The many obstacles to an educated Pakistan

5 Feb 2018

42 percent of our population is still deprived of their basic right to education

Pakistan faces a plethora of problems. Any problem that you can think of, in any sphere of life, can be found in Pakistan. Looking at developed countries around the world, one thing becomes crystal clear: educational development lies at the core of their success. Even though it is clear that now top priority must be given to education in Pakistan, the governmental education budget is far from sufficient.

According to some critics, the government is intentionally neglecting the education sector because it is harder for them to extract votes from educated voters during elections.

Not only is an inadequate budget an issue for the education system, but there are some other bottlenecks as well.

Education was included as a fundamental human right in the 18th Constitutional Amendment. At present, the education policies formulated by the legislature do not reflect the spirit of the Constitution. In a country like Pakistan, where there is already a dearth of resources, establishing a university is a herculean task. The government is only making it tougher for the private sector to establish colleges or universities.

Some of these tougher policies include a hike in the minimum limit of investment required in order to meet governmental prerequisites in this sector. Therefore, only the wealthy have the power and resources to establish universities. Small and medium-sized businesses do not have the resources required to invest in the field of education. As a result, a few well-off families have achieved a monopoly over the education sector in this country. This can be seen clearly in the streets and neighbourhoods of the cities wherever-increasing branches of certain brands of schools and colleges keep appearing.

There is a private academy, named ‘Misali Academy’, in South Punjab where children receive education and training in an unadorned environment. The alumni of this institution have gone on to serve in high posts at defence institutions and in the bureaucracy. This validates the argument that an educational institution should be focused upon and invested in result-oriented education instead of getting entangled in the rest of the paraphernalia.

What is inherently wrong with a person opening a one-room academy whose students can compete with those of a major university? The government should review the laws related to the opening of colleges and universities. Competent individuals should be urged to invest in the education sector regardless of their financial standing. To that end, teachers with outstanding talents should be encouraged to teach students in their own homes. The government should extend them full cooperation and assistance so they can turn their homes into universities.

According to some critics, the government is intentionally neglecting the education sector because it is harder for them to gain votes from educated voters during elections 

The semester system has been slowly introduced in our universities for the past several years. Under the semester system, students have been deprived of education in some subjects, in which taking examinations are not allowed privately such as mass communication and engineering. The earlier system of annual examinations, had examinations held at the end of the year; and the examiner would be unaware of the identity of the student. In the semester system, marks and grades rest exclusively with the teachers. Due to this lack of anonymity, some universities have reported cases of female students being harassed by their teachers.

The first and last objective of an educational institute should be to impart quality education to every student. If a student opts for private education outside of the university system and achieves a distinctive position in examinations, why is that student then forced to attend regular university classes and pay a hefty fee?

The current literacy rate in Pakistan is only 58 percent. This means that 42 percent of our population is still deprived of their human right to the most basic education.

Private forms of education should be encouraged by the government. Why are students who study privately being denied a degree if they can score as high of marks in exams as a regular student of any major university? According to the current system, after Matric, there is a mandatory gap of 2 years between the First Arts (FA) and Bachelors of Arts (BA) examinations. Why it is not allowed for a student to clear both exams in a single year if they are able?

The government should focus their effort on three aspects of education and nothing more. First, they should take every measure to prevent cheating during examinations. Second, they need to ensure that the syllabuses of the courses meet international standards. Third, they need to ensure that the pattern introduced for examinations is correct and fair.

An interest in studying is the main factor behind the success or failure of any given student. Why do students now find this interest waning? Many teachers along with those in charge of the education system are under the impression that those teachers who have a strong command of their subjects make the best teachers. But reality does not match this theory. No matter how competent the teacher is, if a child is not interested in learning, they simple will not learn. An interested student is the one whose interest in getting an education will allow them reap its benefits. This explains why, despite equal access to facilities and opportunities in the same classes and universities, some students score higher marks than others.

All human beings have been equipped with similar capabilities. The only factor that makes a real difference is focus and interest. If we want to promote children’s education, steps need to be taken to stimulate the students’ interest in their respective educational subjects. There are two ways to do this: they should either be taught only the subjects they are interested in, or teachers should be given special training in how to inspire students to take interest in subjects they are not interested in.

Education is a field which needs enormous effort and concentration to succeed. If Pakistan wants to construct a bright future for the next generation, then top priority must be given to education in government, social, and individual levels.

Published in Daily Times, February 5th 2018.

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