EDUCATION IN QUANDARY
CLASS DIFFERENCE IS GROWING WITH THE PASSAGE OF TIME BECAUSE PARENTS ARE WILLING TO PAY HIGHER COST.
SHABBIR H. KAZMI
Apr 23 - 29, 2012
Education in this part of the world has different connotation for people belonging to different classes. Poor consider it waste of time and once the child is around 8 to 10 years old, he/she is sent out to earn. Middle class consider it a tool to increase income of the upcoming generation. Affluent class take pride in sending its children to expensive schools. However, these institutions often fail in changing the mindset.
As such with the deterioration of society and preference of connections over merit, people have also found ways to secure degrees, which often prove fake if a little probe is done. This has happened when the degrees of elected representatives were scrutinized.
To maintain the class difference, cost of quality education is being kept prohibitively high so that only the children of elite class benefit. Now some of the parents spend more than half of monthly salary on education of their children. This happens because in Pakistan less than three per cent of annual budget is spent on education. Lately, the focus has also shifted from basic and primary education to higher education. However, there is no realization that unless the foundation is strong, the real benefit of higher education cannot be reaped.
Now education has become a tool to seek citizenship of other countries. Initially, students seek admission in foreign universities, acquire education, and often also succeed in finding a respectable job there, which culminate in acquiring nationality of those countries. Alternatively, the graduates of reputed institutions are given preference by those countries, which are in desperate search of professionals and attract them by offering nationality. This creates a lot of 'brain drain'.
Some critics say that it costs millions of rupees to prepare a doctor, engineer, software designer, chartered accountant, and an MBA. Therefore, they should not be allowed to go abroad. Contrary to this, some critics say Pakistan has huge 'human resource' a population touching almost 200 million. Since the job opportunities in the domestic market are limited, the government must encourage and support the professionals in going abroad.
Pakistan has been exporting 'manpower', which has now become a major source of foreign exchange for the country. Now the time has come to send Pakistani professionals abroad so that they could remit even higher amounts.
Quality of education imparted at government schools has been going down with the passage of time, a reflection of growing corruption in the society. In such an environment, on one hand, an individual has to offer bribe to get the job of a primary school teacher, and on the other, there exists ghost schools and teachers. The natural outcome is deterioration of quality of education.
As a result, there has been a mushroom growth of private educational institutions, which can also be divided into different categories. One can find schools operating in every nook and corner in Karachi. This business yields handsome profit if proper investment is made in acquiring buildings in posh areas and hiring good quality instructors. However, it is true that if one establishes school in any locality it yields corresponding profit: low income if school is established in localities where people belonging to low and middle income groups live; and huge inflow if the institution succeeds in attracting attention of parents living in posh localities.
Lately, there has also been mushroom growth of 'tuition centre' in Karachi, especially for the students desirous of appearing in 'O' and 'A' level examinations. Some of these have attained the fame that if a student studies there, he/she can secure multiple A and B. These tuition centers are racking up money fast and easy.
With growing popularity, these tuition centres have started opening up of branches in different localities. Most of these centers are run in partnership, where one or more than one persons invest in infrastructure and instructors are hired on 'commission' basis. These institutions have proliferated because people offering tuition had realized that opening up of 'outlets' could help them earn more despite sharing part of their income with other partners.
One is amazed to see that students of some of the most expensive schools and enjoying good reputation also come to these tuition centers. A question arises if parents are not happy with the performance of the schools charging fabulous fees why do they send their children there? The common reply is that if our child goes to these centers, the probability of getting more A and B is higher. They also say that quality notes are provided and preparation with the help of past papers enables the students to secure higher marks.
Attitude of teachers can be termed one of the reasons for mushroom growth of these tuition centers. The common complaint is that even in private schools the salaries paid are not attractive or enough to maintain the family. Therefore, teachers give the least time and attention to their students. This is partly right because they have to check copies of dozens of their students.
As against this, they distribute notes or 'templates' at the tuition centers, no hassle of checking copies and the added attraction is higher income and recognition among the parents and students.
It may not be wrong to say that sending children to the tuition centers has also become a symbol of prestige for parents. However, they hardly realize that they spend huge amount as school fees, charges for the tuition centers, and also transportation. It seems they are completely bogged down and their only focus is how a child could get maximum number of A and B and for that they are willing to pay any cost.