Mushfiq Ali Khan
Our nation-state is home to the 2nd largest out of school population. Our beloved country is considered a backward and pressed state in the global arena. Pressed under treatable epidemics – most of which are only found in history books of some developed countries, and pressed under shoddy educational setup. A good amount of importance should be paid towards education in Pakistan, since we rank 5th in population wise worldwide. Or in simple terms, we are the 6th largest human producer. Therefore, let us discuss about the quality of this production.
Our existing education system lacks development in holistic growth of students, it does not tend to explore and nourish the passion in students and lacks integration of modern learning technologies into the years-old lecture-based system, which makes the system, as Ken Robinson puts it, an industrial age invention.
A properly educated person is tolerant and possesses important virtues. But in our system, we have seen that university students are popular for target killings, drug dealings, and affiliation with militant groups. In response, our authorities are simply interested in surveillance of the students rather fixing the problem of quality education in the country. This is a quick-fix and short-term approach towards our failing educational setup.
Almost every child dislike going to school. Those who graduate, feel more insecure than a person who has no formal education. Part of the problem arises from our current educational framework, which has no respect for passion and arts. Staged on a test-driven method where you are penalized for trying new things and making mistakes, students are not autonomous. This all indirectly leads to an alarming outcome of depression, suicides and drug usages among students.
Schools today are becoming a source of business with standardized courses, mass lecturing, and instructions, rather serving as a second home for students. While doing their best to tackle the above concerns, it seems that the elite urban schools of Karachi and Lahore are the only options left for a 21st-century quality education in Pakistan. Which should be a moment of reflection for our policymakers who are busy raising salaries of teachers as the only mean to achieve the quality education.
Lastly, our current system is far behind with respect to the developments shaping the world today. Today, where technology is becoming an integral part of our daily life, our schools are still provided with boxes of chalk and writing boards. Distant-learning options are not appreciated on a large scale. Encouraging learn-from-home initiatives creates a way for disabled children and for out-of-school female population, a great opportunity for education.
We became the first nation to experience EVDO’s RevB 3G technology at 9.3 Mbit/s in 2010, yet how far this achievement of ours improved quality education is a moment of embarrassment. A research article on prospects of e-learning in developing countries published by Örebro University shows the importance of distant-learning for developing world, like us, to meet the growing demand of education in an efficient way. Further, our diverse geography stretching from Himalayan mountains to the coastal plains of the Arabian sea with an additional twist of cyclic disruptions by monsoons, floods and other natural calamities stem a perfect scenario to promote these e-learning initiatives.
Some analysts also believe that e-learning initiatives can be the most effective solution for our current challenges in education due to gender inequality and less qualified staff. They believe that a targeted, reliable and sustainable e-learning initiative by the government can prove to be a major boost in our journey of educating the nation.
I would suggest that the system should indulge students in community service. It should be made compulsory for every student to move on to the next grade. Further, distorted histories of countries and religions taught in schools to build a positive look should be subjected to scrutiny and review. Religious and country’s history subjects should follow a tolerant and a deferential prospective of other nations and religions. This will build an unpretentious approach of students towards religion and history.
Further, as it seems difficult but the current ordinal scale of grading should be replaced with just passing and failing dichotomy of assessment.
Lastly, state policies should be implemented to encourage distant-learning platforms and ventures (e.g. khan academy, Lynda.com, udemy.com and thousands of other interactive platforms).
It is a single-time investment with huge returns. It is not a rocket science today to equip schools with internet connections and computers, which are much cheaper and affordable. Doing so will harvest an application and research-based learning ambiance in classrooms.
As an outcome of obscene quality education, problems highlighted above are prominent in Pakistan and in other parts of the world, however in many different manifestations. I am hopeful that access to quality education to the nation is an important instrument to uproot many severe ailments of the society. We are very occupied fighting the outcomes of our ruthless educational setup today, that it seems unthinkable to waste time debating on the topic of its quality. Nevertheless, a better solution is to curb the cause, which lies lurking deep inside the faulty complex of education.