Education in Pakistan; Where are we heading?

During an interview on television, the renowned poet and Lenin peace prize winner, Faiz Ahmad Faiz delineated the education culture of schools at the secondary level, during his time. He explicitly stated that it was considered mandatory on students’ part that they should know to say a poem or write a ghazel at the secondary level. Everyone student was well sentient about the use of basic poetic expressions and judge the flow of the verse by reading it.

Unfortunately, it is not the case anymore. Education in Pakistan is drenching in the dark swamps of an impending system, which is merely exporting the bulk of exam winners, who have none to least knowledge about the basic theories they study in their course.

Currently, over 260000 schools are working in Pakistan, of which 180000 are of Govt. sector, while the others are private. These schools bore almost 40 million kids within their walls. While the quality of education in Govt. schools is appalling, the private schools are also not so different in their stature. Though they have increased the literacy rate to 240% from its previous ratio, yet that is not all which required from them. Producing a generation with sound and up to date knowledge about science, arts and literature should be the priority, which is missing at the kernel.

The curriculum taught in schools is primitive and dysfunctional. Science lab is considered a forbidden land for anyone below the 9th class. Even when they are allowed to visit labs, they are prohibited from touching the lab instrument and are advised to observe as their teacher performs experiments. The age when the students of developed countries are discovering new stars, our kids are matching the needles behind each other, watching through a prism or a glass lab.

The condition of literature is not a secret to anyone. After years of being taught and read by the generations, the James Hamilton classic, Goodbye Mr. Chips was finally bid farewell. But it gave fuel to another debated as it was not replaced by another novel, instead, with the biography of The Holy Prophet (PBUH). For the record, there is nothing wrong about teaching the students about the life of Prophet (PBUH) but it should not be at the expense of compromising the crux of the course.

The biggest dilemma observed during the course of studies is connection of everything with religion. The twelve years of formal education when a student must be accommodated with every concept about life, literature, culture, arts, science, and humanities, so, his brain can evolve and be open new realities of the world, he is circumscribed within the boundaries defined by the culture and system that he is in. Every concept or theory which questions or deviates from the religious teachings is discarded. Sadly, Almighty becomes the ultimate subject in the interpretations of romantic Urdu poetry.

The culture of cramming is the final nail in the coffin of this deuced system. To me, cramming is not a surprise, as the students don’t have other options. When teachers are held accountable by the administration for providing the results, they in order to save their jobs, focus on getting the work done without heeding on the basic requirements. For students, competition has become the single driving force which urges them to score the maximum in the minimum time to get admission in their favorite colleges. Understanding and knowledge become irrelevant at this point because passing is certainly more important.

Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” But let alone imagination, even knowledge here is a second priority. This can’t go for long. Drastic measures are required to cope with these challenges. An updated curriculum at all levels along with a group of passionate people, who are willing to combat the pretext of primitive standards and elevate the degree of education, are needed. If it doesn’t happen, the future of this country is doomed.

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