An overview of the educational policy research institutions in Pakistan

Published by mis on Mon, 10/28/2013 - 10:54 in
  1. This study focuses education sector and is part of the DFID funded study that landscapes policy relevant research in Pakistan. It identifies the major organizations conducting educational policy research, their thematic priorities, and the methodological orientation and geographic focus of their research. It also identifies the key donors of educational research in Pakistan.
  2. Overall, a small number of organizations are found to be engaged in educational policy research. By and large, education as a theme of research is only small part of the wider research portfolios of most of the organizations, and often lies at the margins of their priority themes. There are very few organizations specialised and exclusively engaged in educational research.
  3. The study finds a strong clustering of research organizations in Lahore and Islamabad with the presence of few organizations in Karachi and an absolute vacuum in Baluchistan and KPK. This presents an alarming scenario in the context of 18th Amendment led devolved policy making where provincial governments are solely responsible for decision making, and hence, in need of context-specific policy analysis.
  4. The study finds that several areas of education policy remain understudied due to the lack of expertise or the sensitivities surrounding these issues. Most of the existing research produced is essentially economic and quantitative analysis in its disciplinary and methodological outlook. On the other hand, the social and behavioural aspects of educational research which demand broad social-science based qualitative analysis are grossly understudied.
  5. The striking feature of this landscape is the invisibility of the institutions of higher education. There are at least 61 departments/campuses/institutes of education at various universities, employing at least 159 PhDs and more than 500 non PhDs. Yet the contribution of such a huge human resource base with the highest academic credentials to policy research is insignificant. This scenario calls for a major transformation of the higher education institutions in the country to fulfil their role as producers of policy relevant knowledge.
  6. In the absence of a prior systematic assessment of the research needs of educational policy makers, it is suggested that this landscaping of the supply-side of policy research should be followed by a rigorous analysis of the nature of evidence and analysis required by various actors, departments and actors involved in educational policy making at the provincial and national levels. Such need assessment should then be shared widely with policy research institutions and the donors of educational research.
  7. This study provides the basis for the detailed assessment of the institutional capacity of the key policy research organizations. Such detailed assessment should uncover the major organizational and financial challenges, strengths and weaknesses of, and various barriers faced, by these organizations, and identify the strategy to strengthen these organizations. Strengthening the organizations of policy research needs to be based on long term strategies aimed at the overall institutional development alongside enhancing their research capacities.
  8. Lastly, given the existing scarcity of the funds for educational policy research, the government and international donors needs to increase, significantly, the allocation of funds for research. Funding policy research should be made a regular component of their education programmes. Moreover, the existing predominant mode of short-term research project funding needs to be replaced by relatively long-term research programmes to generate a coherent body of policy relevant knowledge.

For details, please see the paper, ‘Landscaping the Institutions of Educational Policy Research in Pakistan: Who is doing what?’ in the publication section.

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