Pakistan is an unfortunate country in the terms that it inherited an educational system that was based on class segregation and this is still being followed without paying any heed to reform it. Our country doesn’t have a uniform educational system rather it is divided, incoherent and also lacks quality. The multi-tier system that is operating in Pakistan at present consists of Madrassas, government-run schools, low-level private institutions and elite schools.
Owing to its divisive nature, Pakistan’s current system of education has failed to provide skilled human resource and creative minds and has been unable to build cohesion in the society. The only product of this system is segmentation and class orientation.
The causes of failure of this system are manifold and complex. The first important reason is socioeconomic dimension of the people. The society is divided between the rich and the poor classes, with a marginal middle class. The rich prefer to send their kids to elite schools only due to the class consciousness; with no desire to excel in the education. Such children have ample opportunities waiting for them even if they fail to complete their education. The elitism of the political and economic systems has neglected the public sector schools and institutes as children belonging this class always join the elite schools and the elites remain oblivious to the importance of quality education.
On the contrary, the poor cannot afford the ‘luxury’ of education because a male child means two hands to earn and become a support to the family. Middle class that is traditionally regarded as the torchbearer of change, considers education an only opportunity to get the employment ergo mobility in the society. So, almost all the time, they are in search of grades, not quality education, which paves the way for cramming and rote-learning — the killers of creative and rational thinking.
The recent mushrooming of private schools in every nook and cranny of the country, especially in urban areas, has commercialized the education sector and a race for minting money among school-owners has further deteriorated the system of education. Each school claims providing quality education for these they charge exuberant fees. The urban middle class easily gets duped by this mafia as they tell them fairytales about the future of their children. In addition, the lack of government’s proper monitoring and regulation of the private schools has further aggravated the state of affairs. It might be baffling for the readers that many of the owners of these schools are either closely related to political elite or are a part of the elite club. So instead of regulating these schools, governments tend to protect them and allows them to fleece the people of Pakistan.
This policy has proved to be a double-edged sword to the public sector which is neglected and still is the lowest priority of the government. Public schools lack proper infrastructure like rooms, electricity, benches, drinking water facilities and toilets. The student-teacher ratio is not in accordance with the international standards — in Pakistan, it is a common sight that one teacher teaches all five or six classes in a primary school and that actually leads to the failure. The posting of the teachers is also made on political basis and there is still no clear transfers and postings policy with the education department. It has created a lot of disparities as few schools are over-staffed whereas others are without even a single teacher.
Although given the above circumstances, the future looks bleak but as they say there is always a silver lining in the cloud. And that silver lining in this case can be the earnestness of the government in resolving this issue at the earliest. For this, both the society and the government will have to change their mindset. Education is no more a symbol of status rather it is necessary for all and sundry. The globalized world we live in today will allow only that country to survive that will have quality and skilled human resource having adaptability to change. In case of Pakistan, the large population of youth can be a real game-changer; but for achieving this goal, the government will have to prioritize the education.
The first step towards betterment can be the reorientation of the course content. The government should enforce uniform syllabus for all schools, public or private. This policy should also include Madrasas as these seminaries are only producing religious people without worldly knowledge, skills and have only option to become prayer-leaders. Mainstreaming of Madrasas is the most pressing need of the hour and it should be started at the earliest.
There is no denying the fact that the teacher is the most important organ of the education system. According to an Alif Ailaan report, the government sector teachers are more paid, more educated, more experienced and are better trained than their counterparts in private schools. The fact is also supported by the better results that government schools produce in comparison to private ones. Then, where does the problem lie? Problem lies with the attitudes of the teachers and government’s ineptness in properly monitoring of and disciplinary actions against the delinquent teachers.
As we all know that the primary education is the base of the students, and they carry it with them all through their life. Hence, primary education should be given the top priority by the government. In this regard a special focus should be on the fact that only enrolment in school does not guarantee betterment in education system rather it is the proper learning that is more essential.
Government and the society should make collective efforts to put things on the right track. Government should devise proper guideline by taking all the stakeholders on board. Knowledge is power, not grades; competitiveness with learning should be aim of the future policy.