Education is not merely a word, it’s an entire philosophy. It is the backbone of a country. A nation that lacks a proper education system cannot and should not expect to produce useful citizens. Unless or until the base is strong, correct moral values, principles and ethics cannot be inculcated in the new generation, thus leading to not so positive, in fact, in our case, catastrophic results.

Unfortunately, we are facing the same dilemma. Since the partition, no government has ever taken notice of the issue, let alone do something about it. Although an effort was made in the 80’s during General Zia’s regime in the form of ‘Naee Roshnee School System’. The project could have been successful had it not been for vested interests. These vested interests may include the interests of foreign bodies and/or the local feudals. These groups would never want the masses to be educated. Lots of other factors could also be blamed for the project’s failure besides government’s weakness in pursuing and continuing the initiative in earnest. The project was left to die after sometime and no one knows till date what happened to it.

Both the decades of the 80s and 90s saw the emergence of an entirely new creed of private school systems with their own curriculum, fees structure and standards. This took things from bad to worse. This meant there was not going to be a standard education system in the country, with new institutes churning up every other day and no one in the education sector with the vision, foresight or interest to predict the dire consequences and repercussions of this exercise in the longer run. Now there’s not only a lack of consensus on a standardized education system in the country but there are parallel education systems in practice. Similar to almost every other sector, the law of the jungle seems to be exercised by all in the education sector, too. Nowadays, those associated with the sacred profession have no sense of duty and commitment, and no goals except capital investment and the wish for commercial success.

Institutes that are owned and operated by the private sector with unimaginable and abnormally high fee structures offer supposedly the best education to their pupil. A majority of them come from rich backgrounds, while other not-so extravagant private schools, semi-government and government institutes provide comparatively reasonable and relatively affordable education to the remaining classes.

It seems as if deliberately and by design, the class and caste system is being instilled indirectly into the minds of children, and a mindset is being prepared from an early age that those with money have everything and vice versa. Only the rich can get good education, better jobs, enjoy a much better standard of living, etc. The same attitude is carried forward by the child throughout his/her life.

Being rich helps in practical life and so does good schooling. The children of the rich get excellent opportunities from day one - which in most cases are meaningless for them since they are already so well-off but just for the heck of it - and they end up unnecessarily occupy someone deserving person’s place, whereas those who feed from the metal spoon (my own term for the middle class) have to struggle hard throughout to make a living. Those belonging to the former category possess a superiority complex also and they tend to look down upon the less fortunate ones throughout their life.

Another disturbing aspect is that today’s children are not educated and guided properly either in schools or by parents and thus remain ignorant about the basics of life, principles, ethics and manners. They may have degrees from expensive institutes but in terms of religious or street knowledge they know almost nothing unlike their predecessors 30 years ago who could comprehend, understand and speak far better even though they had spent less time in their schooling.

The pathetic education system in our country is responsible for creating an invisible rift in the society. This needs to be sorted out immediately with earnest. Whether private, semi-government or government institutes, the standard of education, curriculum, rules and regulations, fee structure etc. should be the same all over the country. I would like to take advantage of this platform and offer a few suggestions to those directly and indirectly concerned and associated with the education sector, hoping that my humble endeavor may contribute towards improving the current situation.

1) The government should abolish and discontinue the prevailing education system and introduce a singular education system designed keeping in view our religious teachings, moral, social, cultural and historical values and keeping in accordance with the internationally recognized and acknowledged education system(s) practiced in countries like South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Finland, UK, Canada, Netherlands, Ireland, Poland etc.

2) A high level Federal Education Monitoring Committee comprising of educated, selfless, dedicated and honest individuals must be formed. It would be the committee’s responsibility to ensure that all the directives in accordance with the SOP’s are being carried out by institutes throughout the country. The core responsibilities of the committee should include:

a) Devising and implementing a comprehensive and up-to-date curriculum for all the institutes.

b) Implementing, controlling and monitoring an affordable standard fee structure in all the institutes throughout the country

c) Maintaining the standards of quality, hygiene, security etc. within the premises of an institute through constant monitoring.

d) Introducing a criterion to ensure the induction of professional and educated teachers in all the institutes

e) Issuance of limited school licenses in the private sector to those who fulfil the standards prescribed by the committee.

f) A standardized and unified timetable for all the classes and holidays alike in all the institutes must be brought into action.

3) A government-sponsored and media-backed mass awareness program including seminars, talk shows, advertisements etc. focusing on a unified education system and its merits, should be initiated.

4) The government should make it compulsory for all institutes to have a scholarship program in all classes.

5) Excellent teachers and students must be encouraged by the government at the national level.

6) Virtual/Online classes for a variety of subjects should be offered by all the institutes to distant learners.

7) The number of institutes must be limited to a few with branches throughout the country. We need quality not quantity.

8) The quality of the institutes, teachers and the education must be improved so that no extra tuition is required by students. Hence, tuition is discouraged.

This is just a very short account of what the education system in Pakistan has gone through over the years and what can be done to make things better. All of the above suggestions are possible and applicable if someone out there is interested in doing something about it.