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Sep 17, 2020

Update of IB in Pakistan for May 2020 examination sessions

International Baccalaureate cancels May 2020 DP examinations and the MYP eAssessment, to ensure that IB students are not disadvantaged as they progress to their next phase of education.

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The Pakistan education system is based on the British system for the most part and is the responsibility of the province. Although the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training presides over Pakistan’s entire system of education, each province has its own department of education. The central government continues to be the overall policy making, coordinating, and advisory authority. Educational institutions located in the federal capital territory are administered by the MOE. Federal government is responsible for maintaining the highest levels of quality and character within education.

Primary and secondary education is offered through private and public schools. Islamic education is offered through madrasahs.

The school stream consists of pre-primary, primary, middle, secondary and higher secondary level. The minimum age requirement to start primary classes is six years (though there are exceptions and some children start at 5 and one-half years).

Primary Education

Primary education lasts for five years. The language of instruction is either Urdu or the regional language. The curriculum includes: reading, writing, and arithmetic, general science, social studies, religious studies, and physical education.

Secondary Education

The secondary level is divided in three parts: (a) middle school from grade VI through VIII with subjects like Urdu, English, mathematics, sciences, social studies, and Islamic studies. Assessment is through semester or annual examinations. Secondary level is from grade IX through X. Students can choose science or arts (humanities) stream. Successful students receive Secondary School Certificate. Higher secondary, is grades XI and XII. Student specializes in either science or humanities. Successful students are awarded the Higher Secondary school Certificate or the Intermediate Examination Certificate.

1-to 2-year diploma programs are offered through vocational/technical schools. These programs are in conjunction with formal schooling and are offered during the 9th and 10 grade.


Madrasahs are the schools that provide Islamic education based on mainly the Holy Quran and the Hadith (teachings of the prophet Muhammad). The madrasahs are largely autonomous and have their own administrative system. They do receive grants from the central government. There are several official bodies that regulate the madrasahs and award certificates. These include Jamea-tus Safiya, the Wafaq –ul-Madaris and the Tanzeem-ul-Madaris.

Madrasahs education system and levels can be compared to the formal system of education as follows:

  • Hifz/Tajweed-wa-Qiraat/btedayia = Primary
  • Mutawassita = Middle School
  • Sanviya Aama = Secondary School Certificate
  • Sanaviya Khassa and above = Higher Secondary School Certificate

Holders of the Sanaviya Khassa are qualified to pursue higher education within the madrasah system or consider university education within the formal sector.

Free and compulsory education is guaranteed to citizens through the age of 14 years. The system of education in Pakistan consists of three streams: (i) the school stream, (ii) the university (including the college) stream, and (iii) the non-university stream.

Post-Secondary Education

Higher education is offered through private and public degree granting institutions. The academic curriculum is varied and consists of degree offerings in arts, science, engineering, medicine, business, technology etc. The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has established guidelines for establishing institutions of higher education. HEC is responsible for monitoring the quality and assessment of degree granting institutions.

First Cycle, Academic

Entry into university generally requires an admission test. Each province conducts its own entrance tests known by different names, especially for professional and first technical degree programs. Bachelors' (Pass) generally lasts two years in duration while Bachelors' (Hons) typically requires three years. Bachelor studies in engineering, pharmacy, or computer science require four years; several business administration degrees are also four years. If pursuing medicine, five and a half years including an internship are mandatory. A Bachelor of education requires one year after the Bachelor's pass degree.

Please also note that a four-year Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.) degree is now being offered. Modeled on the US system, the new B.B.A. includes a semester system academic calendar and a minimum of 120 semester hours of credit as the minimum graduation requirement. In some instances, the new 4-year degrees run year-round for three years. In either instance, the number of hours completed is the same. 3-year degrees which follow an academic calendar of nine months -- and which do not use semester hours -- are not comparable to a US bachelor's degree.

First Cycle, Vocational/Technical

Polytechnics, technical and commercial institutes and colleges offer non university certificates and diplomas of 2 to 3 years in length. Most of these are awarded by the Board of Technical Education in various provinces.

Second Cycle

Master’s are earned after having received the Bachelor’s Pass degree and one year after the Hons degree. The Master's program lasts for two years.

Additional Education Information

Centers of Excellence and Research

Besides the private and public universities approved by the HEC, there are Centers of Excellence and Research. These represent the higher tier of higher education institutions that are considered to be national excellence.

Professional Associations

Professional associations in Pakistan are similar in structure to those in the United Kingdom. Associations award a variety of qualifications, including levels of membership, diplomas, and postgraduate diplomas that are comparable to levels of educational attainment in the United States. equivalent qualifications are also awarded by a number of other associations.

Role of Authorities

An important aspect of the Pakistan educational system is the role of authorities established by statute for the regulation and maintenance of uniform standards of education and training in professional subjects. Prior approval from these authorities is essential for starting new institutions, introduction of new courses, and fixing the intake capacity in each course. Some of the regulatory authorities include Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (, Higher Education Commission (, Ministry of Education (

Annetta Stroud

Associate Director, Content and Curriculum


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