Discussion by Senior Officials on Brooking Institution's Report "Beyond Madrassas"

Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Brooking Institution's Report "Beyond Madrassas"

JAMES BEVER: Good morning, everybody. My name is Jim Bever. I'm the director for USAID's task force on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Welcome to the Ronald Reagan Building. Welcome to the home of USAID and welcome all our distinguished guests.

I will do a short introduction right now for Dr. Raj Shah, the administrator of USAID. We're just absolutely excited, so excited that he has come to AID and so pleased that Secretary Vilsack, secretary of Agriculture, was willing to let him go in January to join as the leader of USAID.

At the time, Dr. Shah was the director for the - the undersecretary for research, education and economics and also the chief scientist for U.S. Department of Agriculture. He's been a strong proponent obviously for agriculture research around the world during that time.

But before that, he also served as director of agricultural development in the global development program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. So without further ado, let me introduce Dr. Raj Shah, who's just come back from Afghanistan and Pakistan a few weeks ago. Dr. Shah?


DR. RAJIV SHAH: Thank you and I would like to thank you Jim for that kind introduction and thank you all for coming today. This is a particularly important event and for a particularly important event we have a particularly important guest with us today in Congresswoman Nita Lowey and I want to thank the congresswoman for being such an incredible advocate for improving basic education in Pakistan, particularly for women and girls.

I want to welcome Julia and Jillian, who are our guests as well today. We're pleased to have you as shining examples of what's possible when women and girls get a chance to be highly educated and committed to the overall cause of human improvement.

I commend the Brookings Institution and the study co-authors, Dr. Rebecca Winthrop and Dr. Corinne Graff, for conducting this timely research.

I also appreciate when I had the opportunity to join USAID, I, at very much Congresswoman Lowey's guidance and support, brought together groups of just outstanding thinkers to really help us learn about what are the breakthrough ideas in education, especially as they pertain to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and had some wonderful dialogues then that really helped unlock my own thinking but really set a strategic path forward for our mission and our teams that are hard at work in those often difficult environments.

I would like to welcome our panelists today and others who will be facilitating the conversation. Steve Inskeep from National Public Radio, who really needs no introduction; Bruce Riedel, from the Brookings Institution; and Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa, from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced and International Studies.

The credit for today's research really goes to the Brookings Institution and their support for this important work. We look forward to hearing the findings and recommendations. And really very much a part of our reform agenda here at USAID is to be as evidence-based as possible in making program decisions that get more educational results for U.S. tax dollars and that's really what today is about for us.

It's an opportunity to listen and to learn and to take the collective input that comes from this important work and incorporate it into our programmatic approach going forward.

We look forward to learning specifically about the linkages between education and the reduction of militancy in communities and we welcome the views of the panelists and those in the audience. But it is important to point out that in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the United States has a broad and significant investment in basic education for the purpose of offering really every person, boy or girl, the chance to have access to an education to unlock their own God-given potential.

That's what drives and motivates our aspirations and our work all around the world. But in this setting in particular we are interested in how can we do this work in a way that helps make those communities safer and helps to make America safer.

With that, I really just want to introduce Congresswoman Lowey. And it's a challenging thing to be at an education-related event introducing Congresswoman Lowey to an education audience because you all know her unbelievable commitment to this issue.

I can assure you personally that whether in hearings or in private conversations, she does in fact live up to her reputation of being extraordinarily focused on driving success in this space and I've had the opportunity to benefit from her guidance and take it very, very seriously.

I also wanted to just point out that - and you learn something new when you read biographies and all of that. It was fascinating to learn, Congresswoman, of your tremendous work in education in the United States and expanding after-school programs to students here, especially in really dramatic and aggressive and effective ways. And I think across that whole body and portfolio of work you have urged this community to invest where we know we can stretch our dollars furthest.

That often means girls' education. You've asked us to take on an evidence-based approach. So that if we know that private sector schools can provide particular value and outcomes in certain environments to support that system, where we can build strong public systems and access to support that but in everything we do measure and track our results and that's' very much a part of what we're trying to live up to.

And finally, as we think of a vision of success in Afghanistan and Pakistan and live up to this President's commitment to create security, stability and economic prosperity in those places, we all know that an educated child, and particularly educated girls, are very much an embodiment of the solution to getting that outcome.

And so with that, I will proudly introduce a tremendous advocate and speaker and leader for this cause, Congresswoman Nita Lowey.


REP. NITA LOWEY (D-NY): Well, thank you so much for that very generous introduction and it's particularly nice to receive an introduction like that when you have your oldest grandchild here with her dear, dear friend. It's particularly exciting for me to have the opportunity to show her how we operate here and I appreciate your kind words and we are very lucky to have Dr. Shah in this capacity.


I have to tell you, as soon as the Haiti task force at USAID began to meet, I can remember I think it was within weeks that you had a computer system up and running and I also remember very clearly, it was two-and-a-half years when the government finally got a computer system up and running in Iraq.

And I can remember many discussions with Mr. Bremer and Stuart Bowen, the inspector general who's not exactly a left-winger; he certainly was a Republican from the White House and he said, two and a half years, and they just started figuring out where the money is going.

So I want to thank you because not only are we lucky because of your creativity and your intelligence and your commitment but the systems you're putting in place are truly making a difference with the wise leadership of Jim Bever.

DR. SHAH: Thank you, Congresswoman.

REP. LOWEY: So we thank you so very much and I'm also glad to be here - I mentioned before - I wake up - this could be a little tricky. But I do wake up every morning with Steve Inskeep and as soon as I wake up in the morning and I listen to you at 6:00, 6:30, 7:00, 7:30. But we really appreciate your insight into so many of the issues that those of us in the room care passionately about.

And Bruce Riedel and I have worked together at the congressional Aspen Institutes and many of us prefer to spend our free time going to those institutes because we learn so much from scholars like Bruce and we thank you.

And Dr. Siddiqa, I'm so glad that your daughter is here someplace. I met her. Maybe she's resting. Is she in the audience?

DR. AYESHA SIDDIQA: No, she's not.

REP. LOWEY: Okay, well it's a pleasure to meet her as well and I thank you so much for your insight and all the wisdom. We need some more wisdom when it comes to our AfPak plan; and of course, Dr. Rebecca Winthrop and Corrine Graff for this very important and timely report.

Frankly, it reinforces something that I think everyone in this room already knows and that's why that report is so very critical because we know that education, especially a quality basic education, is instrumental in fostering a more peaceful society, preventing conflict, ensuring equality between men and women, especially leadership that it provides to women and girls.

I think one of the first things you did, Dr. Shah, in Haiti is make a decision that the money is going to the women. Unfortunately, when it doesn't go there, too much is just wasted and we see this all over the world.

Now, I don't know how many of you remember the old cartoon "Schoolhouse Rock." Not only did the show teach an entire generation of schoolchildren how a bill becomes law, it reminded us time and time again of a principle that is too often taken for granted: Knowledge is power.

Never has this credo been truer than today when the disparity between rich and poor, between educated and uneducated, continues to grow at home and abroad. Education is a national security priority. And I was very pleased that in the past administration, President Bush made development one of the three pillars of national security: defense, diplomacy and development.

We know that education is a national security priority and the evidence is clear. Expanding access to education can help reduce the risk of armed conflict. The mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan may be the front lines in the battle with al-Qaida and its sympathizers but the central front must be a battle against fanaticism and low expectations.

In fact, one of the highlights of my time, many years in the Congress, was going up - it took us about seven flights, Jim - to get to Dadar in Pakistan where I had the privilege of rededicating a girls' school.

Now if you ever go up to Dadar, you'll even see a plaque up there giving USAID - and my name happens to be included. But it was very exciting. And these girls who probably have never been off the mountains in Dadar - one asked me for a science teacher, others asked me for computers. So it really is exciting to see what education can do. Do go to Dadar. I hope the school is still there. (Chuckles.)

MR. BEVER: It is.

REP. LOWEY: That is what is so frightening. Our efforts and those of our allies must be aimed at confronting an ideology taught in thousands of classrooms around the developing world, one that perpetuates ignorance and murder as opposed to peace and collective prosperity.

The 9/11 Commission concluded that educational opportunity is essential to U.S. efforts to defeat global terrorism because unstable and poorly educated societies are incubators of violence. No country has reached sustained economic growth without achieving near universal primary education.

Education lays the foundation for sound governance and strong institutions. Investing in girls' education in particular increases women's incomes, delays the start of sexual activity, reduces infant mortality, increases women's political participation and stabilizes society.

Education helps structure communities with schools at their center, bringing together parents, students, teachers and government officials, offering services that support and lift up individuals and families.

Of the 72 million children out of school, over half live in fragile and conflict-affected states. Without a basic education, these children will not have the skills to contribute to rebuilding their countries and we will lose yet another generation to war and disease.

And since I became ranking member of the House Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee in 2001, and then I was privileged to become the chair in 2007 - we'll see what happens in this election; it's a tight one - I've worked tirelessly to increase funding for basic education. It was $100 million and I'm very proud we almost hit a billion in FY 2010.

Nowhere is it more important to focus our educational resources and ensure that our partners are engaged and determined to get it right than in Pakistan. The violence and extremism that embroils parts of Pakistan has far-reaching regional and international security implications.

