EducationFeaturedNationalVOLUME 17 ISSUE # 50

Education sector problems and solutions

Since its inception Pakistan has failed to establish an education system which can fulfill the aspirations of the people, especially the rising generations. Due to past neglect, Pakistan now faces numerous problems in the education sector.

The lack of a unified and sustainable education system has led to a wide range of societal issues, including political turmoil, terrorism and sectarian violence, social disruption, economic instability and progressive decline of the government system. Unavailability of jobs, poverty, a rising sense of insecurity, lack of tolerance and a sense of national direction — all these are a result of an inefficient and ineffective education system.

The major issues of the education system include an extremely low budget allocation, an outdated examination system, poor Infrastructure, untrained teachers, low enrolment, a high dropout rate, outdated curriculum, corruption, increasing cost, cultural constraints, lack of parental input and community participation.

Education in Pakistan has suffered mainly due to a lack of sufficient funds. Educational institutions also do not spend available funds on the training and development of teachers. They are neither sent to attend workshops, courses, seminars or conferences to groom themselves and learn the modern techniques and methodologies of teaching.

While in many countries the share of education in the total budget is increasing, in Pakistan it is continuously declining. Our low education budget is not sufficient to fulfill the needs of a growing population.

A serious issue is the class basis of our education system: English medium schools for the rich, Urdu medium for the middle classes and madrassah for the poor people. Such a skewed education structure has divided society along political, economic and social lines.

Pakistan has a poorly planned and directionless education system which is more prone to general education. It is not oriented towards the creation of skilled manpower resulting in growing unemployment. There is little emphasis on science and technology and little effort is made to teach students to develop critical thinking, creativity, imagination, reasoning, experimentation, and innovation.

We are still teaching our students an old-fashioned and outdated syllabus oriented towards rote memorization, cramming of facts and figures without proper understanding of the underlying concepts. A basic handicap is a lack of proper training of teachers and educational administrators. There are only a few training institutes that suffer from a lack of funds and related resources. Such a situation does not help improve the quality of teaching and enhancement of student skills.

A new UNESCO report rates the quality of educational institutions and teachers in Pakistan as very low. Teachers do not use new methods of teaching and learning. There is no lesson planning and little use of libraries or the internet. Students are promoted to the next class on the basis of cramming and memorization of facts and figures without any understanding of topics in the books.

The student dropout rate in Pakistan is among the highest in the world. Lack of good management and discipline in schools leads many students to drop out. The reasons include poor teaching, lack of parental control, lack of motivation and an unattractive school environment.

An unbalanced teacher-student ratio is another big issue of our education system. In a large class, weak students do not get sufficient attention from the teacher. Moreover, not all students are able to access facilities like labs, computers, canteens, sports items, playgrounds, washrooms, etc. The ideal class size is 30 students for one teacher but in our education institutions this figure ranges from 50 to 80.

The problems identified above call for urgent remedial measures. The government should arrange to provide free education to all citizens from the primary to graduation level. The class system in education should be done away with by implementing the single national curriculum.

Budget allocation should be increased as per international standards. The student-teacher ratio should be maintained as per international best practices. For teacher training and development quality professional institutes with sufficient funds should be set up in all parts of the country.

The curriculum should be revised on an annual basis and new strategies and methods should be incorporated to align our education system with the rest of the world.

The examination system should be improved through stricter supervision and monitoring. There is an urgent need to improve the examination system. Both quantitative and qualitative exams should be introduced to judge the performance of students through various types of assessments like case studies, research papers, MCQs, comprehensive subjective and analytical questions.

Technical and vocational training should be made compulsory in all schools and colleges. Parent-teacher committees should be set up to involve the local community in school affairs. Good education is the life blood of a thriving nation. It is unfortunate that so far we have not given sufficient attention to the vital sector of education. It is not yet too late to make amends and treat education as the priority sector for future progress of Pakistan.