First published on Let Us Build Pakistan:
Etymologically, the word education means educare, which means to ‘bring up’ or ‘bring out’ the potential and the creativity of an individual. It mean to bring out the real creativeness from inside ‘you’ and to display in some form rather than forcing it all in. Students are exposed to a wealth of knowledge but it’s enforced in them, in many cases.
In context of Pakistan, education still remains a privilege rather than a basic right. The education system is divided in three main categories. We have Sciences at the top, Engineering (math) in the middle and arts at the bottom. This shows us how we are bringing up our children. Parents of today want their children to be a doctor, an engineer or if not that, to be a business graduate. They don’t consider the aptitude of their child or what will be the main needs of our future. If you produce an all Doctors/ Engineers/ Businessmen environment then what will become of other occupations. There are many other branches where there is more labor needed in the future e.g. Architecture etc. Why are we forgetting that we don’t know what the future holds for us? We need to bring up all sorts of talents to meet the future needs. Children should be allowed to choose whatever ‘they’ want to. Parents can give them their suggestions or guidance but they forcing their will on to their children is detrimental to their development. After all, they are your children and not some machines of fame and money (what each of us wants)? Let them decide what they want to make of their life. For instance, if they want to be an artist; as a parent you may worry that they won’t earn enough but allowing your child to follow a line chosen by himself will give them the necessary confidence and belief in their capabilities than in the case when they are forced to choose an occupation.
Talking about an up-bringing of multi-talented environment, we also have to make those opportunities available for ourselves. Availability of the subjects can also be the reason for parents to force their children into those particular groups. Our government needs to work on the availability of diverse course matter in our institutions. With the world becoming increasingly dependent on human and knowledge capital, we just can’t churn out traditional occupations. We need to focus on social sciences, economics, public policy, various forms of arts like journalism, history, geography etc. Today, Pakistan faces a major dearth of people who can impart education in such subjects. On one hand you have big universities springing up, but on the other, the faculty base is not increasing nor improving.
One of the other concerns is our syllabus. The topics/lessons in our textbooks never change. We have the same curriculum running in our schools for almost two decades. Can you believe that we have been teaching the same books for over decades whereas the world has gone from those big bulky computers to microchip ones? The topics in the textbooks should be made more interesting by adding new topics every other year. Secondly, memorizing the lessons has really grounded their own thoughts to a certain level. Students thought process is based on what they learn from their old textbooks and notes provided by tutors and not on their own knowledge and information. We must bring out the hidden art that is to be used in the near future.
For all this reformation to take place, we need to, firstly, remove the educational hierarchies that exist in our societies and then move onto improving the national curriculum. I think we must declare educational emergency in Pakistan and our budget should be focused more towards our educational necessities rather than maintaining a strategic depth and defence capabilities.
All these leading issues should be worked towards for to make Pakistan an able competitor in the global race for knowledge supremacy.