President Obama has called Pakistan's tribal areas in FATA the most dangerous place in the world for Americans. And as the failed Times Square bombing plot demonstrates, international terror attacks linked to the Tribal Belt are an ongoing risk to the American people.

The education system in Pakistan is in shambles, although I must admit, Dr. Siddiqa, when the education minister comes to see me, and this has been going on for many years, I continue to get reports of progress. So although I cannot stay, I really am looking forward to learning more from you because the reports we get from the officials seem to be very different from the actual statistics.

And for those Pakistanis who come and meet with me who are so committed, they tell me the story of the madrassas and Wahhabi money that comes to support it. So I appreciate your work.

We know the real statistics. Fifty-four percent of the population of Pakistan can read - 54 percent. Pakistan is one of the few countries in the world where the illiterate population is growing. With more than half the population under 17, it is vital to address the youth bulge now. Yet less than one-quarter of Pakistani girls complete primary school and of the children who do enroll in school, 30 percent will drop out by grade five.

Pakistani parents are just like any parent around the world. They want to send their children to quality schools. Unfortunately, many parents either are not sending their children to school at all or are sending them to private schools because public schools are judged to be poor with low quality teachers.

Besides the obvious problems associated with children not attending school, growing up without the tools and knowledge to better themselves, the public education system in Pakistan too often reflects antigovernment sentiment, may also fuel support for militancy instead of serving as a positive, constructive force. There are strong data showing that the lowest performing government schools, the bottom 25 percent, are having a direct and adverse effect on citizenship skills or tools youth use to mitigate conflict and be constructive members of society.

Further data demonstrates causality. It is these schools themselves, not families or community conditions, creating the environment that is conducive to radicalization. Pakistan is also missing an incredible opportunity to build support for the government by providing quality education services to its people. Strong schools provide a prime opportunity for promoting the values of government in our lives and demonstrate to all corners of Pakistan the benefits of engaging the government.

However, there is some cause for hope. What would we do without thinking it could be? Otherwise we'd all be out of business in this room and let me thank all of you. If I went row to row, I know I'd miss somebody. But I know that so many good friends in the room, former congressman Jim Moody back there, have been very involved. So I just want to thank you all because education is one of the few variables that governments can improve through policy interventions.

I'm pleased the new Pakistan national education policy promises reforms and includes a commitment to increase investment in education from 2 to 7 percent of GDP to help achieve these goals. In tight budget environments with Americans hurting here at home, we must invest in what we know works and what we know can help make the U.S. and the world a safer, more stable place.

Our assistance programs must also address the root causes of militancy in Pakistan. Just building schools isn't enough. U.S. government assistance, including diplomatic backing from the State Department, should prioritize reform.

Knowing the extent to which poor government schools are part of the problem, we must work with the ministry of education and other donors to ensure that systemic reform is undertaken, including improving hiring and accountability procedures.

While the Pakistan government and people must lead the way, donors must take an active role in incentivizing and supporting reform efforts. And I must say, you've probably all heard me say this, not only with education but I have been talking with Dr. Shah and the private sector and people representing other countries.

We don't have the kind of money we'd like to have. Coordination, coordination, coordination; I know this is Hillary's mantra. She said, what advice do you have for me, when she took over the job and I said, coordination, whether it's CGI, whether it is Gates or Nike or the many foundations operating, whether it is other countries.

I remember my first trip to Ghana and I asked the ambassador, bring everyone together. I wanted to just meet everyone. They were saying to me, it's nice to meet each other. They were operating their own stovepipes of excellence. They're doing good work but they don't know each other. So this is such a huge job that we really have to coordinate all the resources out there.

So let me close by saying I congratulate the authors of this report for not only laying out the problems we face but also providing constructive steps to move forward. We must also remember that education and development initiatives can have short-term policy gains but we cannot utilize shortcuts.

Ultimately, in the case of Pakistan, good conflict-sensitive development policy over the medium to long term is necessary to leverage the full potential of education for promoting stability.

We know the stakes are just too high for us to fail in Pakistan and I would all certainly - and I apologize I can't be here - urge all of us to listen carefully to the recommendations of this report and follow through on efforts to bring about real reform, which is not only in the U.S.'s interest but will bring the gift and promise of every - excuse me - of education to every Pakistani girl and boy.

So thank you so much for all you're doing. Thank you to our distinguished panel. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to address you and I apologize I have to leave. (Applause.)

MR. BEVER: Congresswoman Lowey, thank you very much for your remarks. I have my own observation. When I was in Pakistan 22 years ago and I left, I said there were three priorities for future programming for the U.S., three: primary education, secondary education and tertiary education. So thank you for being a champion for education.

Raj, Dr. Shah will have to leave shortly but you'll be able to stay for a few minutes? I want to just take a moment to introduce the speakers. Would you like to say any last remarks?

DR. SHAH: No thanks.

MR. BEVER: Okay. If I could just start - what we'd like to do is give Dr. Winthrop a chance to speak for a few minutes about the findings of this research.

But I'd like to just start by introducing at the end, at the far other side of the panel, Bruce Riedel, who was introduced earlier, former Central Intelligence Agency senior officer, focuses on political transition, terrorism and conflict resolution, a very senior and distinguished officer now at Brookings Institution, was a senior advisor to three American presidents on the Middle East and South Asia at the White House where he was - among other many distinguished responsibilities at NATO and elsewhere - sat the White House he was special assistant to the president for Near East and North African affairs.

Next to him is Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa. It was a pleasure to meet you this morning, Dr. Siddiqa. She is a senior visiting professor for South Asian studies at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced and International Studies and author of two books on defense-related decision-making and political economy of the military including "Military, Inc.: Inside Pakistan's Military Economy" and "Pakistan's Arms Procurement and Military Build-Up". I understand "Military, Inc." was so popular in Pakistan it was banned because it was maybe so close to the truth.

Next to her is Steve Inskeep, who has also been introduced, host of NPR's Morning Edition. And before coming to NPR, Steve worked for the public commercial radio stations in and around New York City, written many articles obviously for New York Times and Washington Post and a forthcoming book on the world's growing urban areas that, if I can say it, is tentatively titled "Instant City" and we would love to talk with you more about that at some point.

And Dr. Corinne Graff, fellow at Brookings Institution, who works on weak and failed states in the developing world, co-editor of the book "Confronting Poverty: Weak States and U.S. National Security" and works on various other publications on economic dimensions of civil war and is currently investigator on service delivery and education and its impact on the military in Pakistan, which brings you here today.

And finally, Dr. Rebecca Winthrop, who I'd ask to come to the podium, who is fellow and co-director of Brookings' Center for Universal Education; she's the former head of education for IRC, the International Rescue Committee, which as you know is a humanitarian NGO, and her work focuses on education in the developing world, special attention to fragile states and armed conflict, and you have been working in this area for at least 20 different conflict-affected countries. So we look forward to hearing about the research that you present. Please join us. Thank you. (Applause.)

DR. REBECCA WINTHROP: Thank you, Jim. Thanks, everybody, and thank you so much, Dr. Shah and Congresswoman Lowey, who was great to have here today. And frankly, I don't think I have to do much. I think Congresswoman Lowey pretty much laid out the main points in the report. I know all of you have a copy and probably have not read it yet.

But I will basically skip through and try to give you the highlights and really looking forward to the different perspectives from the panelists. Ultimately, very much appreciative to USAID, a big thanks to USAID for inviting us here today. It's a little unusual.

We at the Center for Universal Education, as Jim said, work on education in the developing world on a range of issues and we usually do not launch our Brookings reports at another institution. But when the invite came, we thought, what a fitting opportunity.

But just to clarify because I've had three questions already on this, this is a Brookings report. USAID didn't commission it, didn't fund it. We haven't done it on behalf of USAID. I think actually it's a real testament to Dr. Shah's leadership as well as everyone else at USAID that they invited us here in their effort to sort of expand the dialogue with USAID and external actors.

So ultimately the goal of the report, why we even endeavored to write it was really to spur serious dialogue on the education sector in Pakistan. We don't claim to have any definitive answers but we're very interested in promoting what we would call, you know, evidence-based discussion around policy. And our ultimate question was really to look at quite objectively what is the connection between militancy and education in Pakistan, if any.

And I'm going to give you right upfront the headlines, the main headlines of the report, which Congresswoman Lowey actually did quite well. But lest midway through, you get tempted by your BlackBerry or anything, at least you'll have the main point to take away and the headline really is sort of in three parts.

The first one is that increasing educational attainment is very likely to reduce conflict risk, especially in countries with low levels of primary and secondary enrollment. And this applies to Pakistan as well as other countries around the world and there's very good data for this and I think it's something people don't always realize and it's important for us to pay attention to.

Second part of that headline is Pakistan-related. What does this finding really mean for Pakistan? It really means that the education sector as a whole, above and beyond the militant madrassas that I think all of us have heard so much about, especially in policy meetings and/or the media, but the education sector as a whole should really be an important part of any strategy in promoting stability and security in Pakistan, one of many factors certainly but it should be present. It should be at the table.

