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“Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one”

-Malcolm Forbes

Meanwhile, Pakistan is a country with 20m out-of-school children according to UNICEF and with less than 2% of GDP spent on education, suggesting the number the empty minds Pakistan might end up with. It can, to a large extent, be attributed to the education system of Pakistan. From grassroots level to higher education, the system has a number of loopholes, that have prevailed since the inception of Pakistan, with no substantial solutions ever sought.

These statistical figures and indices might indicate the gravity of the problem, urging for quick and fundamental solutions but the problems are far beyond building more schools and having more staff.

There are certain issues that are not much emphasized, let alone finding a solution to them.  For instance:

 Quality over Quantity:

The number of schools and staff is essential but often, the quality aspect is neglected. The out-of-school children, as mentioned by the UNICEF report, include not just the children who do not have the access to education but also the drop-outs, who do not find schools relevant to their lives or fail too many classes. So the allocation of resources must be directed to the education that is meaningful, relevant, and responsive to the needs of individuals and society as a whole. The quality of education should be the top priority.

Rote Learning:

Pakistan’s education system is more like “learn and forget” rather than “learn and consolidate”. Rote culture hampers the development and modernization of Pakistan’s educational landscape. Despite hours of learning, students have weak conceptual understanding; it destroys their critical thinking and opinion-based thoughts. This rote culture needs to be discouraged at all educational levels. Academic institutions across the country should encourage students’ abilities to critically analyze and evaluate.

Ineffective pedagogical approach:

“Pedagogy, like language itself, can either liberate or imprison ideas, inspire of suffocating constructive thinking.”

Hyman Bass

Classroom or any learning environment is supposed to provide a platform for students to feed their curiosities, explore realities and seek knowledge regarding various things but the inappropriate pedagogical approach in Pakistan has affected the curiosity for learning and the desire of seeking the truth. Classrooms have become torture cells for students at all levels where the teacher knows-it-all and he/she can never be wrong with their fixed worldviews, and student ought to learn those only.

And in extreme cases, the teacher might get offended if you dare to share your worldview or propose an argument. And I believe every individual or at least their acquaintances have experienced it. You are just not allowed to think OUT OF THE BOX.

Every teacher must be assessed to all degrees, before recruitment. NOT EVERYONE HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BE A TEACHER.

Truly, making education accessible to every individual is fundamental and the foremost responsibility of every state but it’s just the tip of an iceberg. For Pakistan, owing to the issues mentioned above, ensuring a robust education system where students are provided quality education with an effective learning environment, is equally important.

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Ayesha Ashraf
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