The LEAPS Program

The LEAPS Program

Learning and Educational Achievements in Pakistan Schools

Enrollment is up in Pakistan, but student
learning outcomes remain vastly sub-
standard. The LEAPS team has pursued
transformational research for over 15
years with the aim of improving education.

Enrollment is up in Pakistan, but student
learning outcomes remain vastly sub-
standard. The LEAPS team has pursued
transformational research for over 15
years with the aim of improving education.

Improving educational quality requires moving beyond a focus on specific input augmentation – such as textbooks or teacher training – in schools. Our research takes a comprehensive systems approach, in which we examine the full schooling environment – or the education ecosystem – and the constraints that prohibit students, parents, schools and other education actors from fulfilling their own objectives. 

About LEAPS

LEAPS began in 2003 as a large-scale, independent survey and testing exercise to provide a framework for an evidence-based debate about education performance and policy in Pakistan. A team of researchers led by Asim Ijaz Khwaja, EPoD co-director and CERP co-founder, Tahir Andrabi of Pomona College, and Jishnu Das of the World Bank, gathered information on every aspect of the educational marketplace in 112 villages across the Punjab province of Pakistan.

The LEAPS research agenda has since expanded into a long-term engagement and a series of experiments to examine how to catalyze innovation in education and improvements in learning outcomes with a range of actors and sectors across Pakistan. We are conducting a range of studies and experiments in Pakistan using this market-based approach to understand and help alleviate system-level frictions and catalyze improvements in learning outcomes.

The LEAPS team comprises of researchers at EPoD, CERP (the Center for Economic Research in Pakistan), the World Bank and Pomona College, with collaborating researchers from IDEAS and UC Berkeley.

Our Impact

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Shifting the focus to the learning crisis

LEAPS was the first large-scale study to highlight the learning crisis in Pakistan with our landmark report in 2008. Through our research and engagement with government and private stakeholders, we have influenced the discourse, emphasizing education quality in Pakistan’s schools. Our work has helped place Pakistan on the map as an global leader in education reform.

Read more
LEARNING to Realize Education's Promise 
Pakistan's Lessons in School Reform

 

''Highlighting the growth of low cost private schools

LEAPS was also one of the first to highlight the rise and rapid growth of low-cost private schools, a phenomenon that fundamentally alters the role of government, presenting challenges but also significant opportunities for improving education.

Read more
Low-Cost Private Schools: Learning Unleashed
A Dime a Day: The Possibilities and Limits of Private Schooling

 

 

''Refocusing the Education Debate

At a time when reports in the Western media attributed rising extremism in Pakistan to religious education, LEAPS debunked myths about the prominence of madrassas, showing that less than 1 percent of schoolchildren were enrolled in religious schools, and that there had been no increase in madrassa enrollment over time.

Read more
The Madrasa Myth 
Madrassa Metrics: Rhetorics & Statistics of Religious Enrollment

 

 

''Providing a rich source of data for further research 

As a pioneer of work on educational markets in Pakistan, the LEAPS team has demonstrated a strong commitment to making our data public, paving the way for additional rigorous research education in Pakistan, and seeing our findings improve education across borders. We are proud to have shared LEAPS data over 400 times and the LEAPS report has been cited in at least 140 different publications.

Read more
Putting LEAPS Research to Work in India
Email us for the LEAPS public data set

 


LEAPS is currently supported by Research on Improving Systems of Education (RISE), Private Enterprise Development in Low-Income Countries (PEDL), and the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). LEAPS has also received support from the John Templeton Foundation, NSF, World Bank's Strategic Impact Evaluation Fund (SIEF), Aman Foundation, Exxon via the Women in Public Policy Program at Harvard. For more information, please contact Zainab Qureshi.

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Article|March 21, 2018

Researchers at EPoD and CERP explore how to improve quality in Pakistan’s schools.

Video|December 20, 2017

EPoD and CERP conducted a mela, or fair, to link government and private educators to education support services.

Article|September 22, 2017

Sharing information with parents can bring about a surprising range of benefits, such as improving children's learning.

Article|September 8, 2017

Teacher effectiveness does not necessarily correlate with teacher wages.

Project

The bedrock of LEAPS research, this study follows students all the way into adulthood. 

Project

We find giving parents information significantly increases student test scores.  

Project

Schools need resources to innovate, but financing is a major constraint.

Project

We connect low-cost schools to curriculum development, teacher training and technology.

