Giving quality education a chance


Unfortunately, even in the 21st century where excessive media exposure and massive level of globalisation have entirely metamorphosed the concept of change and development for many of us; the government of our country remains indifferent with only a tiny bit of its budget being allocated for the education sector. The figures and literacy rate of Pakistan, however, show the brighter side of the picture. This is mainly because the definition of a ‘literate person’ in Pakistan does not really describe a literate person. Ironic, isn’t it?
According to the definition of literacy that has been drafted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO); literacy is the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. It involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society.
Surprisingly, someone who can read and write a simple letter, in any language happens to be a literate person in Pakistan! This definition is in stark contrast to many developed as well as developing countries where the definition is more qualitative.
So technically, what explains a ‘simple’ letter? Does this refer to a written element of an alphabet that represents a single phoneme or ….? The definition also fails to specify the language of the letter and the newspaper. So that means if I am able to read a newspaper in Hebrew and also write a simple letter in the same language; this would earn me the title of a literate person, irrespective of the fact that I am a part of a South Asian country whose national language is Urdu?
So are we blinded by ignorance or what? Talking in the same context, if we skim through the pages of the past or even consider the current efforts being made by the government for the improvement of the educator sector, we analyse the lack of political commitment, low quality education, lack of stress on primary education, improper checks and balance, etc.
I got a chance to teach at a local government school in Punjab and was baffled to see the number of mistakes in the text books provided by the government under the education promotion schemes. It was indeed appalling because the students would not believe me over the book. ‘A book is always true and authentic,’ they said.
Be it the ‘Benazir Income Support’ programme or the ‘Parha Likha Punjab’ programme; each has proved yet another futile effort that has failed to do any good; the major reason being lack of stress on quality education. This makes us come to the conclusion that even if a higher per cent of the budget is allocated for this sector, there would still not be enough of good news because of the many loop holes and grey areas associated with the allocation.
The proper solution lies in the standard and quality of education that need to be focused upon. Efforts should be made to replace the out-dated curriculum with international standards of quality education, which has little relevance to the present day. In this way, standardisation in the education system can also be ensured, when both the private and public schools will be following the same system of education and text books. Similarly, proper quality training should be given to the teachers.
Finally, economic and social change should be understood as a concept that has to take place through the existing social system and the networks of social institutions. The need to realise the role of education, in this respect, as an agent or instrument of social change and economic development has to be widely recognised. Mainly because youth is the backbone of any country and it is expected to play a constructive role towards change and a better tomorrow. Let the change, and revolution, be through quality education!

The writer is sub editor, Profit


  1. Excellent point but i want to say some,you missed our Eco$ Edu policies are same our politics they was change day and day so how we can make perfect . You share experience what is Gov book's so we have must to care our children are they read completely which is relative for his profanation.
    thanks .

  2. This article raises a number of very important issues. Unfortunately, the education system of Pakistan is such, that rote learning is patronised instead of being discouraged. And this is not only limited to Pakistan but also, many developed countries as we know them. There is a need to completely revamp educational structures, but for that to happen, as you rightly pointed out, we need to redefine the definition of education. The modern system, is a process of standardisation where batch by batch students are churned out, without much value addition.

  3. Agreed 110%. The system needs to be changed from the base up! No matter how much money we put in..its not going to get better…how about we privatize the whole education sector and build it up from the very basic..We can worry about the funding later (grants, tax money etc). Rote education has its benefits..yet it has its demerits as well..however…you will notice most of our graduates from the private system perform much much better when they go to foreign universities…but that is not the question…Revolution is my name!

  4. You have raised a very interesting dilemma Maheen. Another recent example; Shahbaz Shareef is spending billions for a few Danish Schools; why not renovate the existing ones and restructuring the whole education institution by the same amount of money. Shahbaz Shareef says: “Only kids from poor families will be admitted to Danish Schools”. Our leaders are creating class differences among poor and rich themselves by implementing such systems in the education sector. By strengthening the existing government schools infrastructure and reforming a merit based quality education system for everyone, can get us a better result.

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