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Religious School Enrollment in Pakistan: A Look at the Data

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  • Andrabi, Tahir

    (Pomona College)

  • Das, Jishnu

    (World Bank)

  • Khwaja, Asim Ijaz

    (Harvard U)

  • Zajonc, Tristan

    (Harvard U)

Abstract

Bold assertions have been made in policy reports and popular articles on the high and increasing enrollment in Pakistani religious schools, commonly known as madrassas. Given the importance placed on the subject by policy makers in Pakistan and those internationally, it is troubling that none of the reports and articles reviewed based their analysis on publicly available data or established statistical methodologies. This paper uses published data sources and a census of schooling choice to show that existing estimates are inflated by an order of magnitude. Madrassas account for less than 1 percent of all enrollment in the country and there is no evidence of a dramatic increase in recent years. The educational landscape in Pakistan has changed substantially in the last decade, but this is due to an explosion of private schools, an important fact that has been left out of the debate on Pakistani education. Moreover, when we look at school choice, we find that no one explanation fits the data. While most existing theories of madrassa enrollment are based on household attributes (for instance, a preference for religious schooling or the household’s access to other schooling options) the data show that among households with at least one child enrolled in a madrassa, 75 percent send their second (and/or third) child to a public or private school or both. Widely promoted theories simply do not explain this substantial variation within households.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government in its series Working Paper Series with number rwp05-024.

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Date of creation: Mar 2005
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp05-024

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Cited by:
  1. Asadullah, Niaz & Chakrabarti, Rupa & Chaudhury, Nazmul, 2012. "What Determines Religious School Choice? Theory and Evidence from Rural Bangladesh," IZA Discussion Papers 6883, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Delavande, Adeline & Zafar, Basit, 2014. "University choice: the role of expected earnings, non-pecuniary outcomes, and financial constraints," Staff Reports, Federal Reserve Bank of New York 683, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  3. Baele, Lieven & Farooq, Moazzam & Ongena, Steven, 2011. "Of Religion and Redemption: Evidence from Default on Islamic Loans," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 8504, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Adeline Delavande & Basit Zafar, 2011. "Stereotypes and madrassas: experimental evidence from Pakistan," Staff Reports, Federal Reserve Bank of New York 501, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  5. Manos Antoninis, 2012. "Tackling the largest global education challenge? Secular and religious education in northern Nigeria," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2012-17, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  6. Cantoni, Davide & Yuchtman, Noam, 2013. "The political economy of educational content and development: Lessons from history," Munich Reprints in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics 20002, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  7. André, Pierre & Demonsant, Jean-Luc, 2013. "Koranic Schools in Senegal : A real barrier to formal education?," MPRA Paper 53997, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Jean-Paul Carvalho, 2009. "A Theory of the Islamic Revival," Economics Series Working Papers 424, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  9. Lodhi, Abdul Salam & Tsegai, Daniel W. & Gerber, Nicolas, 2011. "Determinants of participation in child’s education and alternative activities in Pakistan," Discussion Papers, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF) 119110, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
  10. Manos Antoninis, 2012. "Tackling the largest global education challenge? Secular and religious education in northern Nigeria," CSAE Working Paper Series 2012-17, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.

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