- Our education system is failing our students
By: Naveed Abbas Maitlo
It is painful to note that our educational institutions don’t produce both intellectual and astute people. It is explicit and bitter truth that institutions are producing robots and artificial parrots.
Critical analysis of things has been an alien perception for the young generation. Institutions have forcibly confined the potential of the students within a boundary. They do not think about the subjects adequately. They just read, read, and read. What they are inhaling they do not know appropriately, in the sense of being able to apply their knowledge to new situations.
They cram the subjects they study to get appropriate marks in examinations. This memorising system is one of the misfortunes for minds. This crippling system has made our minds so rusty and corrupt that it is one of the reasons that we have only one Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan in Pakistan. Our education system is no more a blessing for our minds any longer. It is entirely based on cramming and memorising the subjects. Consequently, we see robots in our institutions, not astute people. It is rightly believed that it is education which makes students think like scientists— be open minded, curious and especially, to doubt. This cramming and memorising business has taught the younger generation to run behind the grades and spurious success. This frame of mind is one of the reasons that we have not produced great scientists, good philosophers, or accomplished scholars for a long time. It is a misfortune that we take our nourishment in a system where the growth of the mind is confined to a certain area. We are not allowed to go behind the bush. We are like that lion who posssesses great potential but is confined in a cage and is taught that this is tour entire universe, and you cannot go beyond this. It is a misfortune that those who are responsible to carry out the nourishment of students seem to be abysmally competitive.
On 29 January 1986, the Centre of Basic Science in Islamabad administered a test designed by the Nobel-Prize winning physicist named Samuel Ting. 120 students appeared from all over Pakistan, who have got qualifications ranging from MSc to MPhil to PhD, and took the test. Interestingly, it was an open challenge for them.
In this cut-throat competitive world, we need productive people who can become the pride of the nation. We need those institutions which produce astute and intellectual graduates. It was one of the items in the manifesto of sitting Prime Minister Imran that he will pay more heed to education. Then, it is hightime for him to fulfil his promise and bestow first priority to educational institutions, the earlier the better
Students w ere allowed to bring whatever notes or books they wanted to bring in order to pass the test. Five hours were given to the students for the test. This test was composed of 200 questions. It was needed to give the right answer of at least 160 questions answer to pass the test. Students who scored more than 160 would be granted admission to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The highest recorded score was 113, and the average score was 70— a scant three points above that which a group of illiterates would have attained, had they been allowed to randomly tick off the answers. The authorities which had allowed the test to take place now sought to suppress its results, but the cat was out of the bag. Not a single student passed the test.
Moreover, a batch of physics teachers, all of whom had master’s degrees and had been teaching for several years in Pakistani colleges and universities and who were due for refresher course at Quaid-e-Azam university in 1984, were administered a surprise test composed entirely of basic questions at the Matriculate and Intermediate level. Although these teachers had been teaching at a much higher level to bachelor’s and master’s classes, less than 10 percent of them were able to answer any of the questions. A closely similar test was administered in 1988 to fresh students, all of whom had obtained a first class in their master’s degrees and were applicants for technical posts in the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. The results were slightly, but not substantially, better.
Along with the stunting of our youth, this divorce between education and understanding is an important reason why some countries are able to dominate others. Their education enables some to excel, and to think, analyse and produce new ideas. This gives the impression that their education institutions are superior, and they attract those few whose ability to think has survived our education system.
Therefore, in this cut-throat competitive world, we need productive people who can become the pride of the nation. We need those institutions which produce astute and intellectual graduates. It was one of the items in the manifesto of sitting Prime Minister Imran that he will pay more heed to education. Then, it is high time for him to fulfil his promise and bestow first priority to educational institutions, the earlier the better.