According to a recent survey, Pakistan having 5.1 Million Children out of School. The Situation of Primary Education in Pakistan is miserable which is like a question mark on the Nation’s Future. In this Essay I will talk about the need for Primary Education in Pakistan.
“It is More than certain that Pakistan is unlikely to achieve the Dakar Framework of 2000 Education for All (EFA) goal of Putting all children into school by 2015” Says Ismat Riaz,an Educational Consultant, in a recently published article in Dawn Newspaper.[i]
In the Global Monitoring report, Pakistan is also ranked as No.2 Country with Most no. of Children out of School. The Article published in Dawn quotes the number upto 7 Million1. These are horrible numbers.
At Primary level the basic Problem arises due to lack of facilities like clean drinking Water, Sanitary facilities, Buildings etc. There Schools exists in which students do not have enough seating facilities and they use to sit on the floor. Reports often occur on news channels showing the primary schools that are turned into cattle farm by the Landlords of the area. It is alarming that when the Education department is consulted they are found unaware of the matter.
A very important factor that is often neglected is the Teachers Training and Certification of Teachers. In our country, Teachers are recruited on the basis of Intermediate, BSC or Masters Level but no discreet training is provided to them to teach them how to teach. The other Major issue is that teachers are still appointed on the basis of Political affiliation or on the basis of experience rather than ability or Motivation. At primary level Excellence is one thing that is like a dream. One that does not get job any where finally chooses to be “Educationist”. This is also an Ethical Dilemma that we are facing these days in Pakistan.
Higher Education is somehow performing well after getting a large proportion of educational budget. HEC has raised the standards to make the higher education in Pakistan up to International level. But the traditional rote-leaning method has not been excluded yet. Students at undergraduate level still use a single book for a particular subject in one semester rather going out in library or online libraries/search-engines to get the required reading material, to readout research journals etc. Instead, they try to make notes or to get from other students to obtain Marks in Exams rather focusing on learning and acquiring skills.
Primary education again shows a worse face. There is no emphasize on qualitative teaching. a study undertaken by the World Bank and Harvard University researchers titled `Learning Levels and Gaps in Pakistan` (2006)[ii] alarmingly indicates that “close to one-half of the three million born in Pakistan will leave school unable to add, subtract, multiply or divide: unable to read and write simple sentences in Urdu; and unable to read a short word like ‘BALL’ in English”. I personally know a person who was working in the same workplace where I was working. He said he had done Intermediate (12th standard education) but he was unable to even read the simple English sentences and to write Urdu sentences.
“Learning through dialogue, debate and discussion is still a rare occurrence in colleges. Middle and secondary schooling continues to be an exercise in rote learning as teachers are not trained to make students use their reasoning, reasoning and evaluative abilities.” Says Ismat Riaz in the same article.
Government itself doesn’t seem to be keenly interested in improving this situation. Primary education sector becomes the ultimate victim of Government Policies. From the very low educational budget most of the budget is spent upon Higher education and secondary education and technical education etc.Few days ago I read a headline in a newspaper “Punjab spent 15 paisas per child on education in 2011-12”[iii]. On the other hand, world’s smaller countries like Singapore, Finland, Austria spent more on education and in result have stronger economies and more exports than Pakistan.
To survive in the Modern World, it is very much necessary for the developing countries like Pakistan to strongly emphasize on education, not just on Higher education but also on primary education. Special Initiatives must be taken and complete overhauling of the system is necessary especially for Pakistan to accommodate those 5.1 Million Children in educational institutions which will ultimately need more schools, buildings, infrastructure and other facilities which eventually need more budget allocation to this sector. Pakistan must have to treat Education at Emergency level. Pakistan has to increase its educational budget from 2.4% up to 10% of GDP within next 2-3 years. We have the clear example of Malaysia who increased their educational budget within last 30 years up to nearly 30% and now Malaysia is the leading Muslim country in education sector. The system of check and balance must be strong and strict. There must be a system of teachers training, their evaluation and certification. Modern methods of teaching must be utilized instead of traditional rote-leaning method. Primary education must be “Free for All”. It is the need of the hour that all of us Government, people, educationists, civil society, media, you and me must have to play our part for the betterment of Primary education in Pakistan.
[i] Ismat Riaz, System Failure – Putting education to work, Dawn pg 5, Sunday November 11,2012.
[ii] Jishnu Das, Tristan Zajonc ,Learning Levels and Gaps in Pakistan` (2006), https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/8866/wps4067.pdf?sequence=1