Project

A functioning teacher labor market can generate a virtuous cycle of education and learning.

Project

We are helping to build a community of practice among stakeholders in the education ecosystem.

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Principal Investigators

Faculty Co-Director,
Evidence for Policy Design
Jishnu Das
Lead Economist,
World Bank
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Professor of Economics,
Pomona College
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LEAPS Team

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LEAPS Senior Program Manager,
Evidence for Policy Design
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LEAPS Program Manager,
CERP
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Senior Research Manager,
Evidence for Policy Design
Zohaib Hassan
Research Coordinator,
CERP
Ahmed Raza
Senior Research Associate,
CERP
Muhammad Karim
Research Associate,
CERP
''
Research Coordinator,
CERP
''
Research Associate,
CERP
''
Research Assistant,
CERP
""
Research Fellow,
Evidence for Policy Design
''
Project Coordinator,
World Bank
Andres Yi Chang
Data and Survey Lead,
World Bank
''
Doctoral Candidate in Economics,
UC Berkeley
""
PhD Student Affiliate,
Evidence for Policy Design
''
PhD Student Affiliate,
Evidence for Policy Design
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Faculty and Program Assistant,
Evidence for Policy Design
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Faculty and Program Assistant
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Project Assistant,
CERP
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Program Support Officer,
CERP
Umer Farooq
Field Coordinator,
CERP
Rab Nawaz
Field Coordinator,
CERP
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Collaborating Researchers

Ali Cheema
Senior Research Fellow,
IDEAS
Veena Das
Professor of Anthropology,
Johns Hopkins University
Rabea Malik
Research Fellow,
IDEAS
Faisal Bari
Chairman,
IDEAS Board of Directors
Faculty Co-Director,
Evidence for Policy Design

Research outputs

Andrabi, Tahir, Jishnu Das, and Asim I. Khwaja. 2016. "Report Cards: The Impact of Providing School and Child Test Scores on Education Markets." Forthcoming June 2017 in the American Economic Review. (Online Appendix)

Bau, Natalie and Jishnu Das. 2016. “The Misallocation of Pay and Productivity in the Public Sector: Evidence from the Labor Market for Teachers.” Working Paper

Carneiro, Pedro Manuel, Jishnu Das, and Hugo Reis. 2016. "The Value of Private Schools: Evidence from Pakistan." IZA Discussion Paper No. 9960.

Andrabi, Tahir, Jishnu Das, and Asim I. Khwaja. 2015. “Delivering Education: A Pragmatic Framework for Improving Education in Low-Income Countries.” Forthcoming Handbook of International Education.

Andrabi, Tahir, Jishnu Das, and Asim I. Khwaja. 2013. “Students Today, Teachers Tomorrow: Identifying Constraints on the Provision of Education.” Journal of Public Economics 100(1): 1-14.

Andrabi, Tahir, Jishnu Das, and Asim I. Khwaja. 2011 "What Did You Do All Day? Maternal Education and Child Outcomes." The Journal of Human Resources, 47(4): 873-912.

Andrabi, Tahir, Jishnu Das, and Asim I. Khwaja. 2011 "Do Value-Added Estimates Add Value? Accounting for Learning Dynamics." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 3(3) 29-54.

Andrabi, Tahir, Jishnu Das, and Asim I. Khwaja. 2011. “The Madrassa Controversy: The Story Does Not Fit the Facts.” Shahzad Bashir and Robert Crews, ed. Under the Drones: Modern Lives in Afghanistan-Pakistan Borderlands, Harvard University Press. June 2011.

Andrabi, Tahir, Natalie Bau, Jishnu Das, and Asim I. Khwaja. 2010. “Bad Public Schools are Public Bads: Test Scores and Civic Values in Public and Private Schools.” Working paper.

Andrabi, Tahir, Jishnu Das, and Asim I. Khwaja. 2008. “A Dime a Day: The Possibilities and Limits of Private Schooling in Pakistan.” Comparative Education Review, 52(3): 329-355.

Andrabi, Tahir, Jishnu Das, Asim Khwaja, Tara Vishwanathan, and Tristan Zajonc. 2007. “Learning and Educational Achievements in Punjab Schools (LEAPS): Insights to Inform the Education Policy Debate.” Harvard: February 2007.

Andrabi, Tahir, Jishnu Das, Asim Khwaja, and Tristan Zajonc. 2006. “Religious School Enrollment in Pakistan: A Look at the Data.” Comparative Education Review, 50(3): 446-477.


