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Parent-teacher associations (PTAs) or school management committees (SMCs) are an important way of realising participation via collective action to improve schooling. Field visits, a literature review, and a small sample survey are the three sources used to explore the status of SMCs/PTAs that have been established by provincial governments and NGOs in Pakistan. My main finding is that to make participation effective in schooling, public-sector reforms need to be carried out to alter the power relations between parents, teachers, and government officials. In general, NGO schools performed only marginally better than government schools in engendering participation.

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