Education is one of the most important characteristics required if a nation is to develop. All developed countries in the world have one thing in common, a robust and evolving education system to meet the needs of fast changing world and there are ample evidences to justify the importance of education as it is evident that countries with low literacy rate have been plagued by extremism and rising corruption.
Pakistan’s current literacy rate sits at 62.3% which makes it clear that there is much left to be achieved in education sector. Here, it is imperative to note that corruption and other social ills are rising and they are directly or indirectly connected to this problem.
Modern societies grasped the importance of a well educated polity very early on. In recent decades investment in human capital has increased and became a top priority. overtime, education has increasingly been seen as a force multiplier capable of having a much broader impact. This impact can be positive or negative because where high quality education can provide better means of social mobility and act as source of prosperity, poor educational standards or agenda driven curricula can contribute to sense of alienation and deprivation leading to internal discord and violence.
Our rotten education sector has led to unfulfilled promises at three fundamental stages: first, it has failed to provide enough education second, it has failed to provide quality education and third, it has failed to provide adequate employment to young masses.
Pakistan made some progress in the context of overall literacy but remains relatively poor if compared to South Asian countries with exception to Afghanistan. Pakistan has the lowest educational outcomes and highest number of out of school children in the world. It is clear that education has failed to reach a large proportion of eligible population. The problem is explicitly supply sided one as government had allocated 2.4% of GDP for education that is merely enough for providing remunerations for teachers and other staff. Supply sided problem that work as a strong deterrent in service delivery include long travelling, cultural impediment , lack of infrastructure poverty and acute absenteeism
Pakistan’s education system is anomalous, it has three parallel educations system operating simultaneously. These are elite schools for privileged classes, public & private schools for majority of the youth and religious seminaries where underprivileged of the youth study. All three have their own curricula and examination process. Consequently, quality of graduates vary considerably.
These three systems are broadly stratified along socioeconomic, qualitative and ideological dimensions & do not converge at any point. Hence, graduates of three different skill sets are produced with religious madrasah graduate a biggest mismatch to type job market. This aberration continues and unfolds its impacts in the job market where people from elite school get higher and most attractive positions leaving lower and unattractive positions for the remaining large bulge.
Reversing the identified failures in education is likely to be more daunting due to demographic pressures. Pakistan will have additional 5 million employable youth by 2030 taking overall number to 22 million. Inability to reverse these failure will not only hamper growth but also carries potential of rupturing very fabric of society through polarization and unrest. The ultimate goal is to provide a level playing field to all the youth by providing quality equal and free education that our constitution has guaranteed.
Financial constraints must be waned off and proportion of GDP must be enhanced to the level of at least other developing nations. Given the dropout rate correlated to poverty, fee exemptions and cash rewards must be introduced so parents can get encouraged for sending their children to school. Here, much needed culture of transparency in utilizing government funds and administration including appointments, transfers, postings and attendance is required. Interim financial and performance audits are the steps in the right direction.
Bringing quality in the education is the need of hour. world is fast changing and our archaic curricula is not adequate to meet new challenges and requirements. qualitative gains are bound to lag behind quantitative gains but keeping this gap as narrow as possible is what our education system needs. bringing quality will require overhaul of existing curricula and introduction of new teaching methods.
Madrassah education needs urgent restructuring. The reform would require preparing students for modern challenges while retaining their faith based focus. Seminaries should be liberalized so they can adapt to changes and equip themselves with the skills that will ensure them suitable livelihood, this will in turn save them from falling prey to people with extremists motives.
Education without appropriate employment opportunities results in discontent that in turn breeds anger which is detrimental for a society. It is seen that there a lack of interaction between industries and technical vocational and other educational institutes which results in demand supply discord. The much needed interaction, if vitalized, along with reinvigorating technical education can turn the tables for this country. Another concrete way of utilizing educated youth is to forge strong ties with other nations to secure employment agreements. in this regards, vocational training can be tailored to meet modern day requirement.
Strong education is the only factor that will determine our path. If concrete steps taken towards its improvement, a prosperous era will surely come to stay.