Multiple educational systems in Pakistan
One nation - multiple educational systems
Karachi, Aug 04: A government school and an O-level school are two extremes of the
stratified education system that exists in the country – which one of
them will children end up in depends on how much money their parents
A rough estimate of the various layers that make up
urban education brings forward eight categories of parallel systems that
have been functioning for years - Madrassahs, government schools,
English-medium schools, cadet schools and colleges, O- and A- level
schools, the Aga Khan University board, government colleges and public
and private universities.
In the absence of any formal tab, each of these schooling systems devises a different curriculum and fee structure.
a result, each institute attracts a certain social class, and year
after year, churns out batches of students, who share life experiences
completely alien to each other.
According to a survey
titled 'Education in Pakistan' conducted by the Strengthening
Participatory Organisation, "Madrassahs, Urdu- and Sindhi-medium schools
and English-medium schools cater for different socio-economic classes
and further increase the alienation that exists between them.
system is unjust as it distributes the most lucrative and powerful jobs
advantageously to the elite, which is educated in English-medium
institutions. Meanwhile, the Madrassah-educated people and those who
fail in Urdu-medium schools join the increasing army of the unemployed,
who use the idiom of religion to express their defused sense of being
cheated of their rights. Hence, the unjust system of schooling might
increase Islamic militancy in Pakistan that will be as much an
expression of resentment against the present policies of the ruling
elite as the commitment to Islamising the society."
Jaffer Ahmed, the director of the Area Study Centre for Pakistan
Studies, has a similar perspective. "The stratification in education is
creating two nations within the country with no communication bridge."
in the education department say there are 2,800 government schools in
Karachi. Private schools are even greater in number. "There are about
6,000 registered private schools, and a conservative estimate will
reveal that there are 4,000 unregistered private schools in the city,"
said Syed Khalid Shah of the All Private School Management Association.
at government schools comes free of charge, but the standards are such
that even a poor man prefers to send his children to a small-scale
In survey carried out by the
Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi titled "Urban Trends in Education", it was
discovered that only 34.8 percent fifth grade students at government
schools in Karachi could read English sentences and solve three-digit
division sums. Only 47.8 percent of them could read an Urdu storybook.
figures for fifth grade students at private schools were relatively
higher, but not satisfactory as 51.4 percent could read an Urdu
storybook, 91.4 percent could read English sentences and 62.9 percent
could solve three-digit division sums.
The same survey
also pointed out that the disparity among private and public sector
schools was the highest in Karachi in comparison with Lahore and
Peshawar. Of the total percentage of students enrolled in schools, 26.5
percent attended government schools and 70.8 percent private schools.
A brief history
to the state policy, taxes should be spent on educating students in
Urdu and Sindhi languages only. This had been the practice in schools
which operated in the 60s and 70s. Teaching continued in the mother
tongue till fifth grade, after which it was carried on in both English
It was stated in the Strengthening Participatory
Organisation survey that it was during Ayub Khan's time that cadet
colleges were first constructed. The medium of instruction there was
English, and the reason given for the armed forces to step into the
field of education was the "need to produce officials, who could step
into the military bureaucracy".
These institutes provided
education at a subsidised rate, and were situated in state-of-the-art
buildings. After nationalisation in 1972, the standards of government
schools suffered a serious blow. It was then that O-and A-level schools
began to spread. The market gap for quality education was captured by a
number of private schools of all sizes that mushroomed in the city.
the other hand, the Madrassah is an educational institution that exists
with every other mosque, even in remote villages with no schools.
More often than not, parents send their children to these 'boarding schools' to ease the burden of extreme poverty.
Aga Khan Board was introduced in 2003, and offers both matriculation
and intermediate education. It follows the national curriculum and
claims that its fee is "less than one-third of O- and A-level schools"
but the standard is the same.
Pakistan might be the only
country with an education system as layered as this and produces
children completely alienated to each other. Here, one child has no
bench to sit in a classroom and the other has access to lush green
football stadiums. In a situation like this, one is forced to asked that
if the constitution guarantees that all citizens equal, why are some
more equal than others?. By Sidrah Roghay (The news)
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