Present day Pakistan has been divided into different classes at every level. From cars to restaurants, housing societies to cinemas, everything in Pakistan clearly caters to a specific class. Each domain is marked and no member of any class other than what it caters to can enter that domain. While this is a problem, the severity of the problem gets magnified once the healthcare industry and education industry get hit by this division of classes. While the class-wise division of the healthcare industry is a sad issue that plagues our society, it is something I will discuss at some other point in time since today, my focus is on the education industry and how the class system has become a significant part of this industry.

The main driving force behind this division of classes within the education system is the fact that we have multiple education systems being followed in the country. From the American education system to the British O and A level exams, we have a variety of systems to follow. The main criteria for one to be able to opt for one of these education systems is nothing but the amount of cash that the individual’s family can invest into his or her education.  When money becomes the determining factor behind the quality of education in a country like Pakistan, there are bound to be severe consequences.

The local education system, despite its flaws, continues to be a system that most of the Pakistanis follow. The main reason being the fact that most of the Pakistanis do not have sufficient resources to pay for other education systems. Enter the class divide.

Schools and colleges for students following the local education system are different than schools and colleges that cater to those who can afford better. Equal opportunity employers secretly prefer those who have taken exams with a foreign board in comparison to those who have taken the local exams. Higher education becomes easier for those who have taken foreign exams. There is no doubt about the fact that the quality of education within these two systems differs significantly. Local boards fail to impart the knowledge in the students that foreign boards very easily manage to do.

Of course, when a situation like this arises, the local authorities have to intervene. The government needs to ensure that it eradicates this class divide. Ideally, a government would invest in education to the extent that its local boards manage to compete with the foreign boards. In Pakistan, however, the opposite happens. Instead of trying to improve the quality of the local education system, the government tries to discourage students from taking exams with foreign boards. Enter the HEC.

When a student takes his O or A levels, to get into a university, a conversion of that grade is needed into marks, since the local board is based on marks and not grades. The HEC very conveniently ends up deducting marks wherever possible, reducing the value of the foreign qualifications that these students have earned with great hard work. Government universities and colleges become inaccessible to these students, who have a better knowledge of the subjects that they have studied than their local board counterparts. They then seek to go to one of the private universities within the country or, in many cases, go abroad.

In the process of trying to create equality among these students, the local authorities end up widening the divide even further. Until the local authorities realize this, the education system will continue to remain divided.