Education is a must for civilization. Today a dark clouds hovers over Pakistan, where illiteracy is on the increase due to negligence of the government of Pakistan, which spends only 1% of the GDP on education for 160 million population of the country. The illiteracy level which is tied to the poverty level goes hand in hand and the tragedy of Pakistan is that all the successive administrations since its birth 61 years ago have failed to address the issue of Education.
To address the subject of this paper, it is important to identify the relevant issues which have brought the illiteracy to this elevated level. In this high tech world this elevated level of poverty and illiteracy is not acceptable and it is important to identify the weakness of the governments approach to the present level of education and rectify the situation.
- Quality of education at the time of independence.
- What went wrong over a period of 61 years.
- What a mess we are in at the present stage.
- How to face the Education carnage and provide rectification
1. Quality of Education at the time of independent.
Government Primary Schools ( Grade 1-4 ) and Secondary Schools ( grade 5-11 ), before the birth of Pakistan gave a quality education in the Province of Sindh which attracted children of the elite as well working class parents. After all Mr. Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Quaid-e-Azam, creator of Pakistan is a product of Sind Madressah School, Karachi. He, after completing his Metric level schooling, proceeded to London and returned as Bar-At-Law. NJV High School, Karachi, also gave another Bar-At-Law, who is a renowned Attorney of Pakistan, Mr. Abdul Hafeez Pirzada. In the early 50’s the same school had sons of Dr. Shams Daudpotta and many elites of Sind were on the school ledger. This heritage of good education left by British very soon started evaporating and degenerated to a present level where even the ordinary citizen of Pakistan shy away from sending their children to a govt. school for primary and secondary education.
2. What went wrong over a period of 61 years?
Greed and corruption were the two major factors which brought a well thought out British Raj system of education to its knees, while India and Sri Lanka managed it well. In the case of India, they advanced their engineering, technology and medicine to such a high standard that today they compete with the most advanced nations of the world and many American and European organization outsource their work to India.
In Pakistan the teachers were the major factors in lowering the standard of education in the primary and secondary schools, the main factor was greed. They would not provide a good education to the students in the classroom. Instead they would encourage their students to take tuition at the home of the teachers, so the teacher could generate more money in his/her pocket; other teachers were purely corrupt, they would take money and help the student in getting the upgrade in there mark sheet. Some would let the students use unfair methods in the examination hall. When a teacher indulges in these unfair methods he looses self respect in the eyes of his student.
As Pakistan was getting older the students in Pakistan were getting bolder, and at one stage they used knives and guns to get the kind of grade they wanted from there teachers. When the government school lost their creditability, the carpetbaggers moved in the private sector. Now this does not mean that all in private sectors were bad. Then came Bhutto’s Regime, he nationalized all good and bad schools and literally destroyed whatever was left of a good system we inherited from the British Raj. Bhutto was followed by Gen. Zia who thru his brand of Islam destroyed the total education system. He is the man who is fully responsible for creating a five tier education system in Pakistan
3. What a mess we are in at the present stage.
The education system we have on our hands in 2008 is in total shambles and we are producing matriculate from these schools with very little skills and absolutely no command over the English language, which today is the language of science, technology, commerce, finance and marketing. Today even a country like China is putting higher emphasis on this language. Of course four Scandinavian countries declared English as a compulsory subject in there schools almost 40 years ago. Today in Pakistan instead of a one tier school system, we thru our callousness have created a 4 tier system of education in Pakistan, and they are as follows:
- Cambridge Education system: this foreign education system is exclusively for the children of very rich so that they can after graduation go overseas for higher education on the foreign exchange provided to them by Pakistan Sate Bank.
- Pakistan Secondary Education system: this is provided by private and government schools, one for the middle class and other for the poor. The one for the middle class has a medium of instruction in English and the other one in Urdu. The children from these institutions if they happen to have good grades and the parental financial help go to the colleges of their interest and the rest either become clerk/cashiers/sales person in a shop/ worker in the factory/ any other work which comes their way.
- Madressah Education System: this is supposed to provide religious education. The results of this education are in front of us. Except for few who do provide a true Islamic Education most of the students of Madressah have graduated from them with a perverted ideology and has been a recruiting ground for terrorism.
- This one has no name and consists of children who are born in misery and die in misery.
4. How to face the Education Carnage and Provide Rectification.
Now this is a very tall order to remove all the discrepancies of the past 61 years. The question is where should we start? It is a mind boggling question and one wishes there was a simple answer. However as a starter on paper a single integrated education system has to be established, for that we need the minds of our best, from educationist to engineers, doctors, scientist, marketers, financiers, lawyers, agriculturist, all pooled together on one table to establish a curriculum from grade 1-10. Besides the subject of science, technology and commerce a higher level of emphasis has to be placed on mother tongue and the English language. The teachers have to be trained in these subjects with mastery.
The next stage and a crucial one is the implementation of this new curriculum. This will be harder than the preparation of a new curriculum. The part of implementation will start with updating the education levels of teachers followed by selecting 10% of the primary and secondary schools of the country and introducing the new curriculum to them. The following year another 10% of schools will be brought into new system. If the program proceeds as planned Pakistan will have all its schools under the new progressive education system in 10 years. However, the fruit of this miracle will become visible in 2-3 years when the parents of the student will come to know of this revolutionary change in the education system. They will see the government schools providing education equal to or better than the private school at zero fee, there will be a massive movement of student to the govt. school. That will be a crucial time for the government to make sure that no corrupt practices take place and the transfer is executed in an orderly way. Once the movement of children from private to government school has started that will be the time to ban the Cambridge system of education in Pakistan.
In a unified Pakistan, there has to be one education system for all the children of Pakistan. This will lead us to Unity, Faith and Discipline, the slogan made popular by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Quaid-e-Azam, the Creator of Pakistan.