Two major assumptions have dominated much of the discourse on Islamic schools in Pakistan since the rise of the Taliban in the 1990s and following the US attack on Afghanistan in October 2001. First, the Pakistani state-run education system is failing. Because of the poor quality of education at public schools, parents choose to send their children to attend madrassas. Second, madrassas produce religious militancy, threatening Pakistani and global security.

The article is focusing on this first assumption and explores the extent to which parents’ decisions to send their children to madrassas is explained by their educational, rather than religious motivations given the poor state of public education. Contrary to the popular assumption that families’ choice of madrassas is associated with poor standards of public education in Pakistan, findings from the research show that parents who send children (both male and female) to public school do not perceive madrassas as an alternative despite the poor state of public education.

Based on original data comprising 672 respondents from two districts in Balochistan, tells the story that parents send their children to madrassas because they earn less and are more religious than public school parents–the effect of religiosity on enrollment is consistent and increases in size as more factors are accounted for. In addition, parents who are sensitive to their children’s literacy skill development and school proximity are significantly more likely to send their male children to public schools than to madrassas.

Interestingly, the effect of school proximity on girls’ enrollment is no longer significant once the boys’ enrollment is accounted for. Furthermore, religion does not determine whether girls are educated, but it does determine where they are enrolled. With regard to teacher characteristics, parent involvement, and student outcomes, madrassa teachers report significantly greater satisfaction with their schools, higher future expected returns for their students, and greater parent interaction than that which public school teachers report. Regarding the differences between the two sectors, however, it is important to note that madrassa students perform significantly higher on math and language tests at grades two and four levels than public school students. The results challenge the popular assumptions and offer important insights for school choice and education reform.

Specifically discussing the stats of overall Balochistan, they were quite disappointing in past. But this Provincial Government with help of Pakistan Army are thriving to improve the educational standard and literacy rate. Over 17,000 Baloch students have been selected for education in various schools and colleges run by Pakistan Army and Frontier Corps. Pakistan Army is in the second phase of the megaproject, which is functioning all over Balochistan. The main paradigm of that project is to initiate the primary schools in Balochistan.

Even recently Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa reiterated that there were more religious seminars held in Balochistan as compared to modern education. He was speaking at a seminar on ‘Human Resource Development — opportunities and challenges’ at Quetta where he said that ‘only religious education is being imparted to the students at all these seminaries and thus the students are left behind in the race for development’.

Furthermore, it’s a need of time that madrassa culture should be turned into modern education where the religious education should also be inculcated. This blend will lead the literacy rate to another level which will ensure a prosperous Balochistan.

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