Issues and Challenges

Parallel Education Systems: Challenges and Solutions

Education system is a tool to drive and determine the economic growth of a country. One of the goals of education is to make people cognizant about their role in nation building. Pakistan is a country struggling in education for many apparent reasons, e.g., lack of budget, insufficient resources, teacher training, outdated curriculum, etc. It is also quite alarming to see Pakistan second on the list of countries with the highest rate of out-of-school children, with an estimated 22.8 million children not attending school.
Pakistan has an ethnically and religiously diverse population of about 230 million people. Within Pakistan, various education systems fall under two broad categories: public and private education systems. The private education system is on the rise and much more popular. The public system, owned by the government, is rich in terms of student enrollment and teacher induction, however, the quality of education and teacher training are debatable. On the other hand, private schools have setups with modern infrastructure and a foreign curriculum embedded with our social and cultural values to some extent. In both the formats, public as well as private sectors, parents, teachers, and the children are stakeholders who are recipients of both direct advantages and disadvantages due to the disparity in curriculum, lack of integration of technology, teachers’ training, variated budget allocation, infrastructure, and many more factors. 
Although, parents might send their kids to the private sector after putting all their hard-earned money into their children’s education, it also comes with many other hindrances. The current generation of Pakistani parents have themselves studied at a public sector school. The demands and standards of the private sector schools are considered somewhat obnoxious by the parents causing disparity between the parents and their kids. The private education system, though, is contributing to the economy of country; moreover, exposure to the latest curriculum along with the incorporation of skill development through extracurricular activities, teachers’ training, global participation, portfolio building, and university placements are their benchmarks. 
On the other hand, the public education system has enormous grounds, laboratories, and large number of enrollments; however, the allocation of less budget, teachers’ training, curriculum adaptation, uniformity in implementation and assessment of learning objectives are grey areas. In the public education system, uniformity in all areas of teaching and learning is not managed well for various reasons.
In dissimilarity with the private education system approach and curriculum, the admission criteria in local universities create further problems for parents to send their children to good universities on merit. To achieve this, in addition to O and A level studies, they are required to send their kids to academies for entrance exam preparation, which again puts financial strain on them.
In contrast to the teachers of public sector schools, the teachers of private sector schools get good exposure and training. However, the teacher induction criteria are rigorous in both systems. To keep themselves updated, they need to enroll candidates in teacher training programs with slightly more innovative strategies, time and monetary investment. We usually find teachers complaining about workload and pay packages. Uneven workload distribution with a low salary structure is usually a source of demotivation. Furthermore, it is observed that fewer opportunities for growth in terms of personal and professional terms are making them stagnant. 
It is crucial to address these challenges by implementing a unified public sector curriculum, where most of the Pakistani students are enrolled. However, education is a provincial subject; uniformity will bring improvement in the overall public sector education. On the other hand, the private education system should collaborate with the public education system by training teachers in modern techniques. Since most of the Pakistani population resides in rural areas and access to a good quality of education is a significant problem, it seems feasible to adopt a balanced approach to formal and informal education. Government and non-governmental sectors should work together to promote education in rural areas. Admission tests for universities must also cater to private education style and curriculum. A more skilled-based education must be introduced in the country to address the problems of the lower income class, creating jobs in the market. There is a dire need to prepare our students as employers, not just employees. 
Volunteers from various fields can be used as catalysts to introduce practical teaching methods, instead of the old teaching style. It will modify curriculums by knowing the market’s actual demand and introducing volunteers from different fields will give them insight about the education system. 
Allocation  a reasonable budget, good incentives and investment in teachers training programs will surely bring improvement in the country’s educational system. More growth and reward system opportunities will improve the quality induction of teachers. Spending on education is not a cost but an investment that builds sustainable, inclusive and more equitable societies. HH

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