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Emporium Current Essays

The strength of a nation lies in its strong national character based on its philosophy and
aspirations. It has not been possible to evolve a common uniform system of education for
the entire world because countries differ in traditions, culture, history, climate and socio-
political set-ups which makes it essential to tailor the education system to their needs.
Since we are a distinct people from others in culture, social norms, religion and
aspirations, we need a system of education which may satisfy our national objectives and
philosophy of life.

Since the establishment of Pakistan, six education policies/reports have been prepared by
educationists dominated by bureaucrats. A variety of suggestions were implemented out
of these policies but those were withdrawn or altered on account of new
recommendations without properly evaluating the causes of failure of earlier
recommendations. Nowhere in the world experimentation in the education system is
made in quick succession as were made in Pakistan. In the UK, Mrs Thatcher had stated
pondering over the improvement of British education system but she could not take any
decision even after remaining in office as Prime Minister for many years. Similarly a
document was published by the US government in 1983 to improve their system of
education. No change has been visible in their system even to this day because education
is a slow moving process an the result of any change could be seen after 12 to 20 years
time.

As such no intelligent government could afford to take decision in a haste as it


tantamount to playing with the future of the entire nation. It is unfortunate that our top-
brass administrators (not educationists) impressed with the foreign aid-giving agencies
and their so-called experts who were not conversant with our sociocultural requirements
played havoc with our formal as well as nonformal system of education. Today the
education system of the nation is in chaotic condition with innumerable patterns or
systems of education flourishing without any definet goal and direction.

During the last about ten years, the government opened institutions to optimise literacy
under the Literacy and Mass Education Commission but wound up those institutions
without achieving any results. Likewise the government introduced English for teaching
from primary onwards but failed because we did not have trained teachers in English, a
commodity which is even scarce at middle and high school level. Some pseudo-experts
even went to the extent of getting an education policy announced (rather enforced) by the
provincial government for the promotion of science education and in their zeal stated a
centre of excellence dumping a lot of money in a project which was doomed to failure.
Before starting this project marathon meetings lasting nine or ten hours with a solo
speaker not allowing any one to intercept or interact were laid. Within seven or eight
months when the pseudo expert remained in chair the novel scheme fizzled out.
Some such childish attempts provided an opportunity to international financing agencies
to hurl their advice. They came with bucket full of loans for the promotion of primary
education of which they are very fond. They are pretty sure that there are greater chances
of wastage of money spent on primary education because a child with five years of
schooling can relapse into illiteracy or the education he or she has received is not work
related. The Western world talks much about the theory of access to education,
democratisation of education, etc., but is reluctant to help of finance higher education in
developing countries, particularly Pakistan.

In certain science disciplines where there is fear of transfer of technology, it is difficult


for Pakistani students to get admission in Western universities. Moreover, the cost of
education has been raised almost seven or eight times - what it used to be in 1978-79.
Some of our Western friends have stopped giving scholarships to our students though
they claim that they do not mix politics with humanitarian aspects of aid.

Some institutions of higher education in the Punjab had cherished the desirjs to stay
independent instead of remaining under the DPI and in that they had the support of the
highest authority in the province. This was done in the name of better administration and
qualitative improvement of education. Accordingly they were placed under the control of
a Board of Governors/Executives while the staff employed remind unchanged and were
treated as government employees. Throwing away the yoke of DPI may have satisfied the
ego of some but the mere change of nomenclature (like for instance from Noor Din to
Charagh Din) could hardly bring any spectacular change.

A recent somersault by the government to hand over the nationalised schools to their
original owners in one go along with the staff with certain conditions is yet another step
taken thoughtlessly. These institutions were nationalised 24 years ago and staff employed
by the private management would have superannuated by now. A great majority of the
staff now working in these institutions is directly recruited by the government. Will the
original owners be willing to retain the 'safarshi' staff with all the benefits of government
service including pension, etc? Except for the buildings, there is nothing in these schools
that belongs to the original owners. This will cause a large scale dislocation of the
government staff in the denationalised schools.

The Objectives Resolution which now forms part o the Constitution declares the
objectives of the sovereign state of Pakistan as under:-

"Wherein the principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice as
enunciated by Islam shall be fully observed.

"Wherein the Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and
collective spheres in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out
in the Holy Quran and the Sunnah."
Article 31 (1) of the Constitution in Chapter 2 under heading Principles of Policy further
elaborates this point and says "to order their lives in accordance with the fundamental
principles and basic concepts of Islam and to provide facilities whereby they may be
enabled to understand the meaning of life according to the Holy Quran and Sunnah. (2)
The state shall endeavour, as respects the Muslims of Pakistan

(a) to make the teachings of the Holy Quran and Ishimiat compulsory, to encourage and
facilitate the learning of Arabic language an to secure correct and exact printing and
publishing of the Holy Quran;

(b) to promote unity and observance of- the Islamic moral standards".

