Few in pakistan would deny that something needs to be done to improve its education system. The country is well behind Bangladesh, India and Iran, and just barely above Afghanistan, in un education rankings. Less than 60% of people over 15 can read and write, having attended school on average for 5.2 years. In Bangladesh, by contrast, the literacy rate is 74%, with 6.2 years of education.
The headline figures hide as much as they reveal. In the country’s elite schools, the children of the wealthy study in English for international exams and set their sights on the world’s best universities. At the other end of the spectrum, 23m children are not in school at all, with girls much less likely than boys to be enrolled. Government schools, where available, have a reputation for rote learning. Private schools of varying quality fill the gap. Many poor families send their children to madrasas, which tend to skip subjects like science and maths. Some are vehicles for extremist ideologies. Imran Khan, the prime minister, calls this divide “educational apartheid” and has vowed to get rid of it.