In a list of countries that have the highest shortfall of teachers, Pakistan was the only non-African country on the list. The teachers are under trained, under paid and de-motivated; how can we expect them to educate others?
Our education system is in tatters. The dual education system in practice here exacerbates the class division vehemently. The government-based education system is not at all at par with English medium private schools, which puts government school goers at a disadvantage when it comes to employment. Sixty years have passed but we have been unable to decide what kind of curriculum should betaught across all kinds of schools, be they government or private. The curriculum taught in public schools is of very low quality and merit.
There has been a mushrooming growth of private schools that have opened in every neighbourhood where parents who want their children to study in English medium institutes send their children. These schools are substandard. On the other hand, better off English medium schoolsthat can boast standard and merit charge such skyrocketing fees that even the middle class can hardly afford them.This dual education system further delineates the economic and social divisions between the haves and have-nots. The privileged get to receive English medium education, which secures their position in society right from childhood on up, while the children of low income bracket parents are marked with having low prospects from childhood onwards.
The curriculum in public schools is not according to present day needs. There is no skills’development. Subjects like Pak Studies are full of bogus and bigoted texts, teaching children a narrow view of life full of stereotypes. Pakistan is home to almost 5.5 million children who are out of school, the second highest number in the world after Nigeria. One of the reasons for such low enrollment is that the majority of Pakistani children are working and supporting their families. Indeed, children working as domestic help area common phenomenon in Pakistan; this sector employs more girls than it does boys.
Pakistan also has the highest number of illiterate adults in the world, after India and China.Only about a fourth of all adults are literate. A large number of students who make it to schools, however, drop out by primary level. Only72 percent make it to grade five, which means a dropout rate of 28 percent. Educational levels for women are much lower than those for men. After the primary level, female participation falls. Only 26 percent of females are literate. There are 163,000 primary schools in Pakistan, of which merely 40,000 cater to girls. Of these, 15,000 are in Punjab, 13,000 in Sindh, 8,000 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 4,000 in Balochistan. Girls’ education in the tribal areas is particularly appalling where parents keep girl children out of schools because of so-called religious reasons.
There is a dire lack of government funding in the education sector. More than half of the government’s budget is allocated forthe army. The education sector gets insufficient funding in return. This lack of funding is responsible forthe low quality of education here.Because of low pay scales, there is also a glaring shortage of teachers in this sector. In a list of countries that have the highest shortfall of teachers, Pakistan was the only non-African country on the list.The teachers are under trained, under paid and de-motivated; how can we expect them to educate others?
Bhutan spends over five percent of its GDP on education and India spends 3.8 percent. Western countries spend over five percent while Scandinavian countries are ranked at the top of international literacy,spending six percent. At present, our government is spending a mere two percent of its GDP on the education sector.
The budget allocated is further eaten up by ghosts schools andghost teachers: schools and teachers that are not even there. There are almost30,000ghosts schools across the country according to a report where teachers are getting their salaries but no educated is imparted.These ghost schools indicate the level of corruption in this sector, which leads to more degradation of the quality of education imparted to our children. Because of ghost schools, parents are forced to send their children to madrassas(seminaries), which further alienates these children from the mainstream. They get out of madrassas with no practical education to launch them into society as respectable citizens. These children being churned out of madrassas fell prey to thejihadi agendas of radicals as they find no place in the mainstream.
Quality of life anywhere around the world is judged by the quality of education. We lag behind in this case. Due to illiteracy, extremism and crime in society are increasing day by day. If we want to progress on the world map,then we will have to make education our priority.
The writer is a freelance columnist