I have previously written on the exploitation and inequality here in Pakistani society and I see that the virus of unfairness and exploitation has spread to the roots of my country. It is spreading and prevailing from this point to the next point. If we join the dots and dashes, the real polluted picture of Pakistani society is seen.
One of the issues that Pakistan needs most urgently to resolve is education. Education is the building block behind the creation of a nation; its role cannot be downplayed. The most powerful nations to date have been, and still are, the most highly educated nations. Education contributes to all walks of life, from top to toe and beneath the toe. The most civilized peoples always invest a major part of their of their country’s income in the field of education.
Unfortunately, as I write, Pakistan does not possess a world class education policy or anything approaching it. In fact, I would argue that the education system is the main bank of corruption and is a major facilitator of inequality.
Pakistan’s constitution says that education should be provided to all children up to the age of 16. That means it is the right of each and every Pakistani to be educated at least to the secondary level, and the responsibility of the government to ensure that each resident is treated equally.
On the ground, however, the situation lies far from this ideal. Currently, only 29% of females and 36% of males enroll in secondary school, statistics which leave Pakistan languishing around the bottom of regional averages.
It is not only the government that is responsible: civil society, the privileged classes, parents, and teachers must take an equal share of the blame for the dilemma of secondary school education which creates a situation in which only 6.3% of Pakistanis graduate from university. It is hard to say where the remaining majority go, and what they are doing for their bread and butter.
The deep-rooted problems of Pakistan’s education system sit a little deeper than statistics about attendance. The system itself replicates the elitist elements of society, meaning that progress in enrollment will never be quite enough to iron out the creases of privilege.
Pakistani secondary education comes in four forms: the Cambridge and A/O level system, the private schooling system, government schooling system, and Madarsa education. The first two are run on a fee-paying basis and the Cambridge system in particular is reachable only for the upper elite class of the Pakistani society. It is recognized by Pakistani employers as the most prestigious and is of great advantage to those who are able to take part in it.
Further down the hierarchy, the government schooling system is accessible to all but is attended only by the lower-middle and some of the lower class. There is no comparative worth in this system. I have witnessed this through my education. I got admission to the best governmental college, but the calamity remains that from the appointment of teachers through to the principle and even the house keeper, attendants and guards, all are politically motivated. They are not reachable to all, with only the cream of middle-class children gaining real access to them.
Finally, there is Madarsa education. This system today accepts only the lower-lower class and the people who are by birth, rashly emotional. The emotional temperament of attendees is reformed religiously, but I would argue that this system only intensifies their inclination and further pushes students toward rashness. This system is the main cause behind impatience and religious fundamentalism and extremism.
The hierarchy is rigid and allows for little movement between the lower and upper classes. As I have said, attendance is low and even in the advent of an increase in enrollment, the difference between the educations of those born with money and those without, will always be great.
It’s a great matter of disaster that as a result of being born into a poor family, one quits the right to progress. The poor are not positioned to gain the benefits of educational institutions such as the Cambridge schools, which give quality education. The lower classes are deprived of information and access to higher levels of education. Though scholarships are available, how is a lower class man to gain one if he is unable to have information about these institutions? The majority of scholarships are acquired by the privileged classes because they have the resources and habit of attaining opportunities.
Dramatic change is needed in the education system and I would like to put forward some ideas of the change that is required to resolve the problem of education in Pakistan.
It is time that all educational institutions were nationalized in an overhaul from top to bottom level. There should be one and only one education policy and one educational system for all. By this we will achieve the sense of equality that is so important in the creation and realization of a nation. From equality springs merit. It provides law and order, progress, decrement in poverty, and growth in liberty and opportunities.
All teachers should be treated as public servants and be entitled to equal salaries, provided according to their qualification and expertise. The current situation of teachers is not as good as it has been in the past. Each system has its own pay scale, with a great difference of wage allowed for. Where merit is applied to salaries and appointments in Cambridge schools, appointments in government schools often seem politically motivated. Infants and children are offered huge disparities in education as a result - a major hindrance to the progress of many.
After education there should be a compulsory paid internship within the county with further placements handed out on merit and completion of a successful internship. Pakistan is flowing in hot soup when it comes to our workforce. We need educated man power and the youth and current students need experience. If education can be translated into job placements, then the needs of Pakistan’s economy should also be sustained.
In an ending note, I would like to ask the common man to kindly come forward and raise his voice, not only for individual interest but for the betterment of society, because we are not only residents of the country in which we are born but also the country of the world. We are global citizens.
The youth have to give their true share for the progress. We have to acquire the updated education and be connected to the world. To get hold of the thing that is so needed and can do so much to save and reform the world, you do not have to go far. Come and open the book, turn a new leaf to find a new beginning of peace, prosperity and progress. Education is the only weapon that welcomes all without discrimination and it is the only tool that allows all to fight for their rights.