Prior research exploring the link between educational attainment and economic opportunities has conclusively demonstrated that an individual’s salary and the number of years spent in school are strongly correlated. Few studies, however, attempt to link job prospects with quality and type of schooling. In Pakistan, rigorous research in this area has been non-existent. This study attempts to address the gap and enrich the conversation around schooling and employability by providing a statistical snapshot from a sample of formal-sector management employees from Karachi, Lahore, and Pakistan. Over 800 employees from 103 organizations were interviewed and detailed information about their job histories and educational backgrounds was solicited.Prior to the survey, five types of schools, from government low-tier schools to private top-tier schools, were established and all interviewees were placed in these categories.

The study finds that employees who went to private top-tier schools had a substantially higher starting salary than their counterparts, and ranked the highest in other critical factors that affected career prospects, including home support and exposure to English. Worryingly, the results also show that economic mobility for individuals who went to government low-tier schools was limited and wage disparity between the top tier and other tiers had widened from the 2000s. In light of these findings, the study recommends that quality needs to be based on minimum standards and not real or perceived differences across school types, and the first priority for the government should be to devote resources towards low-tier public schools. The study highlights the need for a nationally representative household survey that could yield greater insights about employability. It also notes that a larger supply of qualified teachers who can teach English effectively is paramount, and a coherent policy should be formulated for improving assessment systems as their quality diverges greatly across different tiers.

Muhammad Azhar, Faisal Bari, Abdus Sami Khan, Minhaj ul Haque, Abbas Rashid & Zohair Zaidi
Sponsor(s):Alif Ailaan