Hamza Sharif is currently studying mechanical engineering at HITEC University Taxila. His areas of interest are geopolitics, current affairs, and astrophysics.
Low Literacy Rate Impacts State Development
An education system is what builds nations. When a country’s population is well educated, its people prove themselves capable of the tasks or difficulties their country is put through. The quality of the education system is reflected in the literacy rate of a state: Pakistan with a literacy rate of 60% and India with a literacy rate of over 70%.
On the other hand, we have America and China with a literacy rate of 86% and 97%, respectively. From these figures, we can infer that without a doubt Pakistan and India lag behind drastically in the education sector; this also proves why both these countries have failed to properly establish themselves like the Chinese or Americans.
The blame for such a low literacy rate is to be shared amongst all the premiers who have ruled over Pakistan, may it be a military dictator or a democratic individual. The blame placed on them is not for the futile education policies they devised, but for not regulating its education system, and for not making the educational authorities potent enough that they would keep watch over all education outlets in Pakistan.
Education System in Pakistan: Socio-Economic Class Divide in Schools
The poor choose government schools due to their low fees but unfortunately, government schools do not provide the same quality education as private schools do. This dilemma only enhances the gap between the poor and the rich. One of the most toxic traits that have engulfed our society is that even education has developed ‘classes’.
These classes do not mean the conventional ‘classes’ in the education field, but rather the socio-economic classes. Schools have become too specific; there are a bunch of schools that only the upper, elite class can afford to get enrolled in. Then we have schools that the middle class can afford and at the bottom, we finally have those government schools which only the lower class can afford.
Now as mentioned earlier the government schools do not provide the same level of education as the private schools, which only the elite can afford. They do not have the appropriate tools of education such as equipped labs and sometimes even skillful teachers, or no teachers at all, for certain subjects.
These are the areas in which it is the responsibility of the government to refurbish government schools by bringing in regulatory bodies. These bodies would then ensure that the children belonging to the lower class are able to educate themselves, and can avail themselves the same opportunities as those children studying in private schools.
When you look at the education structure of the UAE, you notice that they have the KHDA. It keeps a careful eye on each and every school in the UAE, with annual inspections. Furthermore, the ministry of education ensures that no child is discriminated against.
Digging into the private education sector, the majority of the schools have absolutely sky scraping fees, some even out of the reach of the middle-class. If the middle-class parents are unable to pay the fee of their child, it is a matter of seconds before he/she is expelled from the school permanently. This is something the government should ensure does not happen, the government should give power to the students and their parents against education mafias who bully the public.
The government and the Pakistani populace have also failed to ensure that the students of Madrassahs are not discriminated against. Children studying in Madrassahs solely focus on religion and often don’t fit in with the students of other schools. There’s a greater need now to reform madrassahs; the children studying in madrassahs should be introduced to scientific studies. So, apart from religious studies they may also flourish in scientific fields.
Degrees Alone Don’t Make Qualified Teachers
In the beginning years of Pakistan, the quality of education was excellent. The teachers employed in the educational institutes were all well trained; their conduct made them worthy of the respect they were given. They had attained their training from states like the UK, and were well qualified to teach their respective subjects
Today, in modern-day Pakistan, you barely see that anymore. Now, if a person has a bachelor’s, master’s, or even a doctorate, it is assumed that he/she would be a good teacher as well. When it comes to educating students, it is a wrong approach.
Teaching is a completely different profession. In order to teach, there are a set of principles that teachers must adopt, and most importantly a teacher must be able to create an environment in which the students find learning easy as well as interesting.
Discrimination Against the Tertiary Sector Jobs
Another problem we have in Pakistan is the discrimination among professions in our society. A child is either forced to be a doctor or an engineer regardless of his or her interest. This preference is driven by the desire to gain the respect of society. In doing so, the parents often ignore the dreams of their own children, forcing them to chase a goal that isn’t their own.
Electricians, plumbers, barbers, or any other profession belonging to the tertiary sector is portrayed as a disgrace. The professions in the tertiary sector are mostly associated with children who have failed at school, which is completely wrong. People ignore the importance of these jobs just because they think that the people performing them are beneath them.
In reality, these professions are actually the backbone of the economy and when such skillful people are exported into countries abroad they send remittances in colossal amounts. If we look at China, most of the factories of major companies, worth billions and trillions of dollars, such as Apple have set up production plants in China. This is mainly due to two reasons: skillful workers and cheap labor costs.
The government of Pakistan needs to take into account the example of China and open up multiple vocational institutes. By doing this, it can encourage and give advice to the people who have no interest in science or commerce related subjects to give a shot to professions belonging to the tertiary sector.
It is high time that the government of Pakistan actually pays attention to the education sector of the country. Otherwise, we will continue on the same path for decades to come and the economic gap between the poor and the rich will only further increase. Thousands of families in Pakistan are unable to afford even the most basic necessities. Yet, if even one member of a family is able to educate themselves properly, they can pick themselves and those closest to them up to a much more financially secure life.
The government has put forth the ‘one nation, one curriculum’ idea, but its implementation is being delayed. It would be most beneficial if it is implemented during the PTI tenure rather than leaving it for some other political party, which does not know the core concept of the idea, to assess it. The current regime can properly assess the system and bring in further modifications to perfect it, whereas, a different political party is more likely to start from scratch again, causing a further delay in the perfection of Pakistan’s education system.
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