Issues and the Way Forward
Education is the most powerful weapon that can be used to change the world. It enhances not only analytical abilities but also critical thinking of the students. Unfortunately, being a developing country, Pakistan faces almost all sorts of socioeconomic problems. One of the major reasons behind all these problems is low literacy rate of our country. According to the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2016-17, overall literacy rate has declined from 60 percent to 58 percent. Moreover, overall net enrolment rate at primacy level was recorded at 54 percent. The data further show that literacy rate remained higher in urban areas (74 percent) than in rural areas (49 percent). The United Nations Global Education Monitoring Report 2016 revealed that Pakistan is 50 plus years behind in its primary and 60 plus years behind in its secondary education targets. Moreover, 5.6 million Pakistani children are out of schools. All these issues call for an in-depth analysis of out education system so as to find out a workable solution.
There are a number of reasons behind the bleak and worrisome situation of Pakistan’s education system. The most important thing is that ‘Education For All’ commitment is not being fulfilled properly. Federal and all four provincial governments seem unwilling to take serious steps in order to achieve set targets of education.
Other than this, terrorism also holds children back from schools. Between 2007 and 2015, there were around 870 attacks by different terrorist groups on educational institutions of the country. It is a bitter reality that Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) closed hundreds of schools in country’s northern areas.
Poverty is another hurdle in the way of high literacy rate in Pakistan. Almost 30 percent Pakistanis are living below the poverty line. It is a sad reality that the number of children at different workplaces is more than the total number of children at schools. Amidst all the financial issues, the poor parents find it advantageous to send their children to work in order to earn a few rupees. Let it be very clear, the issues of education cannot be resolved unless poverty is controlled. Though government initiated a few schemes to provide free education at school level but it must be realized that this is not a long-term and sustainable solution. The government provides free books and a few other facilities to the students of public schools, but many of these books are in English, whereas many teachers, especially those belonging to rural areas, do not have proficiency in the English language. As a result, they ask students to buy the same book in Urdu. This shows the importance of training that must be provided to all the teachers.
In addition, all the appointments must be made on merit and all the teachers must be competent enough to train and teach their students in a better way. Moreover, in many areas, school buildings are without proper boundary walls and lack other basic amenities. Students are made to sit in open areas even during harsh weather conditions.
Other than this, no steps are being taken to develop analytical and critical thinking of the students. Even in many private schools, students suffer due to workload and, hence, they have to focus on bookish material rather than thinking and analyzing different aspects critically.
Owing to all these reasons, the rate of unemployment is rising and pass percentage in competitive exams is decreasing. Besides, the process of hiring faculty in our country is also politicized. The issue of ghost teachers/schools and shortage of teachers has become another common phenomenon. Our government must adopt strict policies to ensure the presence of teachers at schools. Moreover, lack of proper facilities at different schools has also made it difficult for students to keep pace with the rapidly-changing world. The need of the time is to ensure the provision of modern equipments along with all basic technologies and facilities at schools.
It is not wrong to say that old methods of teaching focus on rote system so they must be changed. The world has become a global village and only those countries can now stand independently that promote new ideas. By considering this fact, we must realize that we will have to change the learning environment at our educational institutions. We are lagging behind the world in the field of research and that is why our universities are not ranked among the top institutions.
It is never late to work for the betterment of our children. There is a dire need to increase the allocation of budget for education and to start new programmes in order to improve the standards of education in our country. As per the latest census, the population of Pakistan has swelled to 207.8 million but no steps are being taken by the government to improve our education system so as to meet the emerging needs. Strict measures are needed to ensure attendance of teachers at educational institutions.
Followed by a strong will of the country’s leadership, there is a need of strong collaboration between provincial governments and the federal government. Technical education should be made a part of secondary education. Corruption in education department should be dealt with iron hand. It is imperative to provide proper training to all the teachers. Higher Education Commission of Pakistan should form a team of highly-experienced education experts to revise the curricula on regular basis in order to ensure the inclusion of all the new information and latest data.
The world is changing rapidly and a number of new discoveries are being made with every passing day. It is observed that the main focus of our academic education is on historical aspects but the inclusion of new aspects and researches is still a wishful dream. It is easy to make policies but quite difficult to ensure their full implementation. No country can rise to the height of glory until its literacy rates are high. Education is important to solve not only socioeconomic but also political issues a country is faced with. If education rate is high in our country, everyone will stand for his/her rights. This is the only way to put our country on the path of progress. However all this can be done with commitment and perseverance. Certainly, our children deserve a better future.