Why is the Pakistani education system so alarmingly out-dated?

Published: November 26, 2015

We can explore the challenges that the education sector can face in the future, and prepare accordingly.

Two of the most neglected concepts in Pakistan are education and health, and this can be seen in the amount of effort our government invests in these sectors. It may sound clichéd to say that we shouldn’t blame the government for everything and that the responsibility also lies with us, but the fact remains that we do need to self-evaluate and work on our own lacking as well. 

Education has never topped our priority list as a nation and it fails to receive the attention it truly deserves. While the world is integrating the latest developments in all walks of life, we are still dealing with the same old questions,

“Should I opt for science or arts for my matriculation?”

We, therefore, lack an understanding of the changes it’s undergoing around the world and, as a result, are still stuck in the 19th century era, when it comes to schooling.

Unfortunately, Pakistan’s population grows rapidly but we have failed miserably when it comes to growing in terms of resources, education, and standards of living. The number of children out of school is so alarming – according to the official statistics, 6.2 million children are out of school – that we should hang our heads in shame. Furthermore, those who are in school are not necessarily receiving quality education either. That is probably because education, in its real sense, does not exist here.

Since the past few years, there’s been an increase in the marks scored by our students in exams; what is worrying, however, is that these individuals who master rote-learning everything in the book are unable to enhance general knowledge. That’s why majority of the people lack in everything other than scoring the so-called ‘aces’ in these exams.

If such grades are truly useful then why do we have a low number of achievers in extracurricular activities? Why do these high-scoring individuals lack social and interpersonal skills? Is our education system teaching us anything about community service? How many of these high-scorers actually read books other than those mandatory at school or college?

The current education has changed to a great extent. It is, whether we admit it or not, influenced by various external factors including (but not limited to) geopolitics, global security, media and digital technologies, art and culture, the environment and even religion.

In the past few years, these factors have gained more importance than ever before, but does this importance reflect our schooling and education?

Take the example of art – we still force our children to paint the sky blue, when children from urban areas hardly see the blue sky. This is just a petty example of how we’re unable to evolve our education system.

Having said that, it’s a fact that the foremost step towards solving a problem is to admit that there is one. It’s about time we admit to ourselves that our education system is utterly out-dated. We now need to start talking about developing the schools of tomorrow.

Hence, School of Tomorrow International Education and Cultural Festival taking place in Karachi on November 28th and 29th is an effort towards understanding the flaws we have in our current educational system. We need to explore the challenges that the education sector can face in the future, and prepare accordingly. It is about time such efforts taking place and the reasons stated above show just how much we need to support and appreciate these things. I, for one, am truly looking forward to this event and hope that my generation sees the importance of attending it too. 

Rai Muhammad Azlan Shahid

Rai Muhammad Azlan Shahid

The author is an MSc in Marketing from the University of the West of England. Currently he is based in Lahore and associated with the area of education marketing. He blogs at RaiAzlan.com and tweets @Mussanaf (twitter.com/Mussanaf)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Ramna Iftikhar

    Indeed you are right, our education system is poor and out dated , it is based on rote learning. Which is very sad, even some of the teachers support such type of students. Recommend

  • Ali S

    The problem is that there’s zero incentive for anyone in power to truly resurrect our disastrous education system as an emergency case.

    Our civilian leadership has a history of dumbing down the education requirements (you’re officially literate in Pakistan if you can sign your name) instead of bringing the population up to par with globally acceptable criteria. Maybe because a truly educated and globally aware population would not tolerate their sheer incompetence and vote them out.

    The other real power in this country – the military establishment – probably doesn’t want a truly educated, critically thinking population either because then they would start questioning why they eat up such a huge chunk of our budget and they wouldn’t buy into its ‘we are the defenders of Islam’ pseudo-patriotic propaganda.Recommend

  • Maverick_NZ

    Education, just like other departments, is controlled by the govt. And the govt. is in the hands of incompetent feudals and the business elite. Until we get our politics right, we won’t get the country right. Simple.Recommend

  • Maverick_NZ

    Right on both counts.Recommend

  • Pro Truth

    isnt everything outdated in Pakistan so education is no exception! these all are symptoms! Problem lies with outdated leadership, outdated governance and that reflects in each and every sector!Recommend

  • ayesha

    i’ll tell u how outdated our education system really is .if u applied for a government college and made a mistake on da admission form they won’t notify u even if u have the merit they would simply replace u cause its written in their rules and even the prime minister of pakistan cannot come and change itRecommend