Discrimination in, to and Through Education

The education system of a country carries paramount importance because its progress entirely depends on education. The better the education system, the more progress a nation will make.

The first Education Conference was held in 1947 as per the directives of the founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The Father of the Nation provided basic guidelines for future development of education, stressing such system which could match our history, culture and at the same time indoctrinate an appreciable sense of honour, integrity, responsibility and a true spirit of selfless service to our fellow-humans.

Many countries around the world have made their mark by dint of creating and allowing quality-education for citizens. Education, in fact, is the delivery of knowledge and a particular skill by a teacher to his or her students. Most importantly there are three things that a good teacher can supply to his students; and they are encouragement, enlightenment and inspiration. Though this delivery of knowledge takes place through the length and breadth of our beloved homeland at all educational institutions, yet that is not quite satisfactory and effective. According to a definition, an educated person is the one who can read a newspaper and write a simple letter in any language. Keeping in mind this definition, we can say that around 50 per cent of the population of Pakistan is literate but the reality is far from truth. The present education system is to blame for people’s ignorance because this has failed to meet people’s needs. The failure of education system in Pakistan is due to a number of reasons.

Pakistan’s education system is divided and torn along many lines. There is a difference in language, there is a difference in curriculum, there is a difference in terms of what is offered in different geographical boundaries of Pakistan, and then there is a difference in class as well. English medium, Urdu medium, A and O Levels, Matric and FSc, religious, non-religious, private, public, elite, middle class and many more similar divisions exist there.

If discrimination is not fully exposed, it cannot be effectively opposed. That is to say, in Pakistan, the education system is not well-organized because it creates and encourages discrimination among people with different educational backgrounds. The courses thus offered in public schools are totally different from those of English-medium private schools. A student coming from a small village for further studies at a government school in a big city lags far behind in knowledge, confidence and personality development as compared to a student who enjoys the facility of studying at an expensive English-medium school which has a completely different course, when it comes to finding a good job. So, arguably, a public sector educational institution cannot guarantee students a really bright future. However competent an English-medium school student may be, the employer prefers a job-seeker only with an excellent educational background from some institution of repute. And that is how discrimination raises its head to permeate through the veins.

For that matter, American schools are on the top of the list as they offer the best possible facilities in this sector in Pakistan. Yet an insufficient number of institutions cater only to the elite, who can afford to pay huge amounts of money for the schooling of their children. In the second line, we see schools like the City School and the Beaconhouse School System on top of the list of private schools, offering quality-education but still the majority of people in Pakistan cannot afford too expensive schools in big cities. Then, we have cadet schools which in fact are fewer in number, yet they endeavour to provide quality education to the young lot in a bit systematic way. Mostly students attend government-run schools in our country. Every government claims that it would take special initiatives and measures in this very direction in order to ensure quality education but, sadly, hardly any change is witnessed ultimately because government policies are always tailored in air-conditioned rooms. And most of the time, the policymakers remain unaware of the fact as to what problems crop up ahead. Whether applicable or not, these policies barely prove any good to citizens when put into practice. Then we have the madressa education system. One finds to one’s surprise a fairly large number of such madariss across Pakistan, where a large number of students get enrolled. In the Zia regime, the government supported them a lot and rather strengthened them to exploit for reasons best known to the regime. But, now, after the changing trends, new policies coupled with pressures from some superpowers one would only question the aim and objective of the type and quality of education they provide to students. Maybe the government should review and monitor the madressa education system so as to win tacit support of countries around the world to ensure a better future for all.

 Most importantly there are three things that a good teacher can supply to his students; and they are encouragement, enlightenment and inspiration.
 United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has invested over $682 million in Pakistan since year 2002 to reform education system. In 2009, the U.S. Congress approved a bill authorising $1.5 billion a year in non-military aid for next five years. While the bill does not earmark a specific amount for education, it is authorized to provide assistance in educational reform including programmes for development of modern, nationwide school curricula for public, private, and religious schools and support for oversight of educational institutions including religious schools. Some experts say that a large portion of development aid is spent on international consultants and overhead costs. It is a common belief that the Pakistani government, with its poor record of transparency and distribution of aid, will as usual prove an ineffective partner. Lack of coordination between the Centre and the local authorities responsible for implementing educational reform adds to the problem. According to a foreign affairs expert, the international donors must work in collaboration of their local partners to help them in initiatives and introduction of educational reform.
Our society, following the foreign artificial trends and alien culture blindly, attaches utmost importance to the English-medium schools in the private sector unreasonably. Hence, the education system is bent upon creating a yawning gap in the common man’s thinking rapidly. It is high time the government review the present syllabi especially in the public-sector schools deeply and sensibly so as to eliminate this discrimination forthwith with introduction of new courses in response to the demand and call of time. Furthermore, there should be complete harmony as far as the imparting of quality and purposeful education is concerned the motto being ‘we need one and a unified education system’.

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