Independent schools play a pivotal role in the provision of quality education and improving the literacy rate in Pakistan. By a common estimate, there are about 70,000 private schools in the country and this number is on the rise, fueled in part by the confidence shown by parents in these institutions and the value they provide. As a matter of fact, there is a strong trend towards the private sector overtaking the public sector, especially at the pre-primary and the primary grade level.
As the private sector expands, it is also subject to a growing slew of problems. The Right to Education Bill and Article 25-A of the Constitution require that the government provides free and compulsory education to all children between the ages of 5 and 16. The private sector is playing a crucial role in helping achieve this target. Unfortunately, instead of appreciating and encouraging this contribution, the government often takes a negative stance towards independent schools.
There are multiple independent Associations operating at the national, provincial and local levels that aim to tackle the problems faced by private schools. However, there is an obvious lack of collaboration between these Associations. Even when a serious issue emerges that causes these Associations to join hands and form a functional action committee, the partnership is unlikely to persist for long despite gains made, as concerns regarding leadership inevitably take over. In this context, Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) in collaboration with School Assessment for School Improvement (SASI)/Institute of Professional Learning (IPL) is proposing the formation of a country-wide Alliance of private school associations. The vision is to create a platform that will protect the interests of private schools, create awareness, and enable them to play a participatory role in helping shape the educational landscape both on the national and international level.