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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Education in Pakistan

TO say it in a single sentence, education in Pakistan is too much planning and little action. Unlike America and many Western countries, in Pakistan education can be divided into different types with respect to standard. In major cities we have A levels and O levels (equal to matriculation/ 10th grade) where the examinations are held under British system, the syllabi of A.O levels is different from the regular syllabi. Also the four different provinces are divided into educational boards which have their own syllabi. Tell you something interesting, last year there was a change in the syllabus of English for some class, someone among the course selectors found a poem called “Patriot” on the internet and suggested it to be part of the course, the board did not bother to have a look at the poem and selected it right away. The books having published and distributed all over the market, people read the poem and noticed it was about George Bush. The first word of every line combined to make GEORGE BUSH. Also they found out that it was actually full of irony and a harsh criticism on Bush, that’s when our president ordered to take appropriate action, i.e. removal of the poem from the course.
Coming back to the standards of education_ A/O levels are considered a good standard and schools under this system are run as private. Then there are private as well as government and semi-government colleges and universities. The private universities if of good standard are costly otherwise of normal fees. Semi government universities are mostly good while government universities are comparatively cheap but their standard depends upon the Chancellor.
The actual problem with the educational system is lack of good institutions at primary level. There is no good staff, teachers don’t even know how to teach a small kid, parents don’t have too many options, I can remember how as a kid I never liked going to school. A little part of my education was at a government school where we attended classes in the open air under the sun in winter and under a tree’s shade in summer. I did my matriculation from there. Then for Intermediate and Graduation I got admission in a government college, this too was good for nothing. However, I was lucky enough to get admission for Masters (University Degree) in a very good college in the provincial capital that was the best institution I attended. Some of my friends there had a similar educational background; others would only be surprised to hear it.
The government keeps on introducing different programs for improving literacy rate and educational standard. Imagine this….Last year the provincial government introduced a program called “Tawana Pakistan” which means Healthy Pakistan. The program was for classes grade 1 to 5. The idea was to provide food and juices, etc. to the kids at school all free of charge so they might be fit physically. The result was a disaster. The teachers (female staff) would remain busy cooking food and the kids would spend their time playing. Consequently they were getting physically quite active but with no education, so the government decided to discontinue it. A few months back they (the government) came up with another idea, they started registering schools which would give education free of cost. The idea was that the provincial government would pay Rs. 350 ($5.8) to the school monthly for every student. The result is more students on the papers than actually enrolled, but still no education. Who cares when it’s a free education by the way? This program is still in ‘action’, lets see how far it goes.
With the change in government we get changes in the education system. Whereas good changes occurred at the higher level of education, especially in the field of computer studies during the Musharraf regime, a lot is still needed to be done. Unfortunately, the damage already done is so enormous we’d need a lot of time to do the repair before the ship sinks and especially when we haven’t yet realized how urgently we need to look to it.

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