Dear Colleagues! This is Asrar Qureshi’s Blog Post #743 for Pharma Veterans. Pharma Veterans welcome sharing of knowledge and wisdom by Veterans for the benefit of Community at large. Pharma Veterans Blog is published by Asrar Qureshi on WordPress, the top blog site. Please email to email@example.com for publishing your contributions here.
Let us start with the question, Do Young People Make Career Choices? The answer is mostly No. These are the scenarios which lead to the above answer.
Most youngsters do not know or at least do not know clearly as to what they wish to pursue as a career. The biggest reason for this gap is our curriculum which is taught from beginning to the college. The curriculum is a mix of many subjects none of which evokes curiosity or quest for knowledge. Children are being overloaded with unnecessary books while their parents are being burdened financially. The cost of education has gone so high, it has become well-nigh impossible for an average income household to educate 2-3 children.
The race to get marks and positions is so intense, it leaves no time for learning. The actual learning comes from outside the schools, through social media mainly. Social media carries a wealth of information; knowledge is missing. When a young person is overloaded with information, she/he resorts to Reels and TikTok to relax. These are addictive and consume a lot of time. There is no time left for doing things which add to knowledge and make them more educated.
Couple of decades ago, there were fewer choices and children were fed with certain ambitions right from the childhood. Most common was becoming a doctor (and serving the nation, which did not happen), or engineer, or go to armed forces, usually army or air force. The advantage was that children remained focused. In the next phase, commerce/accounting also became part of focus. The third wave was that of MBA which saw overproduction of MBAs. The fourth and current wave is computer/software engineering which is the big attraction for children for various reasons, such as possibility of getting hired internationally, earning in US dollars, getting an H1B visa and work in the US, and so on. The focus is shifting and scattered.
Ability to do anything is important, aptitude to do it is even more important. There are plenty of people who got stuck in professions they did not like, and they spent whole lives cribbing and unfulfilled. Aptitude testing is neither common nor efficient here. A ‘Career Counselor’ has been added in the more modern institutions whose job is to guide students about career choices. They are usually young people, without much experience, and they present the career choices in more theoretical way, and without considering the aptitude.
The upshot is that the children are not sure about their aptitude, but they have many choices in front. What they wish to do is just a wish, it is neither aptitude nor ability. This is leading to huge waste of time and resources.
Getting Rich Quick is the mantra these days. No matter how it comes, and from where it comes. Digital media is rife with the stories of how I made so much money so quickly. If it is not about money directly, it would be about gathering followers and views in thousands and millions, which will ultimately translate into money. It is a logical question for young people, should they spend six years in becoming a doctor, and then ten years to become a specialist, and then another ten years to be able to make good money? Or should they spend much less time on social media and make maybe even more money. In Europe and US, young people may sell their explicit pictures on legal sites and make money, to hell with education.
Private universities started offering large number of degrees, some of which are outrightly ludicrous, such as BS in TV Anchoring. Several years ago, while driving near a private university, I counted 34 degrees offered by it, one degree on each electric pole. Many of these were of useless kind. God knows how they got these approved from Higher Education Commission; no one knows what will happen to students after obtaining these degrees after spending millions of rupees. True, that many courses are offered by international universities, but those countries also offer employment opportunities in these areas. In Pakistan, if 500 students get degree in ‘Gender Studies’, what will they do? Where will they work, except that a few may be accommodated in NGOs? It is a huge racket which continues with the connivance of those who should be stopping it.
With all due respect to teachers, they are not doing their job right. At the secondary and higher secondary level especially, teachers are more focused on private tuitions rather than teaching at their institutions. At the highest level, incompetence is rampant because universities hire teachers from among their alumni, without comparing them with outsiders. Political influence of student organizations is also a factor in poor hiring practices. It has been going on for long and the incompetence is being perpetuated. Teachers are also grossly involved in various acts of harassment of female students which go unreported; even serious cases are not reported because men would not let a fellow man get indicted. The mess ultimately falls on the victim. The quality of teaching and coaching and career counseling are but a far cry from the desired level.
Most educated parents are from the previous time, and do not comprehend the new courses and their application well. Less educated or uneducated parents are completely lost. They are not in a position to advise their children properly. They only know their daughters must become doctor because lady doctors attract good matches in marriage. This is partially true because plenty of lady doctors remain unmarried for long or for whole life. For boys of the house, there is no advice, because none is available.
Parents can still do some research to understand various courses and their application. Google has all the information on it.
Our biggest threat comes from population explosion. As someone recently said, ‘the poor are having more children because they will send them out from early age to earn money by begging or working. More children, more income. Rich people are having more children because they can afford it’. It is only the better educated, middle/upper middle class which is limiting the number of children. Their considerations are economical and/or professional.
Pakistan has crossed 230 million and the rapid growth continues. Girls are outshining boys at every education level and are therefore getting many more seats on merit. There are two problems due to this disparity. One, 50% or more of these girls shall not work due to any number of reasons, which leads to enormous wastage of opportunities and resources. Two, the boys would have gotten these educational opportunities and would have been able to make use of it for earning livelihood for their present and future families.
Overall, it is a serious situation, and all stakeholders need to work together to bring the positive change which is urgently desired.
Concluded.Disclaimer: Most pictures in these blogs are taken from Google Images and Pexels. Credit is given where known; some do not show copyright ownership. However, if a claim is lodged at any stage, we shall either mention the ownership clearly, or remove the picture with suitable regrets.