Pakistan is a country where education is considered by the people as the most important component in forming a great and strong nation. They have firm belief it is the only way to secure honorable place in the comity of nations. Consistent with its IMF dictated policies of deregulation and privatization, and limiting government spending, government has been reducing its budget for education leading to the deterioration of the educational system and decreasing access of the poor to education. Cost sharing policy has made the cost of education unaffordable to most of the students. The standard of education in the country is rapidly falling. It is an educated person only having the ability to differentiate between right and wrong or good and evil. In fact educated people don’t suit to our rulers because they would never vote for them. They need an illiterate vote bank which may blindly follow them. They have made the university education almost impossible for poor and even lower middle class by increasing fees because they, having received education, start asking for jobs, and their legitimate rights. However nobody would have seen democracy taking roots in any country where masses are illiterate.
Although there is an utmost importance of quality education, the quality of education in Pakistan is deteriorating day by day at a rapid scale. We have no good professionals like doctors, engineers, pilots, lawyers and good teachers due to non availability of quality education. Even we are politically unstable due to the poor quality education. As a result we are facing weakening of our social system across the world. Today, there is a feeling that the moral, social and political standards in the country and the great values of life are fast deteriorating. Education means moral and cultural development of students. Our education institutions are doing nothing in this regard because they are now not accountable before anyone. They are paying no attention to make them honest, truthful, and upright like past. Today, there is no such function performing these educational institutions. They are not creating sense of self respect and personal dignity in the students. Values have become redundant and no longer considered necessary. Education has become unethical business today.
In the past, formal education helped Pakistan to progress as it enlightened the people and improved the standard of living. The government used to subsidize post secondary and university education and consequently all students were capable of meeting their needs from the State funds. Spending 2% of GDP (which too is misleading), Pakistan is now ranked the lowest in the countries of this region – after Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal – that spend 2.4, 4.8, 3.1, 4.7, 4.6 percent respectively of their GDP on education. Out of that meager amount too, the majority of funds are siphoned off by the bureaucracy and the politicians. It creates doubts in the minds of citizens as well as student community that education is no longer the priority of the government. The entire system of education in our country has now become absolutely out of date. The students passing out from our educational institutions are much below the expected level. The planners of our education are mostly fed on borrowed ideas having no relevance for the falling standard of education.
Cost sharing policy in post secondary higher education is a policy that came from the exterior masters of the rulers. The government has funds for Metro Buses, Motorways, costly power plants, bridges and roads but cannot afford to provide funds for students pursuing higher education. There is an abnormal escalation of fees at higher secondary and university level as a result of the introduction of cost sharing policy. Most parents are unable to bear this burden because not all of them are able to educate their children beyond the secondary school level.
The causes of the worsening quality of education are obvious to us all; lack of funds, lack of teachers, lack of classrooms, lack of proper teacher’s training, corruption, political interference, lack of merit in appointment of heads of institutions, hiring untrained teachers on contract basis, lack of accountability on poor results, introduction of beyond the mental capacity of small children pro-academies tough syllabus even beyond the understanding of respective teachers, rampant capitalism and cost sharing policy dictated by IMF, ever increasing tuition fees, and skyrocketing cost of educational materials etc. The government is paying merely a lip service instead of addressing these issues by implementing concrete action.
The arguments debated on media and repeated cited by our politicians in favor of ‘democracy’ look fine theoretically but these are absolutely inappropriate in the current political scenario. The people of Pakistan very well know that the military rulers always acted in the national interest after failure of politicians. During their tenure, the always emphasized on quality education and spent heavy amounts for improvement of this vital sector in addition to other development projects of public interest. Each of them left the country in economically stable position also when they were pushed out. Our politicians whenever came in power inflicted irreparable damage on national institutions merely in their personal interest and left the country empty handed. Just ask a common man about past seven years under so called democratic rule in Pakistan and compare with immediate past seven years of Musharraf regime. The answer we receive is that nothing has improved rather we have lost a lot in areas of education, healthcare, cost of living, prices of common commodities and supply of clean drinking water.
We cannot allow this decay. If our country is to get out of this chaotic condition, education reforms must be started immediately. We should give the most importance to affordable quality education. A comprehensive plan needs to be evolved to raise the quality of education. We have to restore our old values. We must have respect for pluralism, moral values, accountability of low performers and discipline. The government should provide sufficient funds not less than 4% of GDP making it convenient for the students to get higher secondary and university education. If there is any modicum of patriotism in the hearts of our politicians, they should work to impart free education in our country at least up to higher secondary level, and making available university education at affordable fees, if we want a developed, progressive and prosperous Pakistan.