Education is the process of learning and is the basic right of every individual. It makes a nation strong, plays an essential role in the progress of a nation and is responsible for its advancement towards success. It is the most important aspect of any nation’s survival today as it builds a nation and determines its future. Islam also tells us about education and its importance.
The education system in Pakistan is divided in three stages: primary, secondary and tertiary. Each of them has a huge impact on the lives of the students and the country.
First we have the primary education system in Pakistan is inspired from the British system which starts from nursery and ends at 8th grade. The curriculum is subject to institution and usually varies in each institution.
Next, we have the secondary system which starts from 9th grade and last for four five years depending on the examining body. It can either be Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education’s (local) Secondary and Higher Secondary School Certificates (SSC and HSC), Cambridge International Examination’s (British) Ordinary and Advanced levels (O-level and A-level) or North American Examination Board’s Advanced Placement depending on the parent’s financial stability.
Similarly, we have the tertiary or university level of education which awards a bachelor’s or master’s degree in your field on interest after completed four or five years of education in that discipline, but everyone is not so lucky as only 6% of Pakistanis(9% males and 3.5% females) are university graduates.
The government of Pakistan is bound by the constitution of Pakistan to provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age group 5 to 16 years. Here is where the main problem lies as we all are familiar with the stories of corruption in the government offices and organizations. Their greed for money and power don’t come off as breaking news to us yet we vote for them but that’s a topic for another time.
Only 2% of the GDP is allotted to the educational budget and even from this amount most is spent on the ghost schools (schools which exist only on paper) or in other words goes in the pockets of the people we “elected” as a result of which the literacy rate of Pakistan is only 60%(including the people who can write only their names). Due to the shortage of quality education the private sector had to step in to provide education to the Pakistani “awaam” (public) because no one will miss such a huge business opportunity.
Private sector schools have the best facilities and education curriculum as most of them follow the British GCE system. Nothing is free in this world applies to these “businesses” as the monthly fee of these schools start from PKR 5,000 which is more than the monthly income of most families in Pakistan. They can’t afford to send their children to these schools neither can they send their children to government schools which exist just on paper. Due to the growing inflation these lanterns are extinguished before being properly lit and sent to earn the basic necessities for their families.
The government schools and colleges that do exist have poor equipment, shortage or poor quality of teachers, outdated curriculum which is being followed since the 80’s, cheating in exams and overcrowded classrooms.
Apart from low educational funds, corruption, poverty, deprivation of quality education and inequality between public and private education sectors the problems our country’s education system is facing are gender and regional disparity.
Schools in Punjab are far more developed and up to date in all aspects compared to the schools in Baluchistan due to different educational boards, allotment of funds, awareness and provincial governments’ reforms to promote education in their respective provinces.
Apart from that, we have the issue of gender disparity which is the major problem in Pakistan. It is too dominant in the poor households of Pakistan due to which only 18% of the women have had 10 or more years of schooling. To this already low number of educated women a nuclear bomb was dropped in the form of Taliban who imposed a complete ban on women’s education in northern areas of Pakistan. 400 schools providing education to more than 40,000 girls were shutdown and 10 schools were blown which did not adhere to the deadline.
The private schools aren’t perfect and have some major flaws unlike the public school system these problems aren’t administrative. Parents enroll their children to popular and expensive private schools for social status so that they can boast about it. Instead of becoming a beacon for enlightenment and providing quality education to turn their students into better human beings schools are more concerned with upgrading their social lives. The difference between these students and the illiterate people is just that they can read and write. Apart from that they even use the same language and lack courteousness, tolerance and compassion.
The education system of Pakistan is almost non-existent and has so many issues but when there is a problem there is always a bunch of solutions to solve it.
First and foremost the education budget should be increased from 2% of the GDP to 7%. Instead of spending almost all of the money on military expenditures we should concentrate on developing the country and boosting the economy through a larger number of educated people. Only increasing the funding won’t lead towards effectiveness, a proper check and balance system must be adopted to prevent the leaking of these funds from the future of Pakistan to the pockets of our “leaders.”
It is ironic that even after 67 years of independence we are controlled by the British, not physically but mentally as we are following their system of education and paying huge amounts of money for that. Instead of developing our own system we welcome CIE to conduct exams in our country and give it more importance than our system. It is a fact that it is far better than our education system but that’s just because of our inability to produce one. We have great thinkers and highly educated people in our country we can utilize their expertise and work out an extraordinary syllabus. Hence, we’ll have a better education system.
Consequently, a uniform curriculum should be maintained throughout the country and the gap between public and private schooling systems should be eliminated. There is discrimination that private school students are more capable and knowledgeable than the public school students which is true due to the lack of resources in public institutions. After the same curriculum and educational system is followed that issue will also be resolved and the both the rich and the poor will have the same standard of education.
After all the above things are done we’ll have an issue of the shortage of trained teachers as there are not much incentives and fringe benefits to attract the educated youth in this sector. This could be fixed by increasing their salaries, teacher training workshops and making it compulsory for all the university students to teach for at least a year or two to get their degrees or graduate.
As for the women, education is not provided to them because of this false Islamic ideology fed into the people due to lack of understanding of religion that women shouldn’t step outside of homes, they aren’t the bread winners and are made to bear children and look after them. To increase the number of educated women more educational institutes should be set up, a campaign to spread awareness among the people for the importance of women’s education should be started and they should be told that Islam treats both men and women equally and orders both of them to get education.
The lingering issue of “educated illiterates” is far more severe than having illiterate people. Schools’ responsibilities are not limited to just teach the syllabus, their main focus should be to make them a better human being. This can be done by training them to be tolerant towards each other, show courtesy, be empathetic, forgiving and compassionate towards their fellows. In order for them to follow these rules the teachers and parents will themselves have to practice them. Here, we can bring in NGO’s like charter for compassion to train the parents, teachers and the students for the betterment of the society.
These are just basic reforms, not rocket science which is too difficult to understand. We are a country with NUCLEAR ARSENAL yet we lack behind from the rest of the world in terms of education. Education in Pakistan just needs to be taken seriously by the government. They should focus on the future, that is to resolve issues by the use of pen and dialogue rather than sword, that’s why military budgets should be decreased and that amount invested in education. More educated Pakistan will be more prosperous Pakistan.