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Continued from Previous……
We are discussing major areas of concern in our country.
Extensive experimentation, adventurism and profiteering have been the hallmark of our education system.
To begin with, medium of teaching was Urdu and mediums of instructions were local languages. English as a subject started at grade six and continued onwards. English as a medium of teaching was restricted to college and university education. Missionary schools used English as medium of teaching, but these were few and accessible only to a tiny fraction of students. Education was uniform and promoted equality.
Private schools started opening up because government schools were not enough to match the population growth. Private school owners quickly realized the huge potential goldmine they had entered. Private schools then started in earnest and are way ahead in fleecing money than most other trades.
Present education system has three major issues: Poor Quality, Polarization and Mismatch.
Quality of education is highly variable because every school has its own syllabi. There is no standardization, and the race is to introduce more and more imported, expensive books which are available only from school nominated bookshops. The real motive is to expand profit base, not education. The teachers are hired at minimum wages and mostly on temporary basis. There is no training, and the teachers and students are left to manage on their own.
Polarization is created and perpetuated by our education system. The fate of a child going to an English medium school is separated at the beginning from the child who goes to a government school. Government schools were systematically destroyed to make greater way for private education. For many years now, we have a third education system which is run through religious madrassahs or their likes. The education system is now preparing three armies of students: public schools educated, English medium educated, and Madrassah educated. These are highly polarized and have no common interest whatsoever. When they get together in the job market, they are unable to compete. Therefore, better jobs went to English medium and lower jobs to public school alumni. The fate of Madrassah educated is still not defined. Apparently, their obvious choice is to open another madrassah. We are not paying attention, but the madrassahs are getting their students from the pool of public schools’ students. A time will soon come when public schools will lose major portion of students to madrassahs. But public schools are government run and no one will be bothered even if they close.
Mismatch is that the schools and other elitist education centers are producing students who do not relate to Pakistan needs. They do not speak local language, they cannot read or write Urdu or regional languages, and they are least exposed to local environment. Many parents are involved in this process as well. Probably these children are supposed to move abroad as soon as they can, and they are prepared accordingly. Whatever the intent, this fairly large lot of students does not match with local requirements.
The problem started from the ‘race for money’. Everyone ran, but some ran better than others and got more wealth. During the race process, some people realized that too many contestants were running which could reduce the prize money. They, therefore found ways and means to manipulate the race by changing rules, creating hurdles, making selections and coercing out many. This forced selection process initiated the inequality. It was compounded and reinforced through corruption, hoarding, malpractices and ingenuous unfair means.
Wealth is not equally distributed in any part of the world. There are few who hold the most and there is the majority who hold less even as a group. However, the distribution must at least ensure that the lowest strata also have means to survive. This is no more valid now in Pakistan.
The poor are consistently becoming poorer even when their income remains the same. This is the fallout of inflation and government policies of eliminating subsidies on public utilities. COVID has aggravated an already serious problem and has pushed a huge number below poverty line. Ironically, it does not appear to have hurt the wealthy. If you judge by the number of new SUVs, Electric vehicles and Hybrid cars which are flooding the roads at an amazing pace, the wealth for some people has probably increased due to COVID.
On a long-term basis, there is no policy to alleviate poverty. Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund is a euphemism for charity, and charity may give a meal or two, but does not reduce poverty.
Wealth inequality has serious problems. It starts from economic distress, becomes social distress and then goes on to become criminal distress. Street crimes are usually an indicator of economic disparity and deprivation. We may not be heading towards a bloody revolution any time soon, but we are in serious trouble, nonetheless.
If we sum up the situation, we are in a state of persistent decline. Our social fabric is under enormous stress due to inequalities of various kinds. Our moral authenticity is lost as our defenders and champions of values have betrayed their positions. There is no institution which can claim genuine authenticity anymore. The five power centers namely, Legislature, Executive, Judicial, Military and Media, are all mired in serious issues. Truth has been traded off with blatant lies and no one even cares too hoots about the real issues.
We still strive to make things better, at individual level, at least. Many individuals can still hope to become a group with more voice. Even if the majority is corrupt and dishonest, it is no excuse for us to leave our good values and adopt theirs.
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