By Tooba Iftikhar
When we talk of education, we’re not just talking about school and books. We’re talking about our future, our country’s present and future, and in fact, of our entire system. A study conducted by UNESCO suggests that a country’s system is very dependent on its educational planning and management, in that education has a spill-over effect on the system. The UN’s Millennium Development Goals also states the importance of education and plan for worldwide availability of primary education. And here we are in Pakistan… mourning about the state of country, yet not making any effort to improve the educational system.
For a country to progress, it needs a functioning system of education. That system cannot come from anywhere else other than the country itself, especially if the country is Pakistan and the system is that of Lord Macaulay. Pakistan is still operating on the skeleton it inherited back in 1947; a system meant to weaken rather than strengthen the people of Pakistan.
Pakistan is ranked 160th in the world when it comes to literacy. With a literacy rate of 55%, literacy is still the lesser worry when we look at the state of education of those who do get some education. We see an ascending trend of homeschooling these days. Why? Because schooling a child at home is better than making him/her conform to the mess we call an education system.
The budget allotted to education this past year was 2.1% of the total resources, whereas most developing countries allocate over at least 3% to education; we see India at 3.9%. Countries such as Lesotho, Cuba, and Denmark spend from 8-13% on education. That is how a country which really wants to climb plans its budget. That is how a nation prospers.
“Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.”
― Walter Cronkite
The problem here is not the lack of educationists, nor is it a lack of resources, nor does it lie in shortage of thinkers or planners. No, the problem here is plain old ignorance. A country which has never had sincere governance is not to be blamed for its state. A country which has never known an independent system of anything is not to be blamed for its degeneracy. Pakistan is not a victor as we say in our 14th of August speeches. Pakistan is not a helpless victim either. Pakistan is that man in tattered clothes, with vultures picking at its living body, it eyes red and its tongue parched. It is that man holding a degree with no words printed on it, and eyes that cannot understand what they might try to read. But Pakistan is not helpless. It is only in the illusion of helplessness.
The significance of education cannot be over-emphasized, but it goes in hand that we need not just a higher literacy rate, but a system of literacy which adheres to the meaning of our own country and serves our own self rather than the vultures.
Having completed her BBA (H) degree from the Institute of Business Management – Karachi, Tooba is currently pursuing her MBA from the same institute.