A backpack full of dreams, hopes and ambitions is carried every day to school by children around the globe, which returns home, filled with knowledge, love and respect. There is nothing more in there, expect a warm lunch box filled with delicious snacks.

Their shoulders are not hunched under the weight of the hefty backpacks, their minds are not crippled by the load of textbooks, and their hearts are still unburdened with the thought of homework. Despite the lack of all these essentials of education, they are well ahead in terms of acquiring knowledge and wholesome learning essential to nurture responsible future adults.

But that is in rest of the world, not in Pakistan

Education is the right of every child and the responsibility of each parent to provide to their children. However, if the educational framework of a country symbolizes knowledge with encumbrance then there is something extremely wrong with it. Like everything else in our country, the education sector, too, is riddled with significant anomalies. We have done our best to bury education and put an epitaph over its grave, which reads, “Here lies our education, which failed to survive in this land of ignorance.”

Opening the Pandora Box of the state of our education system is certainly not for the faint-hearted. Years of negligence has resulted in an apocalypse of huge proportions. Both public and private sectors which are primarily responsible for educating children are engulfed with problems.

A well-developed public education system forms the backbone of any country’s battle with illiteracy. However, the continued deterioration of our public school system has tremendously helped in the mushrooming of private school businesses. These businesses often operate for maximizing revenues, while imparting quality education is secondary on their list. 

Whether public or private, most schools that a common man can afford for his children on an already-stretched income can hardly be categorized as the havens of learning. Untrained teachers, outdated curricula, and obsolete methods of teaching, all contribute to making the school environment stifling. In such circumstances it is inevitable that our children will feel alienated towards learning and knowledge.

The role of a teacher is of utmost importance in a classroom, they are the nurturers of impressionable minds. Therefore, it is imperative that a teacher should be morally and emotionally sound. How a teacher moulds their students’ thoughts reflects in their personalities. Inspiring teachers can stimulate even average minds to great success.

Students, especially at the kindergarten and elementary school level, are like empty canvases, which can be painted with beautiful thoughts by a creative teacher. Sadly, our teachers are often untrained and underpaid and do not serve their roles as mentors. The concept of behavior modification through a balance of age-appropriate reward system and appreciation is not widely practiced. Prioritizing students’ well-being is also not considered important and incidents of corporal punishment routinely appear in the main stream media. Teachers, as authority figures, can abuse their rights, and it is necessary to raise a voice against such acts.

Teacher bullying is not only confined to schools in rural settings, established private schools in urban centres are also prone to using fear arousal techniques to implement obedience and respect in students. The idea of achieving classroom discipline through fear instead of motivation creates an unfavorable learning environment. Effective teaching practices ensure that the students are respected and treated fairly by their teacher and in return they also follow the rules and a harmonious environment is created.

The latest incident took place in Multan, where a teacher was arrested for beating a four-year-old child for not doing his homework. Such horrific acts of violence not only cause physical trauma but also leave emotional scars forever if not handled properly.

A child who experienced such a distress so early in his life will always relate teachers and schools with negativity.  Moreover, an age where homework should have been the least of their problems, our children (kindergarten and elementary) are continually being educated to become more and more disillusioned with the concept of learning. Learning should inspire children to explore knowledge through their curiosity rather than becoming mules that transport cartloads of knowledge locked in books.

Our children have a right to dream, explore and achieve, it is time we stopped harassing them in the name of education!