In 1956 Constitution it is mentioned: "Remove illiteracy, and provide free and


compulsory primary education within the minimum possible period. Similarly 1962
Constitution says: "Illiteracy should be eliminated and free and compulsory education
should be provided for all as soon as is practicable". The 1973 Constitution said:
"Remove illiteracy and provide free and compulsory secondary education within the
minimum possible time."

According in all the education policies, the objective of the education was clearly stated,
i.e. Teachings and requirements of Islam, principles of democracy, freedom, equality,
tolerance and social justice as enunciated by Islam. To achieve these objectives targets
were proposed for primary, secondary, higher technical and vocational education
including science, engineering and medical education. In the eight five-year plans also
the targets for different level, were fixed and amounts to achieve those targets were
indicated. Firstly the targets as indicated in education policies and those mentioned in 5-
Year Plans never totally coincided and secondly the amounts mentioned in the Plans
were never made available. As such we never achieved the targets at all levels. This
compelled the administration get the largest revised either in the new education policy or
in the subsequent plans. The educationists had always been very bitter about these
matters mainly for the reason that the top executives and politicians put the blame for
failure in achieving the results on the educationists. The blame may partially be correct in
so far as the quality and standard of education is concerned but the major part of
responsibility rests on the top planners and top administrators as they were in a position
to rectify distortions.

There was a great setback to education on account of nationalisation in- 1972 and policy
framed as a consequence of nationalisation. In the Punjab, a large number of private
institutions was nationalised. At the time of nationalisation the Education Department
had two different set-ups, one exclusively for the inspection of educational
institutions and the other for administration. In the so-called new reforms, both
the function were combined from the provincial level down to district and tehsil level.

But in the wake of nationalisation, many new problems surfaced.


These included matters relating to taking over the property and absorption of staff of
those institutions. At the same time, the government embarked upon a crash programme
to open new institutions, (from primary to intermediate colleges) and introduced agro-
tech scheme without training facilities and administrative infrastructure. The large scale
addition of new staff and expansion without adequate physical facilities left no
time for the Directorates of Education to inspect the schools. Besides this, the
Education Policy (1972) allowed automatic promotion of students from Class 1 to Class
IX. The students were examined at secondary level, i.e. matriculation. The government
had taken these steps in a terrible haste without doing proper homework with regard to
trained executives and trained teachers. On account of political pressure and quota system
for the elected representatives for admission in teachers training institutions, third
divisioners were allowed admission in relaxation of rules. There are thousands of teachers
in our primary and middle schools who cannot be called educated by any standard. They
need to undergo a further training of two years if we want to improve the quality of
education at primary, middle and matriculation levels. This makes it abundantly clear that
these steps were taken aimlessly resulting in deterioration in the standard of education.

The state has been required to impart Islamic education. According to Islam, the Quranic
injunctions and sayings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), education is compulsory for every
Muslim. During the Muslim supremacy in the olden days, the state or the rulers made
arrangements for free education even up to higher level for all the citizens including non-
Muslims. The rich and the well-to-do people sponsored educational institutions
considering this an act of virtue and piety. As a result, before the British rule, the
Muslims in the Subcontinent had the highest percentage of educated (not mere literate)
people.

This optimum level of education was attained through schools set up in mosques and
institutions set up in locality by philanthropists: This was an indigenous and culturally
appropriate system which could optimise literacy as well as education. This system was
not time bound in the sense that anybody could enter the school or maktab at any age or
time during the day since the coaching was done in the morning and in the afternoon after
the prayers. This system workers efficiently for nearly 800 years. This system was
supported by state grants and endowments. Halfhearted attempts were made to re-
introduce this system in 1978-79 but it was torpedoed by the thugs and parasites in the
department.

The Constitution talks of promoting unity and observance of Islamic moral standards.
Like Pakistan, most of the Asian and African countries face the problem of national unity
and national integration and the\ are paying special attention to a uniform system of
education through the use of national language as the medium of instruction. Countries
like Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Tanzania have attained 85 to 95 per
cent of literacy through their national language. They are very clear about it and are not
suffering from English phobia. I have had the opportunity of undertaking a comparative
study of the system of education of nearly two dozen countries at UNESCO's Institute of
Education Planning and visited extensively all types of educational institutions in the UK,
USA, France, China, Sri Lanka, etc., for an in-depth study of their educational systems
from primary to university level. In all these countries, they have a uniform system of
education.

