Introducing ‘uniform education system’ seems a daunting task


-Educationists are poles apart on govt plan of ‘Uniform Education System’

ISLAMABAD: The country’s education experts are widely divided on the incumbent government’s plan to introduce a ‘uniform education system’ throughout Pakistan as some called the move as a magic potion to the ills in the education system while others dubbed it an exercise of futility which is not even practicable.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s (PTI) education policy aims to provide an equal opportunity of quality education in a system which caters to every citizen and removes poverty as a barrier for children to realize their potential.

Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan has repeatedly called for new modifications in the education system and stressed that there should be a uniform curriculum throughout the country while criticising the functioning of various educational systems in the nation that are the basis of discrimination in Pakistan.

Talking to Pakistan Today, Higher Education Commission (HEC) former chairman Dr Attaur Rehman said that the proposed system is the sole answer to all problems in the education system. He said that all the federating units should cooperate with the government in order to make the dream a reality because it is vital for the country’s future.

However, he also said that it is a daunting task and might not be possible because the education system is divided into five ministries that include one federal and four provincial ministries.

Dr Atta recommended the government to form a ‘Primary and Secondary Education Commission’ at the national level as per the line of HEC to be tasked on making a uniform syllabus for educational institutes all across the country.

He said that efforts should be made for the execution of a uniform education system or else the standard of education could not be improved because it is widely fragmented. He said that the issue is of both the syllabus and examination system, a difference between private and public schools as well as schools for the poor and rich.

He said that technical education could be introduced in maddaris along with teaching other modern courses; however, the government should provide them funding and take steps for their registration because merely introducing a syllabus will not serve the intended purpose.

On the same note, Faisal Bari, an associate professor of economics at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) said that the government should remove the confusion regarding the proposed system.

He said that it is not clear that what the government means by a uniform education system.

“Due to the prevailing ambiguity, the private sector is also in state of confusion,” he said while adding that the prime minister seems to be hinting at some notion of equality of opportunity as all children should have access to quality education that facilitates their development to their fullest potential.

“This is most definitely a laudable and important policy. It is wonderful to see the prime minister giving it due importance,” he added.

However, he said that uniformity is seen more in terms of ‘leveling’ and this kind of uniformity and leveling would be against the idea of allowing children to develop their potential to the fullest. He said that forcing all schools to use the same medium of instruction such as using the language would not achieve anything in fact, it is not even practicable.

Pervez Hoodbhoy, a nuclear physicist who taught physics at Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU), said that such a thing has never happened in Pakistan’s history and wouldn’t happen in the future either since Pakistan has a diversified and fragmented society divided on the basis of religion, linguistics and wealth; hence the acceptance of one curriculum seems next to impossible.

Hoodbhoy wondered how it is possible to teach subjects being taught in schools located in posh areas of Karachi to children in schools of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) until the gap between economic and social levels are bridged.

He said that around 70 per cent of educational institutes in major cities are private. The fees in these schools are  5 to 10 per cent higher than government schools which is why a uniform system seems unbelievable.

Despite repeated attempts and text messages, Federal Education and Professional Training Spokesperson Tahir Refiq could not be reached for his comments in this regard.