Educational imparity

Educational opportunities available in Pakistan are very diverse in nature. There are deep divisions based on regional imparity, gender, income and wealth of parents, curriculum and syllabi, mode of instruction in schools, rural-urban location, ideological dividends, type of schools and access to shadow education (extra coaching), among many others. Hence the society remains divided.

These differences should be of grave importance to policy makers of Pakistan. When there are reflections of existing disparities and divisions in the country, the schooling system will cause the disparities to increase manifold over next few years if they remained unchecked and unchallenged. When there is inequality in society, the structure of society is disorganised and give rise to anti-social activities.

Government needs to address these issues before they reach an irredeemable threshold. Progress can be achieved if equal window of opportunity is given to a common man. Policies like uniform education or bare minimum standard of education for all needs to be implemented.


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Girls lead the way

Girls almost outshined boys in Secondary School Certificate Examination 2017 held by Multan Board as they took away first and third overall top positions besides sharing second position with a boy, disclosed the result notification.
Wajeeha Younis of a private school (roll number 172424) stood overall first with 1091 marks. The overall second position was jointly held by a boy and a girl. Kashaful Eman (roll number 162363), also student of another private school, clinched overall second position with 1089 marks. Similarly, Muhamad Fahad Hussein (roll number 179806) of a private school also secured 1089 marks and was declared second. Fatima Munir (roll number 161935) clinched third position with 1088 marks.
The controller of examination, Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) Multan, Prof. Syed Haider Abbas Gardezi declared the result here at BISE Hall on Tuesday. Punjab Minister for Zakat and Ushar Nagma Mushtaq Laang chaired the result ceremony and distributed prizes among the position holders.
The Controller disclosed that a total of 100796 candidates appeared in the examination out of which 82338 got through, showing 81.68 pc success ratio.
In Science Group, as many as 81960 candidates appeared, including 49102 male and 32858 female ones, and 69252 were declared successful. The pass percentage in this group stood at 84.49 per cent.
Similarly, 18836 candidates appeared in humanities including 6455 male and 12381 female. As many as 13086 candidates got through with 69.47pc result.
The overall second position holder Muhamad Fahad Hussein (roll number 179806) stood topper in this group with 1089 marks. Similarly, Ali Khalil (roll number 179723) got second position with 1085 marks. The third position in this group was jointly held three students; Saad Amjad (roll number 166505), Muhammad Uzair (roll no 153144) and Muhammad Ansab (roll number 179052). Each of them secured 1084 marks.
The Faisalabad, BISE announced results of Matric annual examination 2017 with over all passing percentage of 77.94 percent.
According to the BISE, a total of 150955 candidates appeared in the exam, of whom 117649 were declared successful. The result was declared at a ceremony the BISE office.
On the occasion, MNA Dr Nisar Jatt was the chief guest while other parliamentarians including Faqir Hussain Dogar, Haji Ilyas Ansari, Mian Muhammad Rafiq, Dr Najma Afzal, Begum Surriya Naseem and Fatima Fareha, BISE Chairman Mahar Ghulam Muhammad Jaggar, Secretary Khurram Shehzad Qureshi, Controller Dr Zafar Iqbal Tahir, CEO District Education Authority Muzaffar Javed Iqbal Chishti, Vice Chairmen District Council Rana Zulfiqar, Khalid Parvez Virk, positions holder students and their parents, heads of govt and private educational institutions were also present in the ceremony.
According to the result, two girl students – Maiyza Younis of Laboratory Girls High School Agriculture University and Maryam Zohra of Chenab Girls College Jhang bagged first positions with 1090 out of total 1,100 marks each.
The second position was secured by Riqza Saeed of Chenab Girls College Jhang with 1087 marks while third position was collectively bagged by three students – Maryam Ashraf of City Girls High School People’s Colony, Zohaib Ahmad Qureshi and Saad Amjad of Divisional Public School with 1085 marks.


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Why can’t Pakistan fix education?

