- Making the messiahs do something for a change
By: Parvez Jamil
The concept of experiential learning, sharing and applying becomes indispensable amid advancement in wide and varied fields of education. These disciplines pertain to social, physical, environmental, biological and medical sciences; in arts, humanities, commerce, and business management and information technology; in physical education, health, food and nutrition, among others. Geared up to experiential learning and sharing are universities the world over: those linked to Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), Erasmus Mundus Consortium of European Universities, Association of American Universities, Association of Australian Universities, Association of Commonwealth Universities, Universities of the “underdeveloped world” fostered by the Organization of American States (OAS) and Organization of African Unity (OAU), universities fast endeavoring for educational and research excellence in India and Pakistan, and some leading and emerging universities in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE and the rest of the Arab world.
As the need for education, learning and sharing remains of paramount and universal significance, what remains of primary importance for the least developed, under-developed and developing countries is endeavoring for a model of survival, sustenance and development in consonance with their objective conditions. However, consciously or subconsciously such countries’ intelligentsia, rulers or policy-makers are mostly bewitched by imported or alien concepts in planning and development which ignore their sorely needed socio-economic development planning. For example, experts fantasize about education in our own country, in the name of modernizing education, making it contemporary and compatible with world standards, amd produce models which are backbreaking and nerve-shattering. These fantastic models may be very good for the opulent, the elite, and the upper strata which do not form much of the population. But for the country’s impoverished majority a four-year bachelor’s degree for a poor student, laboring from dawn to dusk to earn and feed eight mouths, caring for ailing parents and little siblings, studying all night by candlelight without electricity just for a minor promotion, is an example of education so agonizing for the masses.
It requires will from our trend-setters to think and act simply and foster such education with grace and dignity both for opulent and impoverished that contributes to academic, career and life excellence. It is where education becomes appealing, affordable and accommodating, according to the objective conditions of our own society and in close consonance with current and contemporary trends in industrial, economic and technological transformation
While educational bosses put up with two year BA, BSc, and BCom for the commoners and encourage the cost-effective two-year Associate degree in vocational disciplines, the hype and hysteria over fanciful BBA and BS programs and the rat race to business schools leading to exhilarating vibes of the corporate sector has overshadowed the common two-year Bachelor’s and Associate degrees and sealed the fate of the majority of education-seekers who cannot even dream, let alone actually afford, the sky-rocketing cost of business management schools. Financial assistance both in private and public universities crumbles amid inconsistencies and irregularities in the immobilizing and procrastinating system, resulting in the growing number of drop-outs, especially from those who cannot pay the high fee or maintain consistency of performance in the degree’s marathon duration. The point is not to denigrate the four-year graduation which has been rightly advocated to make education compatible with international standards. But this long duration and exorbitantly costing education is too much for a common man, as the sole bread earner of a poor family cannot afford four or five children studying. Our educational authorities, PhD prodigies and educational messiahs must make the existing two-year BA, BSc and BCom more inventive, comprehensive, and rigorous by incorporating such aspects as communication and presentation courses, image, crisis and conflict management skills, and time and priorities management acumen to make it a justified, affordable and utilized Bachelor’s degree.
True, the Higher Education Commission aims to raise the standard of education to world class levels. But education is not a luxury to be enjoyed by a handful. If we were to take only the examples of Japan, the world’s economic superpower; the USA, Canada, Britain and Australia, our idols in education; Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland in Scandinavia and diversity from 0China, Russia, Germany and France, we find out education to be in line with such modern or contemporary trends for which they have their own indigenous base, resource and know-how. Likewise, if we are to contemplate an education base from where we can pick up for a better and brighter tomorrow, we may consider a simpler and easier three-pronged strategy in accordance with our value system and contemporary times:
First, if education remains a complicated fashion for kids with needless, confusing and mounting books, copies and paraphernalia, it shall continue to produce stereotyped products unprepared for life excellence. The point to ponder for our educational intelligentsia is to break away from unnecessary and overtaxing practices and devising a simpler and rewarding system for students, teachers and parents. Secondly, as deep-rooted traditional and so-called modern practices need a lot of vision to modify, the primary curriculum must be according to our objective conditions and contemporary needs. It means simple, interesting and activity-based three subjects, books and copies: A harmonious blend of positive, pertinent and practical concepts in three subjects: Morals and ethics; general knowledge; maths and science with IT as a tool of study. Later at secondary level combinations of courses may be added with aptitude-assessed and -oriented vocational or professional training. Thirdly, while it depends on the direction and commitment of our educational intelligentsia to devise such a curriculum for our primary assets, it is a challenging task for them to formulate, organize and promote an appealing package for the young nation at affordable cost.
Such cherished objectives of junior schooling would be achieved when primary children blossom into adolescence with a sense of direction in positive thinking, pleasing manners and healthy habits and with the study and career vision and commitment so instrumental in future personality and professional development and so crucial for their own well-being and that of their institution, family and society.
It requires will from our trend-setters to think and act simply and foster such education with grace and dignity both for opulent and impoverished that contributes to academic, career and life excellence. It is where education becomes appealing, affordable and accommodating, according to the objective conditions of our own society and in close consonance with current and contemporary trends in industrial, economic and technological transformation. Fashionable study options will be replaced with aptitude-oriented and rewarding knowledge, and bursting schoolbags transform into a simpler package of cost-effective and purposeful education…It needs creativity and ingenuity from our educational specialists and those at the helm of affairs of education. If there is a will…
The writer can be reached at [email protected]