Pakistan: Education, The Last Hope

This post is part of our special coverage Global Development 2011.

As the socio-political crisis in Pakistan is getting out of hand, emphasis on education has been stressed by the civil society. This thought mainly is due to the fact and hope that maybe, just maybe, education might be the key to bringing stability amidst the unsettling internal civil war that Pakistanis face on a daily basis.

Pakistani tweep Aly Nasser wrote:

@alynaseer: The education system in #Pakistan must be overhauled immediately with adequate measures for young scholarship programs for (the) middle class.

An education news blog (from Florida, USA) tweeted this shocking yet not surprising information:

@educationblog: Pakistan's education system is in crisis, where literacy rate is below fifty percent.

School students hold banners and posters during an awareness rally on Women Education, organised by the Director of Private Institutions in Hyderabad. Photo by PPI Images. Copyright Demotix, 4 May 2011.

In a profoundly written blog at the Express Tribune by Asad Ali, titled “Riaz wanted to learn English”; the writer talks about a newspaper boy and his determination to read and write English. He tried his level best to help this boy and gave him his e-mail address to write back to him once he was able to read and write English. Here is what Asad Ali had to say after 11 years:

Almost eleven years later (three days ago) I received an e-mail from Riaz for the first time. His determination to learn to speak the language proved to be truly remarkable.

Riaz’s story is a testament to the fact that our youths are thirsty for education. Unfortunately the political leaders have not provided the necessary infrastructure – but that story is old now.

We have run out of excuses to let things be as they are. If only one per cent of us took the responsibility to take one 10-year old from the street under their wing, in ten years we would have 1.8 million more educated people than what would have been otherwise. Ten years fly by. Imagine if two percent of us mobilised.

Unfortunately not all opinions are motivational and uplifting.  Many blogs talk about how the level of education in Pakistan is not only extremely challenging but also very stagnant.

As Dr. M. Pasha states in his blog:

I wish our politicians and bureaucracy can understand that educating young people in today’s globalized world is more complex and painstaking task than anything else. It involves caring for the development of students’ intellect, emotional, social and physical growth. Simply hard work, dedication and commitment is not enough. This requires professionalism. Quality education can only be achieved through an uninterrupted execution of intelligently crafted educational processes by a group of well trained professionals equipped with appropriate knowledge, skills and attitude working in a technology enhanced teaching-learning environment furnished with appropriate provisions. A small number of rightly educated students are more valuable for a secure and prosperous Pakistan than a large army of non-productive, misguided, frustrated young graduates. Vice chancellor is always a leader of his/her university. He/she is responsible of managing quality. What could we expect from a university which does not have a vice chancellor? I wish people in Pakistan could grasp the meaning of the latest concept of education in 21st century.

Kalsoom Lakhani at Changing Up Pakistan highlights a new initiative called ‘Teach for Pakistan‘, which is part of the Teach for All global network (which includes Teach for America).  Here is what she has to say in an article titled “Teach for Pakistan: Bringing Innovation to Education”:

In Pakistan, the challenges are enormous and they are complex. Most children are not afforded access to a good education. They are innocent bystanders to a fractured education system, where critical thinking is rarely taught, good teachers are hard to come by, and drop-outs are a common occurrence. The statistics may not change dramatically in our life-time. But efforts like Teach for Pakistan are taking innovative steps to getting us there faster, engaging our country’s youth along the way.

Without a doubt, Pakistan has a long way to go to better its literacy rate.  Keeping in mind that education and literacy are two completely different forms of conformity, if they are not made to work together, “reading and writing itself” can be a futile and a lost cause.

This post is part of our special coverage Global Development 2011.


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