The education system of Pakistan is comprised of 260,903 institutions and is facilitating 41,018,384 students with the help of 1,535,461 teachers. The system includes 180,846 public institutions and 80,057 private institutions. Hence 31%Pakistan has expressed its commitment to promote education and literacy in the country by education policies at domestic level and getting involved into international commitments on education.
In this regard national education policies are the visions which suggest strategies to increase literacy rate, capacity building, and enhance facilities in the schools and educational institutes. There is a need for implementation of national education policy and vision 2030 education goals. An analysis of education policy suggests that at the policy level there are several admirable ideas, but practically there are some shortcomings also.
It may not be possible for the at the moment to implement uniform education system in the country, but a uniform curriculum can be introduced in educational institutes of the country. This will provide equal opportunity to the students of rural areas to compete with students of urban areas in the job market. Since majority of Pakistani population resides in rural areas and the access to education is a major problem for them, it seems feasible that a balanced approach for formal and informal education be adopted. Government as well as non-government sector should work together to promote education in rural areas.
The government should take measures to get school buildings vacated which are occupied by feudal lords of Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab. Efforts should be made to ensure that proper education is provided in those schools. The federal government is paying attention to the vocational and technical training, but it is important to make the already existing vocational and technical training centres more efficient so that skilled youth could be produced.
Since education is a provincial subject, the provincial education secretariats need to be strengthened. Special policy planning units should be established in provinces’ education departments for implementation of educational policies and formulation of new policies whenever needed. Technical education should be made a part of secondary education. Classes for carpentry, electrical, and other technical education must be included in the curriculum. Providing economic incentives to the students may encourage the parents to send their children to school and may help in reducing the dropout ratio. Local government system is helpful in promoting education and literacy in the country. In local government system the funds for education would be spent on a need basis by the locality. Corruption in education departments is one of the factors for the poor literacy in the country. An effective monitoring system is needed in education departments.
For any system to work it is imperative that relevant structures are developed. Legislation and structure should be framed to plan for the promotion of education in the country. There should be career counselling of the pupils in schools so that they have an understanding of job market and they can develop their skills accordingly. Counselling of parents is required, so that they can choose a career for their child which is market friendly. There are two approaches to acquiring education: First, which is being followed by many in Pakistan is to get education to earn bread and butter. The second approach is to get education for the sake of personal development and learning. This approach is followed by affluent and economically stable people who send their children to private schools and abroad for education.
The problem arises when non-affluent families send their children to private schools, and universities. This aspiration for sending children for higher education is wrong, because the country does not need managers and officers only. There are several other jobs where people are needed. Hence the mind-set of sending one’s children to university only for becoming officers and managers needs to be changed. The reforms required in the education system of Pakistan cannot be done by the government alone, public-private participation and a mix of formal as well as non-formal education can pull out majority of country’s population from illiteracy. Similarly, to make the youth of the country an asset, attention should also be paid to vocational and technical training.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Karachi.