Document Type

Conference Paper


Professional Development Centre, Karachi


The study of educational leadership and management in Pakistan is relatively a new territory – a road less travelled. This is truer when it comes to the study of District Education Officials’ (DEOs) ways of managing education. These officials actually bridge the government higher functionaries and policies in terms of policy implementation, monitoring and supervision of the schools in their respective districts. These officials theoretically should exercise significant control over the functioning of schools in their jurisdiction. Though on paper they have heavy responsibilities but actually they have limited arena to exercise; their power due largely to complex web of power centres in their respective provinces.

A small-scale exploratory case study was undertaken in qualitative research paradigm to investigate the perceptions and practices of the district educational officials in Pakistan. The sample of the study was drawn from the eleven districts of Baluchistan, eleven districts of Sindh, and ten officials from Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) who were selected for their professional development at AKU-IED under an USAID/ED-LINKS Project during 2008-2010.

The study investigated these DEOs’ self-perceived roles and responsibilities through mainly interviews. Some head teachers were also interviewed to see how they view the roles and responsibilities of these senior officials. As well, the headteachers, who were also participating in the same course, were asked to comment about the DEOs’ role and what that means to their schools. Moreover, the DEOs were also asked to comment on their learnings during their certificate course programme.

The findings of the study reveal that DEOs perceive their roles as more administrative, at best management and hardly leadership. Reportedly, they do this work very often in trying circumstances, pressurized by political influences, local traditions, tribal dynamics, and uncertain law and order situations. They feel almost besieged with debilitating rather than enabling circumstances. Despite these limitations, they try their best to do at least the minimum they are required; but find it difficult to go beyond. Self-efficacy in this case is in short supply; though some do claim that they are able to accomplish what they can; in the given circumstances. Though good intentions are in abundance but materializing them is a herculean task for them. They appear to be the toothless tigers; as they appear to be senior government officials but their actual influence on their area of operation appears too little; they cannot account even their humblest employees due to many reasons, including political interference.

Publication (Name of Journal)

In Search of Relevance and Sustainability of Educational Change : An International Conference at Aga Khan University Institute for Educational Development, November 1-3, 2012