Qualitative and quantitative dimensions
Education raises productivity and efficiency of individuals and produces skilled manpower that is capable of leading economy towards the path of sustainable economic development. It accelerates economic growth through knowledge, skill and creative strength of a society. Education is a fundamental human right and is central to development, social progress and human freedom. It provides the bedrock for reducing poverty and enhancing social development. An educational system of poor quality may be one of the most important reasons why poor countries do not grow at a reasonable rate.
In Pakistan the quality of education has a declining trend because of high dropout rate, defective curricula, dual medium of instruction, cheating in examinations, low enrolment rate and overcrowded classrooms. The quality of teachers is also poor in Pakistan. A low level of educational qualification is required to become a primary school teacher which includes ten years of schooling and an eleven-month certificate programme when students need better teachers at primary level so their base could be strong. Student achievements at all level mainly depends on teacher’s qualification. A student performs better if his teacher is highly qualified.
Another problem in the system is the appointment of teachers, especially in primary schools, is subject to political influence. Local interest groups place teachers of their own choice despite merit. There is also acute shortage of teacher training facilities, particularly for female teachers in certain regions. When teachers are not trained, they are unable to perform better and according to the new trends in curriculum. Student-teacher ratio is also high in class. There is only one teacher with a class of hundred students, making teacher unable to focus on all students. Because of these issues literacy rate is only 58 per cent in Pakistan, with male literacy rate being at 61. 3 per cent and female literacy rate at 36.8 per cent. Gender gap, poverty, accessibility, cultural restrictions and distance are the main causes of low literacy rate of females in Pakistan.
But the major cause behind poor performance of Pakistan’s education sector is extremely low level of public investment that has been less than two per cent of GDP in the last few years though the present government claims to take it to four per cent of GDP by 2017-18. But the major part of public investment is skewed toward higher education and then only specific class gets the benefit of these funds. While lower middle and poor classes, whose children are studding in primary or secondary schools and unable to reach to the higher educational level, are unable to get the benefit of public funds. These highly educated students then go abroad for further studies or job and most of them do not return and cause brain drain and economic loss.
There is a need to increase public investments, maybe up to six per cent of GDP as it is recommended for the developing countries. Many problems can be solved by increasing public investments by increasing public educational institutions, providing more facilities to the existing institutions, opening more teacher training institutions with experts trainers, increasing teachers’ salary packages making it attractive enough for the people to join this profession. There is also a great need for curriculum reforms that match with the labour market. There is a need for research to update the curriculum and enhance quality of textbooks and learning materials. Research thrives best where there is a mass of critical thinkers. This is where universities have an edge. The government needs to provide substantial research funds to public sector universities. These steps will improve our literacy rate.