Education is key to making a person capable in expressing his or her individual choices and becoming empowered towards economic and political decision making in their household, community and the country. Education not only enhances intellectual capabilities of a person, but also if proper training is given, enhances their skills, productivity and income earning capabilities.
In Pakistan, education has been on a lower step in the priority list of the policy makers. There are multiple education systems in the country.
The country’s lack of quality school education has created a knowledge gap between not only the urban and the rural parts of the country, but also between the rich and the poor strata of the economy. Which means that while the upper strata of the country is fast entering the modern age of information and knowledge, a large part of the country’s population, especially its children are deprived of schooling, or quality education. Almost 70% of the educational institutions in Pakistan are in the Public sector and 30% are in the private sector(Hussain, 2015).Major issues in the Education System of Pakistan are:
Multiple System of Education
The children of the upper classes and strata study in state of the art public or highly expensive private schools where modern, holistic education is dispensed usually in Cambridge system of examinations (A or O levels), enabling these boys and girls to become part of the international mainstream success stories.
On the other hand, the government schools and most of the private schools who charge relatively less fee from the poorer strata of the society give irrelevant, outmoded and unscientific education in government sponsored Metric and Intermediate (FA/FSc) system of examination. The Metric & Intermediate system in Pakistan have multiple issues like unqualified or untrained in modern teaching methodologies teachers, substandard textbooks, outmoded teaching methodologies, also as most of these schools lack building, infrastructural, toilet, transport etc. facilities, therefore dropout ration in these schools is very high. Pupils that attend government schools have very little motivation to excel and there are predicaments like external state exams in class 5, class 8 and class 9 before their final class 10 (Metric) exams. This make it difficult for the students from poorer households to constantly compete and pass these various stages unlike their richer compatriots who have internal evaluations throughout till they go to O-level external exam in their 11thyear of learning.
Most of Government (Public Sector) schools as well as private schools with low fee structures lack qualified teachers, lack teaching materials, lack teaching methodology and lack quality textbooks and even proper financing.
Madrasa system of Education
Another system of education, especially for the ‘deprived’ and poorer sections of the society is the Madrassas (Mosque-based Religious Schools), which are further divided into sectarian lines. Most of these madrassas do not impart any kind of job or vocational oriented education, nor do they follow any general syllabus of general education, rather they concentrate on their each version of sectarian religious teaching and learning the Quran by heart. The environment in most of them is harsh and child-unfriendly. Many of the students of these religious schools have been known to join extremist and terrorist organizations and a few have been known to have become suicide bombers in the past. Although some of these Madrassas have accepted the government demand of imparting mainstream courses to their students the outcome of such decision has not have any impact on the general job market. Interestingly the number of Madrassas in the country is growing faster than both the public sector as well as private sector schools.
Vocational System of Training & Education
A fourth system of education again mainly for the deprived people are the Public Sector Vocational and Training Institutes which also give segregated education for boys and girls. Most of the vocational training for girls is oriented towards ‘house’ confinement, because they teach these girls cooking, sewing and embroidery, which do not create many opportunities for the girls to earn an active income away from home in the agricultural or industrial sector, but only limit them to become home-based workers in the informal sector. The training for boys until recently was also not oriented towards highly skill, value additional jobs, but were more oriented towards electricians, fitters, mechanics and turners etc. These institutions until recently were not research based, nor employment demand based.
Language Debate in Education
An important issue in Pakistan’s education system are – the language debate. The medium of instructions in the ‘elitist’ schools and colleges is in English language with Urdu as a compulsory subject, while for the relatively poor the government schools and colleges in the Punjab the medium of instruction is Urdu with English as one of the compulsory subjects. In the rest of the provinces of Pakistan, the medium of instruction is in regional languages with Urdu and English as compulsory subjects.
Gender Segregation in Education
Another important issue in education system of Pakistan is the gender segregation of schools and colleges for male and female students. While the Universities and Professional education in Pakistan at Tertiary levels is both co-education as well as in English language giving these students coming from remoter areas, government schools and from poorer households an added disadvantages when they compete with their classmates from ‘richer and elitist’ background. There is no specific policy about segregation for transgender children who usually are deprived from education and other opportunities in the country, because till recently they were not issued national identity Cards without which one cannot get admission or a job or own property and business in the country. The first school for transgender children has opened in Lahore in 2018 by an NGO.
