Library Sindh Study FG Study Punjab Study
PakStudy :Yours Study Matters

Revamping education for all

Offline گل

  • **
  • 1045
  • +1/-2
  • Gender: Male
Revamping education for all
« on: April 28, 2008, 09:06:06 PM »
Revamping education for all

Allocation of resources has lot to do with the resolve of any government to prioritise problems and it is high time that the government gives priority to education and strives to end the discriminatory educational environment prevailing in our country

By M Sharif

Pakistan is facing multiple socio-economic problems that can be best addressed by revamping the existing educational system in the country. Over the years Pakistan has gained certain visible strengths such as the chain of semi-autonomous public schools financially supported by the provincial governments, establishment of a number of English medium 'O' level schools in the private sector along with a number of self-governing universities such as LUMS, NUST that have established their credibility through the years and many others. Despite that Pakistan is conspicuously deficit on well established fundamentals such as uniform curriculum and national academic standards, essential for imparting quality education.

The deficits of the system also includes its cost-effectiveness for the average families to educate their children, capacity to cater for universal primary education and impart quality education at all tiers of education, particularly at professional and general educational level acceptable to foreign universities. The system is viewed with skepticism and is hardly responsive to the national needs and aspirations.

In addition to these shortcomings, the system also lacks a comprehensive national educational policy with well-defined goal posts. It is multi-layered and divides an already fragmented society along socioeconomic lines. Thereby creating different classes within the society; the privileged class that can afford quality education for its children by bearing high costs and the deprived class that is unable to meet high cost and as such is forced to send its children to government schools

Lack of national educational standards at all the tiers encourages sub-standard education all around, barring few exceptions. If Pakistan is to gain its rightful status among the regional countries and play a positive role in the comity of nations because of its strategic location and the demographic edge, it will have to re-organise national priorities where revamping education should be second in line to national defence and security.

According to the constitution, education is a provincial matter so provincial governments are responsible for imparting quality education to their respective provinces. However, the provincial governments despite having a certain degree of autonomy in managing education still have to look up to the federal government because of the over centralised fiscal system that prevails in the country.

De-centralisation without a framework of national objectives and financial constraints faced by the provincial governments has kept many problems related to literacy and education unresolved. In fact, they have exacerbated them to a greater extent over a period of time.

Basically there are three conspicuous problems that need the attention of the provincial and federal governments. These include: revamping the provisioning of compulsory universal primary education, a uniform curriculum and finally improving the administrative capacity at all levels to provide quality education.

Providing compulsory universal primary education is a longstanding objective, which is yet to be achieved. Unfortunately, it cannot be achieved because of the lack of will on part of the provincial governments and poor management of financial resources. Sadly, some of the financial resources have been misappropriated in the past through fake appointments of teachers and ghost schools. These shortcomings along with a 30 per cent rate of poverty at grassroots level have contributed negatively towards discouraged people belonging to the lower strata of the society to send their children to schools. Consequently, literacy and enrolment rates have remained much lower than the desired level. They are even lower than the South Asian standards.

According to World Bank's (WB) report the rate of literacy in the country is 54 per cent (42.0% for females) and gross primary enrolment is 87 per cent. If the rate of dropouts is also taken into consideration, then the achievement of universal primary education seems to be a distant goal. In order to improve the situation the provincial governments in assistance with WB and the private sector should take concrete measures to facilitate higher enrolment and reduce dropouts that take place primarily because of financial constraints.

Provision of books either free of cost or at low cost, bare minimum tuition fee or free education and teaching of some sort of technical skills to students to enable them to earn their living later in life are some of the incentives that would attract parents to get their children admitted to schools. The provincial and federal governments should give top priority to achieving universal primary education within next 5-7 years.

Designing and implementing a uniform curriculum responsive to national needs and aspirations has drawn the attention of a number of governments in the past. Thus substantial progress has been made in this direction through provincial textbook boards over the years.

Notwithstanding the fact that the curriculum and textbooks need constant review and improvement, they have facilitated comparatively inexpensive education to the middle and lower middle classes up to secondary and higher secondary level.

The problem of discriminatory education has now drawn attention towards itself because of the lateral entry of the private sector into the educational sector because of the inability of the public sector to provide quality education to the students.

In this regard the private sector entered the market with a bang and has since focused on imparting quality education at comparatively higher costs, providing professional training to the teachers, better class room environment, prescribing textbooks published by foreign publishers and pursuing 'O' and 'A' level examinations. Its entry into market and adoption of better marketing techniques have become a big challenge for the public sector education that till now remains tied down to its historical inertia and inaction.

The trend among the upper-middle and affluent classes to opt for private educational institutions has further created a discriminatory environment and has strengthened a negative perception. Though public sector educational institutions have belatedly attempted to cope up with the challenge but unfortunately they are far from keeping pace with some of the private sector educational institutions that have earned reputation in the society.

If we want to dilute discrimination in education and ultimately finish it, it is imperative that a national curriculum responsive to the growing national needs and aspirations be designed and implemented by all the provincial governments and the existing examination systems. In this regard the matriculation and intermediate level education should be improved and brought at par with 'O' and 'A' levels. The initiative taken by the Federal Board in this direction is worth emulating by other boards.

One of the roadblocks that have impeded improving quality education within limited resources is the stagnated administrative capacity particularly at lower tiers of the society and in villages. The school buildings are in depleted states and are deprived of the basic necessities such as furniture, blackboards, libraries and in certain cases skilled teachers. The teachers are not fully conversant with the latest teaching techniques and are resigned to following the age-old teaching methods.

Availability of financial resources that are generally stated to be limited is one of the important issues. Allocation of resources has a lot to do with the resolve of any government to prioritise problems and it is high time that the government gives priority to education and strives to end the discriminatory educational environment prevailing in our country. For this, it should increase allocation of funds from existing 2 per cent of GDP to 3.5 per cent in the next five years. On the other hand, it is equally important to improve governance and ensure judicious use of financial resources meant for uplifting education particularly for deprived segments of society and in remote areas of the country.
The news