‘Our teachers do not know how to teach, our education system is flawed, the only way to get good grades is word-for-word memorization, and finally, these days schools are made more for profit rather than for educational benefit.’ These are just some of the more frequently used phrases by students in our society today when asked about their views on our current education system. It is evident that to a large degree, most students who cannot cope or keep up with others (who might be more competitive) usually tend to focus overwhelmingly on the negative aspects of how we are being taught. It becomes even more evident when you have entire pages on social media dedicated to making endless amounts of jokes with regards to this matter. It might all be in good humour, but in essence it shows that the majority has unfortunately adopted this mind-set.

So is all of it really as unfair as it is painted out to be? The answer is no! Learning is all about experiences; it’s related to an extensive process of discourse with our peers, one in which our thinking process is evolved and developed. These encounters give us valuable insight regarding the world around us, and this progression is the very reason that people can think about such matters in a political light. While some people are deep thinkers, others will put an element of wit into it. And the point is that our education system is not all at fault, but rather, it simply cannot cater to everyone.

The highly unfortunate truth is that in Pakistan, stereotypes have developed that contain individuals to a select few fields, and that is where the problems arise. If we have proven on a scientific basis that every human has different abilities that contribute to his uniqueness, then how can we expect their thinking or their interests to be in line with a handful of conventional jobs? How can we expect a single plan of action to work out for all of these different people? If one teacher is expected to teach only one subject, then isn’t it wrong when the student of today is expected to get an A-star in all of them, regardless of whether he has any interest in those subjects. Another important factor is how we are taught to put academics first and extra-curricular activities second. The latter is seen as a creative past time, but nothing more, because the prevalent mind-set limits it.

The reason why this mind-set has survived for far too long is because in our country, there is a lack of passion and interest, and an excess of stereotypes and impossible expectations. And in cases where there might be passion, there would be no determination or effort to implement upon it. This mind-set is prevalent because people have chosen the easy way out, and that is to complain and blame while never thinking the answer could be in change. The problem is that we, as a nation, do not promote individuality or uniqueness but choose to promote tradition and unhealthy competitiveness. It is true, however, that in some cases the education system gives us the wrong incentives in the form of merit on grades, whereas it should recognize uniqueness of talent. But we should also understand that the education system operates under certain limits that we adhere to. So, next time you want to pursue a career that is your interest, remember that education is simply a means to find yourself, and whichever way you choose to express yourself is entirely up to who you want to be.

Reza Khan,

Lahore, March 19.