Additionally, the third sort of part of the headline is that while access is extremely important, getting more kids and young people into school, the quality of that education is equally important if we're really serious about reducing conflict risk and promoting stability. So you can't just expand it. You have to also really pay careful attention to the quality, the content, its relevance, et cetera and I'll go more into that in a minute.

So that's the big headline and what I'll do for the rest of the time is just walk through with you the main sort of story behind that headline and prior to getting stated, just because all of you are probably very well-versed in this subject, I wanted to be clear with you what we mean when we talk about education in Pakistan and what we mean when we talk about militancy.

We're taking a very, very broad look in this report and I think that's important to remember. We're looking at education writ large. So there's many different types of education systems in Pakistan. There's a whole religious schooling system, which the madrassas are part of. There's a public government education system. There's a whole private education system. So we're looking broadly across all of those.

We're looking at all levels: primary, secondary, tertiary, as well as formal and nonformal. For our study, we had a big scope. And when we talk about militancy, we're also looking quite broadly. We're looking at both militant attitudes or support for militant groups as well as actual active engagement in sort of militant violent acts.

And we're also not looking at one particular militant group. We're looking broadly at militant activity. There's a whole range, whether it's related to international terrorism or insurgency or what have you. We're looking quite broadly.

And in terms of what we're basing our analysis on, ultimately I'm an education specialist. Corinne is a conflict specialist. And what we did is look very broadly and carefully at a range of sort of scholarship and literature, global scholarship on education as well as conflict as well as a lot of empirical hard data coming out of Pakistan itself, bringing these two areas together, the education area and the conflict area, which are often not paired together and really looking at the implications of what we can learn when looking at them side by side.

So to give you the story now, I'm going to walk you through. We have about - you'll see in the report - nine findings and 13 policy implications and I will not, thankfully for all of you, plod through them methodically one by one. But I'll give you sort of the three main parts of the story that I think are important that support sort of this headline message that I just said.

Clearly, we all know that militant violence in Pakistan has been rising and it's a grave concern not only to Pakistanis but many outside of Pakistan and one of the reasons, or one of the factors, I should say, that people have looked at to try to explain this rise in militancy has often been education. And it's mainly focused - the focus on education and I would say this is more true in the West - Jim or Bruce or Ayesha could correct me or Steve as well - than in Pakistan itself.

But the main focus has often, certainly here in the U.S., been on madrassas and I would say sort of this - I call it the madrassa story, which goes something like militant violence has been rising over time and one factor among many is that there's a big gap in the supply of good government education. And so parents in droves are sending their children to madrassas which in turn radicalizes the population.

And this story is only partially true and I think we really need to revise it in our sort of discourse around Pakistan. Four sort of main points on that: one, there are, yes, a small number of militant madrassas, and people in this room are more expert on this subject than I. And it's very clear that they do directly contribute to increasing militancy in Pakistan.

They do this through a range of things, whether using the madrassas as a recruiting grounds for militants or the actual content and worldviews that are formed in these religious seminaries are very pro-militant and this sort of mechanism really applies mostly, although probably not exclusively, to madrassas along the border with Afghanistan.

But it is limited. Not all madrassas, by far, are like this. And so the second main point there is that the numbers are actually quite small when you look at how many students are actually enrolled in madrassas.

There have been reports over the last several years that put the number of madrassa students - all students - 30 percent of students in Pakistan are enrolled in madrassas and then some down to 1 percent. So the data's been all over the map.

We carefully reviewed all of those and it's very clear - there's very big consensus that between 1 and 7 percent, depending on the sort of study methodology, are fulltime students enrolled in madrassas and so there isn't this sort of steep rise in madrassa enrollment that comes with this madrassa story.

And indeed this is not even a growth industry. The formation of new madrassas, annual formation each year, has kind of plateaued over the last 10 years. There aren't more and more madrassas really forming each year.

So additionally, another thing - point of information that would revise this madrassa story is that it's not - madrassas are not necessarily the schools of last resort either. Islamic education is very important for parents. There's a lot of good data to support that and anyone, I'm sure, who is Pakistani can talk about that.

It's important for moral and ethical development of children and there's lots of evidence that shows that parents, especially in rural areas, will diversify potential job opportunities for their children by sending one child to a madrassa and another to a public school, another to a private school.

So there are different sort of career paths - being an Islamic scholar, et cetera - for people attending madrassas that you can't necessarily get equally if you attend public schools. And in addition to sort of that strategic choice that parents do make and the preference for Islamic education, there is also some good studies that show that oftentimes many parents, especially in rural areas, don't want to send their kids to madrassas.

There's a study that shows that more often than not, if there is no other schooling option in a community and there's only a madrassa, parents will opt to not send their children to any education. So in other words, not send them to madrassa but to keep them home.

So again, for all those reasons I think it's important that we revise this story and in terms of policy implications, I'd like to just pull out two particular ones.

One is that we do need to take the militant madrassas issue very, very seriously. In all likelihood, they should probably be shut down. Education policy, per se, doesn't have a lot of purview and ability to sort of address this issue.

And secondly, that we should really leave the question of the role of Islam in the Pakistani education system to the Pakistanis to debate. This is not something that I think is fruitful if sort of outsiders- us here in the U.S.- start weighing in on that issue and certainly we should be treating any madrassas that aren't militant with respect and whatnot.

So that's sort of the first main part of the story. The second main part picks up on a kernel of truth in that sort of madrassa story, which is around the idea that there is a big gap in the supply of education in Pakistan, that the government is not providing education adequately to its young people as well as its adults.

And the second - sort of the leading headline of the second part really is that this significant supply gap in education can itself be a real problem for Pakistan if you look at conflict risk and it increases the likelihood of conflict risk, regardless of the fact that people are not running to put their children in to madrassas.

And so let me just talk a little bit at the moment about this supply gap in education. I think education is incredibly complicated in Pakistan but if you had to boil it down, I would summarize it as a story of poor supply and high demand, and you heard already from Congresswoman Lowey, half the population can't read. Only two in three kids are in primary school.

That puts Pakistan in the top three countries in the world with the largest number of out of school children; 6.8 million children ages 5 to 9, only a third of the young people receive a secondary education. Really, Pakistan is in line in terms of on average statistically with sort of indicators in sub-Saharan Africa, not indicators in South Asia education indicators.

And if you compare with other countries with similar GDP per capita, Pakistan also ranks quite at the bottom. Now, this is a bit of a depressing story and there certainly are pockets of excellence. There are a few people in the whole country who get excellent, excellent education. But on average, for the whole sort of population, it's not a very good story.

What there is good to support certainly though is a very, very high demand for education. Parents, young people, from young children through to youth, really, really care a lot about getting an education. And if anybody listened to Steve's trip, latest trip in Pakistan, that came out very clearly I think in some of his reports.

But what has happened is that because there's such a high demand and such a poor provision on the government, there's been a massive rise in private schooling - about a third of all the students, which is a very large significant percentage of the population. If you think about the United States, I mean, that would be a huge chunk of all our states just having private schools, not government public schools.

A third of all fulltime students are in private schools. Many of these private schools are affordable. They're in rural areas. They're community-based with local teachers. Parents are paying a significant amount, including many poor parents, to pay for their education.

In Punjab, about half of all the educational costs - in Punjab province, a half of all the educational costs are borne by parents. Parents are really interested, as we heard earlier, in getting a good quality education.

And so what I think is really important and for us, what we concentrated on, was what does the supply gap mean for Pakistan over and above what we all know it means; that this is going to heard for economic development, et cetera, et cetera; and there are some really good global data that show that if you have such a big supply gap, you're going to be increasing your risk of conflict.

This is robust data from a range of countries around the world. I'll give you a flavor. If you increase secondary enrollment by 10 percent, so enrollment in secondary school by 10 percent, you'll decrease your risk of conflict by 3 percent.

Also another sort of thing that's agreed upon, if you increase 1 year of average schooling in the population, it's estimated to reduce the risk of conflict by 3.6 percent.

Large, young male populations that are out of school are also higher for conflict risk, which of course we know Pakistan has. In terms of what this global data means in the context of Pakistan, which has sort of near the last in the world in terms of secondary enrollment, male secondary enrollment in Pakistan is around 37 percent net enrollment rate.

The world average is about 60 percent. Again, with half the population under the age of 17, it's a very young population. And this demographic is only going to be increasing. It's only going to further strain the education system.

One study pointed out, and this was only one study I should highlight, what we thought was very interesting, they said if, in terms of primary enrollment, if Pakistan could increase its primary enrollment rate, so only about two-thirds, 66 percent of all kids are enrolled in primary school, to right around the world average, 87 percent, then it would cut its conflict - risk of conflict by three-quarters.

So this is powerful data and what we take it to mean is that education, clearly not the only factor but really needs to be front and center in the dialogue around security and stability and particularly access. Expanding access to education is what this data tells us is really important.

Secondly, what I think in terms of the second policy implication is that the way to expand access is primarily, although probably not exclusively, primarily to focus on improving the provision of education. Lots and lots of incentives to increase the demand for education may be a little bit off the mark. Might be helpful, not bad in and of itself, but if their serious problem is the provision, we should focus on supply side reforms.

