By Ali Nigah Jan
The founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah laid high stress on acquisition of education. He said in 1947 in Karachi, “Education is a matter of life and death for Pakistan. The world is progressing so rapidly that without requisite advances in education, not only shall we be left behind others but may be wiped out altogether.’’
The constitution of Pakistan’s Article 25-A also guarantees the right to free and compulsory education to children between the ages of five to 16 years old. Another Article 37 B lays stress that the state will remove illiteracy and provide compulsory secondary education with possible period. Unfortunately, we have neither acted upon the advice of the father of the nation nor accomplished the constitutional rights of our citizens. That is why we have not been able to develop an appropriate education system which could represent our country as a prosperous, educated and progressive nation.
Newspaper reports published during 2015 to 2019 reveal that our country has not done justice with education and it has been long overdue of national importance since its creation (Zaidi, 2019). Our illiteracy has been taken at international level and we are among top 10 countries given assistance for education (Ahmad, 2015). We have failed to develop a proper education system because neither our educational degrees or considered abroad nor we have developed competencies and skills among the students.
According to an article by Houdbhoy, (2018) we have slightly improved language and arithmetic skills in 30 years’ time. He further highlighted some of the other issues of ghost schools, lack of funds, refusal to exposure of learners to critical thinking, hybridization of traditional and modern education system which has further confused the learners thinking on their decision of choice for selection. It shows that the government has failed to provide the citizen with the fundamental rights of education even after 70 years.
According to a report Pakistan is the lowest among the Asian countries in allocation of fund in its GDP which has never touched the 3% of annual GDP while Mongolia spends 8.5%, Iran 5.4% Maldives 8%, south Korea 4% India 3.7% and Pakistan 2.76% (Ghazi, 2018). Another official reports which was published in 2018 says that 22.84 million between age 5 to 16 are out of schools out of the total 51.33 million that becomes 44% of the total children population. It shows that how pathetic our situation is and we are going to be among the world most illiterate nations in the 21st century.
We have seen empty slogans from the government and none of the government since the creation of Pakistan has been committed to bring prosperity and innovation in education system which is the cause of our unprogressive poor nation. We believe in ideas not in practical initiatives. We have not exceeded our GDP more than 2.75% while in 1960 UNESCO conference held in Karachi had suggested to spend at least 4% for education for developing countries. We did not do that. Our government schools are like black hole where the bright future of our children is sucked and the private schools are red vampires which sucks the parents’ blood but do not saturate the minds with lofty ideas. There are a few elite class schools from where when children groom up become ruler and the number of students from government schools is too less.
There are some other factors which have weakened the education system. According to book written by a German author, “Exit voice and Loyalty “lack of trained and politically recommended teachers with political patronage have destroyed the Pakistani classroom. As a nation we have not been able to deliver due to poverty, discrimination among different segments of society, inadequate teachers and government apathy.
When we look at the scenario of physical infrastructure 18% primary schools have one classroom, 26% schools have one teacher 32% schools have no electricity, 22% have no toilets,21% have no boundary walls 22% have no drinking water and 7% primary schools have no buildings (Abbasi, 2018). It indicates the step mother deal with our education system by the government. It also makes me realised that the government willingly allocate less budget for education because if the poor will be given education and better life facilities the landlords will have not peasant left for working in their farms.
There are many issues which hinder the prosperity and progress of the country and poor education system is one of them. Our education system is staggering like a skeleton which has to be structured by fixing muscles, circulating bloods in the veins to make it stronger with the provision of trained teachers, enough budget, enough resources and uniform curriculum which attract the learners to start going to schools happily rather than forcing and bribing for schooling.
Our education system will be successful if the children happily get up and go to schools, when they are taught and engaged in meaningful activities, when they think critically. All that is possible if the government is sincere and committed to take a positive step of enough budget allocation, recruit teachers on merits, arrange refresher training programmes, enhance monitoring system making it teachers friendly, provide enough teachers, all schools are equipped with enough resources and design a uniform curriculum for all the citizen.
If we could have followed what our founder had advised us perhaps, we would have a different progressive Pakistan. Otherwise with 22 million illiterate children our image of the global world with working on MDG or SDG will remain dream. But let’s hope for the best and change which I foresee thinking of Shelley lines, “O wind, if winter comes can spring be far behind.”
Pakistan’s education system is positioned to fail. Its chances of improvement appear to be very bleak.
I think it would be like Andhairy ma teerchalana, if I would say something positive or negative about educational reforms. After reading articles, views and opinion, I have noticed that every reform has been failed at stage of implementation even so how can anyone expect about its progress. We have ignored the causes of failure. The recent newspaper report published in 2018 reveals that allocating or spending more budgets on education reform is not the only working solution. There are many countries spending less in education sector have better educational outcomes. Writer suggests that Pakistan can improve educational outcomes by reducing corruption, eliminating ghost teachers, ghost schools and ensuring teachers come to school would be welcome development. As our government has promised of free education five to 16 years olds so what do we make of the promise of the state for free and compulsory education?
News reports 2013 – 2018 highlights that political parties (private + govt) have no vision about educational reform which could be seen practical not documented. Concrete plan for quality education are not implemented. Pakistan is second highest country where 7.3 million Children are out of the school and majority of out of the school children are girls. In addition to that education is business in terms of private schools, universities and vocational training centers because of low risk and high return. Second major unresolved issue is our curriculum which has no uniformity. So making changes in constitutions and laws can never bring change in education but there should be practical intentions to improve education.
(The writer is MEd student at AKU IED).