Pakistan educational system myriad problems
Apartheid of another kind
Our ruling class which is a mullah/military/bureaucracy/feudal nexus has a vested interest
in keeping the majority of the population ignorant, unskilled, irrational,
underfed and unproductive. In order to achieve this objective, they have taken a
leaf out of their colonial predecessors' book and adopted their philosophy of
dividing the subjects into two classes.
Aug, 22: The issue of inequality stands out among the myriad problems that plague
Pakistan these days due to its long-term implications for society at large.
There can't be two opinions about the fact that we are living in an unjust and
exploitative system that is heavily biased towards the rich.|
Dr Syed Jaffar Ahmed, Director,
Pakistan Study Centre, University of Karachi, opines: "The educational system in
all societies is organised along class lines and ours is not an exception.
However, in many countries this division is not as profound and extensive as it
is in Pakistan. We have virtually created two nations and consolidate this
separation through our educational system.
"Its ultimate result is that
there are two nations representing two totally different mindsets, ethos, skills
and abilities. Unfortunately, no government has ever tried to bridge this gap,
which nowadays is wider than it ever was," he adds.
Dr Ahmed states: "In the midst of all these divisions, we have failed to evolve
as a nation. Our politics, economy, civil services, judiciary and legislature,
almost all important institutions of statecraft, are dominated by the privileged
class, while the majority of the populace is condemned to live the life of
subjects and not as equal citizens."
There are three streams of
educational systems: firstly, the public sector education (read Urdu-medium
schools); secondly, the private sector (English-medium schools) and finally, the
madressah education. All these systems cater to a different stratum of the
populace: for instance, the government schools cater to the middle and
lower-middle classes, while the private schools take students from the
privileged class who can afford their through-the-ceiling fees and other
charges. Finally, the madressahs impart education free of charge and often also
provide boarding and lodging facilities to the poorest of the poor. All these
streams have their own sets of pros and cons which affect the students' whole
lives, their professional competence and their earning capabilities.
Consequently, the vertical divide of society is absolutely complete.
Contrary to the popular conviction, inequality is neither a natural
phenomenon nor the fate of each individual or group - rather, it is the result
of sustained state policies and an established societal order that is based on
elitism and hierarchy. Development experts, international agencies and all
governments firmly believe that while equality is one of the fundamental human
rights and every constitution grants it a central place, inequality is, however,
extremely entrenched in many countries, including Pakistan.
As a result
of globalisation, all economies, on a national and international level, have
become very integrated and all economic activities are becoming increasingly
knowledge-based. Education has become a very important and crucial factor as it
helps to improve living standards and enhance the quality of life and can,
therefore, provide the same opportunities to men and women, irrespective of
their nationalities, caste, race, religion or ethnicity.
Education, in a
rapidly changing world, has become more important than ever. Owing to the
emerging globalisation nowadays, the omnipresent democracy, scientific
innovations, the emergence of new market economies and altering public/private
role, all nations need a highly educated and skilled populace in order to
compete and thrive in this age of cut-throat competition.
significant aspect that has been overlooked by our planners is that inequality
and poverty are typically assessed in terms of income and wealth which in turn
influence educational opportunities. There has been extensive research that
suggests a definite correlation between income and education levels as well as
between learning and income disparities.
Elaborating this phenomenon, Dr
Muhammad Ali Siddiqui, the dean and professor, Faculty of Management and Social
Sciences, Biztek Institute of Business and Technology, Karachi, says: "The
privileged classes have very successfully developed an educational apartheid
system in which only the selected few can get good education and skills and the
rest of the populace is supposed to be subservient to them. On which side of the
fence one would land depends on the accident of birth and inheritance and the
fissure lies on the financial division."
Dr Tariq Rahman has
successfully covered this divide in his book, Denizens of Alien World, A Study
of Education, Iinequality and Polarisation in Pakistan. He writes that "this
system perpetuates capitalism in its worst forms, the lower by providing cheap
labour, the upper by creating inane and selfish consumers and both levels are
not capable of ushering in an era of self-sufficiency, egalitarianism and
dignity for the masses."
However, due to the collapse of the public
sector educational system, our society represents the prevalent class structure
of society. Students coming from government schools or madressahs cannot compete
with students from the private sector who are given the best education money can
buy. So they end up doing menial or semi-skilled jobs and are left behind in the
neo market economy as it is very difficult for them to break the class ceiling
or succeed on the same level.
Dr Asad Saeed, director of Participatory
for Social Sciences, explains the implication of this apartheid system in the
following words: "Our educational system is not geared towards the needs and
requirements of growing and dynamic economy. Due to globalisation and
technological revolution, there has been tremendous growth of hi-tech related
industries. However, in order to capture them we need
good skills in
English and maths, something which is sadly lacking in our students.
"Secondly, our education system is by and large declining in terms of
quality. We still have not sorted out language issues, our curriculum and
teaching methods are obsolete and are simply not up-to-the-mark to meet the
requirements of the up-to-the-minute financial system," adds Dr Saeed.
Growing terrorism and fundamentalism has become a critical challenge for
the government, civil society and the people at large. Dr Ahmed states: "This
phenomenon is also the result of our class-driven educational system as the
under-privileged who have been neglected by the state are catered by the
extremist outfits who exploited them in the name of religion, regrettably, with
the support of the establishment."
Summing up the debate, it can be
concluded safely that the class-driven educational system is injurious for
economic development and national cohesion. Nearly half of our national issues
could be solved easily if we devise an educational system that provides one and
the same opportunities to all its citizens. -By Moniza Inam (Dawn)
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