Pakistan Reading Project: Supporting rural and isolated schools to improve reading

The Pakistan Reading Project (PRP) is an extensive education program in Pakistan aimed at tackling one of the highest child illiteracy  rates in the world. The IRC and its partners aim to reach 1.3 million grade one and grade two students across seven provinces in Pakistan to improve reading education and student reading outcomes as measured by the Early Grade Reading Assessment. Learn more.

This study aimed to identify and understand the school, teacher, and community level dynamics that facilitate or hinder success for teachers in isolated rural schools in Pakistan. Researchers used a participatory research methods approach to collect data from 27 teachers and 48 community members in 14 isolated rural schools in the Swabi, Panjpai and Astore districts of Pakistan, which were selected to receive support from the Pakistan Reading Project (PRP). Major findings suggest that:

  1. Teachers in remote rural schools have not received any pre-service or in-service training on pedagogical skills, assessment, or the textbook, and the great majority have never seen or read the national curriculum. While the most experienced teachers have had access to some training opportunities, the least experienced teachers have had no trainings and carry the heaviest workloads of all teachers in multi-grade classrooms. Teachers in rural schools receive support and encouragement to improve their performance from their head teachers, but do not have contact with other colleagues and do not receive support from the Department of Education.
  2. The great majority of rural teachers in Pakistan who receive little supervision or support from the government do not form their own learning communities to improve their schools, and feel unable to improve learning given the lack of materials, opportunities for professional development, and support.
  3. In the absence of government support, local leaders in Pakistan do not motivate their communities to create conditions for continuous learning among rural teachers. One exception suggests that parents collaborate to improve local schools when they are aware of the value of education, feel qualified to support teachers and schools, and have relationships with teachers that show strong leadership. 
  4. When teachers in isolated rural schools are provided with materials, peer-to-peer learning opportunities, and concerted follow-up support, they feel motivated to improve their attendance and teaching practices and gain the self-efficacy skills needed to address immediate problems, even when the school learning environment remains challenging. 
  5. Technology can be used in isolated areas to enhance teaching and reading even if not accompanied by intensive training. Limitations and implications for practitioners and policy-makers are discussed in the report.

The Airbel Impact Lab at IRC is a team of researchers, strategists and innovators committed to the accelerated design, rigorous evaluation and cost-effective scaling of the most impactful solutions supporting people affected by crisis.