Media and Policy Notes

EPoD's Data-Driven Research on Education in Pakistan (American Pakistan Foundation, August 2017)
Improving actual learning in Pakistan means much more than test score numbers. Not just schooling, but learning, has significant effects on personal and social well-being that reach far into adulthood.

Better information to Improve Service Delivery: New Evidence (The World Bank, August 2017)
One difference between this study and previous school report card studies is that this intervention is at the level of the local education market.

An A+ Experiment: How report cards transformed Pakistan's educational market (AEA, July 2017)
With low-cost private schools on the rise, students are gaining new educational choices.

Making Reforms Work (Dawn, July 2017)
There have been dozens of educational reforms across Pakistan, but at the end of it all, learning outcomes have barely improved.

Understanding the Levers for Improving Teacher Quality (RISE, February 2017)
Using data from a network of private schools spread throughout Pakistan to increase teacher quality.

PAKISTAN: Does Sharing Test Scores with Parents Improve Student Learning? (The World Bank, December 2016)
Impact evaluation evidence increasingly is showing that people are motivated to demand more and better services when they have information that allows them to correctly judge the situation.

Foreign aid should support private schooling, not private schools (Brookings, June 2016)
Most low-cost private school owners don’t do well at donor conferences. They don’t know how to tell compelling human-interest stories about the good they do. But what they are excellent at is using local resources to ensure that their schools meet the expectations of demanding parents.

Education is Becoming an Extremist Battleground in Pakistan (The Washington Post, January 2016)
The Taliban's attacks on schools and colleges in Pakistan are a particularly dangerous threat to the nation's future.

Learning unleashed (Economist, August 2015)
Where governments are failing to provide youngsters with a decent education, the private sector is stepping in.

So much aid, so little education (Dawn, July 2015)
Five years ago, the Kerry-Lugar-Berman act was passed by the US Congress. Aiming to provide $7.5 billion to Pakistan over five years, the act was a bid to demonstrate American commitment to Pakistan and its people by investing in civilian sectors.

IDSS Presents 'Upping the Ante: The Equilibrium Effects of of Unconditional Grants to Private Schools' (Pardee Rand Graduate School, March 2015)
Low-cost private schooling has been one of the fastest growing sectors in low-income countries. Yet these small "mom-and-pop" schools face significant growth obstacles both in terms of size and quality.

The Promise of Pakistan's Private Schools (The Wall Street Journal, December 2014)
When 17-year-old Malala Yousafzai accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on Wednesday, the accompanying pomp and press coverage helped rekindle a global fascination with the fearless young Pakistani activist who was shot and wounded after speaking out against Taliban attacks on girls’ schools.

Move to make quality education affordable (Dawn, June 2012)
Where can the children of common people get a good education when private schools are providing the facilities that the state’s public schools cannot deliver?

Public-Private Partnership: 'Is Education a Right or a Commodity?' (The Express Tribune, June 2012)
Educational experts debate the role of low-cost private schools in Pakistan at a seminar organized by the South Asia Iniative at Harvard University, the Center for Economic Research in Pakistan, and and Aman Foundation.

Pakistan needs more than three cups of tea (Foreign Policy, January 2011)
Mitigating Pakistan’s education crisis requires looking beyond what NGOs can do alone, to seeing what they can do in partnership with the government, appreciating the role of the private sector, and finally insisting that the public sector must work.

Education Policy in Pakistan: A Framework for Reform (IGC International Growth Centre-Pakistan, December, 2010)
Improving educational outcomes in Pakistan can be achieved by identifying the constraints in the education market and then alleviating them—sometimes by direct provision of schooling and other times by providing information, resources, or changing the regulatory environment.

Asim Khwaja: Education in Pakistan (Prospect: Journal of International Affairs at UCSD, November 2009)
The hope for Pakistan's rural youth lies in the interaction of the free market and government regulation.

Private schools get more popular in Pakistan (SFGate, November 2009)
[S]ince the mid-1990s, small, inexpensive private schools, once an urban phenomenon, have been sprouting in earnest in the poorer countryside, offering relatively affordable tuition, according to a 2008 World Bank report.

The Madrasa Myth (Foreign Policy, June 2009)
Knowledge is power: The reality of Pakistan's private schools is far from the hysterical image of madrasas. And how private schooling can save Pakistan's next generation.