Percentage of total budget have increased but 80% is allocated to current expenditures leaving no resources for improving quality of education. • Number of schools for girls lags far behind that of boys- 60% primary schools, 21% middle and only 14% high schools are for girls. • Few women avail training, the majority in low returns sewing and related skills. • High fertility, high household dependency ratios and poor health constrain women’s ability to participate in economic activities”. (UN Women, 2016)
Lack of Teacher Training in School system of Pakistan
There are few facilities for teacher training in Pakistan. Although Public sector provides regular teacher training, this training lacks vision, scientific teaching methodology and human touch that modern teachers should have. There is a system of ‘root learning’ and scientific or modern methods of analytic thinking and learning are usually missing among both teachers and students. Private schools get good teachers through trial and error. Salaries of schoolteachers in Pakistan are less than that of cooks and drivers in urban centres of the country, therefore many of the teachers lack motivation and compassion towards their students.
Lack of Unified Scientific Based Textbooks
As Education is a provincial subject and major part of schools are in private sector with different fee structures, there is no centralized educational body like the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC) which can control and monitor the standard of text books, teachers and imparting of education in the country. The children that go to school are burdened with few ideological subjects and with substandard text books that are not gender sensitive, do not teach human rights are not scientific and do not in poorer schools promote productivity, analytic skills, vocational skills, citizenship behaviours or many IT and communications skills needed for job environment in modern times.
Administrative lack of good governance in Education system
As there is no uniform regulatory body for the school system in the country like the Higher Education Commission (HEC) that governs the Universities and professional institutions. Education Departments in each province govern the Schools system. There are massive issues of bad governance, corruption mismanagement and nepotism in the education Departments, Text Book Boards, school inspectors, as well as the head masters of the schools. For each PRK spent on the school education system of the country, the teacher and the student only get just 20% of the money intended for them.
Public Sector Expenditure on Education
Pakistan being a Federation distributes its budgetary spending in the federal well as four provincial budgets (The Provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or KPK and Baluchistan). After the 18thConstitutional amendments the allocations on education are provincial subjects, therefore it is pertinent to calculate the budgetary expenditures of all four provinces as well as the federal allocations on education to get a better picture of the government’s expenditures on education.
Table 1. Provence wise Expenditure on Education in Pakistan 2013-2018 in Billion PRK
|In Billion Euros||Federal||Punjab||Sindh||KPK||Baluchistan||Total||As percentage of GDP|
Source: (Ministry of Finance, 2018)(Government of Pakistan, 2017-2018; 2015-2016)(Government of Punjab, Pakistan, 2017-2018; 2015-2016)(Government of Sindh, Pakistan, 2017-2018; 2015-2016)(Government of KPK, Pakistan, 2017-2018; 2015-2016)(Government of Baluchistan, Pakistan, 2017-2018; 2015-2016)
Table 1 shows the province wise expenditure on education in Pakistan from 2013 until 2018. In 2013-2014, total budgetary expenditure on all forms of education (Basic to Higher) in Pakistan (Federal & Provincial) was PRK 404.5 Billion. In 2014-2015 – was PRK 467.1 Billion, in 2015-2016 was PRK 416.1 Billion, in 2016-2017 was PRK 468.5 Billion and in 2017-2018 was PRK 542.7 Billion.
Although the budgetary outlay in money terms are increasing every year, but in percentage terms this expenditure on education remains relevantly constant and comes to an average of 2.2 per cent of Pakistan’s annual GDP.
Government should build more schools at all levels with modern facilities and infrastructures even at remotest corners of the country. There should be scientific upgradation of teachers at all levels. Textbooks should encourage research based gender sensitive, environment sensitive and productivity orientated scientific and technological knowledge with a more progressive worldview in order to create greater linkages between school system and Higher Education with emphasis on the knowledge economy of tomorrow that incorporates international labour and human rights standards.
- There should be in Pakistan a Centralized educational body like the Higher Education Commission (HEC) monitoring and controlling textbooks, teachers training and imparting of purposeful, productive, analytic and scientific education in the country.
- The children that go to school should not be burdened with ideological subjects after the basic classes and homework should be decreased with greater school timing in order to have less school bag burden on the children.
- There has to be a uniformed language in all schools and colleges and all regional languages with English, Mathematics and Urdu should be made compulsory in every province, district and the entire country along with subjects of social and natural sciences, increasing the burden steadily as the children go further up on their classes from 5thclass to 12th
- Text books in every class should be gender sensitive, should teach human rights, should promote scientific thought, promote productivity, promote analytic skills, promote vocational skills, promote citizenship behaviors and many IT and communications skills needed for job environment in modern times.
- Gender issues should be solved with no exception with equal opportunities for all children living in Pakistan.
- Teachers should be well paid and properly trained at all levels and give proper respect and perks as in the Higher Education system of Pakistan.
- Budgetary allocations should go to teachers and students bypassing the large bureaucracy in the educational system and a fund should be created to pay for the fees of pupils and students who cannot afford education themselves.