So that's the sort of main second part. The third and last part of this story before we finish is to highlight the fact that expanding access, while clearly necessary, is not sufficient for ultimately getting what we want, which is reducing conflict risk and promoting stability.

We really do need to focus on issues of quality. And where we get to this, the reason we make this argument is because when you start asking the questions about well, okay, now we know - in the second part we talked about education supply is related to reducing conflict risk.

Well, why is that? Why is it related and how is it related? Like what are the actual concrete on the ground mechanisms in Pakistan that make this so?

You start realizing that a lot of them have to do with issues of learning outcomes and quality, the relevance of the school system, the content, what kids are learning, et cetera and this is where I get to the part of the report which I call, certainly internally at Brookings at least, the sort of four reasons why and the five mechanisms how part of the report which is the real sort of Pakistan-specific stuff.

And there is general agreement and if you look very broadly, that there are sort of four main reasons why education and conflict seem to be related and education and militancy may have a link and those four are, very quickly, that inadequate supply of schooling or poor quality schooling can exacerbate grievances against the government.

Secondly, the content of what you learn in education can foster sectarian worldviews. Thirdly, very poor quality education can limit the skills that are developed, especially good citizenship skills that are needed for peaceful political engagement, and lastly, irrelevant education that's not linked to the labor market can increase the pool of potential ready recruits in young people.

Now, of course, the reverse is true for all of those and that's what I hope people take away from this report, is that if you actually really hone in and focus on significant education reform, you can - if you increase access significantly you can probably mitigate grievances against the government.

If you help really changing the content of education, you can promote more tolerant worldviews. If you improve quality, you can raise civic values and citizenship and on and on.

Now how those played out in Pakistan is - I won't go through all of them but we came up with five mechanisms of how those links actually concretely within the education system played out and there could be more mechanisms.

I'd be interested actually also - and Ayesha, I know she's been doing some work on higher education with a report I don't think is actually out yet. Is it? Not yet, no, but anyways, I hear it's coming. But perhaps if it had been out we would have included higher education in the report.

But we only included the five mechanisms for which we really have sufficient data and those five would be education management for political gain; secondly, poor learning and citizenship skills development; thirdly, fostering narrow world views; fourth, lack of relevance of schooling to the marketplace; and fifth, inequitable provision of education.

I'm just going to talk today briefly about the first two so you get a flavor. The others, the fostering narrow world views, has a lot to do with the curriculum which I think most of you will be more familiar with than the others; lack of relevance of schooling has a lot to do with the fact that there is a number of educated Pakistani youth with no jobs.

Inequitable provision has a lot to do with the huge disparities in access to quality education, especially along socioeconomic lines, language, native language lines. If you aren't a native Urdu speaker, you're a native Baluchi speaker, you're much less likely to access education, et cetera, as well as gender and rural/urban divides.

So briefly to close, to give you a flavor, the governance one, I call it the governance one, the sort of first mechanism, education management for political gain. The way the education system, the public education system, is managed and structured in Pakistan really does - there's pretty good data, empirical data to show that it exacerbates grievances against the government. So mismanagement, political manipulation, corruption in the education sector, they all sort of contribute to a sense of frustration and exclusion on behalf of citizens.

And often we think about good governance programs applying to things like policing or the judiciary or rule of law. But I think we really need to take a significant look at the education sector with this lens. It's one of the most visible, far-reaching, politically lucrative sectors in Pakistan.

There's about 750,000 teachers, public government school teachers in the country. That surpasses active duty personnel by 100,000. There's 140,000, by most estimates, schools, government schools. So in many communities, especially in rural areas, the school is sort of the one government institution that they interact with.

And there's lots of problems with how the education system is managed, so teaching jobs are definitely handed out as political patronage. There's not a lot of accountability of teachers to the community in many ways, high teacher absenteeism. This creates lots of problems with ghost schools. There's also problems with corruption and exam results, some reports of exam's answers being published in newspapers in various instances.

But all of this, and I could go on and on, and the report does, all of this is really upsetting to Pakistanis, especially Pakistani young people who really, really care a lot about getting a good quality education. It's something that preoccupies them quite a bit. A lot of good survey and polling data shows that they're very upset by this. They have - it definitely erodes and even creates hostility towards the government.

So again, that's one sort of mechanism that I think people don't necessarily talk about enough. A second, which is something that I actually was really pleased that Congresswoman Lowey mentioned, was this issue around the quality of schooling and the poor leaning outcomes and how that's related to the lack or poor development of civic values and citizenship skills.

In general, the learning is quite poor in Pakistan in terms of just getting them in school is not enough. Two-thirds of students in grade three can subtract single digits. In one province, students after spending 3 to 5 years in school, in the worse schools students couldn't recognize letters. They couldn't recognize numbers. So that's - I mean, 3 to 5 years, what are they doing year after year? I'm not sure.

But it's really sad for them and an interesting new report has come out and this is some of the most rigorous data that we have on education in Pakistan because it's been a long study. It's called LEAPS, the Learning and Educational Achievement in Punjab Schools project, and I encourage any of you who haven't read it but are interested to go on the website. It's a group of Pakistani scholars who are quite prolific.

But one of the things that they've recently analyzed is civic values and citizenship skills and they found that in half of the schools, students had what we would call poor citizenship skills or poor civic values. More disturbingly, they found that the worst schools were actually directly causing those poor citizenship skills.

So it had irrespective of their family background, how much - if they were poor or rich, their gender, if their parents were literature, or ideologies of teachers or anything like that - it was sort of bad government schools were directly causing sort of bad civic values and citizenship skills and they point out, and I think it's really important for us to think about, that there's this huge gap in the public/private sector.

On general, on average the private schools perform a few points higher than the government schools. If you don't look at the average, you have the top schools, whether private or government, are probably about the same. However, you have a much broader span of quality in the government school system. So you have some really, really bad government schools, which sort of brings down the average.

So the bottom 25 percent of government schools in Pakistan are really bad and are sort of directly contributing to this poor citizenship skills acquisition. So there's a lot of policy implications for the third part of this story and I think probably I'll leave it to some of the panelists to hear their perspectives on what they think.

But clearly I think it's clear we can't just focus on access. We need to focus on quality. We need to think seriously about system reform, governance reform. It's not enough just to construct schools. We need to think very seriously about short-term strategies, which is possible to improve learning outcomes.

We need to - I would suggest focusing on the bottom 25 percent of the worst performing government schools and also fostering and building on the initiatives that private schools have, the success that private schools have demonstrated, so not just working with the government.

So in closing, those are the three parts. Revise the madrassa story, be concerned about the - second part - be concerned about the education supply gap. Increasing access can really reduce conflict risk and thirdly we need to pay attention to the very nuanced and complicated ways that education and militancy are linked, which means we have to focus on quality and relevance and a range of other issues.

So that's it. In closing, I really look forward to everyone's input in the audience but especially our panelists. Again, our goal was to spur dialogue, spur discussion, think about how education as one factor of many can be part of the solution and promoting a more stable and peaceful Pakistan. Thank you. (Applause.)

MR. BEVER: I don't know if this is on but you can probably hear me anyway. Dr. Winthrop, thank you very much for that précis.

Maybe to start with I'd like to ask some of the panelists to respond to at least a question I've been thinking about, a couple questions, and then give them a chance to also ask you and Dr. Graff some questions and we'll do that for maybe 15 or 20 minutes and then turn to you all. So please be thinking about what questions you would ask the people that are up here, including Dr. Winthrop.

But maybe if we could start, Bruce, with you, because you were so involved in the security and strategic package for the president's consideration a year ago and you've seen the additional security and strategic package that was put together in the late summer and fall that led to the speech at West Point in December that President Obama gave about Afghanistan and Pakistan.

As you've thought about this and looked at some of these comments and findings, from where you come from in your career, how do you see this has being relevant and important to Pakistan's security as well as to America's security, the extent to which these education issues get addressed? Are they really that important?

BRUCE RIEDEL: Let me see if this one is on. If not, hopefully you can hear me as well. It's a very good question. Before I try to take a stab at it, let me thank you for that kind introduction.

I should say, for those of you who don't know, when the president asked me a year and a half ago to chair his strategic review of Afghanistan and Pakistan policy, I was thrilled to see that Jim Bever was in the room when we gathered together the heavyweights because we needed a few people with a sense of sanity and reason and who actually knew what they were talking about instead of all the high and mighty that we had.

MR. BEVER: Thank you.

BRUCE RIEDEL: I also want to thank Rebecca and Corrine for inviting me to participate in this study. President Obama has said not only are the tribal areas the most dangerous part of the world for the United States, he has also quite correctly said that Pakistan is the epicenter of America's struggle with al-Qaida and its affiliates and I think he's got that absolutely right.

The stakes here for the United States are enormous. Pakistan is the second largest Muslim country in the world, the sixth largest country in the world. By 2050 it will move up to the largest Muslim country in the world and the fourth largest country in the world.

It has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world and it has been an incubator for terrorism and extremism for at least 35 years and the United States has to bear some responsibility for helping build that incubator of terrorism in Pakistan.

