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Project Case Study

Reforming education in post-conflict northwest Pakistan

Improving education opportunities in Pakistan’s most remote districts

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) is among the most challenging development contexts in the world, known for severe weather, challenging topography and decades of militancy.

In 2012, at the start of KESP, provincial education outcomes were discouraging. Only 64% of children were in school, and half of all children in Grade 5 could not read text intended for Grade 2 students. Apart from an annual school census, the government did not have any processes to collect education data that could identify and address shortcomings in delivery.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Education Sector Programme (KESP) supported the government to develop and execute a plan to improve education quality and access.

Project info

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Education Sector Programme I and II (KESP 1 and 2)


  • 2012 - 2021


We set up an independent monitoring unit to collect monthly data from all public schools, informing real time performance management in all 27 districts of KP. We helped the government to develop new student friendly textbooks for Grades 1–10 and an induction programme for over 40,000 new teachers, who were hired through transparent, merit-based recruitment processes. We helped to introduce an in-service teacher development programme and continuously adapted it in response to findings from teacher surveys and student performance results in universal assessments.

KESP started a voucher programme to enable out-of-school children to enroll into government funded low-cost private schools, and supported an increase in community girls’ schools. In 2017, with KESP’s oversight, the government conducted Pakistan’s first out of school student census.

These improvements were underpinned by more effective use of a constantly increasing education budget. In 2018, when a new government took office, KESP helped it to develop and introduce a five-year education sector blueprint.

Improvements made

  • Increase in teachers meeting international minimum competency criterion from 25% to 50%
  • Increase in teacher attendance rate from 81% to 90%
  • Increase in basic facilities from 47% to 78% of all schools
  • Increase in student participation rate from 64% to 79.5%
  • Increase in student retention rate from 60% to 74%

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