It is a question that has been, slowly but surely, on the lips of all but how to proceed has been untouched. We are in 2018- the age of technology and advancement. We are inundated with posts on social media, LinkedIn, reports in national and international newspapers, media outlets and even international conferences that all seem to address the same issue- Education and Technology.

However, if we take (a much needed) step back then as any and every educator knows, without a rudimentary foundation, all the educational technology in the world will not advance a person or nation.

Pakistan – sadly- is far behind when it comes to education for all. Yes, we all know about Atchison College and King Edward Medical School – KEMS (I mention those as most of my cousins studied there and my Uncle was the President of KEMS for years) but as we all know these are for the elite. This is not what we are interested in. Providing high-quality education that integrates technology, good facilities, and highly trained teachers but to a smaller number of children will only widen the gap and leave the poor children further behind as the gap would widen.

What Pakistan needs is to return back to the drawing board and start thinking about education from a grassroots level and develop strategies that will allow educational prowess to develop. There have been cases where Pakistan has witnessed the opening of many schools that claim to adhere to internally renowned educational approaches such as Montessori, but as Ahmed et al (2013) mentioned, these schools have been opened without understanding their true spirit. It has added to the problem (p. 413)

In a paper written by Khan (2018) he mentioned that Pakistan, since its creation, ‘has been following the traditional colonial education system, which was designed more than 80 years ago, and now the majority of Pakistanis believe that this education system does not fulfill the emerging needs of Pakistan in the 21st century’ (p.311). He further breaks down Pakistan’s educational system into three main categories

1. The national education system for the middle and lower-middle classes;
2. The elite private Cambridge system for the upper class;
3. The Deeni Madaris or religious schools for poor families (Khan 2018, p. 311)

As can be seen, by the three categorizations, two seem to address the main body of people in Pakistan- which just happen to be the two most areas that need revisiting and attention.

In the National Education policy of Pakistan 2017, it is explicitly stated
The explosion of population alongside the explosion of knowledge on one hand and the democratic aspiration of the people on the other hand has put the present educational system under great strain (p.ii)

The first question that I contend with is the ideology of a democratic aspiration of the people! What does this mean and how was this measured?

The next point of contention is

The existing literacy rate is 60 percent (10 years and above) the real challenge ahead. Similarly, net participation rate is 72 percent at the primary level of education. Under this situation, it has been realized to rationalize and update the curriculum and reform the whole education system making it effective and efficient. (p.ii)

Why does the curriculum need updating? Yes, the education system needs to be more efficient and effective, but simply addressing the curriculum will not action that. However, I noticed some positive remarks that the report mentioned that

In some pockets of the country, it is not poverty but illiteracy and conservative views of the parents which prevent them to send their daughters to schools. Hence, illiteracy of parents is also a barrier to the literacy of new generations.

To educate and sensitize parents about the significance of ECE

It was encouraging to read that (and more) but what steps have been taken? How will these issues be addressed?

It is now all about raising an awareness about education and its impact on society. In my humble opinion, I think many are missing the main issue, it is not just about children but more important channeling the energy towards educating parents about schooling and education.

As an educator, I have seen (over the past 17 years) the impact of the parents assisting with the children’s education and those who do not. The importance cannot be stressed enough! A start would be to initiate the following:

  1. Hold sessions with parents about the importance of education
  2. Hold inductions for parents
  3. Every school should have a parents ‘board’
  4. Goals and objectives for parents for the school year
  5. Constant communication with parents
  6. Ensure parents are aware of what students should be taught
  7. Constant parent evenings where they can discuss their child’s progress

Once parents are on the side and understand what it means to educate and be educated, Pakistan can move forward. Until then, you can bring all the Harvard professors one wishes for and the impact will be zilch! So, before even providing very basic facilities and bringing more children to schools, parents must be targeted.

Mr. Humza Mullick