Feb 22 - 28, 2010

With Pakistan's feudal system gaining strength with the passage of each decade-and with its known aversion for mass education, we can hardly expect any betterment on the education front. What is more alarming is the recent years' development that has forged a new single-agenda relationship between the feudal lords and the terrorists. Both of them hate education for the captive populace of this country.

One puts to demo this hate by blowing up girls schools, and the other group does it by keeping educational budget allocation below 2 per cent of GDP on one hand and ensuring non-utilization of foreign grants for educational purposes on the other. In this bleak scenario, the falling standard of male education induces in one a sense of despondency. Despite insurmountable odds, the visible improvement on female education front and intermittent show of brilliance by Pakistani students, both male and female, is something to sing about for an optimist. But, the achievement of Pakistani students on international front is more the outcome of individual efforts rather than an overall systemic excellence. This is an achievement on quality side, but we need a vast improvement on quantity side.

A nation like ours deserves a leap jump from current literacy rate of 15-20 percent. The official literacy rate of 50 plus based on untenable parameters is complete eyewash.


2000-01 10200 4600 394 236 1019 691 195 171 59 -
2001-02 10500 4600 368 239 1053 731 199 177 74 -
2002-03 10800 4800 355 230 1087 768 200 186 96 -
2003-04 11000 5100 384 252 1167 822 220 206 106 -
2004-05 11300 5300 1399 1460 920 684 346 331 198 -
2005-06 14800 8100 3059 NA 1512 1484 471 664 111 -
2006-07 14600 9000 NA NA 1675 1420 535 631 120 -
2007-08 14600 9300 NA NA 1729 1489 549 649 124 -
2008-09 14600 9700 NA NA 1801 1491 575 644 124 -
Figures for 2007-08 are provisional; figures for 2008-09 are estimated

It may be remembered that in 2007-08, the country's combined literacy rate was 56 per cent with male and female literacy rates at 69 and 44 per cent, respectively. Female high schools that were 31 per cent of the total male and female high schools in 2000-01 went up to 39 per cent in 2007-08. The percentage of female secondary vocational schools also increased from 37.5 in 2000-01 to 39.6 in 2004-05; official figures are not available for later periods. Similarly, the percentage of female arts and science colleges increased from 40.4 in 2000-01 to 46.3 in 2007-08. Female professional colleges in 2000-01 were 46.7 per cent of the total professional colleges. This percentage went up to 54.2 in 2007-08. These trends show that gradually but surely, the womenfolk are making its presence felt in the arena of education.

But, the most unsettling aspect is the decline on the other side of the fence. The falling standards of male education are the byproduct of a number of factors, the most serious being the lack of discipline among the male students. Unfortunately, the bottleneck area is the secondary level when the male folk entering the teenage zone are left unattended both by the parents and the teachers-exceptions notwithstanding. If you happen to be a secondary school teacher, you will be knowing well what it takes to stand your ground in a secondary school boys' class, let alone the question of seriously teaching them. Most of the times you feel that if some teaching has to be done, it has to be on the terms of those occupying desks in front of you. To be active, inquisitive and a bit naughty is one thing but to be rowdy is entirely a different and serious thing. There are normally four to five boys in a class of 30 (or even more) who seriously want to listen to the teacher and carry out things according to his or her instructions.

What are the factors that have transformed the once docile, attentive, teacher-fearing focused students into the present time's non-serious, playful, irresponsible lot? Their gender, possibly, throws some light on this change. Today, boys have two distinctive sets of activities, outdoor and indoor. The time they spend indoor is mostly occupied by such business as net and cell phone chatting, sports watching, video gaming etc. Girls, on the other hand, by virtue of their having pivotal role in the traditional household system, get comparatively less time for studies. But, whatever time they get, they use it optimally. Undue exposure to violent media makes boys a bit headstrong and intractable. Girls by virtue of their gender are soft natured, obedient and more focused towards their studies. Since they are inherently and psychologically averse to the centuries old male-domination factor, they make it a point to defeat the opposing gender in all conceivable fields of life education being the most important of all.

Home environment also plays an important role. Those parents who are struggling to make the ends meet tend to be more concerned about the progress of their male kids. It is more likely that the children of such parents would excel in the field of studies if they (parents) are able to create an overall friendly home-environment. The over-populated homes of low income groups are the breeding grounds for stress, fraction and acrimony. Such home environment is dangerous for a male student. High-income groups have a tendency to unduly pamper their children besides letting them have their way without any check and balance. Such students, particularly the male lot, become self centered and arrogant. They seldom submit to the authority of their low-paid teachers. Commercialism is yet another factor. Mature and developed nations seldom allow commercialism set in two professions-medical and education. In Pakistan, usually insufficiently qualified teachers are engaged for a meager remuneration. Since such teachers have to keep their job, they find it extremely difficult to root out the element of rowdiness from the students. They just spend the allotted time in classroom, struggling for on-time completion of prescribed curriculum.

The entire scenario appears a bit alarming. The falling standards in male education may make one think that we are on the course of becoming a nation of good mothers and bad fathers. To correct the situation, parents will have to be more participative to create a viable parent-teacher-partnership system. While no use of physical violence against the rowdy students can be recommended, the educators will do well to at least design some disciplinary code for meticulous observance. Being a developing nation with a comparatively low literacy and high crime rates in the region, we cannot presently think of abolishing capital punishment which acts as a big deterrent. In the field of education too, we must have an effective deterrent that prevents students from becoming wayward and delinquent.

The disciplinary code should be designed in such a way as to afford the students and their parents sufficient time to straighten out things. For example, the teachers may be authorized to refer a rowdy student to the school's disciplinary committee that could be a team of senior most teachers headed by the school principal. The hearing of each referral should be attended by the parent of the student concerned. If a student fails to correct himself (or herself) even after three such referrals that could be made during an entire term or session, the parents should be given red alert making it clear to them that their ward will be expelled from the school in case he or she earns another referral. A school strictly following such disciplinary code may have to expel 25 to 50 students each year. But, once that school gets recognition as a discipline-oriented school, parents will beeline to get their wards admitted to that school. To make this system successful, the educators/ school owners will have to pull their commercial greed level a few notches down. They will have to hire competent teachers who are humane by nature and who love their profession in real sense. When fairly compensated, the ultimate aim of such teachers would be a better collective student behavior rather than a growing number of expulsions.