TURKISH SCHOOLS OFFER RIGHT BLEND OF SCIENCE AND RELIGION
TARIQ AHMED SAEEDI
Oct 25 - 31, 2010
Education for all is a daunting task successive governments vow to take up in Pakistan where illiteracy is not the only obstacle in the way of this objective, but inequality in education is also a major threat that can make the outcome of education for all ineffective.
Millennium development goal of achieving mark of provision of basic education to a significant population remains ambitious in view of contents being delivered to students and disparity existed in the multi-standard education system of the country.
Millennium development goal envisaged achieving primary schooling for all children by 2015. The goal has been realised unrealistic in 1990's education conference when then 2000 deadline for attaining the goal was revised due to its impracticality: 104 million school going children were not in schools and above all 94 per cent of them belonged to developing countries mainly in South Asia and Sub-Saharan. Maybe, by 2015 this figure would come down to a satisfactory level or all of them will attend primary schooling. However, the main issue in attaining the outcomes from education for all—poverty alleviation, dynamic workforce with capability to compete globally, etc.—arises from what and how the students are being taught in schools in Pakistan.
Education system in the country is divided in to public and private sectors as well as parallel madarsah system. While former duo account for majority of enrolments, latter also plays a main role in disseminating education to the students from low- and middle-income groups.
Access to private education is limited because of the fee structures in private schools and therefore public sector education and madarsahs fulfil the education needs of low-income groups. Even poverty incidence is so high that poor cannot even afford to send their children to public sector schools, which charge insignificant or no fee, but require money for books and uniforms. With inadequate allocations of resources from the government, public education sector is on the verge of collapse producing students unable to meet global standards. It lacks trained teachers and teaching facilitates and basic infrastructure is in state of crumbling. Private education is expensive and out of the reach of major population.
What is being taught in schools is decided by the government or is its prerogative. In this relation, there is uniformity in education system. However, critics believe curricula in education system in general in Pakistan is not doing well to promotion of tolerance in the society, but giving rise to intolerance to other ideologies, religious bigotry and social chaos. National education policy is also not appreciated as a document to bring change in the ways education is disseminated. This is more dangerous to social and economic developments than anything else is, according to advocates of transformation in the system. The education policy document presented last year envisaged to strike down subjects from the curricula to neutralise prejudices towards particular religion or nation. Yet, the implementation of policy though requiring induction of further flexibilities remains a pipedream. It is unfortunate that some subjects being taught in academic institutions are in sheer violation of human rights rather also in contravention of religious principles.
Last government did commendable efforts to make schools inculcate moderation, love, and tolerance in the students with induction of new subjects or deleting provocative contents. But, with the preoccupation to change madarsah culture, previous government underestimated the urgency of an across-the-board change. The purpose to eliminate Islamic radicalism from madarsah education system was either unfulfilled. Later, a much-required transformation was put to a halt.
Education plays an important role to make mindsets of people, and can bring harmony as quickly and effectively as it causes degeneration of society. It has a powerful impact on children who can be imbibed with any ideology in their childhoods to the benefits or destructions of society. Brainwashing has high probability of desirable outcomes when applied to children and leaves long-lasting impression on them. In adulthood, only economic conditions (and childhood upbringing) are supportive to brainwashing. Invasions by bigots on civilians and opponents of their ideologies are but the products of straitjacket educations funded to back international agendas in the region.
After getting good response from 19 cities in Pakistan, Turkish academicians want to expand their education system to Karachi also by opening branches in the city. Recently, a delegation of Pak-Turk International Schools and Colleges expressed its willingness to establish institutions in Karachi, according to a report by APP. Turkish academic institutions are imparting education to 5000 students across the country. First school was opened a decade ago in Pakhtoon belt in Pakistan and parents prefer to send their children Pak-Turk schools to get science without loosing identity. This system promotes coexistence with the west. It emphasises on western curriculum with subjects from Maths to English literature. Although, it does not have Islamiat as a subject beyond class one, teachers in these schools persuade students to practice Islam with prayers and other lifestyles. "Whatever the West has of science, let our kids have it," New York Times reported a parent in Khyber Paktunkhwa as saying about the school "But let our kids have their religion as well." Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen with millions of disciples in Turkey was the main person behind introduction of this system. According to him, "without science, religion turns to radicalism, and without religion, science is blind and brings the world to danger." Thus, this model is inspired by teachings of Sufi saints who strongly believe on coexistence and diversifications.
When division within division on religious or sectarian grounds are taking place, only tolerance to others without loosing identity should be promoted.