Pakistanis, according to every poll, have an extremely antagonistic attitude towards the United States of America. In the latest Pew research poll, President Obama's approval rating in Pakistan was 7 percent. George Bush's approval rating in the last poll before he left office was 9 percent. So we're actually moving downwards, not upwards. An al-Jazeera poll last year found that 55 percent of Pakistanis believe that America is the number one threat to the future of their country.

Eighteen percent believed India was the number one threat to their country. When you out poll India as the bad guy in Pakistan, you are in deep, deep trouble. That's why I think the president was wise a year and half ago not only to increase American military forces in Afghanistan but to engage in the so-called civilian surge both in Afghanistan and in Pakistan to try to change Pakistan's vector and strategic course.

The truth of American-Pakistani relations over the last 60 years is we have lived on rollercoaster. We've gone through periods of incredible highs. When we've thrown money at Pakistan like a drunken sailor, with no accountability in return for secret intelligence programs, the U-2, the war against the Soviet Union and most recently the war against al-Qaida, punctuated by bitter divorces in which we've broken off relations, sanctioned Pakistan and done everything we can to isolate it in the world.

The consequence of this rollercoaster approach is what I got to mention to you before. Pakistanis don't trust us and they don't like us. They don't think we're reliable. There's a good reason for that. We have not been reliable. What we need to do now is constancy and consistency in supporting Pakistan, in supporting the civilian government in Pakistan, in supporting reform and change in Pakistan.

And I think one of the virtues of this report is it gives us some practical steps on how to do that in a critical area. I'm not a specialist in education. I leave that to my colleagues from Brookings.

But I think this report lays out some practical ways for the administration to move forward as it tries through the enablement of the Kerry-Lugar legislation to triple economic assistance to Pakistan over the next year and sustain that for the next 5 years, practical steps on how to do it.

I do want to underscore one of the points that Rebecca made, which is one thing we should not get involved in is devising the curriculum for how Pakistanis study Islam. That is a recipe for disaster. We should be much more involved in the practical issues of supply side rather than try to get into the issues of curriculum reform.

MR. BEVER: Thank you Bruce. I appreciate it and thanks for your kind remarks and we look forward to some other discussion here in a few minutes.

Dr. Siddiqa, I wonder if you might just have a few initial comments but also if given your scholarship on the military in Pakistan and the budgets for the military and the economy might comment on the struggle Pakistan has had since I served there in the 1980s and continues to have today of always favoring the military budget, the police budget, the security budget to the detriment of the health budget and the education budget in the country's economy and whether that formula might ever change and how that might affect support for either government schooling or other education initiatives, how that relates to some of the remarks that Dr. Winthrop made on supply side and lack of support and funding for such.

Dr. AYESHA SIDDIQA: Mr. Bever, thank you so much. Indeed, you've asked a very important question. Will Pakistan be spending more on education and health rather than defense and the answer is no. There is no will, firstly, on the part of any government to push - to kind of pull up health and education versus defense because defense is the largest stakeholder.

In fact, it would be not unfair to suggest that the military in Pakistan is the state of Pakistan. I wouldn't be kind of using the usual kind of a comment by saying that it's the only functioning institution. Personally, I don't think the military is functioning. A military which cannot win wars and yet get involved in politics does not know how to function.

But going back to the report, I'm slightly fearful. I mean, I've really enjoyed reading it. I completely underscore the emphasis on public sector education. My only concern is that the problem itself, it's a hydra-like problem in Pakistan. It's multilayered and that's how we need to look at it.

It's not that, all right, madrassas are not so bad, something else is bad. The report in fact feels that it's from the perspective of an overanxious funding organization which wants to make some contributions and has tried so hard to kind of contribute towards changing the curriculum, changing the systems in madrassa education and not being able to do it.

Apparently U.S. government gave about $500 million, around $500 million for changes in madrassa education, something like that but couldn't manage to do it because the Wafaq-ul-Madaris didn't cooperate.

The thing is that madrassas do pose a problem. They pose a larger problem of a peculiar kind of socialization, which of course the U.S. government or USAID cannot tackle at all and madrassas attract people, children who are dropouts from school and then numerous reasons why children go to madrassas.

I completely agree that one of the reasons that eventually a lot of children do end up going to madrassas is also because of the poor public sector education system. That's where the problem is. But if I'm to read into the report, I'm almost fearful that I sometimes pick up the signals of a suggestion that a much safer sector would be the private sector in Pakistan.

I'm just suspicious, right? I hope that's not the case. Now how does one - I think one needs to still hold back a bit and build a bit more of an understanding of what is happening in Pakistan and its educational system and let me very, very quickly share with you the study that I talked to you which I just finished which was looking at private sector higher education institution.

These are what I call the elite. I picked up 18 universities in Pakistan, which are private sector elite universities. I mean this is what we'd compare to - I mean, these are the kids who are affluent, come from upper class and upper middle class socio-economic background. These are the kids who would in another situation would be coming to - after for the graduate degrees, et cetera - would be coming to American universities, going to the West and elsewhere.

Now what I found very interesting - and the sample was 53 percent male, 47 percent female. Now if you looked at their responses, it was very interesting. They were liberal in a lot of contexts. For example, they would say no to the Taliban. They would say, yes, we should talk peace with India, et cetera, et cetera.

But then you began to look at the responses to some of the other control questions. I mean, it was a very extensive questionnaire, 143 questions, and when you started looking at the responses, you felt that they were as close-minded as perhaps youth going to public sector schools and public sector universities.

I mean, my data included universities, arts universities, which create architects and painters and engineers. It included medical colleges. It included other universities, like most famous Islam's Lahore University of Management Sciences and I was surprised when I saw that 62 percent thought that one of the biggest threats to Muslim ummah was starting United States. Then there was another category called West. Third was Israel and fourth was India.

But these were people who were talking about having peace with India and yet when you asked them specifically to rate what was the greatest threat to Pakistan security, 69 percent said India… 62 percent (I mean, they had options of ticking more than - multiple options) 62 percent then said United States and 43 percent (by the way, which was very interesting), 43 percent the threat was their own army.

Now what I found very interesting was that there was political - you talked very well about building citizenship and the question that comes to mind is how do you build that sense of citizenship because what is apparent in my data, what's apparent in the studies, three other studies which have been conducted in the past 2 years on youth, and of course related to education, is that one thing which is common and common denominator is that none of them have respect for the political process.

So even the most educated, even those who want to - and, in fact, they shun democracy. They believe that - a lot of one of the common things - so where do you begin to build that. I mean, I know that you are keen and USAID with best interests of Pakistan at heart wants to develop, wants to help build Pakistan's capacity.

But I think what you have to keep in mind essential is Pakistan's government has to be, one, on board. Two, it has to stand up to its commitment and what probably United States government always fails to do while investing in Pakistan is hold Pakistan government to its part of the partnership.

So if a government is not willing to change the curriculum, if a government is not willing to make the essential changes and investment in the education system, Kerry-Lugar, the money which will go into Pakistan because of the Kerry-Lugar bill is not going to move a thing.

And one final point, I think which is important. I was talking to Mr. Bever before this meeting started, he made this comment after his recent trip to Pakistan about media and media completely baffles me in Pakistan because media has also become one of the main sources of educating people indirectly and the problem with Pakistan's media at the moment is that although in terms of the tools it has available to it, it's very diverse, it has more possibilities, yet its spirit is not free at all. The spirit of the media, Pakistan media of the 1980s under the worst military dictatorships, was far freer than the media today.

This media has no spirit, no soul to stand up and change those images, change those views, the worldviews that would make Pakistan a better place.

MR. BEVER: Well thank you very much. I think that we will probably have some questions about some of your observations. I can think of a few myself. But maybe at this point we'll turn to you Steve. You've just apparently been traveling out there.


MR. BEVER: I wonder if you might comment on your thoughts and reflections about Pakistan, this country, that's more than half the population of the United States and what its importance is to us and what you may have observed on the media and the education issues.

MR. INSKEEP: Sure. Let me continue in the vein that my colleagues to the right have started so impressively. I spent a little bit of time this past spring at the University of the Punjab in Lahore and can't give you an academic sense of what's going on there but can give you impressions that I think confirm what has just been said.

I spent time talking with students on the campus and you don't have to talk to them very long before they begin asking why America hates them so much and giving stories. They will tell stories about how they themselves have witnessed bombings, they themselves have been affected by bombings. They are certainly no fans of the Taliban. They are certainly no fans of radicals.

But they want to know why the United States is bombing them because they are convinced that it's Blackwater, that it's the CIA, foreigners are interfering in Pakistan. There is a line of logic that is difficult to deal with when you listen to people, when you listen to this unhappiness. I also spoke while I was there with Dr. Mujahid Kamran, who's the vice-chancellor of the university, essentially the chief executive of this very large university, equivalent of a state university.

He is struggling with a situation, as I'm sure many people in this room know, having to do with radical students on campus. The IJT is the name of the group. There was a situation earlier this year where a professor as in fact beaten because he was the head of a disciplinary committee that expelled some radical students and the vice-chancellor is struggling with how to eliminate the influence of this group from the university where they've been entrenched for close to 30 years.

