Education is the key element in determining a country’s development. With the changing world, education has been one of the top priorities. In this contemporary time countries compete on literacy rates, which leads to higher economic growth. It is as important as a country’s economy or defense. A proper and efficient education system is capable of changing society and the thinking process of its people. Without education, no country can prosper. Therefore, the importance of the education system and the educational policies of Pakistan over the years will be discussed followed by the current education structure and its limitations.
Education can be defined as the process of learning and developing skills. It is an integral part of the country’s progress and development. For a nation to succeed the education system must be of high quality. It was estimated that only that government expenditure on education was only 2.8% of GDP. Before the 18th amendment education was under the federal government. It was to make decisions on educational matters. However, after the 18th amendment provinces had the autonomy of education. Moreover, with the 18th amendment education was given its due importance. It not only recognized children’s right to education but also made it compulsory for the government to provide free education to them.
There have been nonstop efforts from the government to alleviate and improve the education system of Pakistan. In retrospect, there have been numerous educational policies. Starting from the national education conference held in 1947 in which Muhammad Ali Jinnah stressed the urgent need of restructuring the education system and establish educational institutions which focus on technical education and academic education likewise. However, in 1959 a commission on national education was appointed which analyzed the whole educational situation in the country and submitted a report in 1960. This report focused on primary, secondary, and higher education in Pakistan. It included the curriculum, teacher’s training, duration of the term, the process of conducting exams, etc.
Later in 1972, under the Bhutto regime, a national education policy was launched. Its focus was on making education free and accessible to all. It had a slight change in curriculum. Thus making it more technical. However, the government didn’t assess the economic situation critically which failed the free education system. Followed by the martial law imposed by Zia ul Haq, he introduced new reforms to the existing educational system. His ‘Islamisation’ disrupted the system. He appointed new teachers, encouraged teaching in Urdu, and the teaching of the Quran was made compulsory. Furthermore, he encouraged the establishment of ‘deeni madrasas’.
In 1992, national education policy was restructured under new guidelines. Its main purpose was to align the existing education system with modern lines in accordance with Islam. It encouraged research activities in universities etc. it focused on improving the quality of education. Thus major changes in the curriculum were introduced. Special attention was to be given to teacher’s training and the participation of teachers as well as students in international delegations was to be promoted. However, unfortunately, these targets were not achieved because of the unstable government and limited resources. Later in 1998, the already existing education policy was reviewed and the latest national education policy was formulated by the ministry of education. It stressed improving the quality and access of elementary education. Teaching methods should be in line with Islamic principles, reduce the disparity among the education classes and relevant training should be provided to the teachers.
However, there are certain limitations attached to the education structure. Firstly, there are financial constraints. In most cases, families hesitate in putting their children in these institutes because of the finances. Secondly, they lack proper administration in terms of managing student bodies and their demands. Thirdly, the teachers are not highly qualified. They lack proper teaching methods. This creates a gap between the teachers and the students. Lastly, there are accessibility and accommodation issues for the students who come from far-flung areas.
Education is one of the most significant sectors of a country and it should be given its due importance. In a developing state like Pakistan education should top the priority list but ironically it is the most ignored topic. There are several obstacles faced by the education system of Pakistan, these also serve as the reason for the failed policies. Only 77.62 billion has been allocated to the education sector by the government and 22.5% has been reduced compared to the previous one. This minimal amount is not enough to upgrade the existing education system. Moreover, no one is taking an interest to improve it to the international standards. With existing schools turned into barns and teachers not showing up it is very hard to improve the education system. The staff is not trained properly and they don’t have the capacity to use the latest technology of e-learning and graphic tablets. The existing schools don’t support e-learning because of load shedding and primitive desktop systems.
The syllabus which is used in federal system schools is very old. The content of books has not been changed at all. Even the so-called ‘revised edition’ is the same book with different front covers. Therefore the content they hold is very outdated. Furthermore, teachers promote rote learning and cramming. They discourage the concept of critical learning and want to keep the students in a shell. It won’t be wrong to say that the government schools and colleges are very substandard. Teachers do not come on time and their attendance is quite low. No one is there to keep a check and balance on them. Further, the unstable political situation contributed to the reasons for failed educational policies. Many national educational policies encouraged free education but they did not consider the economic capacity of the country. These policies were too idealistic.
To improve the education system, the following policy recommendations can be considered. First of all, there should be an increase in the allocated education budget to meet the needs of society. Secondly, with advancements in technology, it is helpful and better to adopt e-learning systems. It is more convenient than the conventional system of education. Moreover, it can educate the masses who are living in far-flung areas with a high-quality education. Thirdly, Workshops can be carried out to train the teachers and make them familiar with new teaching methods. Moreover, they should be discouraged to force students to memorize things instead they should be asked to promote creative learning. The teachers should not put the burden on students instead they should make the process of learning more creative.
Hence, the educational policies should be renewed. New teaching methods and syllabus should be adopted. Government should play its role in prioritizing the education sector so that our country can develop in a better way. These students are the future of this country and they deserve a quality education.
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