Purpose – Recent educational research has demonstrated rural‐urban gaps in achievement and schooling conditions. Evidence from developing countries is still sparse. This study seeks to report rural‐urban disparities in achievement, student, teacher, and school characteristics based on a nationally representative sample of grade four students from four provinces of Pakistan. The study aims to take into account the limitations of previous research, mainly the issues of non‐representative samples and inadequate sampling techniques, by using proportionally adequate sample to address the potential differences in achievement of rural and urban students and how schooling, students and teacher‐related factors account for gap in achievement. Design/methodology/approach – The primary data source for the study was the 2006 national assessment survey of year four students in government school across four provinces in four core subjects. The sample design included a two‐stage stratified random sample, where the major strata of national interest were student and school gender, geographical location and region. First stage involved selecting schools and in the second stage students were selected from schools. The procedure of estimation involved computing the average of each group's achievement scores and attached standard errors, the gap of standard errors and statistical significance of standard errors at 0.05 level. Findings – The results show that rural and urban students had comparable levels of achievement in some of the tested learning areas. In Balochistan province, rural students outperformed their urban counterparts in three out of the four tested subjects. In Punjab and Sindh, urban students performed significantly better in social studies and language tests; scores on social studies and language did not differ significantly across location in the North West. The differences appeared to be partly explained by variation in schooling conditions, students' home background, and teachers' characteristics. Teachers' training turned out to be decisive in determining students' achievement, whereas availability of resources and multi‐grade teaching was less important. Originality/value – Recent educational research from around the world has demonstrated rural‐urban gaps in achievement and schooling conditions. Evidence from developing countries is still sparse. This study is the first attempt to report rural‐urban disparities in academic achievement, student, teacher, and school characteristics based on a nationally representative sample. The study has employed an appropriate sampling strategy and proportionally adequate sample to address the potential differences in achievement of rural and urban students in four provinces. The findings could therefore be used to guide policy interventions in areas of curriculum differences, schooling conditions, teachers' training and multi‐grade teaching across provinces.
International Journal of Educational Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 13, 2012
Keywords: Rural‐urban; Learning achievement; Schooling conditions; Multigrade teaching; National assessment; Multi‐stage sampling; Schools; Rural areas; Urban areas; Pakistan