Following the political rallies and speeches of political leaders over the past few years individually, one is forced, compel to yet again come to the unlikable conclusion so as to no one in actual fact cares about education. There seems to be no policy road-map about how to educate our country’s masses. There seems to be and give impression that no commitment to finding a long-term solution to our education requirements. One is forced to come to the conclusion that education is not a priority. One is forced to realize and understand that for the youth of this country the viewpoint looks unwelcoming. One can hammer in these statistics, facts and figures as much as possible but doesn’t make greatly difference. We are only sending three to four percent of our children to higher education, and our high school enrollment rate stands at fewer than 25%. Yet, what is even more striking as always is that there never seems to be much difference among the majority educated and uneducated.
I would like to focus on the quality of the education that is being provided to our children at the secondary and intermediate level. Article 25-A of the constitution of Pakistan states that, “The state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as may be determined by law.” Regrettably most of our lawmakers and political leaders don’t care about this issue and this subject matter, it is a serious matter. They don’t have a vested interest in it.
Three fundamental and basic changes are required in our public sector education system books, exams, and teachers. Other issues such as big buildings or grounds and so on are issues that I won’t disagree with, but they are the somewhat icing on the cake and not the cake itself. The examination system is absolutely awful. What kind of exams actually asks the same questions as those given in the book? The exams that we administer to most of our children. The examinations have become simple tests of memory and not tests of concepts and understanding. Besides, it is not just that exams are different for different boards in the country, but they are also marked in the most unprofessional of ways. The conduct of exams is also one, which promotes cheating and encourages unfair means of gaining advantage. What is needed is one examination board or maybe two organized at the federal level. An exam board, which is recognized globally and locally.
It is for ever and a day depressing when on international university websites you can see that FA/F Sc. students are deemed to not have me the basic criteria to pursue undergraduate studies abroad. One exam board will mean that all children throughout the country will be studying one curriculum, and no one will be unfairly advantaged by giving papers from one board not the other. It will also ensure exam quality, and the focus of this board requirements to be testing understanding not rote learning. The board should be run by a professional organization for example the HEC, which can enlist its own examiners and ensure expertise in exam carry out. I would be grateful for steps the Aga Khan board has taken in this regard, but regrettably it hasn’t been adopted commonly. The government needs to endorse and approve this federal exam board and make it compulsory throughout the educational institutes of Pakistan.
The quality of books available from different boards in the country is disappointing. The simplest of mistakes haven’t been fixed in years of revisions and the importance and stress on rote learning remains observable. Having one curriculum, which will be set by the suggested exam board, will mean and signify that quality books can be produced cheaply. Initially there will be no need to produce many books for the same subject just because they are to be used in different provinces. This will bring down expenses and the money can be spent in producing better quality books. In fact to be honest in this day and age one doesn’t even need to produce new books when so many quality books are available in the marketplace. One books or group of suggested books by the board will ensure that substandard or below equality books are not being used. This will also assist bring an end to the “key books” market, which flourishes, on the examination systems test of questions in the book.
Thirdly, when the exams begin focusing on understanding more willingly than rote learning, teachers will be forced to change their teaching pattern. The examination board must also be responsible for setting up teacher training workshops around the country to increase teaching quality levels. Examiners from Cambridge international exams hold teaching workshops around the world, including Pakistan, to help improve teaching standards. Why can’t we do the same in our own country? Until or unless the teaching paradigm in Pakistan changes from rote learning and by the book to creative thinking and perceptive, we will only be producing “clerks” as the public speaking goes not future leaders, innovators and thinkers. These three things originally must change if we are to see progress not only in education but in the country as a whole. But, miserably all of this comes down to the political will, determination and motivation of our lawmakers and political leaders. Maybe, their should be a law passed which states that our lawmakers and political leaders can only educate their children in public sector institutions, perhaps only then we will see the political will we require to refurbish the education system in Pakistan.