Twenty-five years is perhaps a little closer to it, 25 to 30 years. They have from time to time enjoyed the support of the government, particularly during Zia's regime many years ago and he says this student organization has produced students who become graduates, who become teachers, who become professors and are now a substantial percentage of his faculty and 20 years later they're still there and you know how university professors are.

They'll still be there 20 years from now and he is struggling with a political problem as much as an educational one of how does he bring the faculty along. He wants to make a very firm statement. He at least says he wants to change the university. He plainly has instructions to do so in any event.

But he is arguing that he cannot go any faster than he can bring along the faculty and you have a situation that I think I've witnessed again and again in Pakistan's government right now. You have people here and there who want to move the country in the right direction, who want to make progress.

But they recognize that they need to build consensus in a place where there may not be consensus for their ideas and I think perhaps that's part of the reason that you have well-meaning suggestions, well-meaning statements.

There was a reference earlier to officials coming back and giving well-meaning reports. But they can't bring people along politically and so I think that's a tremendous challenge and I think that's also an example of the very basic practical challenges that are faced by people in Pakistan that may be difficult to be - it may be difficult for the United States to necessarily assist.

I've spoken, as I think you have, I'm sure you have, with Christine Fair, who's done a fair amount of work in this area and she tells a story about ghost schools that refines my notion of what they are and what they mean.

You may pay a bribe to get a teacher's job in Pakistan and it turns out that you pay more to get a job, Christine says, you pay more to get a job in a dangerous area such as a tribal zone where there's been some fighting or bombings lately because if you're buying a job in a really dangerous area, it is much, much less likely than anyone from the ministry of education is ever going to go there and find out if you show up for your job.

I don't know that money can necessarily solve that problem. I don't even know that a better curriculum could necessarily solve that problem. You have a teacher who's not showing up.

I would even add one more practical problem and then I'll stop. I think about a neighborhood, a neighborhood in Karachi. I laugh as I say neighborhood because it's called Mochur. Many of you perhaps have been there, those of you who've traveled to that part of the world, and somebody told me it has 700,000 people. That's a neighborhood.

It is an illegal neighborhood. It's built essentially on landfill and a mangrove swamp. Many of the people are effectively stateless or illegal people. Many of them are Bengalis who've never really been accepted by the government. Many of them don't have national identity cards unless they buy them.

And I dropped by a shrimp peeling warehouse where you have 5-, 6-, 7-, 8-year-old kids who were sent with their families with a basket to fill with shrimp that have been taken out of one of the world's most polluted harbors and they go back and they peel it and sell it and one of the older girls there was this girl named Rasheeda, who was she said about 10 and she had been going to school.

The Citizens Foundation, which is a private organization that has opened schools all over Pakistan, had schools in the neighborhood. You could see one of the buildings in the neighborhood I was in, part of the area that I was in. It was like a well-constructed - it was a real building amid all these improvised buildings.

She had been going there for a number of months and then three months before I met her, she quit to go peel shrimp for 50 to 60 rupees a day, which is what, 75 cents or something like that and I don't know how you solve that problem because the family needs the 75 cents.

And so I think you have an immense number of very granular practical problems which is why I think Dr. Siddiqa is right to say that the government has to buy in, local and provincial governments as well as the national government, have to buy in because otherwise those very specific and individual problems don't get dealt with.

MR. BEVER: Thank you, Steve. I'm familiar actually, as are probably many people here, with The Citizens Foundation and it's representative of other private groups that have grown up in the past decade or more of private citizens, many of them industrial or commercial elite, who finally looked at themselves and said, we can't blame the government for everything if we don't do something ourselves to support education and they've introduced a lot of novel approaches.

The one that was most startling to me - and then yet, it seems so intuitively obvious - was they hit upon the realization that if they only provide female teachers, they will get much better female attendance at schools. Aha - big aha, for some of us. So I wondered if we might take a moment to ask Dr. Winthrop to comment on some of these observations and also Dr. Graff, and then we'll open up to everybody here.

DR. CORINNE GRAFF: Well, I'll make just one point as a follow up, and maybe Rebecca, you can add. And from a conflict research perspective, there is data. We had some data on tertiary education and the connection to conflict. And what's interesting about that connection is that it's much more mixed than the relationship between primary and secondary education and conflict risk. So I think we would definitely agree.

And we don't go into it in the report because we didn't have sufficient data on tertiary education in Pakistan. But that tertiary education may be a very different thing than basic education as far as its connection to conflict, and that's true not just in Pakistan but in countries across the world. So I just wanted to make that point.

DR. WINTHROP: Yeah, I would - thanks for all your perspectives, and I think I would probably agree with most of it. Again, just one more point that we do talk about in the report, but I think it's worth underlining, which I think actually you first brought up, which is this idea that just because you get more education doesn't mean you're going to be less militant.

With your examples, actually, from the university - from your research in sort of the elite private schools. And to me, what that says is that you therefore need to pay attention to the quality of that education. And it's true; you need to work on multiple fronts. You need to expand access, you need to reform the governance and the management, and teacher accountability might be more important than teacher training at this very moment in time.

But you also need to really look at quality. And there is some interesting empirical research - a very good 6,000-person survey nationally representative that shows that people who make it through secondary school and have a little bit of college - what we would call college - or tertiary education, they're usually - sort of, the research holds that the more educated you are, that means you're more tolerant. Or, as Ayesha was saying, are these citizenship skills really holding, the higher you get? And in Pakistan, that doesn't seem to be the case in relation to all militant groups.

So the more educated you are, you're much less likely to support certain militant groups like the Taliban but you're actually equally likely to support militant groups that are anti-India. And probably that has to do with the curriculum that has a lot of anti-India sentiments. So the more you get exposed to it, year after year, it might shape your world view.

So again, I just want to reinforce what you guys have said and that it's complicated, it's complex and there's not a single bullet; you need to work on multiple fronts. But I would urge, especially the U.S. government, which is easier said than done, to - don't just focus on access. To me, what that finding is in terms of policy implications is you need to also focus on the quality and the content of that education.

MR. BEVER: Well, I would like to ask one question of you and then we'll turn to the audience. If I read this right, and maybe I didn't, one of the more - to me, more provocative ideas you had in this report was that improving - somehow, having an improvement in the quality of Islamic schools in Pakistan - it's something that sort of leads me to my own thoughts - could do more to help temper extremism in the country than maybe anything else that could be done as an intervention.

And I wonder if you might comment on whether there's something to that because the struggle in Islam is often a struggle within Islam, and between those who are extremist and violent versus those who are maybe more moderate and just can have a more separation of their life between what they do for a living and what they do for religious side.

And there's also a debate among many of us on whether we should even be supporting any of the Islamic schools, for example, to improve their modern curriculum - science, math, English or local language - at all or whether third parties might be encouraged to do that from other Islamic nations. Do you have any thoughts on that?

DR. GRAFF: Sure. I just have one quick reaction and then you can go. I think my - this goes beyond what we cover in the paper but my initial reaction to that would be simply from a political standpoint whether or not that would be feasible. And I realize you're also asking about third-party involvement but for the United States, given the hostility that others on the panel have mentioned, to the United States, for the U.S. to get involved in education in any way in Pakistan, how that would be received. So that would be my main concern. But again, that's just a political issue rather than anything supported by the research that we did.

DR. WINTHROP: I would agree, Jim, with Corinne that - I mean, I know there has been talk of - you know, could one strategy be secularizing the madrassas into - to, like, dumb it down, right? And I would say leave that alone; don't touch that; stay far, far, far away from that.

In terms of your other point which is slightly different, and we didn't actually delve into it deeply but you're right, we do reference people who talk about it, is, you know, because there's diversity in interpretations of the Quran and diversity of different types of Islamic education, there certainly is good research out there that shows that - and actually, I would probably defer to Bruce - that one of the best - well, not best, but one successful strategy of changing militants' world views - they call them deradicalization programs - is really to have someone who is really well-versed in the Quran, but from a different interpretation - have a very gentle, calm engagement and have a real dialogue.

And so that, to me, would lead to me saying, yes, if you have - you know, this is something that's worked a lot in Saudi Arabia, I know, and maybe trying in Pakistan, I'm not sure, but that certainly would sort of lead to your - if you carry out the logic of your conclusion about different types of Islamic interpretations.

MR. BEVER: Well, with that interesting answer because it is quite provocative, I think we'll call on some questions here. If you could just give your name and two words about yourself and then ask your question - in the back row, sir. Yes, you. Thank you.

Q: Jim Moody.

MR. BEVER: Welcome.

Q: Thank you. I served in Pakistan in the Peace Corps. And to see how the U.S. image in Pakistan has plummeted since those days is very tragic, indeed, and it affects directly our ability to influence some of these policy issues that we've been describing. I want to go back to Steve's point about the young people asking, why are you bombing Pakistan? You know, the drone policy, which is being heralded as a great success, has a huge amount of non-visible costs, in my judgment.

It's a case of the measurable trumping the immeasurable. We want this bad guy in this little village in Pakistan; we kill him. We also bomb the house which has other people and the neighbors, so we, injure or kill 12 other people. We can measure the man we killed; we can't measure the increasing circle of anger that's being created by the collateral damage. And in tribal culture, you kill my uncle, I have to try to kill you. I'm honor-bound to try to get revenge.

