State of Education in Pakistan

Pakistan can prevent the spread of radicalism by aggressively promoting education reforms in all of its provinces.

pakistan-education-emergencySocrates once said that “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” However education in Pakistan today is brainwashing bright kids and filling them with unknown fears, hatred, sectarianism and extremism.

Pakistan is an Islamic state which came in to existence in the name of religion. Islam means peace and the message of Islam starts with the word iqra which means to read and learn.

Unfortunately, we forget the message of peace; prioritize defense; and put the primary divine message of reading at the bottom of our priorities. To be sure, 28.2 percent of Pakistan’s GDP is spent on defense and only 1.9 percent on education.

Out of this total 1.9 percent spent on education, 82 percent goes against the head of salaries and the reaming 18 percent is spent on all development activities such as teacher training, syllabi and curriculum and research activities.

It is the longstanding demand of citizens, civil society, and academia all over Pakistan to increase education spending for the betterment of the common man in an informed society and to meet the Global Educational Development Goals.

Increased financial spending for education was a lucrative slogan used by all political parties to mold public opinion and voting behavior in the 2013 general election. Unfortunately our total education allocation in the 2013-14 budget remained 1.9 percent of the GDP. We failed to raise our education spending up to 4 percent GDP (global standard of minimum spending on education).

With all of the social, economic, religious, linguistic and gender disparities in our society, we have become a distracted and confused nation.

If we examine the education system operating in our country, we are surprised to know that there is a wide gulf between all types of schools and syllabi. Every child has to go to mosque school or madrasa to gain religious education. This type of learning is totally focused on memorization and not comprehension and understanding, and focuses primarily on the rewards after death.

On the other hand, government schools are mostly deprived of basic facilities like proper bathrooms, electricity, and girls schools are located far away from the villages. Consequently parents prefer private schools yet they have under qualified staff and are more focused on business objectives to earn more profit, exploiting the dreams of the builders of the nation.

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The best governing systems are only implemented by the best ruling parties in a democratic system. Unfortunately, the rulers in Pakistan are comprised by feudal lords, tribal leaders, religious contractors and capitalists profiteers. They always prefer their personal interests over national interests, and often sacrifice major national interests over minor personal interests.

There are 25 million children currently out of school in Pakistan. Two thirds of these 25 million are girls. Half of all Pakistani children are deprived of their constitutional right of (Article 25A) free and compulsory education. We are the only state where “ghost schools” are operating under the nose of policy makers, where fake enrollments are registered by the teachers and where mysterious teachers are paid by the authorities for the sake of getting votes.

Renowned scholar Zafar Iqbal, chairman of the Media Sciences Department at the National University of Science and Technology, Islamabad, articulated that education is the only key to reduce terrorism and extremism. Pakistan’s future depends on immediate education reforms in all of its provinces.

It’s time to take effective steps for making our educational system innovative. This can be done only if all the stake holders including government, academia, media and civil society place education as a top priority.

Qaisar Shehzad Farooq, PhD, is a fellow at the Center for Communication and Media Studies, Gujrat Pakistan and currently working as research analyst in a strategic communication organization. Qaisar is a media researcher, creative writer and contemporary blogger in the perspective of Strategic Information Warfare. Qaisar writes on education, health and peace and conflict issues and his English and Urdu articles appear in Daily Karwan Norawy, Sharnoff’s Global Views, ARY News, Balochistan Point, Daily Nai Baat and Daily Pardes Islamabad. Read other articles by Qaisar.