GOOD GOVERNANCE IS THE ESSENCE OF EDUCATION
TARIQ AHMED SAEEDI
Aug 2 - 8, 2010
Education sector is the backbone of a nation and every country in a bid to attain prosperity for the society tries to strengthen this vital sector. As strength of this sector guarantees integrated society, no one can deny its role in social building process. In a similar way, the fall of education is an omen of downfall of the entire system. If a question is asked that which of the two-transition phases, education sector of Pakistan should be put in to. Perhaps, most of answers unfortunately would come in favour of the latter. And, it won't be difficult to understand the commonality of the responses.
As time passes, the education system of Pakistan is closing perniciously to deterioration. Inequality in delivery, hackneyed education, favouritism or nepotism, and misuse of funds are some of salient hallmarks of education sector in Pakistan.
Pakistan's education sector can be broadly categorised in to three parts: private, public, and religious. Aside from third one, that has very insignificant contribution in economic building process, public and private education sectors produce outputs to unravel direct impacts on every aspects of life. The difference in education standards of both the sectors stands apart. Private sector is free to participate in primary, secondary, and higher education. Fees, teaching, and other teaching paraphernalia are what differentiate private from the public sector.
Somehow, serpents of ostentations have crept in to the entire education system of the country throwing up potions in to it to paralyse the society besides catching the people in the magic of perfunctory knowledge. Such intoxicated outputs add to the heaps of burden of the fainted society. Ironically, Pakistani system is too freehanded to cover up the infertile outputs form this rotten education. Sadly, people take education to get endorsement certificates, which help them get jobs. This is by default a desire of humans all over the world and education adds some pluses to professional career. However, this brand consciousness gives way to mushroom growth of substandard educational institutions in all levels of education in private sector. With an aim to exploit an ordinary desire, educational institutions rake up profits by selling education as commodity while inconsiderate of social building factor of education. Too, degrees become commodity being sold with different price quotations. Again, this might have not been destructive, yet obsession with degrees gives birth to lookalike academies, which sell certificate of accomplishment to ghost student who takes no course for getting it. Adding to their malicious intent elements with clout in education sector used to sell bogus degrees to people.
Sometimes, the practice of issuance of degrees to unqualified persons is done in connivance with the officials of registered educational institutions. A score of unqualified such degree holders are all over in the society making foundation of the society vulnerable to mild transformation. They are in the public departments, parliaments, even in the education sector itself.
A person with a thought that degree is just a piece of paper to get him in a desirable place or job in the back of his mind could not be expected to do better for the society. A greed factor, which makes him to manoeuvre, can be disastrous in the long-run. This is the root cause of corruption in Pakistan. Unqualified person who holes for example in the government department on the back of false degree or by manipulation does not only steal the right of other person on merit but also it is tantamount to fuelling vicious circle of corruption. What could be more apocalyptic than that a manager of an organisation or leader of enterprise is corrupt?
As favouritism or nepotism is eating into other public assets, it also has penetrated in the education sector. Recruitment of teaching and no-faculty staffs on political whims and favouritism is common in the public sector institutions. Even apex regulator of higher education sector in Pakistan could not distance itself from this brazen favouritism. In recent past, media reports highlighted the unmerited awarding of international scholarships by higher education commission to relatives of its chairman, who is nowadays waging war sanctimoniously against bogus degree holders. The personal biasness was also in deputation by top government official of all his kith and kin in Pakistan's embassy schools abroad. No follow-on actions were reported in the media against such clear case of nepotism. Faculty members on liking and disliking are sent for international scholarship.
It is unfortunate that public education sector in the country is replete with poor governance examples. Its expansiveness is incomparable to private sector in terms of enrolment in primary, secondary, or higher education. Resource-constraint determines the performance of both the sectors. People finance teachers and other resources in private sector education whilst state is responsible to take care of these in public sector education though on the back taxpayers' money.
Since the education sector is responsible for the development of human to reach the capstone of civilisation, even those countries, which due to resources constraints could not provide sufficient inputs to this sector, understand its importance in socioeconomic developments. Few countries fall somewhere on the top in the corruption perception index and despite their placements like so they have established imitable models of education systems as well as educational standards that are saving their nations from crumbling under the malfunctions of other functionaries.
Government of Pakistan can save education sector from contagions of poor governance in other public departments by empowering private boards to manage affairs of education. When it is not because of weak inflows of funds, poor management of resources wreaks havoc to the sector.