Now, how do we measure that? I don't know. But we know that the esteem for the United States has plummeted over the last few years and I have a hunch it's accelerated partly as a result of the drone policy. Again, we don't measure - we glorify what we measure; we don't count where we're not measuring.

MR. BEVER: Thank you, Mr. Moody. Way in the back. Yes, sir.

Q: Dr. - (inaudible). One observation regarding Ayesha's point when she had the survey regarding the threat to Pakistan, which is the biggest threat, I think she should have also included the ruling elite of Pakistan in those parties. Then she could have gotten a very stunning result.

And Bruce has mentioned about the trust deficit - a very valid point. And in the past, either nation faltered in really making this relationship endurable. How, Bruce - my question is, what steps or suggestion you would make to the American administration and then to the Pakistani administration to restore the trust and make this relationship enduring and to bring this war on terrorism to a conclusion?

MR. BEVER: Go ahead, Bruce.

MR. RIEDEL: I love the term "trust deficit." It's widely used. I think it's a beautiful euphemism for a much deeper chasm between the United States and Pakistan than a trust deficit. If it was just trust deficit, you might be able to fill it in. It's deeply held perceptions among Pakistanis - Dr. Siddiqa's research has underscored it - that the United States is not a friend; it's an enemy. It is, indeed, exacerbated by the drones but the drones didn't start this. This goes back much deeper than that.

I think it goes back to a fundamental fact that the United States, in its rollercoaster policy towards Pakistan over 60 years, has been consistent on one thing: We've liked every military dictator Pakistan produced. We've loved them. We've invited them to the White House; we've wined and dined them. We've got to get out of that.

We've got to convince Pakistanis that the United States is not the Pakistani army's number one best friend in the world. We have to be able to demonstrate concretely that we are seriously interested in reform, in civil liberty, in the accountability in the rule of law. That's going to take time.

It's not going to happen overnight. There's no way to convince Pakistanis that we're serious about that in some golden moment. I think the policy of this administration of engagement, of increasing civilian assistance, of trying to find sectors like education, is the right way to go but I have no illusions it's going to be easy. And I have no illusions about the Pakistani civil government.

Just to give you one recent example, this month, the provincial government of the Punjab awarded Lashkar-e-Taiba $1 million in a grant to help with its school system. This is - (chuckles) - it's hard to imagine a more dangerous problem than the Punjabi government - the Sharif brothers' government now providing direct assistance to Lashkar-e-Taiba to run its school system. And bear in mind that in the next election, the odds are probably better than even that the Sharifs will be back at the national level as well as at the provincial level.

MR. BEVER: That illustrates the complex enigma of Pakistan. Let's see, the lady way in the back here. Yes, you.

Q: Thank you. I wondered if in your report you looked at the -

MR. BEVER: Could you stand up, please, so we can hold the microphone close?

Q: I wondered if in your report, if you looked at the education of Afghan refugees Pakistan, and how and what type of education they have access to.

DR. WINTHROP: No. (Chuckles.) We did. We looked at everything. But we didn't actually end up including it. But I actually know a lot about that and I'd be happy to talk to you about it.

MR. BEVER: I think you just described the sequel - (chuckles) - because that's still a serious issue. Yes, we'll go around this side. The lady way over here - yes.

Q: Thank you. I'm Molly Kinder from the Center for Global Development. I first want to congratulate Rebecca and Corinne. I've had the opportunity to read your paper several times front to back and it's an excellent contribution to this discussion. And one of my key takeaways was the clear national security implications of improving Pakistan's education system.

And unlike, perhaps, other aspects of our aid program in Pakistan, it's not really about winning hearts in minds; it's about effectively educating those minds. And that brings up an even bigger question is, how can our aid dollars effectively contribute to the quality and access in Pakistan? And this is not a new question. Donors have been batting this around for quite some time with some mixed results.

So my question to Mr. Bever is, is there space for USAID to consider some innovative uses of our aid. DFID and the World Bank are already spending quite a bit of money at the provincial level. $300 million is about what I hear we're expected to spend. Is it appropriate for the United States to consider perhaps something - like, outcome-based aid? So paying for outcomes as a way to incentivize the government of Pakistan?

And my second question, for Rebecca and Corrine, is you speak a lot about, today and in your paper, about the role of private schools and their advantage in, at a lower cost, improving outcomes for students. And I wonder, since we're at USAID, what is the right role for the U.S. government in supporting private schools and perhaps leveraging private schools to increase competition with public schools? Thank you.

DR. WINTHROP: You first. (Laughter.)

MR. BEVER: Okay. Very good questions, thank you. And I'm not going to duck this one, except that I would like to see whether LeAnna Marr, who's head of our education operation here, or Malcolm Phelps, sitting next to her, would want to comment on the first question?

LEANNA MARR: I would just say that, in Pakistan, it's not a traditional USAID development program, in many ways. And we have a new business model that we're trying to implement in - (inaudible) - as well as a lot of different - it's not just the USAID technical education officers deciding on what kinds of programs we implement there. So it's much more complex than a lot of places that we operate.

I think all of us recognize the excellent work that the private sector is doing in Pakistan, and the education sector. So keeping in mind that 70 percent of the children are still in public schools, the bigger question becomes, how can we take those lessons learned and models from the private sector and help the public, government schools work in a better way.

MR. BEVER: Malcolm, do you want to add anything? I see David Sprague over there, somewhere. Hi, David. Do you have a comment on her question? You served as our education director in the late '80s, early '90s and were just back there.

DAVID SPRAGUE: And then I - yeah, I had two more years just recently. So that was seven years of working in education in Pakistan. Actually, what I come away with is exactly what Dr. Siddiqa said. In some ways, I think we want education to succeed more than the Pakistanis do. The - there is no leadership in the country to promote the government education system. There's a religious system; there is a military system. There is the - the feudals with the elite schools, or they send their kids out.

So there isn't - and until there is that commitment, then I become very skeptical that an outside donor is going to be able to make a difference. So that's the first thing that I would sit down and talk about, is how are they going to do better than 1.6 percent of their GDP about education? And it can't be just putting it into a policy paper. Their policy papers are excellent. In fact, the Pakistanis that I have talked to understand their problems as well as we do here today. They know what is wrong. What's lacking is that commitment to make it better.

MR. BEVER: Well, let me just - I'll just say, as far as the British aid program, DFID, in fact, when Dr. Shah visited Pakistan just a few weeks ago - and Corrine, you were helpful to us, and there were others who are in the room here that were in that panel - it did influence his thinking and he has - he's asked us to think very deeply about how we might, you know, contribute, say, to the British-Pakistan connection there.

And obviously, the United States serves on the education taskforce that is a joint taskforce with the British and the United States and the government of Pakistan. And we have looked at the DFID models of cooperation with the Pakistan government. We probably will put some funding in that direction. And results-based financing is very creative, and the World Bank and others have been very active in that.

So we're looking at - you know, we don't have all the good ideas at AID, but we sure know the good ideas when we see them. And what we do have is some of our people's money, and a significant amount of it - $350 million, plus or minus this year alone, and maybe $150 million a year after that for the next couple years. It's a serious amount of grant money that, still, in a country of 170 million people - you do the math - we have to figure out where to put it, where it's most catalytic. Would you want to comment on the private education side, Rebecca?

DR. WINTHROP: Just a quick comment. I mean, I think yes, we definitely need to look at the private sector. And it's really because of what David - the synopsis David gave, which is - you know, he said there's probably no political will - or I would say the Pakistani elite and the political leadership don't care about putting education front and center.

But the Pakistani masses care about education. And you know, if it's going to be hard and a long process to sort of do - transform and reform the government system, and alongside that, so we don't have to wait forever, we should look at creative ways of investing in the private sector to, sort of in the interim, deal with this.

I mean, it's a quarter to half the costs with better outcomes for educating a child. So it would be silly not to, if you can do it in a way that doesn't undermine the public system. And there's plenty of mixed-education-system models that, you know, you can creatively look at.


MR. BEVER: Sure, sure.

DR. SIDDIQA: See, one has to be, I would suggest, be very, very careful with that suggestion of private sector versus public sector because there is no evidence - I mean, I don't see a linear connection between private education's instinct or will to change the perceptions. At the end of the day, conflict seizes when perceptions change. Yes, there are private-sector schools, even in smaller towns and villages, et cetera. But at the end of the day, what is the use of this education?

See, one of the problems that Pakistani education has is lack of social mobility. It doesn't give social mobility. And for social mobility, you have to have jobs, right? You have to have an economic infrastructure around it, right? And the problem is that the government, as, you know, the gentleman here from USAID says, that Pakistan has great plans on paper.

I mean, one of the bureaucratic institutions - it remains bureaucratic - it's called TEFTA (sp). And basically, the concept was to have vocational schools so that, you know, people could be more productive, and then they get educated - children get educated - and yet, learn some art, as well, which helps them gain social mobility.

Yet, that program in the public sector has flaws. There is no linear connection. And the danger of looking at private sector at the cost of public sector is, public sector has greater access. And if, at the government level, the official level, the U.S. government does not keep harping at Pakistani government to take on its responsibility, I think, you know, even USAID money won't work.

