Higher Education: Current Status and Future Possibilities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka

C. P. S. Chauhan



South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries have common features, such as geographic and climatic conditions, and share issues concerning the socioeconomic, cultural, and educational advancement of their people. Higher education affects every area of national development and deserves requisite attention. This paper assesses higher education systems of SAARC countries in terms of structure, access, quality, equity, resources, and contribution of private enterprise. Such an assessment might help in promoting interstate cooperation and planning better strategies.

All SAARC countries have a similar higher education structure, including entry qualifications and age, duration of courses, and instructional management system. The pressing demand for higher education and a strong desire for foreign qualification by youth are common issues. Opportunities are limited, with gross enrollment ratios varying among SAARC countries from less than 5 percent to 10 percent. The participation of women is not more than 40 percent in any SAARC country, and the quality of education is substandard. Spending on education ranges from 2 percent to 4 percent of the gross national product (GNP), which is less than UNESCO standards for developing nations. Private enterprise, a recent phenomenon, limits its role market-oriented, professional, and technical education. It is high time for SAARC countries to evolve common educational forums and collaborative strategies to deal with the situation.

Full Text:



Andaleeb, S. S. (2003). Revitalizing higher education in Bangladesh. Higher Education Policy, 16, pp. 487-504.

Chauhan, C. P. S. (2004). Privatization of higher education: A socioeconomic perspective. University News, 44 (7), pp. 35 - 39

Coffman, J. (1997). Private higher education in Pakistan. International Higher Education, CIHE, Boston College, 16, 9, Fall, pp 4-5

Education Commission (1964–1966). Education and national development: A report. New Delhi: Government of India, Ministry of Education.

Encyclopedia of Modern Asia (2002). Bangladesh education system. Woodbridge, CT: Scribner's / Thomson-Gale.

Fletcher, B. (1968). Universities in the modern world. London: Pergamon, p. 11.

Government of Nepal (2006). Ministry of Education and Sports. http://www.moe.gov.np

Government of Pakistan (2001). Economic survey of Pakistan. Islamabad, Pakistan, Government of Pakistan.

Government of Pakistan (2002). Task force on improvement of higher education in Pakistan: Recommendations. Islamabad, Pakistan.

Government of Pakistan (2005). The Education Sector Reforms Action Plan (2001–04). Islamabad, Pakistan.

Government of Sri Lanka (2007). Department of Census and Statistics. http://www.statistics.gov.lk

Gupta, A. (2007). India: The new private sector. International Higher Education, CIHE, Boston College, no. 46, Winter, pp 17 – 18.

Huda, R. (1999). Maldives: Third education and training project: Sector and project economic analysis, draft report.

Kitamura, Y. (2006). Expansion and quality (of higher education) in Bangladesh. Dhaka, Bangladesh: University of Dhaka, Japan Study Center.

Lohani, B. (2001). Higher education in Nepal. Rising Nepal. January 11.

Manorama Yearbook (2008). Malayala. Kottayam, India: Manorama Press.

MCHE (2007). http://www.mche.edu.mv.

Mohamed, A. M. (2005). Country report from Maldives, regional convention on recognition of qualifications. Kunming, China, May 24–25.

Munir, Q. (1999): Access to higher education in Bangladesh: The case of Dhaka University. International Higher Education, CIHE, Boston College, 17, Fall, pp 15-16.

Open University of Sri Lanka (2004). http://www.ou.ac.lk

Thorat, S. (2007). A circular to all Indian universities regarding XI Five Year Plan for higher education. New Delhi: University Grants Commission.

Tierney, W. G. (2005). Transformation reform and renewal in Afghanistan. International Higher Education, CIHE, Boston College, no. 41, Fall. p 19-20.

UNESCO (1999). Estimates of literacy rates for 2000. UNESCO Statistical Yearbook.

UNICEF (2005). Afghanistan Country Office Information. www.unama-afg.org/news/_pr/_english/UN/2005/UNICEF-Education%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

University of Calgary (1995). Bhutan higher education. Calgary, Canada: Bhutan Education and Management Project.

Visiting Arts (2006). http://www.culturalprofiles.net/Afghanistan

Wagley, M. P., and Lamichhane, S. (2006): Standards in education. Kathmandu, Kantipur Publications. http://www.kantipuronline.com/kolnews.php?&nid=79582

World Bank (2000). Higher education in Developing Countries: Peril and promise. World Bank-UNESCO, Washington D C.


  • There are currently no refbacks.