Prof Abdul Shakoor Shah
EDUCATION leads to national development. It evolves a sense of conscientiousness among the masses. Education is a stair stepping to realization of duties, and achievement of their national, societal and individual rights. Education also aims to enable citizens to grow their sense of duty and responsibility as global citizens. Education sets the foundation of economic stability and growth leading to public prosperity. Pakistan is a developing country with dwindling economy, political instability, incessant sectarianism, social downfall and increasing security nexus. All these problems are the offshoots of a weak and polarized and non-unified educational system. Weak educational system is considered the mother of all social evils.
The teachers are social doctors; their job is not less than a surgeon and physician’. Doctors save patients and the teachers save nations. Due to lack of training teachers have become education quakes encouraging cramming because they have been taught through the same yardstick. Indiscipline and mismanagement is another reason for educational failure which is the main factor of drop out ratio culminating to 40 lac out of school students. An estimated 30 % of children enrolled in primary education reach the matriculation level.
We are currently confronting numerous internal and external challenges which are the outcome of dealing education like a stepchild in the country. The lowest budget allocation for education has marred quality education. Pakistan is amongst the 12 countries in the world that spent less than 2 % of their GDP on the education sector. Finance is regarded as the engine of any system. The education system has been crippled chiefly due to scant funding. The succeeding governments have been allocating less than 2.5 % educational budget which is insufficient. In many of the developing regional countries such as Sri Lanka and Bangladesh the budgetary allocation for education has increased. But in Pakistan it is declining day by day. The educational system has fallen to a fiasco to excel the nation economically, politically and socially. After quarter of a century and espousal of more than 25 educational policies we have not succeeded to take the nation out of chaos.
We are still facing inadequate finance, policy execution, faulty examination system, poor physical amenities, trained teachers, directionless education, squat enrollment, overwhelming dropouts, political intrusion, obsolete syllabus, sleaze, poor management and custody, lack of research, and lack of uniformity. Different educational commissions formulated and constituted proved in vain. The educational system is not founded on uniform principles. A variety of educational systems are concurrently running in the country. The curriculum disparity is another crux of the matter which has resulted in different schools of thoughts.
There is a hell of an attitudinal difference among the students coming out from the public educational institutions, Deeni Madaris and private elite institutions. We have built triangular diversity instead of unity and uniformity in the posterity. This tendency has hastened the pace of schism in the society. This system has engulfed national unity, ideology and patriotism. It has also infiltrated to the bone marrow of the nation. The recent political, social, moral, economical and sectarian unrest in the country is the consequence of a shallow educational system which caters for urgent educational surgery to impute the affected areas before it becomes cancer. Absence of unity in the system is more horizontal to general education than producing skilled manpower to the market. As a result unemployment is tolling in the country. We are manufacturing robots instead of manpower. We are printing degrees and diplomas instead of imprinting the minds of the youth with ideology and patriotism. The development of thinking, reasoning and creativity of students is not being polished. The existing syllabus is traditional and typical, inducing the learners to cram without taking into consideration the reality that education is the holistic development of an individual. The current syllabi do not comply with modern educational research criteria. The modern syllabus endorses the interest of the learner for practical work, research, scientific knowledge and reflective observation, rather, it emphasizes on memory and theory. Another vital factor is the training for quality performance. Teaching is a challenging job. There is a lack of training opportunities for teachers. We certified almost every citizen for performing some task. But ironically the teachers of private sectors are not certified by the government. It is the incompetence of the state to make licenses mandatory for a motor-biker but there is no license system for teachers. Insufficient and inadequate training centres, manpower and research have worsened the situation. Students are unaware of library skills if it exists somewhere luckily. We are filling the buckets with cramming to be emptied in the examination hall and to make it ready to be refilled.
Our examination system tests only the memory of students. It does not evaluate them in all aspects of learning. Moreover, the examinations are subjective to external and internal forces which have persuaded the tendency of unfair practices and means. The examination system wipes out the role of high intellectual power of learners, critical thinking, reflection, analytical skills and so on. The role of supervision has also fallen a prey to transfers to remote areas or even termination from services which have ruined the soul of quality education. Educational system is also internally plagued by politicized bureaucracy. The cancer of favouritism and nepotism has become a monster in transfers, appointments and promotions. Absence and scarcity of educational material and abundance of overcrowded classrooms have grimed the situation with substandard degrees. Among other causes, sleaze is the main causative aspect which has profoundly affected the education system. There is a scrawny system of check and balances and accountability. With its loopholes it has mustered up many criminal elements to misappropriate funds, use of authority illegally and giving unnecessary favours in allocation of funds, transfers, promotions and decision making. Due to low salaries, teachers in search of decent life standards and to keep their body and soul together attempt unfair means in the examination and matters relating to certificates, degrees and so on. We must strengthen, empower and safeguard the nation builders or we are destined to doom.
—The writer is Prof in English and freelance columnist.