THE EDUCATION SYSTEM IN PAKISTAN
There are about 170000 government primary schools, approximately 2000 middle schools, 13000 high schools and 600 vocational institutions, most of them short of merit owing obliviousness of the bodies monitoring them.
July 02 - July 08, 2007
Education is defined as the importation and acquisition of knowledge through learning and teaching. Education is also expressed as a process a person learns. Here the question arises what to learn and how to learn. Education is one of the most important and elementary rights of a citizen. Incontrovertibly, it has one way or the other, always proved as a key to social development and achievements of human civilization. In the broader spectrum, education is also instrumental in economic growth, employment disencumbering family and as well as the government of economic load, creating positive awareness in the society, enchantment of quality of life etc. Educational institutions apart from academic activities, also deal with problems experienced by children at school or otherwise. According to one of the World Bank's report defining education as "essential civic order and citizenship and for sustained economic growth and reduction of poverty". It is believed that a country, which lacks education and learning opportunities, is certain to meet undesirable consequences. Since it happens to be the foundation of development, success and prosperity, we have to assess how much importance we and our Government have attached to this sector? Whatever we have, are they delivering the goods? We have to focus on education without gender discrimination aiming at grooming children to the extent so as to function and behave properly in the society.
FEMALE DISCRIMINATION & LITERACY
The emphasis is on gender, owing to the reason that women in Pakistan particularly NWFP and Balochistan are ensnared in all sorts of problems, such as living under plethora of tribal, feudal, culture and customary rules. All these result in economic and social problems of their lives. The plight of women in Pakistani society may vary in its harshness, the common culture is that the birth of a girl is not rejoiced and congratulated with warmth and on the contrary the birth of a boy is jubilated with numerous ceremonies despite financial issues. The prime reason of this discrimination is nurturing of girls is perceived to be relatively formidable in many ways, secondly they are born to leave their parents one day, get married and therefore are considered of less utility in the long run for the family. On the other hand, the boys are perceived to be shouldering the burden of the families and custodian of the inherited land and property. Investment on girls' brought up is taken as a waste effort. Pakistan and Afghanistan are reported to be holding the highest index of son preference.
Apparently, Pakistan literacy rate is about 52 percent based on the criterion that all those persons ten years and above who could read and write any language with understanding. Whereas the actual definition of literacy is an ability to read, write and understand to a competent level and therefore, is considered to be the surest and most effective means to true education. Pakistan's majority population is under poverty line and therefore cannot afford to invest in education. As long as our poverty alleviation is not addressed, not only education, crimes of various natures will also be becoming our major concern.
There are about 170000 government primary schools in Pakistan, approximately 2000 middle schools, 13000 high schools and 600 vocational institutions, most of them short of merit owing obliviousness of the bodies monitoring them. The authorities hardly realize the problems and apathy faced by the students of ordinary schools as they are basically graduates from the institutions where not even 10 per cent of the actual population has studied. Imagine, GDP allocated to education has always been less than the required percentage and the reforms drafted by the governments for improving and extending educational opportunities to the masses include construction of the new schools, upgrading quality of teaching, launching nation wide literacy programmes, improving school curricula in all areas, providing technical and IT education related to employment etc. Such juggleries within inconsiderable percent GDP or mean percent of the total nation budget is not even possible for the miracle performers. The rulers have not been able to uplift the current educational level of educational institutions, what to talk of reforms. Successive governments had customarily given precedence to other sectors and this fact can be verified from their spending on personal preferences.
It is estimated that between 11 to 15 million Pakistani children are reported to be deprived of the blessings of instructive and constructive schooling. Our governments have prioritized other sectors as the most immediate ones and no improvements in the educational practices are adopted. Learning process in public schools, in time to come, will seize to function or further deteriorate and the students of such institutions will not be able to compete even at the lowest level in their own country what to talk of challenges and rapid developments on the international scenes. Emergence of private schools at significant pace has also caused disparity and has given rise to class consciousness. There is a famous saying " prison will not function properly until we start sending a better class of people there". Similarly, the quotation goes for schools as well. People who consider education as a vital tool and want their children to nourish and flourish, admit their children in private institutions as their standard are relatively preferable. However, the exorbitant fees prevent the entry of ardent students from average families into such institutions. These commercial institutions are, in fact, serving to perpetuate the interests of an elite class at the cost of the education needs of the majority.
This is all further complicated by the emergence of a new information elitism both among and within countries. The textbooks, which, are in practice are by today's standards obsolete and contrary to the current information and skills. The overloaded classes are taught by unqualified instructors or at the most with minimal formal training are exempted from all kinds of accountability especially in rural areas. These teachers, without realizing the rational of the methods, resort to the subjective teaching and stress on rote learning. That is why every year there are accounts of large scale cheating at various exam venues, invigilators have been known to encourage cheating especially in public schools. The requirements of the respective boards are such that even private institutes are compelled to apply the same methods of teaching to its senior students appearing in the board examinations. Higher living standards, better health, increased productivity, improved well-being for women and their families, and good government all depend on wide spread education. In an era of rapid technological change and international economic integration, an educated, adaptable work force enables countries to prosper. However, without the State's sincere patronage, such as adopt radical changes in the system, trim and raise quality without increasing public's expenditure, are not possible.
The President's statement while he was CE then, that his government will soon start affiliating Deeni Madaris in the country to stream line their education system to be compatible with national education system, besides setting up a Federal Madrassa Education Board(FMEB). The fact of the matter is that enrollment in Pakistani madrassas is relatively low, with less than 1 percent of all students enrolled in a school attending madrassas. There are as much as 100 times as many children in public schools as there are in madrassas and almost 40 times as many children in private schools as there are in madrassas. For the average Pakistani household, the choice of going to a madrassa is simply not a statistically significant option. Still the unachieved idea was classic and in the long-term would have enhanced our literacy rate in actual terms.
Apart from religious institutions, the President had expressed commitment to stream line the affairs of education sector. He said that the Army would also be used in the drive for increasing the literacy rate. The yearly budgets did not show any significant tilt towards the education sector. However, the President, with limited amount for education, should have taken all the pros and cons of the Army's involvement in the education sector, as their past performances in other sectors such as recovery of national exchequer from the corrupts, maintenance of law and order, judiciary crises, political pinches, foreign countries' interventions, insecurity, terms with neighbouring countries etc. have remained below the mark. Coming back to education, identical text in all the educational institutions of Pakistan under one medium system and hence end discriminatory classification is badly required. Compassion on decrepit state schools especially in un-influential regions, which are in dire straits also requires immediate attention. By doing so, students as well as the teachers from rural and urban areas will equally enjoy facilities and opportunities to improve their work. By developing a healthy sector, it will result with the decline in numerous problems including unemployment.