Secondary education in Punjab comprises two years of education in class IX and X. Students take a final standardised examination after the completion of 10-year education in Punjab’s nine education boards simultaneously.
After passing this examination, they are awarded a secondary school certificate, which is also called matriculation nationally. The secondary level is an important preparatory and transitory stage which develops the reasoning and logical faculties of the students, and marks the terminal stage of the elementary level, preparing them for higher education and practical life.
Secondary education in Punjab is being delivered by public and private schools as well as seminaries. Another fact is that almost 75 per cent of students at the secondary level specialise in science. Among these, more than 60pc are boys, while more than two-third of the arts students are girls, according to the Report on Annual School Census 2017-18.
While the teaching faculty at secondary level is called senior school teachers (SSTs), for them 16 years of academic qualification is required and BEd/MEd as professional qualification. SSTs are appointed in commerce, technology, computer sciences, science and general or arts groups. Data shows that the majority of students study in the science group, while social sciences are completely neglected. Even SSTs for the general group are supposed to teach all the 36 subjects of arts out of the 46 total subjects taught. The statistics also show that the majority of our students at the secondary level are in favour of physical sciences, while social sciences, arts and humanities are completely ignored.
Our overall attitude towards arts is discouraging and we are not interested in investing physical and financial resources for the promotion of social sciences, humanities and arts. The consequences of such an imbalance are not hard to imagine. To promote sciences, trained subject-wise SSTs with special science allowances are appointed. Yet, Pakistan continues to lag behind badly in the field of science and technology in global or even regional terms.
Comparatively, SSTs in the general group are supposed to teach all the subjects of arts without having any specific specialisation. The net result is that we are able to have neither good scientists nor social scientists.
Dr Syeda Tehzeeb Alvi