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Elementary education in Pakistan

June 24, 2008: Since the announcement of the federal and provincial budgets very useful debates have taken place in the National Assembly as well as the four Provincial Assemblies. Whereas the political leadership of Pakistan, the financial economic, industrial and agricultural experts have dwelt largely upon their respective sectors of concern the media has focused on the basic issue whether or not the budget 2008-09 is genuinely peoples friendly or the age old status quo of jugglery with figures continuous to remain the order of the day.

The feudal system remains untouched and no revolutionary changes have been even initiated according to many economists, of which rare assets Pakistan is unfortunately suffering from acute shortage, the man in the street and the housewife in the kitchen are temporarily made to feel happy through serving old wine in new bottles as the term goes. The credit goes to the majesty of the financial terminology used by the budget makers which has, in effect, very little to do with genuine relief to the deprived down trodden over 70 percent population of Pakistan.

Considering the large number of seminars held by various institutions in different capitals of the province as well as Islamabad, I have not observed a single study, world shops or intellectual concern to discover the linchpin of our present tragic situation even after 60 years of independence. More than dozen countries in our region in South and South East Asia as well as in the North and West of Pakistan have overtaken Pakistan in many fields but the decisively in the education sector.

No wonder, therefore, that the city of Lahore which is heart of Pakistan, hosted a number of seminars during the past fortnight, focusing on high education, the Pakistan National Forum, the government College Lahore University, LUMS, the University of the Punjab and particularly the Department of Communication and last but not the least the South Asia free media association took a leading part in highlighting that any accumulation of the human capital in any free country was not possible without education.

Mujeeb-ur-Rehman Shami echoed the heart beat of millions of Pakistanis when he declared at a seminar on elementary education organized by The Pakistan National Forum in collaboration with Beacon House School System, The Avicenna Education Movement and SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry through courtesy of Iftikhar Ali Malik that Pakistan needed a movement on the lines of the ongoing lawyers movements to blaze the torch of knowledge without which Pakistan could not get out of its present quagmire. Similar, sentiments were expressed by former Provincial Law Minister Rana Ijaz Ahmad Khan renowned column writer Hassan Nisar, educationalists and intellectual Hamayun Ehsan, particularly Mr. Jan-e-Alam Khan President Punjab Teachers Union, Dr. Allah Buksh Malik who was the keynote speaker while explaining the background of our various ills and short falls pointed his finger at the lack of political will which needed a fresh resolve to achieve the desire goal.

He quoted Quaid-e-Azam's world of advice "character, courage, industry and perseverance are four pillars on which the whole super structure of human life can be built". Dr Aisha Ghaus Paisha Director Research Institute of Public Policy at Beacon House National University, while summing up the recommendations of the seminar paid glowing tributes to Mr. Oriya Maqbool Jan Abbasi who was more of a visionary and an intellectual than any outstanding Government official.

The Holy Prophet of Islam had directed the Muslim Ummah to undertake a journey to the end of the world, which was believed to be China at that time, to acquire knowledge in all its dimensions. How unfortunate that Ummah had never paid any head to that call of the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him). It is said that some politicians observed in the presence of American President Abraham Lincoln that knowledge was very expensive in USA. Lincoln taunted the politician with the counter question "if knowledge is expensive, the only cheaper alternative is ignorance are you advocating that the American nation should adopt ignorance as a cheep remedy".

Having said that it goes to the credit of the present coalition government to initiate necessary guidelines at different levels of education. As a case study Punjab leads in its allocation to higher education (Rs. 9,100,000 million), school education (Rs. 16,453,000 million), special education (Rs. 1,825,000 million) literacy and non Formal Basic Education (Rs. 1,250,000 million). A special awareness campaign for promotion of literacy and establishment of Adult Literacy Centers and Non Formal Basic Education Schools in jails, factories and brick kilns is the brain child of Mian Shahbaz Sharif during his previous stint.

By Ikramullah, (The Nation)

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