no datasets are available to categorize quality gaps. Assessments like the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) and National Education Assessment System (NEAS) have, in the past few years revealed generally poor learning outcomes across public and private schools. The latter only marginally perform better than the former in these assessments. Intuitively, this should translate into only slightly better outcomes of schooling for private school students. As such no evidence exists on these outcomes.

Project design

The design of the research project is exploratory in nature. Because of a paucity of relevant information on variables of interest such as quality, differentials across schools types and differences within each typology are not documented except for the learning outcome based assessments mentioned earlier. Factors like choices made (and their reasons) by different income cohorts, labor market choices and life chances are also not documented extensively. These gaps limit researchable options across a given hypothesis, or a set of hypotheses. The long-run impact of different types of school quality cannot be understood without linking it to long-term employment outcomes.

A labor market survey approach was adopted because :
a. Labor market surveys are a direct source of information about formal sector employment opportunities, earnings, paid work experience and managerial responsibility.
b. Identification of organizations as a universe is relatively simple to manage.

Formal sector firms and organizations in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad – as listed in the Pakistan Stock Exchange – were selected. The selection of cities has been done on the basis of geographical presence of head/regional offices of formal sector organizations. Furthermore, selection of cities has been made on the basis of relatively large populations with a diversity of employment opportunities

Employers and employees of high, middle and lower level management cadres who have completed at least ten years of schooling and currently falling in the age bracket of 20-45 years were interviewed in detail.

Project Implementation

This phase was are view of secondary data sources such as annual reports, official websites of organizations and key informant/stakeholder interviews. The study makes use of important data sites such as the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE), Lahore Stock Exchange (LSE), and Islamabad Stock Exchange (ISE) as well as Business Recorder’s periodicals in order to get preliminary details about organizations, employers and employees.

SAHE conducted survey of 103 organizations, covering 800+employees, to elicit information about employers and employees to establish a quantitative data set of individuals serving in different managerial capacities. Since the focus was sector-specific organizations, there was a deliberate tilt toward urban areas because they employ the bulk of the labor force. Further stratification wasdone on the basis of managerial responsibility resting with executives and non-executives within the selected sector-specific organizations.
Secondary data was also sourced, where possible, from respective provincial and federal governments on the labor force employed in the government sector, concerning the education and labor market variables described above.


An analysis of the data reveals that individuals who went to top-tier elite schools have a significant salary advantage as expected. Contrary to popular belief, there is only a marginal difference between the starting salary of students from low-tier government schools and low-tier private schools. The study also finds that examinations taken at the secondary and higher secondary levels play the most influential role in determining the starting salary. Home support, school quality, and exposure to the English language were identified as critical factors in shaping salary outcomes.
A forthcoming report will present a set of recommendations based on the project’s findings.


 Duration  Feb 2016 – Jul 2016
 Districts/Cities  Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore
 Sponsor  Alif Ailaan
 Partner(s)  Institute of Development and  Economic Alternatives (IDEAS)
 Themes  Governance; Private sector
 Project  Education against Equity:  Employment in Pakistan’s Formal  Sector


Muhammad Azhar, Program Manager