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Education failing to promote critical thinking

Sep: Whether it is private or public education, both sectors leave much to be desired. Public sector education is tragically inadequate for a number of reasons. Issues begin in the very conception of a good education. The aim is not getting students interested in education. Without any vision or aim, the public education sector seems to be doomed. One cannot help sympathising with all the students who have graduated, but will soon discover that their education has been useless.

At least there is the option of private education. That is, option for those who can afford it of course. Most of the private educational institutions teach the British curriculum of O and A levels. At a university level, there are plenty of external degrees available. The external programmes provide a rich range of subjects in addition to flexibility and independence. Students can choose to stay home and hire a private tutor and independently give their exams -- that's not a bad deal, though the child then has no social interaction in his/her age group.

Then these curriculums make sense and are internationally accepted. Such courses expect students to demonstrate critical thinking, which helps one to develop good communication and analytical skills. It means the student is capable of thinking outside the box. This skill is crucial to success in life.

So the question is: is your child thinking?

Is your child receiving the opportunity to think, analyse and, organise information through various sources such newspapers, books and the internet? Is your child applying the information s/he has learnt to the real world? Do you find your child changing as s/he learns a particular subject? If the answers are yes to the questions you know you have sent your child to the right school.

However, if you feel that most of the above developments are not taking place then it means your child's school or college is doing a poor job. It is that simple. All curriculums stress critical thinking, yet many of the institutions conveniently ignore this aspect.

Some managers have complained about new interns lacking communication skills. Graduates have to be taught everything from scratch, from how to collect and organise information to how to write a report to make a presentation. These are the basic skills a graduate should possess. The employer's job is simply to provide the practical usage of these skills.

That in no way means our present youth is dumb; if anything they are smarter than any generation before. They are more aware of the world, tech savvy, intelligent, confident and, fast-learners. However, these qualities do not show in their careers.

It is because the educational institutions are simply ignoring the link between the curriculum and the professional life. Students feel disconnected from their education and the real world. The British curriculum has been designed to promote analytical thinking but in our schools, they are encouraged to cram he answers. Students are given prepared notes on the 'right' answers to memorise. They are unable to grasp the complexities of subjects like social sciences. That is why, when students finally enter a profession, they find their knowledge inadequate. That is why employers are frustrated; they have to teach the students exactly what they were supposed to have learned at their colleges. One wonders why the British curriculums fail to practically monitor these issues.

The most intelligent generation of our time is being wasted. Children have the right to explore and discover knowledge actively. They should be allowed to question and debate topics. There should be strict policy against providing notes. For the teacher who does not follow the note-giving process suffers most because his/her students will simply find another teacher who would over-simplify. It is a great tragedy that the students are attaining knowledge for the short-term, instead of long-term, life-changing knowledge. All parents should be aware that active learning and critical thinking are crucial skills for the success of their child in their careers and personal life. These skills produce strong and confident characters. Finally, students should have the right to choose subjects for which they have a natural bent and which interests them.

By Beenisch Tahir
The writer teaches Sociology and is a freelance writer. She can be reached at: Beenisch_bb@hotmail.com (Dawn)

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Conversion of GCC hostel into girls college protested
Peshawar: The activists of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT) Friday staged a protest demonstration against the proposed plan to convert the hostel of Government College of Commerce (GCC) into a college for girls.

Holding placards and chanting slogans, the protesting students demanded of the government to scrap the plan to convert the hostel of Government College of Commerce (GCC) into a college for girls forthwith and save the future of hundreds of boarding students.

The protestors accused local MPA Alamzeb of pursuing the plan for his vested interests. They were also chanting slogans against the MPA. They said hundreds of students were residing in the hostel and if it were converted into a college, the students belonging to remote areas would be deprived of education. The students stated the plan was worked out several months ago but due to the concerns of the students it could not be materialised.

They added the local MPA was taking undue interest in executing this anti-student plan. They said if the government was really interested in promotion of female education, it should construct a new building for the purpose instead of depriving the existing students of the accommodation facility.

The protestors urged the government to immediately scrap the plan and let the students continue their study with peace of mind, otherwise the stu-dents would be compelled to launch a protest drive for indefinite period. The News

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