Ways To Transform Our Education Sector By Waqar Hassan
THE modern world requires individuals to be competent in social, economic and political fields for national benefits. Education is a tool that can be used to achieve competence in all areas. Has any nation in the modern world ever outperformed another without revamping its education system? The question seems incomprehensible given the progress made in education across the world. Pakistan’s performance in social, economic and political domains has been subpar. There’s no end in sight unless we collectively agree to overhaul our educational sector. Unpopular measures must be taken, which requires a significant sacrifice.
The education sector is in need of radical reforms. The state is presently handling more than one education curriculum. The syllabus lacks uniformity. It creates an opportunity gap restricting many talented people from acquiring exceptional progress. To level the playing field and provide equal opportunities, a single national curriculum must be implemented. Without a standardized curriculum, equal education will continue to be a distant goal.
Additionally, because of the class divide in our education system, many students are unable to achieve equal educational standards. Access to quality education should be funded by the state for children from impoverished backgrounds. Labelling a system as fair and just is unjust when there is a significant gap in equal opportunities in education. The division between the rich and poor is prevalent in the education sector. If the educational field limits access to quality education for children from poor families due to economic disparities, it fails to achieve the essence of education. Introducing a system that prioritizes parity and equality for all is the most urgent need. Allowing disparities in education will lead to social inequalities that can destroy our social fabric.
Unchecked gender inequality in education impedes sustained growth. The education sector’s failure to boost enrollment rates in the country is surpassed by the disappointing ratio of girls attending schools. The education sector has faced a hurdle in achieving gender parity for sustained growth. To achieve sustained growth, we must not only focus on enrolling as many children, particularly girls, as possible but also increasing the enrollment rate year after year. Achieving a better literacy rate in the country requires an unwavering effort and political commitment to sustain growth in education.
To boost the efficiency of the education system, the country should delegate education matters to the grassroots level. Policy formulation must prioritize local governance of the education system. Immediate attention is needed to assign districts the task of enrolling the maximum number of students and ensuring quality education. By devolving matters to districts instead of provinces, each district has a chance to excel. The education sector will experience a transformation with yearly district-wise performance reports. For progress to continue in the education sector, political actors must avoid interference and remain aloof. To achieve efficiency, transparency and productivity in education, it’s better to involve civil society in forming educational boards at the district level.
The goal should be to empower district-level leaders in the education sector to collaborate with government bodies and bring about complete transformation. In addition, evaluation of high performance is still questionable in many academic institutions due to corrupted criteria influenced by nepotism and corruption. Local political influence obstructs performance-based selection in rural areas while the lack of checks on the private sector undermines excellence in education performance. Overcoming this hurdle is possible with high-performing local boards that involve civil society and bureaucracy. It must be devoid of any political influence.
The education sector should employ a competitive selection process to choose brilliant minds for teaching future generations. The education sector demands the best minds and thus the selection criteria for teachers needs significant improvement. It’s crucial for the education sector to prioritize critical thinking skills for children since many schools, including many elite institutions, focus on rote memorization rather than fostering independent thought. Our students’ critical thinking has been hindered, resulting in serious consequences for them when they enter their professional lives. The evaluation of students’ performance also requires an independent educational body. The educational body must hold exams, in addition to school-based exams, to keep an eye on the standard of education in schools.
The primary focus of this body should be to target schools that use cramming as a mechanism to give marks. Such bodies should be authorized to carry out reforms that discourage rote learning and encourage critical thinking. In addition, our education sector still lacks in preparing teachers to serve in the field. Preparing teachers should receive massive investment. Teachers need national-level academy training to learn international education practices. Private schools and their teachers must be a part of this endeavour and the training. Harmonizing the teaching methodology nationwide will greatly improve the efficiency of the education sector.
Technological transformation is a necessity for the education sector. The cost of technological devices has decreased, making them affordable. Neglecting technology in education can lead to long-term repercussions depriving the education sector of its productivity and efficiency. In addition, our universities need to choose programs that can assist students in obtaining jobs globally. Many universities provide degree programs that offer little practical value beyond earning a degree. For fruitful results of the above-mentioned points, the government must show serious willpower to transform the education sector. Achieving the desired results requires consistent implementation of policies.
The pace of change in the world is fast and our education system’s shortcomings are now a significant obstacle to our development and advancement. In addition to funding, education reforms are necessary to produce innovative mindsets that can drive economic growth, transform technology and create a stronger and more secure society. Unless this is done, even funding for education will lead to minimal results. Education is the foundation of a nation’s future. Pakistan possesses the ability to excel in the global arena. This can be achieved solely by enabling our people to perform at their highest level. The education sector must undergo transformation as a primary step. The faster we understand this, the sooner progress and prosperity will come.
—The writer is CSS Officer, based in Sargodha.
Ways To Transform Our Education Sector By Waqar Hassan