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Pakistani Education: Pomona College Professor’s Lecture Exposes Media Frenzy and Sets the Record Straight

Tahir Andrabi, associate professor of economics at Pomona College, recently conducted a study with the World Bank and Harvard University, revealing that less than 1 percent of school-going children in Pakistan study in madrassas—disputing Western media reports that 10 percent of Pakistani children attend these religious schools and receive an extremist education.

On Wednesday, September 14, Andrabi will discuss education in Pakistan in his lecture, “Leap of Faith: School Choice in Rural Pakistan,” which is part of the Fall Faculty Lecture Series.

The lecture begins at 12:10 p.m. and will be held in the Blue Room in Frank Dining Hall, which is located at 260 E. Bonita Avenue, Claremont. There is no cost to attend the lecture, which is open to the public. Lunch is available for purchase.

Media misconceptions about the data affect how foreign policy unfolds and fosters the fear that millions of Pakistani children are being trained to terrorize, Andrabi says. He hopes that these new numbers will funnel more resources towards Pakistani public and private education which help 99% of students, rather than following the media frenzy and targeting such a small extremist population.

Andrabi’s main concern is not that Pakistani children are being taught terror—rather he is concerned that they are not being taught at all. According to Andrabi, there are a few madrassas that are problematic, but poverty and the lack of a basic education are what really breed terror.

Pomona College is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts institutions, offering a comprehensive program in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Its hallmarks include small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and a range of opportunities for student research.