There is an education crisis in Pakistan, and it’s as real as it is neglected
It is indeed a matter of grave concern that Pakistan’s much neglected education system is undergoing a crisis, which adversely affects the pace of its economic growth. The indifference of the government officials, it seems, is what does not let them recognise that besides the energy crisis, terrorism, and economic woes, the anomalies in the education sector must also be addressed.
It is a pity to see that more than 40% of primary school students can still neither read nor write a sentence properly in Urdu or English. The typical concept of parrot-fashion rote-learning is still prevalent in our education system, which impedes effective conceptual understanding. Cramming merely thwarts a child’s creativity, and narrows his/her cognitive skills from childhood. Many educationists continue labelling the primary sections of the private and public schools of Pakistan “junk factories”, seemingly bent on maximising revenues rather than enhancing the effectiveness of learning.
This state of the education sector is largely because education is placed very low on the list of priorities. The failure in achieving the Millennium Development Goal of an 88% literacy rate can be attributed to a persistent emphasis on typical learning styles of memorisation rather than inculcating an innovative learning culture. Liberation from the memorisation culture has always been required to reform the educational framework of Pakistan but failure in doing so has been making progress in this sector a distant dream. The State, at present, is spending merely 2.83% of its GDP on education, which is indeed a low figure considering the paramount significance of the role of education in economic development. In contrast, India dedicates about 7% of its GDP to education, and Thailand spends about 4% of its GDP on education.
Though, the literacy rate has accelerated from 35% recorded in 1990-91 to 58% at present, substantial educational reforms have still not arisen. Other prevalent flaws include the low enrolment rates in primary schools, which stands at 58%, and the lack of uniformity in systems and syllabi – many different kinds of which are functioning simultaneously as and in public and private schools and religious seminaries. These instil a sense of discrimination amongst people thereby increasing the gaps in the society. The result proves to be a hurdle in economic development.
Educational curriculum also fails to meet the national needs and requirements, which later results in an accelerating unemployment rate. Again, the contemporary educational curriculum is, unfortunately, based on memorisation and cramming rather than research-oriented. This is a roadblock in producing innovative minds, and hence creates an ineffective learning culture. This approach also fails to analyse the analytical, problem solving and other interpersonal skills and abilities of the students which require development, considering the contemporary world’s needs. The examination system is also adversely influenced by the unfair practices of cheating, and exam papers leaked beforehand, which further diminish the system’s credibility.
Lack of quality teachers is yet another problem. Most of the public and private schools – except for some well-reputed ones – lack the services of well-trained teachers. Quality teachers play an indispensable role in producing refined and successful future of the nation. The presence of the incumbent less qualified and untrained teachers in our education system fails to motivate the students effectively in order to make them focus on research-oriented learning strategies, emphasising instead on cramming.
Considering the above-mentioned flaws, it is immediately required of the Ministry of Education to formulate a workable mechanism for its reformation. Special training programs should be designed to train our teachers to effectively adopt research-intensive learning techniques. Strategies designed to curb the paper-leaking should also be chalked up in an effort to embrace fairness in the education system. And, inevitably, steps to eliminate vastly different education systems and syllabi in an effort to achieve uniformity will also be required.