Aimless literacy to Purposeful Education

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Without cursing establishment and “the great game”, let’s focus on how our education system played its role in extremism and led us to misery. At the moment we have three parallel systems and there is nothing special to explain why? A big role in extremism is played by our education systems who are working like unguided missiles. Generations after generations we produced the society who is fond of self-praise and hates logical argumentation.



On 16th December, 2014 whole nation was shaken, dumbfounded and was in deep heartache after the colossal massacre of children in Peshawar. Government of Pakistan immediately started hanging of arrested terrorists and Pakistan Army is more furious at Taliban. In fact many people ignore a major cause of this tragic episode.

Without cursing establishment and “the great game”, let’s focus on how our education system played its role in extremism and led us to misery. At the moment we have three parallel systems and there is nothing special to explain why? A big role in extremism is played by our education systems who are working like unguided missiles. Generations after generations we produced the society who is fond of self-praise and hates logical argumentation.

The biggest unfortunate with our education systems is that all three major educational streams are focused on “aimless literacy” rather a “purposeful education”. In public sector the kids are taught under “behaviorism” where the right to ask big questions about the content is snatched or snubbed by insulting. There is no importance of logic but rote learning. The text books written for them are an arbitrary collection of content without making a logical sense of why? “Hands are On but Minds are off”. The public sector is simply busy in aimless literacy and the consequences are unforgiving.
In Private schooling, the business capitalism prevailed and not the professional capitalism. Except for few big names in private schooling rest of the investors found this as the most attractive business and therefore the private schooling in the name of “quality education” grew like mushrooms. They introduced British curriculum and attracted parents with their extravagant slogans. These schools focus on low cost teachers; even some of them do not pay for the summer vacations but expect high degree of loyalty from them. Looking at the popularity a university also started giving franchises and earning money in the name of quality education. They started a mad race of grades and scores which has introduced short cuts in learning so again it is not the priority “to understand” but “to score”. The whole scenario opened gateways of “shadow education” which is becoming a major threat for mainstream schooling and quality education. The quality that some schools were trying to provide is also threatened.

The “madarsas” on the other hand are beyond any control. There are 97% private and 3% govt “madarsas”. These institutions mostly get their human resource from underprivileged areas and the students spend their lives on charity. People, who can afford, do not find these institutions attractive for their children but the ones who are deprived. The public messages given by these “madarsas” for their significance is only one that “We are sacred places who are serving religion” or “We are preparing generations with better understanding of religion”. Both are questionable. The rationality in the first step is killed and there is no big idea why it is necessary to study in these “holy institutes” and why their curriculum and teaching is “not questionable”? Except for few who produced best religious scholars, rest did not contribute anything in the society except igniting the sentiments against each other. People are scared of talking and discussing them because they use religion as lethal weapon. Regulate them not in terms of funding only but in terms of their curriculum and enduring understanding they deliver.

The prevalent unfortunate is that factually “we don’t have teachers in schools” but we have “failures of other professions who joined teaching”. The situation got despondent when teaching profession became the least paying. Compared to the best educational models of the world, we literally stand nowhere because we always focused on teaching and not on the quality of teaching. This is high time to train the teachers and teach them difference between fact and personal opinion. As no one has a right to present “personal opinion” as a “valid fact.”

There is a need to re-write a new educational contract with the people. Write the common core valid for all. No matter it’s a public school, or a private school or a madarsa, bound them to follow the common core. Decide few things about education, define the path and focus. Where you want to see your country after 20 years in terms of tolerance, empathy, science, humanity, social justice and sustainable development? Write “zero tolerance for hate” in every school and madarsa and implement it. Appreciate liberal arts, literature and progressive thinking. Teach them empathy and build a tolerant society. Decide what should be the purpose of education in our country? What is important to teach and what is essential to leave? We need to break existing pattern of teaching because “nothing significant happens until a pattern is broken”.

Article by Umair Qureshi - Teacher, Educationist, ASCD Emerging Leader 2015, International Conference Presenter, Tedx Speaker, Oxbridge Fellow, CEO 'Leaders in Education & Academic Development (Pvt) Limited, Founder and Executive Director Islamabad ASCD Connected Community, Activist for Educational Reforms and Legislation, Originated Nationwide Project for Teachers Empowerment & National Teachers Internship Program.
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EducationForAll Pakistan: Aimless literacy to Purposeful Education
Aimless literacy to Purposeful Education
Without cursing establishment and “the great game”, let’s focus on how our education system played its role in extremism and led us to misery. At the moment we have three parallel systems and there is nothing special to explain why? A big role in extremism is played by our education systems who are working like unguided missiles. Generations after generations we produced the society who is fond of self-praise and hates logical argumentation.
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