Every Pakistani now believes that education is central to economic and social development. And policymakers proclaim it as a top priority. Resource allocation may have been increased but it is not optimal yet. Advocacy groups and media have enhanced awareness about the importance of the improvement in education. However, educational quality and outcome, especially in public sector schools, have not improved proportionate to resource transfer and enhanced awareness.

An industry of technocrats, advocacy experts, researchers, philanthropists, data analysts and consultants of the public sector schooling system has emerged in Pakistan. Many of them have neither attended, nor are sending their children to public sector schools. So, they are unable to diagnose the fundamental flaws in public schooling and the overall education system.

Until the early 90s, there were fewer elite schools and the rest of the children from middle-class and marginalised segments would study at the same place. The quality of education was certainly not satisfactory but the children had the opportunity for mixed interactions among their peers coming from diverse backgrounds. Moreover, as many of the local influential families would send their children to public schools, they exercised some surveillance and put forward a strong demand for better quality of education.
However, due to the mushroom growth of private schools, only children of marginalised segments of society are now left in public schools. Despite the so-called experimental research, deployment of monitoring systems and the introduction of smart technologies, the quality of education in public schools has deteriorated. Academic papers and fancy reports on public schooling interventions make routine appearances but we do not see results on the ground. Families that send their children to public schools are not able to exert local influence and are powerless to demand better quality of education. Furthermore, most of the private schools that are attended by the children from the lower middle-class and marginalised segments are imparting low quality education due to the poor quality of teachers.

The fragmented education system has negative implications for upward mobility and social cohesion. There is hardly any research or dialogue on the need to reconcile this widening gap in the education system. A class-based education system can’t be a harbinger of social and economic inclusion. This has indeed led to social conflicts and tearing apart mixed interactions in the country. It is now near impossible for students of public schools to compete with those coming from elite schools and family backgrounds.

The English language continues to reinforce inequalities in educational achievements. Students from elite families enjoy studying in relatively better English-medium schools and they do gain its reward in national and international academic pursuits. But English often acts as a barrier to education and decent careers for a majority of the population.

No policymaker, politician, education consultant, bureaucrat or even a teacher of public school sends his/her children to public schools. This alienation and vote of no-confidence towards the public education system can’t be compensated with digital surveillance or increments in financial resources. Because when the powerful elite doesn’t have a stake in improving any public service that service remains marginalised as compared to the one where they have deep interests in.

There are a number of reasons leading to this gap. Firstly, teaching in a public school is not a profession of choice, especially amongst the male population. Many of the teachers are those who could not get a job somewhere else. Secondly, bureaucrats and clerks of education departments humiliate public school teachers — not to mention, the politicisation of transfers and postings. Thirdly, the public schooling system still focuses on testing photogenic memory of the kids in this age of high demand for teamwork, creativity, love for knowledge and problem solving abilities.

Fourthly, lack of affordable and safe public transport continues to deter enrollment of girls in high schools as they often travel far from villages and sprawling settlements of cities. We can see advocacy and concerns on girls’ education nationally and internationally but little improvement in transport system for them. Due to investment in a bus fleet, for example, the University of Gujrat has attracted a high number of girls from rural areas in Gujranwala. Fifthly, public and school libraries have disappeared. Elite kids still enjoy these facilities in clubs but middle-class and poor segments are deprived. Sixthly, vocational education in schools is limited and irrelevant. The dropout rate after middle and high school is high, and these students end their education without any skill in hand. There are technical and vocational colleges but the mainstream education system does not focus on employable skill development. Seventhly, resource constraints and lack of awareness about behavioural issues have a severe negative impact on student’s performance.

There is a need to challenge the fragmentation of the education system, instead of merely replicating the arguments related to enhancing allocations and monitoring with huge state machinery and smart technologies. Without addressing the fundamental flaws in the education system, the efforts will not improve efficiency of a system that is leading to chaos and inequality. A real change will only occur when NGOs for advocacy and research in education start raising finances from domestic sources instead of international aid.
By Naveed Akhtar

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