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Eradication of illiteracy and promotion of environment to boost literacy is core of any social structure. However Pakistan and Literacy are mutually contrary. In fact universally recognized basic human rights ensuring a moderate living by providing equal opportunities to all its citizens are grossly violated by the ruling elite. The educated societies have proved to be a living asset and not liability in today’s world. There can not be two opinions on educating the masses. Unfortunately in our country no such efforts or emphasis on education is witnessed in her history. All political and non-political bodies do organize seminars, meeting and rallies to serve their own objectives, but no one has the courage or interest to take up this most crucial issue. This lack of interest on part of all social and political bodies is exceptionally tragic. On the other hand at state level nothing much is seen and government seems to be reluctant to allocate any significant budget in this regard. Worst of all the intellectual elite is also criminally silent about it. In past we were privileged to certain circles that were ray of hope and were great source of social activities based on cultural and socio-political gatherings. But they ceased to exist any more. In a country like ours the state should be responsible for literacy friendly environment and should not delegate itself to the profiteers who are always anxious to convert education sector into profit making industry. That deprives the masses of this society of education themselves, thus strengthening the class strife and bonds in society. Today education has become a very profitable business and those who can afford could be educated to be doctor or engineer or any other sophisticated position in society that is multiplying individualism at the cost of patriotism. The carelessness of government and its monitoring agencies have betrayed our masses and cunningly have helped such elements to establish expensive educational institutions based on profitability thus converting them into profit generating machines. This type of educational system simply further strengthens the class society. Notables in this regard are institutions include Hamdard University, Sir Syed University, Fast, CBM and Mohammed Ali Jinnah University. More regrettable than establishment of these institutions is the observation that the subject institutes get good patronization by the people who in past known for their efforts to promote education in the society, the most notable in this regard is ex vice chancellor Dr. Abdul Wahab. Today they have extended their full cooperation to our exploitative education system based on class society. This is beyond doubt that such personalities were not born in privileged class; instead they have come a long way through thick and thin. But today their perceptions are complete changed for the sake of personal gains such as foreign scholarships or over seas field related lucrative jobs. Now our masses are not their concern at all. In order to summarize the situation we can term the implemented educational system as whole commercial product. Free Education should be every Pakistani’s right not the privilege. Class based education must be eliminated and nothing but merit to be considered. The educated society is entirely a blessing. The motivation behind educational system should be directed in creating the ability of positive perception based on research and creativity. People should be able to distinct negative from positive, enabling them to make right and timely decisions to determine their own course of life. An able education system also raises the level of
consciousness among people. And looks like that this aspect restricts the ruling elite from mass education. Here comes the main obstacle. The ruling classes comprise of feudal lords and army generals, the politics and political leadership are established by their influence and not through political process. The consistency of this system for last six decades has made inroads all over the society. Religious, social and political circles all are under their brutal influence. On the other hand progress oriented elements are also continuously struggling to break these brutal bonds. However the harsh political conditions and sever resistance to political process by state machinery and their allies, they are unable to play any significant rule, despite being a pressure group in past history. The following literacy statistics would further prove the above conclusions, commencing from 1951 to 2000: YEAR: 1951 1961 1972 1981 1998 2000 LITERACY RATE: 17.9 16.7 21.7 26.2 45.0 47.0
The above figures interestingly reflect that in 1951 the rate was 17.9 that declined to 16.7 after 10 years. In order to asses the reasons leading to this situation we will have to take into account the definition of literacy in Pakistan. CENSUS YEAR DEFINITION Able Able Able Able to to to to read a clear print of any language. read and understand simple letter of any language. read, write and understand in any language. read news paper and write simple letter.
