Think ahead – Save the future!


An edited version of this first appeared on LUBP:

A better future is what we all aim for.  It can only be obtained with the help of education for everyone regardless of anyone’s social/financial status in a society. Education can spark up the minds of our 60% youth-based populace and instil in them the yearning for a change for the betterment of Pakistan.

It is said that by the mid of this century, Pakistan will have a population close to 350 million (almost the double of 180 million).  If we progressed the way we currently are, the future carries no hope for us. However, if each and every Pakistan is well-educated by 2050 (49.9% – as of  2005), then Pakistan would be a much stronger country with a booming economy.

Education is the ‘oxygen’ for Pakistan. To come up to the level of our neighbouring countries and to meet our socio-economic needs, we still have to plan about how to control the faced challenges regarding education at local levels.

On the first Education Conference in November 1947, the Quaid-i-Azam said:

“If we are to make real, speedy and substantial progress, we must bring our educational policy and programme on the lines suited to the genius of our people, consonant with our history and culture and having regard to the modern conditions and vast developments that have taken place all over the world. The future of our State will and must accordingly depend upon the type of education we give to our children, and the way in which we bring them up as future citizens of Pakistan. We should try, by sound education, to instil into them the high sense of honour, integrity, responsibility and selfless service to the nation. There is an immediate and urgent need for giving scientific and technical education to our people in order to build up our future economic life and to see that our people take to science, commerce, trade and particularly well-planned industries. We should not forget that we have to compete with the world which is moving very fast in this direction.”

This is the only way forward for this country. The way we are entrenched in terrorism, it would destroy us completely if we didn’t take preventive measures one of which is ‘education for all’.  Once we start providing the basic education to every child in Pakistan, we can work on further advancements later on. There are, in fact, many things that have to be worked upon before any further advancement; some of which are the removal of the division of system between rich & poor, more parent-teacher councils, constant monitoring of the budget, local – national level approach, etc. We now have to start on the right path and work our way forward with constant energy and enthusiasm. 

Challenges:

‘Education for all’ Initiative:

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We need to have a standardized education system which values every child’s needs in a uniform way. Free primary education has been declared for all four provinces of Pakistan. This has encouraged parents to send their children off to school while it still poses problems for areas where schools are not located near more populated areas. Many a schools are given free books while some don’t even get this privilege.  Early Childhood Education must be provided throughout Pakistan as early years are the most vital for essential learning. It also has some life-long effects on the child in terms of their intellectual and social development.

‘Education in Pakistan’ report by National Education Policy Review Team states:

Investment in ECE saves wastage of resources on dropouts, repetition and remedial actions at later stages. By laying stronger foundations for life-long learning and higher productivity, a strong bid is also made towards sustainable human resource development.

We need to revive ‘Hamara Khwab, Parha Likha Punjab’ campaign not only in Punjab but in all four provinces of Pakistan.

Bottom Up approach:

Traditionally, a top down approach has been seen in Pakistan where the issues are not addressed at a ground level. Parents don’t know much about what their children are learning while some teachers don’t even care whether their students pass or fail; it’s just a matter of money for them.

New mechanisms should be introduced enabling the communities to track the government’s budget on Education in their area to ensure effective use of resources. Parents should become more involved in their children’s studies through parent-teacher councils which will help them keep a track on their child’s progress. More power should be transferred down at village/union levels from provincial level which should be able to operate with the help of government funds within their region. The local councillors (nazimeen) should be held accountable for any failures in proper delivery and utilisation of funds.

One of the solutions stated by ‘Common Wealth Education Fund’ in their recent report on Pakistan is:

Strengthening existing schools of a selected area by making education more relevant to community’s needs by building skills of reading, writing and numeracy yet expanding its portfolio, involving the community livelihood education. 

Constant monitoring of the budget:

In Pakistan, the budget allocated to education is very low. It is one of those countries which spend less than 2% of GDP on education albeit it is one of the top priorities of its social sector. This sector is really poorly funded as compared to some other sectors such as defence.

 If our govt can spend 3bn on building some parliamentary lodges and that too, most probably, taken from the taxes then our government should also be able to provide free elementary education. Every child has a right to acquire knowledge.

In Pakistan,
“…Overall out of 40 million children, 22 million are out of school. Pakistan’s full time child labour force comes from these 22 million children. These include working children, girls, children with disabilities and children from the poorest families.”
                                                                          Extract from CEF Pakistan Strategy Paper

We need to increase the awareness in our communities to track govt spending & to advocate for the increase in budget where required. The more the budget, the more accessible education is in remote areas. It is the duty of our government to provide education to all regardless of their family income, religion, cast, etc. Every one should be given a chance to improve their social status through education.

Prejudice:

To summarize, quality education with a bias-free environment should be provided to everyone. The textbooks & curriculum should be revised every now and then. The National Curriculum was revised a few years ago but the changes have not been implemented yet. Due to the carelessness of the govt, our future is suffering. Teachers should be given trainings & constantly updated on new methods of teaching.

In a typical rural area, a primary student would walk to school frightened of what they might face. Hitting children with a rod is a common trend all-over Pakistan which is now being controlled in Punjab & has shown improved results. New strategies of teaching stubborn students should be put into action instead of using harsh language or hitting them which might produce negative results.

The division of schools these days distinguish a poor from a non-poor based on their family income. This not only would fertile intolerance & narrow-mindedness but would also affect their intellectual development.

Today, more than 60% of the populace is youth-based. What else can we ask for?

As Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani has declared 2011 as the ‘Year of Education’, we hope that his government actually works upon the idea of ‘Education for everyone’ and spreads it on the grass roots level.

The difference between two standards.

Please let me know about your thoughts by commenting. Thank you.

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2 thoughts on “Think ahead – Save the future!

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