I wonder why the credit or blame is always given to us, we the teachers? When we look back, we find, we alone are not responsible for present state of affairs.

In early days of Pakistan, teaching was considered a well-placed profession that can support a healthy life style. In newly born country, there was strong need to build a pool of skilled manpower. Many new educational institutes were established. To fulfil the need a few private schools having comparable facilities were opened but education institutes were run mainly with the support of the government. The international market and academic institutes were open for their graduates.

The glory was lost with the days gone. Insufficient funding is generally considered to be the sole reason for this change, which is partly true. The other factor is a total loss of investment due to a lack of long term planning, keeping in view the percentage increase in demand over a period of time. Pre-existing infrastructure of educational institutes was lost because of a deficiency of trained manpower.

Emphasis was made on making new buildings, providing the furniture and appointing new teachers. Nothing considerable was done focusing on teacher’s training to catch up with modern trends.

The teacher training programmes are sub-standard and are focused on fulfilling the need for primary and secondary schools. Practically, in a class room there is a single teacher handling large number of students at the same time, numbers that can exceed over a hundred. The main cause of the present state of education is that even the trainers are untrained, not only in teaching skills but also in subject. In most institutes, learning is merely memorising the information and examination.

Better among these institutes are those that are affiliated with other boards or international universities but most of their graduates opt to go their higher studies from foreign universities and usually never come back mainly because they are better paid and better accommodated elsewhere. On other hand, working conditions are not conducive for those who come back to work here. The teachers involved in higher education have no means of acquiring expertise in teaching skills. The other stakeholders of academia e.g. those involved in policy making, publishing the textbooks, management of administration and finances usually lack expertise as well. There is no concept of an evaluation of the effectiveness of the existing system.

Due to the lack of a check and balance system, corruption and promotions either under pressure or by bribes, honest teachers are leaving the field. This has created severe restlessness both among students and teachers, which in turn causes an increase in unlawful activities. With increase in inflation in prices, salaries are decreasing in real terms and the cost of living has been increasing annually. Worse of all, even for our professional training we have to finances ourselves.

The real challenge is to develop a pool of world-class skilled teachers and to provide them a supportive environment to work in. At many occasions our teachers are assigned the task for which they are not appropriately trained. For instance, a good scientist or scholar does not necessarily have to be a good administrator, have expertise in finance management or have vision for long term policy designing. Our teachers have been involved in completing all these assignments. Their non professional approach is reflected by the fact that friends, closely associated colleagues, people having the same approach and ideology are given jobs, assigned projects and are involved in policy making decisions, hence completely abrogating the concept of discussion, mutual tolerance and constructive debate. We have the big names with no significant international contribution towards knowledge. A bigger challenge is with find the replacements of experts who are retiring. During their service tenure most of our experts did not let their colleagues flourish professionally to compete with them. The Supreme Court has prohibited the hiring of retired experts who during their service, mostly due to conflicts of interest, did not support others professionally more sound to join the institutes or to grow enough to replace them in due time. University of Karachi that used to be ranked among the top five Universities of Pakistan, is ranked on position of eight according to latest ranking of Higher Education Commission. It s a shame to mention that no Pakistani university is ranked among the top 100 Universities of the world and we have not yet come up with any long term plan to address this issue.

The first thing to do is to introduce the evaluation of efficacy of the system while comparing with international institutes. It needs long term planning. We need to introduce the concept of professionalism, where work quality and the growth of institutions remain on top priority and is beyond protecting ones personal interest and growth. An increase the number of overseas trainings including the training through teachers exchange programmes would be helpful specially when it is made mandatory for all who are interested to have a permanent job in academia or academia related jobs.

We all need a model to follow. But when it comes to education, we cannot implant any international education system as it is in our country as our education system has to evolve from the existing system matching our socio-economic and cultural values. However, it should definitely meet the international criteria of excellence. In parallel, we can invite international top-ranking universities to open their campuses in Pakistan. The healthy competition will helps to evolve our local institutes. I Hope we can learn to learn before it is too late.