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Higher Secondary/ Secondary Education in Pakistan
Secondary education typically starts from grade six and goes up to grade ten or matric as is popularly known. In between, grade eight or middle level is also considered a milestone. Boards of Intermediate and Secondary Education – BISEs are now available at divisional level. For example, with the recent addition of Gujrat division, Punjab now has ten BISEs. The boards register schools in their domain, determine curricula, and conduct exams for Matric and Intermediate which is higher secondary. English medium schools mostly offer O-level and A-level which is equivalent to Matric and Intermediate respectively. In that way, intermediate – A-level is done in the schools, whereas students doing Matric go and join a college to do FA/FSc.
Going to college carried a lot of romance and dreams of freedom. The children suddenly felt grown up because they were going to college. The college definitely offered more freedom as well as responsibility. The vision broadened because there used to be student unions, and societies of various subjects. Students canvassed and contested elections and learned important life lessons. With the schools extending education to A-level, the whole scenario got mixed up, and the children were forced to miss an important step of development.
Private sector education was limited to schools for a long time, until they realized they were missing out on a goldmine. Punjab colleges started from higher secondary education and became hugely successful. They opened schools much later and not with the same kind of success. Their university is also doing very well.
Colleges in the public sector were mostly for girls and boys separately; coeducation was not the norm. They are still the same, though some private colleges are coed. It was an important aspect as children were becoming young adults in that age and were passing through deep changes. Continuity of coeducation in the schools going up to A-level has created social issues which were not considered earlier.
Matric and FSc have become flashpoints, the watershed moments in the lives of children and young adults. Their future now depends on getting good grades in these two exams. Matric result ensures admission in a good college for doing FSc, while FSc result guarantees a seat at a professional college.
The analogy of FSc may be drawn with ‘Suneung’ of South Korea, which is considered the most important exam in the life of a student. In the day of the Suneung, silence falls over Korea. It is an eight-hour marathon of back-to-back exams for which students literally spend their whole life before that in preparation. Good result in Suneung ensures a seat at the top universities and a bright future course. The pressure on students is enormous, and it is the same on their parents and even grandparents. There was an article last year that many grandmothers were counting rosaries and praying all day while their wards were taking Suneung exam. In Pakistan, the FSc marathon does not end in one day; the stress prolongs over many days, and the students, parents, grandparents remain on tenterhooks for weeks.
Several experiments have been done with secondary and higher secondary education. Math and biology were separated, then made compulsory for all students, then separated again. The examination paper style has seen many changes; it is now more objective type with the possibility of obtaining more marks. The result is that students are now getting 100% or close to 100% marks, the competition is intense, and the pressure is enormous. The girls must get admission in medical college to get better marriage proposals is the height of twisted thinking, but it rules.
The greatest beneficiary of FSc madness is Tuition Academy business. There are numerous academies, some more famous than others, and they are raking in billions of rupees. The teachers who teach in various institutions in the morning, take up classes in the academies in the evening. What they teach in the evening is supposed to be different from what they teach in the morning. This is also another aspect of twisted thinking. Academies have done irreparable damage to education system, education, and students. They are a huge financial burden on the parents who must pay double fees; one at the school, and the other at the academy.
The last great disservice to higher secondary education is the ‘testing’ system. It was National Testing Service – NTS which made billions in fees, it may be someone else now. Just look at how eschewed the whole system is.
- A student does backbreaking effort to get good marks in FSc. Her/his parents suffer financial burden for more than two years because academies start teaching FSc syllabus right after Matric exams.
- Even before the result is announced, she/he joins the academy again to study for MDCAT/ECAT for medical & dental college and engineering college admission tests respectively. This process goes on for several months, causing more financial burden.
- The FSc marks are counted along with the test marks. If a student had taken very high marks in FSc exam but could not do well in admission test exam, her/his fate will be sealed, no admission.
- The cruelty and injustice of this system is clear to everyone, but the mafias in and out of government would not let go because of billions of rupees turnover.
- There is no reason why the exam results should not be trusted. If there are reservations about that system, these should be corrected. Adding another test is not just a poor solution, it is a calculated move to rob the public.
- There is no relief in sight because no one wants to give relief. The assemblies, the judiciary, other institutions join hands to continue the injustice.
Secondary and higher secondary education have changed for worse on all counts. The rush of preparations, the high achievements, and the astronomical cost has neither improved the quality of education, nor helped better concept building.
To be Continued……
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Excellent blog on educational system in Pakistan which need to improvement. But who will improve this system because politicians are sold if they are ruling the government then all this are good otherwise nothing. Soon May Allah bless us Ameen.