Pakistan has had a number of education policies at different times, including the present National Education Policy, (2009-15) for achieving certain objectives. Objectives are of varied nature, which appear not to have been achieved over time.
The common running theme in all education policies has been to preserve the ideals which led to the creation of Pakistan, strengthening the concept of a united nation and striving to preserve the Islamic way of life. Education is conceived of a factor helping in the inculcation of the Islamic principles of truth, justice, benevolence and universal brotherhood in the people. These are indeed laudable objectives, but the nation stands far away from these for a number of reasons. The system of education must share some responsibility in not achieving the aforesaid objectives. It needs an examination to know why these objectives have remained non-achievable.
The problem concerns a number of social disciplines like economics, political science, sociology, religion, etc. The ideals and values underlying the creation of Pakistan have not been in sight anywhere, like social, economic justice, rule of law, etc. As these values have not been practiced since the creation of Pakistan, it has created the problem of frustration, deprivation, and disappointment among the lower classes. The gulf between the rich and the poor is widening day by day. The elite classes roll in economic affluence, while the poor do not have least access to the basic necessities of life. The economic system thrusts misery on the poor, who grow poorer with the passage of time, while the rich become richer as the economic system operates in their favour. The cleavage between classes is increasing, which does not forbid well for the realization of Islamic values of life. Education has to share partial blame for the non-achievement of the end.
As for national integration, the major blame is to be put on economics and political science. The federating units are dissatisfied with the way the resources out of divisible pool are allocated to them to pursue their annual development program. They wish multi criteria to be adopted for the allocation of resources by the federation among them. The smaller units resent the population criterion presently in practice, as it goes against their economic interests. There are grievances on the part of provinces like Sindh, Baluchistan, and NWFP, which need to be removed by revising the present criterion of distribution of resources. Economic factors by and large, are at work, which do not let national outlook to develop.
Political factors equally contribute to the non-promotion of national outlook, conductive to national cohesion. Owing to the military rule in Pakistan imposed at different times, democratic traditions and values have not been developed. The smaller federating units are against the rule of military dictatorship, which has created multi-grave problems in Pakistan. National integration receives a setback in the backdrop of the ominous developments. So national integration is to be perceived in a broader sociological perspective. The whole blame cannot be put on education, though in some measures it has to share the responsibility.
As regards the preservation of Islamic values of life, it may be pointed out that economics is much to blame in the non-achievement of the objective. After the establishment of Pakistan, no worthwhile effort was made to establish an egalitarian society based on Islamic Adal in the country. Growth values came into prominence, capable of conferring economic gain on people and moral values receded in the background. Economic values emerged as the dominant values capable of conducting the behaviour of people. People ran after economic values to gain advantage. In the blind pursuit of material values, ethical values slip out of the life of people. In the light of the background, it is difficult to preserve and practice Islamic values of life. Education system thus is not the main villain in preventing Islamic values from being adopted and practiced in the society. However, the education system must accept some amount of responsibility for not bringing about any change in the outlook of the people.
Another failure of the education system is seen in the field of literacy. At the time of the inception of Pakistan, the literacy rate was about 24%. Now it stands at 55 percent. Within a span of sixty years, we have just succeeded in doubling the literacy rate. The World Report puts literacy rate much below the official claim i.e., 55%. As a matter of fact, literacy is a multi-dimensional phenomenon. It is conditioned by a number of social disciplines like economics, politics, etc. The sole blame cannot be put on education. Literacy rate to go up means reduction in dropouts at the primary level of education. The drop-outs are occasioned mostly by poverty. The school-going children of the relevant age group coming of poor families do not join the primary schools because parents consider it an unproductive activity as that does not help the poor families to increase their income marginally in any way. The children if engaged in some odd activities like grazing the cattle, removing weeds from fields, mulching animals in the rural areas indirectly subsidise the income of the poor families marginally. In the urban areas, small children join rug factories, auto workshops to learn the secrets of trades and during the apprenticeship they receive paltry amount of money, which gives a little prop and support to the families. In other words, poverty prevents the poor children from joining the primary schools. Economic factors are responsible for a low literacy rate, through the negligent role of teachers cannot be ignored. Many factors relate to management and monitoring, in which the country is highly deficient. Ghost schools exist owing to the lack of supervision on the part of the monitoring staff. It is in connivance with the monitoring personnel that ghost schools are allowed to exist at primary level. Uninspiring and oppressive role of primary teachers (not all) discourages children to continue education in the primary schools. Much blame has to be shared by the Education Department. It cannot escape responsibility for the deterioration in the primary level of education. Economic factor’s depressing role in keeping literacy to low level cannot be ignored. But the Education Department equally is responsible in many ways for keeping literacy level low in the country. It is a multi-faceted phenomenon.
The education system has not played its due role in promoting quality of education at different tiers in the country. It suffers from a number of inadequacies, which have led to a marked deterioration in the quality of education. Our educational products are least comparable to those of the West. It indicates that there is something wrong with our system of education. The main flaw of the system is that it does not encourage independent thinking in the students. It does not arm them with logic to argue things logical. In other words, there is little scope of why, how, when, where in our education system. The basic concepts in all realms of knowledge are not made clear and students are made to cram material without understanding the basics with the aid of logic and reason. It thus does not help broaden the mental outlook of students. It constricts mental growth, which is a negative characteristics of our system of education.
All the education policies without any exception have stood for the quality of education. But it’s rather unfortunate that education in terms of quality remains at low ebb in the country. The responsibility for this falls on the system of education. The public schools and colleges turn out low quality of products, which can’t compete, with the vigorous demands of the 21st century. This factor has led to the emergence of Beacon House School, City School, and Grammar Schools in the country, which follow syllabi totally differently from that of the national. This gives rise to two different streams of education, which cannot be considered good from the national point of view. Students/ girls receiving education in posh institutions have an edge over their counterparts getting education in public managed schools and colleges. The former who received education in the medium of English compete well in the competitive examinations while boys/ girls follow Urdu as medium of instruction is handicapped in the writing and speaking of English. Besides the English medium schools following the syllabi in the Western country groom students well in the art of reason and logic. Lack of quality of education thus has opened way to the establishment of English Schools, thereby giving birth to duality of education.
The quality of education needs to be upgraded in public-managed institutions. The thrust should evidently be on the qualitative aspects of education. There is no denying the fact that our system of education must share the sole responsibility of low quality of education. It needs to be revamped.
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