Given below are some recommendations
to the government for improving education in Pakistan. The recommendations
follow a brief mention of the problems they might be helpful in tackling:
A. Low literacy level and low standard
These are general problems and need no
elaborate comment here.
B. Inappropriateness of curricula and
The curricula and related pedagogy are
usually inappropriate or at least inadequate for the set goals in many
disciplines. Furthermore, there is no integrated system in which one step leads
to the next to enable a student to develop a truly sound base for the discipline
he or she is interested in. Moreover, even at the higher levels of education,
there is no mechanism worth its name to help a student in gauging his or her
potential or in deciding on a suitable academic career.
C. Multiplicity of educational systems
There are many systems working here,
resulting in not synergy but social division and conflict. For example we have
English medium schools, Urdu medium schools, and religious madrasas. Students
coming out of English medium schools, especially good private sector schools,
have little or no awareness of their religion and culture whereas those passing
out from Urdu medium schools are usually destined to work in clerical and lower
level positions. Religious madrasas churn out yet another class that are usually
unaware of the world outside their own and, with their strong sectarian bias and
little or no training in modern disciplines, are usually ill-equipped to
interact meaningfully with the larger society and are also monumental at times
in spreading sectarianism.
A. Declare educational emergency
The present government should declare a
national educational emergency and involve the whole nation, including the army,
in waging a war against illiteracy. Some steps that the government might
consider taking in this regard are:
1. Declare education as the highest
priority of the government. Explain that unless the impediments of illiteracy
and lack of education are removed, the road to democracy will remain fraught
with the danger of exploitation of the masses by the select few, and that in the
absence of political will in the ruling classes to do something tangible in this
arena, it seems that it is up to the army to defend the country against
illiteracy and lack of education, for there is no factor more important to the
well-being of a nation than human resource and no negligence worse than ignoring
2. Make it mandatory for government and
army officers at all levels to do stints at various educational institutions in
relation to their skills and national requirements.
3. Make it a mandatory requirement for
various degree programmes that the candidates, after taking their exams, shall
spend a specified period of time [for specified hour(s)] in teaching at assigned
institutions. (These assignments should be given in a judicious and practical
4. Ask for volunteers with specified
qualifications to contribute their services in their areas of work or residence
under organised bodies that can be formed for this purpose by the government.
5. Ask the public to contribute
financially for this purpose. Modern marketing and fund raising techniques can
be adopted for this task.
6. Many government school buildings can
be converted into commercial schools of good level. The government can consider
offering many of these schools to private sector organisations in the field of
education on the condition that a specified percentage of bright students from
the lower and middle classes will be granted admission and scholarships. Tax
benefits/exemptions may also be made part of the deal to encourage
entrepreneurship in this area.
7. Offer tax benefits/exemptions and
other such incentives to private sector groups to invest in education in rural
and less developed areas.
8. Make it mandatory for each industrial
unit/agricultural estate of an area above a specified limit to provide for a
school within the premises/area. Alternatively, the owner can be asked to share
costs with the government for setting up such school. Another option is giving
various financial/tax incentives.
9. Introduce standardisation of
curricula and licensing and certification of teachers to improve standards (as
is done in the USA).
10. Introduce high quality selection
procedure for higher level teachers and offer the candidates better incentives.
11. Use electronic media more
extensively for educational purposes. A channel could be devoted to just
education. In this regard,
a. teachers of high calibre can
take classes for different subjects at various levels,
b. these lecturers can be telecast
as well as recorded,
c. the lectures can be delivered
by telecasting them or by playing recorded cassettes even in schools in far
flung areas where quality education is usually not available,
d. later on computers can also be
used with sufficient data banks and with internet and e-mail facilities for more
interactive education, and
e. if an appropriate system is
designed, more students can be taught in one school using cassettes, discs, etc.
with relatively less teachers.
12. In rural areas, provide each school
with at least one army man to ensure that people face no resistance from the
feudals in educating their children.
13. Provide people with incentives to
educate their children. This can be done in various ways. For instance
a. even lower level government
jobs as for clerks, peons, constables can be linked to a minimal level of
education and entrance tests.
b. various loans (e.g.
agricultural loans) can be linked to whether an applicant has educated or is
educating his children.
14. Link agricultural loans/tax benefits
to feudal landlords with a specified number of people they have helped in
obtaining a required level of education.
15. Similarly, link industrial loans to
16. Similar linkages can be made in
relation to adult education programmes
B. Improve, update and form curricula,
texts, pedagogy, and examination and evaluation techniques
There is no need to say that
improvement, updating and new work needs to be done in these areas. Again, some
steps that the government might consider taking are:
1. Give more importance to language
education and mathematics at the primary and secondary levels. The unfortunate
fact is that usually even our postgraduates lack basic skills in these areas.
Language and mathematics are the foundation on which acquisition of other skills
depends. Though much of the problem is due to poor teaching, yet curricula,
texts, pedagogy and examination techniques also have a lot to do with the
2. Various teams of experts should be
involved in performing the above mentioned task of improvement and formation.
3. Instruction in science, history and
social studies should be incorporated in language teaching at the primary and
secondary levels through activities and projects.
4. Computer education should also be
introduced gradually right from the elementary stage in education.
5. At the proper stage, instruction in
foreign languages (especially Arabic for closer cultural and economic ties with
the Arab world, for curbing sectarianism and fanaticism, for greater unity in
the Ummah, and for better understanding of Islam in the educated classes) and
social skills (for enhancing Emotional Intelligence) should also be encouraged (Goleman,
1996). Both these areas have gained immense importance in the wake of
6. More emphasis should be given to the
development of educational institutions for some unconventional disciplines as
fashion designing, art, music and literature. There is a lot of talent in the
country in this field and a great, high return international market for the
products and services of skillful people in this area.
7. Similarly, a system of continual
vocational training should also be introduced for workers in different fields.
8. Interesting and informative
documentaries and activities should also be designed for the education of
students. Similarly, institutions as museums, internet clubs, libraries, etc.
should also be developed. Contributions from the public can also be sought for
9. Various bodies of academic experts
should also be formed to monitor, standardise and develop all the above
mentioned programmes (1-8).
C. Eliminate multiplicity in education gradually
A uniform system of education should be
introduced gradually to eradicate the problems multiplicity of systems creates
as pointed out earlier. Two important things that the government should attempt
in this regard are:
1. Introduce one medium of instruction.
In the international environment of competition today, English has assumed
unprecedented importance. Although Urdu will perhaps remain a language of our
people for a long time to come, English has to be given preference if a choice
is to be made (as too many languages undermine instruction in any one).
2. Religious education should be
incorporated in the mainstream education. For this purpose, the most important
thing is introduction of Arabic as a second language at the appropriate stage.
This may not be as difficult as it seems. Some work may be required in forming
the curricula and pedagogy, but the rest can be done just by including good
level Arabic in Civil Services and Army entrance examinations. Similarly, good
Arabic can be made a prerequisite for entrance into a number of other
professions and for promotion. (For example in the judiciary it makes sense to
have a judge who has a sound base in Arabic deciding about Islamic law). Demand
will create its own supply, and it is expected that schools, institutions and
parents will also be important contributing factors. (Other advantages of Arabic
have already been pointed out; see B.5).
1. Goleman, D. 1995. Emotional
Intelligence - Why it can Matter More than IQ. New York, NY: Bantam Books.