Determinants and reasons behind low enrolment or school dropouts in rural areas of Pakistan

December 9, 2019

Today Pakistan is a home to at least 20 million out of school children which is a major issue to tackle for the policymakers. There is a high percentage of children who do not go to school and a high percentage of students who enroll but drop out at primary or secondary level, especially in rural areas. There can be many factors which can influence a child to never enroll in school or drop out of school. This research provides an empirical assessment of the main determinants of non-enrolment in rural Pakistan by using the latest cross-section household dataset by The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) for the year 2018.

The findings show that the economic profile of the household, gender of the child, geography of the household, and the education level of the parents are among significant drivers of enrolment rate. For instance, for a child living in a pucca house, belonging to the household of the richest quartile, being part of household having less children, belonging to Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan and Punjab than being resident of other provinces, being male, being child of educated father and mother, are positively associated with higher school enrolment. However, circumstances different than these leads to low school enrolment or even dropouts. Hence our results suggest that poverty and lack of education of parents are the main reasons for low enrolment of students. There also exists a considerable amount of gender gap in rural areas which is an important issue to be tackled by policymakers.

Education Status Over Gender:


It can be clearly seen from the above bar graph that in rural areas of Pakistan the enrolment ratio of male students is approximately 20 % more than the female students. While the dropout rate is higher among female students as compared to male students. There are several reasons for this gender disparity in education sector of rural areas. For instance, there are not enough schools exclusively for girls in rural areas of Pakistan, as most parents living in rural areas have conservative thinking and they don’t want any male teacher to be teaching their daughters.

Moreover, safety, mobility and protection for their girls Is a major concern of parents for not sending them to school especially if the school is in distant location from their homes or if the school lacks the boundary wall and basic security. Poverty is a major factor and it undermines girl’s right to education. When parents have limited resources to spend on their all children, they prefer to educate their boys over girls in the hope that after growing up the boys will take care of parents while the girls will get married and leave the house. In some cases, early marriages of girls lead to their high dropout from schools. Lastly, economic shocks for example loss in crops, illness in family or emergencies effects girls more as compare to boys.

Education Status Over Parent Education:

The above graph of child education status with respect to parent’s education states that if both parents of the child are educated then the enrolment rate of such kids are almost 15% higher than the kids whose both parents are uneducated. Moreover, if one parent is uneducated but the other is educated then it still has positive effects on the decision of children enrolment.

The above pie graphs show us the current enrolled, never enrolled and dropped out status of children with respect to each parent’s education status.

Education Status over Household Type:

The above graph is self-explanatory and shows that children who lives in pucca house have the highest enrolment rate and the lowest dropout rate. However, as the strength of the house worsen from pucca house to the semi pucca house; the enrolment rate drops by 6%. It further drops by around 10 % when the house is a Kutcha house. The same goes for children never enrolled or drop out that as the house condition deteriorates the dropout and tendency to never enrol increases accordingly.

Education status over Economic Profile:

The above graph depicts the enrolment status of a child with respect to its wealth. This shows that if the child belongs to a poorest family then the enrolment rate is lowest, and the dropout rate is highest. However, as the economic conditions improves, and the wealth status of the family begins to increase i.e. from being poorest to poor the dropout rate decreases to around 8%. While it further decreases to 4% and then further 6% as the status moves from being rich to richest respectively.

This blog post is written by M Arslan Farid, student from batch of 2020 at Lahore University of Management Sciences.