MR. BEVER: Thank you for that very important observation. I'd like to call on the front row, here. If you could also identify yourself for everybody here.

Q: Yes, good morning. My name is Syrus Qazi. I'm a counselor at the Pakistani Embassy.

MR. BEVER: Thank you for joining us this morning.

Q: And when I left medicine 20 years ago and opted for the civil service, I had no idea what an interesting job I would be - (laughter) - I would be embarking on. I think somebody ought to step up for the Pakistani government, also, and to say a few words on Erswiyaf, as well. Yes, much is wrong with Pakistan, and particularly so with the education system. Personally, I believe that if there were ever a magic key to the problems that we suffer from, education would be it.

And I also agree with one of the speakers that yes, we're good at coming up with policy papers. We know what our problems are. But unfortunately, when the time comes to implement, somehow, we fall short. I may have contributed to a couple of such papers myself, as well. (Laughter.) The problem is that unfortunately, it relates to the larger problem of governance in Pakistan. Whatever policy paper I made, for instance, in two years' time, if there was a military interregnum or something happened, or the government was booted out, not from a peaceful transition. And that policy paper, then, is consigned to history.

And then somebody starts writing a new one. So unless we get the political basics of the country right, which we hope - and I think we are now on the way to do that - this will keep happening to very excellent policy papers that we will keep coming up with.

So in the last two years, I'm not - I wouldn't say that everything is right - but in the last two years, despite all the criticism the government has faced and the doubts the people of Pakistan also have about the government, there is much that has been happening, in terms of the political infrastructure of the country - how the federation will work - that has gone in the right direction. The Gilgit-Baltistan package, the Baluchistan package - not all Baluchs are happy, but well, progress has been made.

The people are discovering the strength of, well, sitting across the table and airing out their differences, as it should happen in a democracy. And hopefully, this will lead us to a point - not immediately, but maybe after a couple of - or at least one good, peaceful transition of parliament, everybody will realize that there are certain parameters within which the system has to work.

And so while education, and it pains my heart to see and to hear about what has been said, and there's actually nothing that I have to say in defense of the statistics that have been presented. But I think it is not just that the problem is that the government is not aware of it; it's just that sometimes, it gets very severely hampered in terms of its own political or resource abilities to deal with that.

Now, right now, for instance, to focus on education - yes, the policy paper says that eventually, we will focus - this came out when I was in Pakistan last year - that we will eventually focus or devote 7 percent of the GDP to the education. And Ms. Siddiqa says that this is not likely to happen. She may, probably, well be right. But right now, also please understand that when we have come out with this policy paper - and the government will make some noise of at least trying to do it - we are in the throes of the worst military war that we have ever encountered in our history.

We are fighting the terrorists almost everywhere in the country. So where do we come up with the resources? So these are things that, again, the option with Pakistan is like us - we have no option but to go anywhere but to Pakistan, right, or to throw up our hands or to do whatever we can. And I think that the government right now is trying to do the right thing. Hopefully, we will succeed. Thank you.

MR. BEVER: Thank you very much, Doctor, and thank you for your candor and keeping us grounded here, from your government's perspective. We need to wrap this up here this morning. I wish we could just take a tea break and come back here and spend the rest of the day. I think we certainly could, and with the good intellect in this room, we could make some progress, here. It's been very helpful for us, on the USAID side, to hear some of your thoughts. But I wanted to just give the panelists, who've taken their morning out to join us, a chance to make any final comment before we wrap up here. If we could start, again, Bruce, with you?

MR. RIEDEL: Well, I'm not going to have shrimp scampi for lunch. (Laughter.) I would say, very simple, Pakistan is a country it's very easy to be pessimistic about, and you will almost always be right. But the stakes here are too large to allow pessimism to dominate our thinking. Pakistan has made some important steps in the last year. I wish my country had supported the lawyers when they called for the overthrow of the dictator and I hope we will never find ourselves in that position again.

MR. BEVER: Thank you, Bruce. And Dr. Siddiqa?

DR. SIDDIQA: I quite agree with the points that Mr. Syrus made, but just one submission, since you are part of the government, you could take back these comments. And this submission is that, why is it that, despite all our best intentions, we have the worst bureaucrats posted in the education ministries? That needs to change if we want to make it more effective. That's one.

The other, larger point is that I think it's essential to understand that education is just one of the problems. There is a larger problem of sociological change in Pakistan that has happened in the past 63 years, since the country's existence. I see radicalization or radicalism spreading in four waves. And one of the important waves - I mean, we always kind of notice 1980s under Zia-ul-Haq, but I think what was an essential wave was the 1990s, when radicalism as a social movement, in various forms, began to spread. And now, it has infested the society at different levels.

It's not concentrated in one segment. And I think it's an important issue - it's an important question - how to fight it. And I think education is, of course, important. Mr. Bever talked about Citizens Foundation - yes, those initiatives are critical.

But I will keep harping on my one point, that unless we get government commitment - unless the government of Pakistan realizes that its main threat and main capacity in fighting war and terror, in fighting all those negative forces which are fighting the government of Pakistan is to change the mindset of its own people, I think things are not going to work.

MR. BEVER: Steve?

MR. INSKEEP: I appreciated the comments from the gentleman from the embassy here. It got me thinking about a number of things that I have heard from Pakistanis in my visits there this year. I have heard a number of people - one of them was a civil servant like yourself - very well-educated man - who have practically gotten to the edge of tears, saying just let the system work.

And people who will say, it's terrible, I hate the government. Everybody's screwing up. They're corrupt. But why don't we just move in some direction for more than a couple years at a time without a coup, without a catastrophe, without a military-engineered replacement of the government and see where we're at in a few years?

I was very appreciative of this report for many reasons. One of them was a very simple one. There's a very simple chart in there, which many of you, by now, surely have seen, where it stacks up that 54 percent literacy against other parts of the world. And you have a country that is below sub-Saharan Africa, which sounds pretty bad. The United States is given as 99 percent literacy. I'm not sure those are the same Americans I know, but that's not important right now. (Laughter.) That's not important right now. Yes, yes.

I feel a little hopeful for a couple of reasons, and they're some of the same reasons that I'm cynical. There's a book by Sarah Ansari called, "Life After Partition," which I recommend to those of you who are interested in this subject. There's a footnote in the book that mentions that, I think, on or around 1947, Muslim men in Sind - the literacy rate was 5 percent. Among women, it was less than 1 percent. Hindus were a little more literate, and a lot of them, of course, left - appalling numbers to begin with. And if you look at that, 54 percent is actually something of an improvement. There's been progress over time.

The thing, though, that - the sense that I have gotten in my visits, though, is that so much of that progress has come in spite of the constantly changing governments of the time. It is really remarkable to me how people manage to organize lives that are not just independent of government, but extralegal - living on illegal land in an illegal house working an illegal job, paying no taxes, responding to law that is laid down and contracts that are enforced by mafia-type figures as much as any law enforcement. It is really remarkable that people have made any progress under these circumstances.

I end up with a lot of respect for the people who struggle with these situations, and a lot of respect for the people who have tried to do good. Although, when you look at a country that is increasing by several million people a year, you realize the problem increases exponentially, year by year.

DR. GRAFF: I think that we're really in agreement with a lot of what has been said on the panel, and the report also acknowledges that it's looking at education, but that education is just one small piece of the puzzle in Pakistan, and that it is a very daunting challenge. But one of the points that the report highlights, and I wanted to conclude with, is the importance of governance, and not just across the board, but especially in the education sector.

And that the U.S. is - has already stated its policy position and is invested, and that as an actor in Pakistan, I think we also wanted to emphasize the importance of, on our end, accountability measures and governance in the education sector and in education reform.

DR. WINTHROP: No final comments from me - just to say thank you very much. Again, we really did this because we want to move the education dialogue around Pakistan forward, so I'd be very interested to hearing all of your comments or input or feedback on the report as we go forward. Thank you.

MR. BEVER: And thank you and thank you for your research. Thank all the panelists for taking the time out this morning. It was good to meet some of you. I'd like to just, again, ask if a few of my colleagues could stand up - maybe LeAnna, you could stand up for a moment, and Malcom and Robyn - do you mind? And Joseph, where are you? And Joseph, thank you very much for organizing a very good program this morning - very well done by you and your colleagues.

And also, David Barth, if you could stand for a minute - David is the head of education for the agency. And he is heading out in a few days to Pakistan - you have your visa, now, right? Thank you, Pakistan embassy. (Laughter.) And David will co-chair, with Dr. Shahnaz Wazir Ali, the special advisor to the prime minister for social affairs, both on education - you will be the co-chair for the education strategic dialogue between the United States and the Pakistani government in a few days out in Pakistan. Thank you for taking that.

I asked these people to stand because if you have questions about AID or you want to share your thoughts with us, like the excellent questions you have asked, please get to these five people as you have coffee. We have coffee and tea in the background - maybe not as good as Pakistani chai, but it's still good. And to our colleagues from the embassy, Pakistan zindabad. Thank you, everybody, and look forward to meeting again soon. Thank you. (Applause.)


Ronald Reagan Building, Washington, DC

Last updated: June 16, 2015

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