Education in Pakistan is compulsory and free for children between the ages of five and 16 years old. The education system in Pakistan is usually divided into six levels: preschool, primary, middle, high, intermediate and university

The country suffers from a high illiteracy rate and gender disparity, and ex-pats moving to Pakistan are likely to find that public education is not really an option for expat kids.

The education system in Pakistan is not as nuanced and pragmatic as Western expats might be accustomed to. Special needs education is an area that is grossly neglected in Pakistan and children with disabilities are stigmatised rather than accommodated for within the system. 

Expats looking to provide their children with additional academic support may struggle to find suitably qualified tutors in Pakistan. Although they may be able to approach advisors from their child's international school for some direction, often the best bet is to find some support online. 


Public schools in Pakistan

Even though there is nothing stopping expat children from attending public schools in Pakistan, most expat parents don't pursue this option for various reasons but mainly because of the poor quality of education and lack of decent facilities. There are also cultural differences to contend with as well as the approach to learning and discipline. 

Both English and Urdu are often the languages of instruction at public schools in Pakistan. Many schools follow a curriculum inspired by the British system, with strong religious influences.

Therefore, in almost all instances, expat parents usually send their children to one of Pakistan's private or international schools.


Private and international schools in Pakistan

There are a number of private and international schools in Pakistan following various curricula. Most of these schools are located in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.

Many of the private schools are prestigious boarding schools. The standard of teaching and the quality of facilities tend to be far superior than those found at Pakistani public schools. Private and international schools are also equipped to deal with a broader range of learning needs and the teachers are able to give each student more individual attention. These institutions also offer students a range of extracurricular activities such as sport, music and drama.

For expats moving to Pakistan for a short time, it makes sense to have their child attend an international school that follows the curriculum of their home country or the International Baccalaureate (IB) as this would allow the student a smoother transition when moving from one school to the next. Another benefit of having one's child go to an international school is that it allows them to mix with other expat children who may be facing similar challenges in adjusting to life in a new country. 

School fees for both private and international schools are very expensive. Expats relocating to Pakistan to take up a lucrative job offer should certainly negotiate a sizeable allowance to cover the cost of school fees when discussing their employment package with the hiring company. 

Below are some of the international schools located in Pakistan.

Canadian International School Pakistan

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Canadian, British, Pakistani
Ages: 3 to 18
Website: www.cisp.edu.pk

The International School 

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages:3 to 18
Website: www.tis.edu.pk

The International School of Islamabad

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 18
Website: www.isoi.edu.pk

Roots International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Cambridge IGCSE and A-levels, International Baccalaureate, Pakistani
Ages: 3 to 18
Website: www.rootsinternational.edu.pk