Politicization of education at the whims and fancies of the ruling elite has been a common practice in Pakistan. Education is today being used as a political weapon in the country. Anything that was Pakistani and rooted in our religion, culture and civilization has been trashed by our so called ‘intellectuals’ ruling elite. They have distorted Pakistan’s cultural history merely to give legitimacy to their own ‘ideology’. The newly introduced education system lacks vision and direction. In the name of modernization, all moral and cultural links have been deliberately snapped from our educational system.
The feudal and businessmen ruling class has outsourced the education system to the ‘mafias’ who are ruling our intelligentsia and has imposed a deeply politicized education system in the country. Instead of any progress in this vital sector, our political leaders have pushed back the education even declining the already existing literacy rate and more than half of the population of school going age children now remains out of school. Feudalism, a wrapped social order and main hindering factor in the progress of education, has become a history almost world over, but it is still flourishing with full force in Pakistan.
Feudalism, as a state of mind and as a system, rely on keeping the majority of the populace poor and illiterate to maintain status quo, as they can be relied upon to follow their false and fake slogans and on not to protest even in the face of horrible corruption, destitution and injustice. Without proper education, the people cannot self-determine the trajectory of their lives, a determination which poses an imminent threat to the rulers. The education has been made a political issue instead of being a social issue, and because corrupt rulers are only preserving privilege, they only allow the people to think so far as their thinking serves the survival of their devised “system” by naming it democracy. After outsourcing education, it has marked a new era of blatant politicization of education.
In Pakistan, we have two issues in our education system – access and quality. To satisfy the people at large right to get free education up to the age of 16 years has been included in the Constitution as Fundamental Right, but the government has done nothing to improve the quality of education rather it is being pushed to further decline purposely. The ruler class very well knows that knowledge is a power which can create awareness amongst the masses and would confer upon them a sense of pride and self-sufficiency which could cause difficulties for them. If the people were able to read, they would question the principle upon which Pakistan has written in the constitution that “all citizens are equal before law” and they would wonder why they are treated unequally. Conversely, literacy breeds ignorance and uneducated voters have always been key to sustaining the status quo. For instance, there are no service delivery protests in the country because there is no access to quality education and, therefore, no availability of rights, a consequence of political illiteracy.
All children are now bound to learn the core knowledge in key subjects – the one’s government ‘intellectuals’ value the most. Millions of children are facing “new curriculum” since 2008 specially designed through academy mafia. The new-look “Zardari Brand” curriculum, being followed by the current “intellectual” rulers also, puts a stronger emphasis on making it more and more difficult for the children, beyond their natural capacity, instead of putting in them skills such as essay writing, problem-solving, computer applications and mathematical solutions etc. in a lighter and easy language. The main aims of creating this syllabus were to “accommodate” the academy mafia and to force the poor children, unable to pay high academy fees, to leave the schooling.
Teachers’ say the syllabus is unrealistic even beyond their own understanding, but the government insists its aim is to prepare children for life in “modern Pakistan” by teaching this syllabus, which is even tougher than developed countries. The students working hard with poor results have undermined their motivation. They have discouraging experiences in this syllabus that has convinced them they cannot do the work; 2/3% decline in literacy rate in Punjab and Sindh provinces during the last seven years is very well evident in this experience.
Devising a precise education policy to improve the quality of education in the country is the job of true professionals which have been entrusted to the ‘mafias’. After the intervention of our new ‘intellectuals’ in education after 2008, the quality of education has been badly deteriorated. The children who used to love math, for example, now it makes them cry. The dropout rate for the students is increasing by every passing day. In spite of all of its failures, the framers of education policy 2009 insist that it is a comprehensive and workable policy. In fact introduction of this academy, a friendly policy has darkened the future of our nation instead of bringing any improvement.
Unfortunately, Pakistan has been pushed back in the education sector. It has now the highest population of illiterate adults. The hollowness created by the government after 2008 has created a sense of confusion and disillusionment among students. Today, in Higher Secondary School level and above, the poor parents of school-going children have to pay extremely high school fees compared to 8 years ago, in addition to skyrocketing academy fees, being the price of new education policy. It is a basic responsibility of the state to provide quality education to the people of the country. The government has not taken this issue seriously in a positive sense.
The education policy needs complete overhaul upgrading and advancing it to meet the requirement worthy of the dignity of the independent nation. The policy should be demand oriented. It needs drastic steps entirely changing and softening the syllabus and curriculum making it be students friendly. Let them learn thoroughly whatever they can learn within their natural capacity the rest will follow Insha’ Allah. Education is not limited to textbook knowledge; real education goes beyond that. The extra curriculum and playground activities are also needed to be cared of equally. The policy should be guided mainly by three objectives – character-building, skill development and nation building. The skilled persons need to be produced who could boost up the economic growth of the country. Improve your governance to get a genuine popular vote instead of spoiling the future generation by containing the ways of quality education. Enhance the budget for education and health instead of putting all the resources for ‘Metro Buses and Orange Trains’. Education should be free for everyone. Our nation can be strong with educated citizens, not by ‘Metros’. Education, education and again education will play a vital role in the progress and development of our nation; and that would be responsible for Pakistan’s advancement towards success, Insha’Allah.