Education includes curriculum medium of instructions, teachers training, educational


planning and their priorities. But in Pakistan, we have allowed many systems to flourish,
local as well as foreign. We are very proudly sending our children to public schools run
on British pattern -- forgetting that after the World War II, public schools were discarded
in viewed of democratisation of education. The new-elite class which emerged in
Pakistan as a potent force in order to perpetuate itself on the poor masses has not only
kept alive existing institutions but helped multiplication of elitist educational institutions.

At present we have the following types of institutions run by the government and the
private organisation:-

1) Traditional religious madrrassahs.

2) Oxford/Cambridge style institutions (O&A level).

3) Government controlled schools where Urdu is the medium of instruction at primary


level.

4) Government controlled schools where English is taught as a second language from


primary level.

5) Government controlled schools where English as a medium of education has been re-
introduced.

6) Government supported public schools or colleges like Aitchison, Cadet


College, Lawrence College and Bahawalpur Public School.

7) Elite institutions set up with new model changing high fees.

With the government supported schools there are Junior Model School, Model High
Schools, Pilot Secondary Schools and Comprehensive Schools. These were established as
a result of different recombinations of different recommendations of education policies
with better inputs and better student -- teacher ratio. In comparison the quality of
education in these schools is better than the other schools Under the government. A semi-
government type, Divisional Public Schools at some divisional headquarters provide
quality education. In general they are following Pakistani curriculum.

Here a point is raised. There is a law which regulates the opening of those private
institutions which are following curriculum prescribed by the Government of Pakistan
but those institutions which are following curriculum and syllabus of foreign universities
or hoards of examinations are outside the purview of this law (or any law). This free for
all state of affairs can tempt any country ideologically opposed to Pakistan to invest a
billion rupees and open about one hundred such institutions which will be not only
selffinancing but earning projects with a couple of years. Since there is no restriction or
no law. They,can introduce their own curriculum, bring their own teachers and in ten or
fifteen years time can change the entire complexion of Pakistan,

If somebody thinks this was a far fetched; snobbish idea then I would like to ask one
simple question. For whom we are producing a highly specialised manpower when we
have to scope in Pakistan to make use of the expertise of this highly qualified manpower:
We do not have seats in our colleges for students qualifying in O+A levels.

There are certain preconditions for manpower production. Do we anticipate our economy
would be making spectacular strides in the next few years of'even a decade. The closing
down of hundreds of industrial units and no new units coming up and unhappy stock
market situation present a dismal picture. The only hope for such a trained manpower is
to seek job, abroad if luck favours.

The developed countries have in the past sucked into their economy highly .qualified
persons from our country; In certain disciplines we have already reached a saturation
point despite that fve are churning out more and more every year. The per nit cost of such
a highly educated manpower roughly costs about a million rupees whereas this is an
adequate good business in Pakistan. But now the doors for jobs in America and Europe
have been slammed.

Before closing some suggestions for the improvement of this vital sector are:

03 In Pakistan we have excellent educational experts and we do not need any foreign so-
called specialists. They are absolutely useless in so far as elementary education is
concerned.

ED For qualitative improvement we should modernise our teachers training institutions,


equipping them with latest gadgets from education, also (hey must have the best trained
staff and no safarshi.

CQ

Emporium Current Essays

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Every teacher must up date his knowledge every five years. Those failing must not be
allowed annual increments and promotion ins next grades.

Similar training institutions be set up for college teachers with similar conditions.

At elementary level, the teachers must make use of 'Teachers' Guide' prescribed for each
subject.

School and college inspections (academic as well as administrative) must be a regular


annual feature.

There should be separate inspectors for public sector and private sector educational
institutions.

A revised comprehensive Education Code be drawn which should outline the


responsibilities of teachers, administrators (principals/headmasters, etc.), inspectors, and
regulate grant of scholarships and awards, registration and recognition of privately
managed institutions internal and external examinations and promotions, admissions and
migrations, punishments, fines and expulsion of students, etc. This Code must have a
legal sanction through a lawpassed by the legislature. There should be separate cadre of
staff and a separate Directorate.

We should make use of our traditional Islamic and indigenous system by updating the
centuries old curriculum so that horizontal transfer from non-formal to formal system of
education is facilitated.

An academy for educational administrators be set up and it should be ensured that


educational administration remains in the hands of these administrators. If anybody
belonging to other service wants to join educational administration, he should severe his
connections with his earlier service so that he is permanently absorbed in education
service.

Academy for Educational Planning (EPAM) at Islamabad should be beefed up to


incorporate physical as well as academic planning along with curriculum designing.

Aid-giving agencies be asked to allocate funds for higher education in the subjects of
science and technology.