Does anyone care to revamp education system?
Master degree holders could not answer simple questions
for those of us, not well-versed in geography, "Malta" would certainly have
meant orange, but you have to give it to a postgraduate in Geography for not
knowing a fig about this Mediterranean archipelago.
May: "Where is Malta?' a panelist at an interview board asked a candidate - a
postgraduate in Geography - who had applied for a job to teach the same subject.
"Malta?" a somewhat puzzled candidate retorted, with a cynical look. "You must
be kidding me," he remarked, still bewildered. "It's a fruit of course and
everyone knows where to find it?" pat came out the answer.|
But, even this
gentleman can be forgiven for his ignorance, if one were to leaf through the
last Annual Report of the erstwhile NWFP Public Service Commission.
notes: "Master degree holders in specialised subjects like MCS, MSC, Physics,
Chemistry, Botany and Biology etc. could not answer simple questions of Pakistan
Studies, Islamiat and questions about government institutions which they should
have leant at secondary school and college level.
The examples are
already given that MCS (Master in Computer Science) could not answer the
question 'where Minar-i-Pakistan is located and what is its historical
significance. A master degree holder in Islamiat could not differentiate between
Imaan and Islam." It said. A candidate had answered that Minar-i-Pakistan was
located in Peshawar!
A law graduate was repeatedly referring to "coconut
stories" while being interviewed for a post of additional prosecutor. It turned
out - to the amusement of those sitting on the interview panel - that the
gentleman actually meant to say "concocted stories. When asked what a coconut
looked like. The candidate said: "It was just like an apple."
Such is the
state of education in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The tragedy is that the Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa Assembly that received the PCS Report on almost annual basis passes
it without bothering to leaf through its pages and address the many causes that
ail our education system.
The rot has set in and it will take a
Herculean effort to turn around things and improve the quality of education.
This requires vision, something that is deplorably missing in the ruling elite,
whose sons and daughters know not how does it feel sitting on a mat in a
classroom with no ceiling fan and a bathroom with no water.
may be forgiven but indifference is criminal and that's what our education
system has come to be treated as - with criminal indifference. A province that
has little resources of its own spends Rs30 billion on education, Rs24 billion
of which is spent on salaries of teachers and other allied staff.
174,000 employees (56 per cent), education department is the biggest service
provider in the public sector in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. And this is what we get?
A child, who is taught who the founder father of
Pakistan is long before he learns the name of his father does not know where
Minar-i-Pakistan is, definitely highlights where we stand.
of education has deteriorated and this speaks volumes about the incompetence of
those who have been overseeing the formulation of syllabi as well as those
teaching it. Does it surprise anyone that the education department is still
being governed under an outdated 1935 Education Code - the so-called Bible of
the Education Department - which is only now being changed, thanks to some good
and dedicated officers at the helm?
A study has found that put together;
the amount spent on a student in public schools by the government was enough to
get him enrolled in one of the best private schools of Pakistan.
not to say that the elite private schools are fairing any better, where school
bags are getting heavier than the weight of the kids carrying them on their
all-too-weak shoulders, and where, as one dear friend put it, knowledge is
hammered through their brains without so much caring for them to understand it.
But still, there is a huge difference between public and private schools
in terms of quality of education. And that is because of the training the
teachers are put through in private sector schools on a regular basis and where
promotions are done on the basis of performance and not because teachers reach a
certain ceiling of their pay to become eligible for a move-over to next grade.
Please! When was the last time public sector teachers went though a
refresher training course? If it is mandatory for officers of other government
department to go through management courses to become eligible for promotion to
the next higher grade, why can't it be made compulsory for the teachers to do
But this may never happen. And you know why? With all due
respect to the teachers, some of whom abound in politics than knowledge, there
umpteen associations, some of which are associated with this or that political
party, would be out on the streets, holding placards. Ever heard of teachers
protesting to demand better training? Hell, No! Why should they?
what the many political governments have done over the last several decades;
inundate schools with their own political loyalists, who owe their appointment
not to the knowledge or the lack thereof, but to their political loyalties.
Wonder why some of these associations suddenly come to life when their parties
come into power.
And then to rub salt to your wounds, you hear ministers
making statements ad-nauseum, of making education their top priority. That may
be true. Because this would mean more schools; and more schools mean more
recruitment and more opportunities to draft more loyalists.
tragedy is that nobody is concerned, not leas the people at large, who, beset by
a raft of troubles, have their way, groping in the dark, not knowing which way
to turn. The government, with the exception of a few good officers at the helm
in the education department, is least pushed to give a policy direction and set
a vision for revamping the rotten state of affairs in the education sector.
Reforms are necessary and it does not require a task force to re-invent
the wheel. A glace through the PCS Annual Report lays it bare, even for those
with a weak sight to diagnose the real causes behind the downfall of education
in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The issue is not money or spending more money for that
matter to improve the quality of education. Cuba is spending less than many of
the Latin American countries but is competing with some of the developed
countries of the world in terms of quality education. In Western Europe, Finland
is spending less than Norway but tops the list of countries in quality
education. What is required is an effective and merit-based recruitment system
for teachers and headmasters and putting in place an effective monitoring and
All the countries which are now competing in terms of
high quality education have come to learn this through trial and error. It is
time to abandon the outdated CT, PT-mode of recruitment and revamp the whole
system. And this does not require money. What it requires is the political will.
Does anyone care? -By Ismail Khan (Dawn)
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