Source: LAMEC Annual Report 84 – 85 Still the above figures are not beyond doubts. Because the entire censuses were carried out by non-professional personnel who lack the required capabilities and data-base, therefore they were compelled to accommodate what ever immediate information was made available to them. As a second leg of our argument let us consider the allocation for education. INSERTION The above figures clearly indicate that allocation during 1993-94 stood at 2.2% of GDP which declined to 2.06% after 7 years, expressing government’s priorities. 2/3rd of our population is illiterate that comprises of almost 50% women. Literacy wise our country stands at the lowest level in South Asia. As quoted by Professor Pervaiz Hoodbhoy, the prominent Intellectual of Nuclear and High Energy Physics of Islamabad
University , country of 150 million population there are only 20 Computer Scientist who can qualify for world caliber. In Physics department there is just one Physician and 5 good Mathematicians where as same numbers of private universities exist here. He also pin points further that in 2000 Pakistan based scientist Research Institute Universities jointly published a Scientific Paper of 670 pages, which is far less than published by single faculty of average rated university in USA. Research is not the only problem, teaching methods are extremely important; quite a few professors of universities rely on certain notes and not the text books. The most worrisome is that these notes were prepared of these professor’s students’ life. Our PhDs lack ability of solving a question of London Examination Board, Cambridge or “A” Level. Despite the fact that all these papers were designed almost 17/18 years ago. What are the options we have to resolve this crisis like situation, one suggested way is to hire overseas Pakistanis associated with education in UK or USA, and there are about 1200 of them because our country can not afford to pay originals of these countries. Another option is to acquire Russian, Polish or Chinese Scientists but they would have language problem. In this region India is the only country which has such large numbers of teachers and PhDs Scientist available. They fortunately have prestigious research institutes like TATA Institute of fundamental research, Madras Institute for Mathematical Science and Five Institute for Technology. Pakistan lacks such institutes. Recent Confidence Building Measures between India and Pakistan could bear fruit in the field of education too. We can import the high level man power from India to fill the severe gap timely. Indians are caliber wise potential, they share common cultural bonds and value thus will not face any communication problems. Wages wise there may not be much gap. Would our policy makers have courage to formulate such policies and establish real universities? If our government can take u-turn on account of all traditional issue like Afghanistan and Kashmir, why not in social sector. Otherwise few more generations will have to wait for improved system. In recent past quite a few Universities are have opened or established affiliation with greater universities. When talked to Federal Minister Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman regarding these newly come up universities, he spoke negatively and said that unfortunately these institutions are not upto the required mark and some of these fall short when compared to any low grade college. He was of the opinion that these universities should be closed down; as they failed to deliver quality education instead it is a shear waste of parents hard earned money. He also opined that we don’t need new universities. If we can improve the existing institutes. According to him government has taken certain measures by introducing certain criteria that each university must have certain number of PHDS, A certain amount in endowment fund along with minimum limits of physical space and facilities and within given time frame, failing which their charter shall be revoked. This criteria if implemented in its true letter and spirits, shall considerably improve the standard and quality of higher education. The most alarming aspect relating to education is that our 98% population do not make to universities. The figures in this regard are entirely bogus and can not be verified by any means. All these figures are prepared by Bureaucrats. One of the controversial claim by them is Malakand University which simply does not exist. This particular area totally illiterate and falls in tribal belt thus dictated by tribal by-laws. Similarly Hazara University and Kohat University those are not non-existence.
While we compare Pakistan with other regional countries like Iran and India we realize that none of our universities match their standard. Under these circumstances we should concentrate all our efforts and resources in war like manner to this matter and should completely over haul the system without any further delay so our students can face the present and future challenges. Our universities offer M.Sc, instead it is more beneficial maintain and upgrade Mathematics, Physics, Biology, Economics and Anthropology and gradually end the other subjects. The universities should also focus on Technical Training and should prepare syllabus to directly impact the country’s economy. The teaching cadre also should be reassessed intermittently. Their tenure of employment should be reduced to 3-5 year and not life time and should be renewed basing their capabilities. The number of faculty should vary from 25% to 30%. The teachers failing to meet the criteria should be offered golden shake hand like done in other state sectors. The Placement Tests should be carried out across the country. The initial level of education of our students wishing to join universities is extremely low. Cheating in exams has concentrated into our academic genes. This evil should be eradicated at board level only. Another observation is that none of the public universities are capable of formulating Entry Tests despite having PhDs. Most of the universities of Sind Province like Dowood College, IBA Sukker and Nawabshah University hire the experts to design their entrance test questionnaires and have to spend huge amounts in this regard. Further there is lack of discipline and punctuality among senior administration persons. They must be dedicatedly available for their students with in office timings. They start their offices late in the afternoon and stay till late in nights. Thus they fail to cause any motivation or inspiration. Mentioning here Dr. Abdul Wahab and Dr. Abdul Latif shall not be out of context. The criterion introduced by Higher Education Commission has created many private universities in last 10-15 years. These universities are not equipped with required infrastructural facilities such as qualified faculty staff and sufficient space. Preston, Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Al-Khair and New Port universities are good examples of such cases. They give a look of private school surely not university. Such institutions are formed and working under the very nose of the authorities. They are situation in thickly populated areas eliminating the privacy based environment and enjoy the approval of their charter and pat. If we further look into their Board of Governors or the list of trustees, we would be encountered with many influential having political or social clot. They are good at converting impossible to possible. Being a national dilemma where individuals supercede the institutions applies to our educational set-up too like Hakeem Mohammed Saeed and Dr. Abdul Wahab is to be noted.
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