A Much Needed Education Revolution

Lucille Ball once said, “One of the things that I have learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to be discouraged”. Discouragement and hopelessness are the feelings that can best describe the educational system in Pakistan. When we analyse the youth of the country, there are those who are completely directionless when asked about future aims and ambitions, and the others with a herd mentality of finding and defending the scope of a particular field. Now the question arises that who is to be blamed when the youth ends up being disappointed with the system that has been dysfunctional for ages? The capitalist who cannot see beyond his ‘interests’ or the government that thrives on these capitalists? The answer definitely is both of them but the solution isn’t. In this article we will try to find solutions for this dilemma but before that let’s have a look at how bad things actually are. Once we understand the severity, only then we’d be able to impose an educational emergency in the country which would then pave the way for a bloodless revolution, the revolution of education.


The Face of Our Education System
• After 70 years of independence, literacy rate remains to be 50%.
• Pakistan is one of the only 12 countries of the world that spends less than 3% of its GDP on education.
• 49 out of 100 girls and 40 out of 100 boys are out of school.
• 62% of our students attend government schools but only 20% of these schools provide higher education.
• Since government schools represent majority of the population, 80% of them are primary schools, 11 % middle schools, 8% high schools and 1% higher secondary schools.
• Out of the total 51 million children in the country, the number of out of school children has decreased by 1 million, from 25 million to 24 million, almost half of all children between the ages of 5 and 16 are out of school and more than 18 million have never been in a classroom.
• The average Pakistani boy receives only 5 years of schooling, while the average girl just 2.5 years. UN has assigned Pakistan the lowest ‘education index’ of any country outside Africa.
• Provincially Balochistan tops the list with the most number of out of the school children at 70%, FATA with 60%, Sindh with 56%, Punjab with 44% and KP with 36%. 
• Islamabad on the contrast, only has an 11% out of school children ratio, which is something to be proud of in addition to its public schools educational standard which is remarkable.
• About 9% of the total schools in the country operate without a building, while 38% lack basic facilities.
• 44% of government schools do not have electricity, 28% are without toilets and 34% without drinking water.
• Only 51% of government school teachers are adequately qualified.
• 35000 high school pupils drop out of education system each year due to corporal punishments.
• A compilation of World Literary Foundation states that a lot of countries that are poorer than Pakistan send a larger number of their children to schools.
• Children are educated in batches and are made to only follow instructions (complete lack of IQ and EQ).
• Students are expected to memorise a generic set of information and the periodic examinations test only the retention power.
• Mathematics and Science, that develop a child’s cognitive ability, have scores less than 50% in all the provinces.
• Poverty, resulting in child labour, causes a high drop out or out-of-school children ratio.
• Out of the total population, 39% of Pakistanis live in a multi-dimensional poverty resulting in lack of awareness.
• Pakistan is the second worst country in the world after Zimbabwe with roughly 12.5 million children working for survival of themselves and their families.

How the Rest of the World Operates
• Finland tops the global education system rankings. Finnish schools are far from the standard examination system, the grade driven model, plus homework and private schools are unheard of! Completely unorthodox!
• The teachers in educationally developed countries are expected to have received a masters degree and complete the equivalent residency programme.
• The schools, aimed to boost capabilities, have shifted from the industrial age to modern digital era. They don’t produce robots keeping in mind employers have already had enough. What an employer wants today is creativity and that can only be achieved through multiple intelligence formulae.
• The schools train the children to be of use to the society in terms of ethics and moralities.
• More than anything, education in these ‘developed’ countries is free of cost without any compromise on the quality.
• Sub-Saharan Africa has the largest number of 202 million children and adolescents who aren’t learning.
• Central and South Asia has the second highest rate with 81% or 241 million not learning.
• UNESCO Institute for Statistics show that 617 million children and adolescents worldwide are not achieving minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics. This is termed as a ‘learning crisis’ as it threatens the Sustainable Development Goals. This means that 56% of all children won’t achieve minimum proficiency levels by the time they should be completing primary education.
• Economic value on the cost of illiteracy is estimated at USD 1.2 trillion to the global economy proving that this problem is not confined to the developing world.

What  We Need to Do 
• Declare an educational emergency in the country by bridging the gap between government and private schools, bringing both on board with one governing body and that too federal. The passage of education from the federal to the provincial setup has further worsened the standard of education.
• Capping the fee structures of private schools.
• Subsidizing education, meaning quality remains the same as of the leading private schools but with a minimum fee structure.
• Create jobs by promoting technical and vocational education.
• Ensuring merit at all levels so that the students excel in whichever field they are comfortable without the fear of not being able to earn a living.
• Launching a workable education policy in the country.
• Bringing in foreign investment in the sector by announcing initiatives, hence having third party audits in every capacity.
• Training teachers with critical thinking methods, revolutionizing teaching methods by making it interactive and incorporating visual aid.
• Elected MPA’s and MNA’s should hold meetings with the youth of their area and promote the concept of community education, where everyone who is educated, teaches somebody less fortunate over the weekends. In return their voluntary work would be acknowledged by either giving them incentives of some sort.
• Strictly banning child labour across the country and punishments to be imposed.
• Bring the article of the provision of free and compulsory education of the constitution to life.
Pakistan clearly lags behind in its Sustainable Development Goal of reaching the 90% literacy rate by the year 2025, though literacy also needs to be redefined. The mediocrity of government run schools and instituions would only push our children into a dark pit from where there is no return. It is high time we understood that peace in Pakistan has been achieved after years of stuggle and sacrifice of thousands of human lives. We need to make sure of its perseverance, therefore, the sufferings of being a terrorized state can only be eliminated by provision of quality and affordable education. The traces of terrorism in the form of distorted human behaviors especially of our youth can only be erased by education. Education that eliminates social disparity is an investment to achieve, both human and economic development. Through this one realization we can prevent spread of corruption, hunger, poverty, crime, poor health and unemployment.

The writer is an anchorperson and executive producer by profession with a private TV channel. She is also an educationist by passion. 
E-mail: [email protected]
Twitter: @MariumIsmail1

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