Crowded classrooms: 3 teachers for 500 students

Published: February 28, 2012

Often young minds, unaware of the notion of enlightenment, tend not to be inspired with a desire to learn, progress and achieve.  They fail to comprehend the significance of education and that its absence can lead to an irreparable personal loss.This leaves them with the ‘monotony’ of school and a mushrooming culture, of neglected nurturing, of their innate inquisitive nature.

Why is this so?

One of the major factors is the gradual increase in the high student-teacher ratio in public schools of Pakistan. According to the data provided by Unesco in 2008, Pakistan has the most crowded classrooms in South Asia.

The ratio is certainly an indicator of the poor quality of education in these schools. The fact that students do not get a chance to participate in intellectually engaging discussions, which smaller groups with increased personal attention may offer, it is highly likely that this may adversely affect their learning potential and performance. This is evident by a low student-teacher ratio of a large number of the world’s most prestigious universities.

However, it is true that the hiring of additional teachers may lead to an increase in the costs for the state. Nevertheless, what may help in controlling the spending is having a few qualified teachers, with better credentials and experience, along with a proper mechanism to monitor their attendance. But then again, what serves as an impediment is the reluctance of the young professionals to work in these public schools due to its unpromising future. As a result, the government has been constantly straining to get the minimum faculty positions filled.

In addition to this, what mainly hinders the cognitive development of these souls, is the poor infrastructure that has plagued these schools. Shortage of classrooms and furniture, inadequate buildings, toilet facilities and drinking water show the dire need to improve the state of physical facilities to cater to the academic and personal needs of the students.

A working paper on education produced in the USAID in 2011 highlighted that about 37 percent of the public schools in Pakistan have no latrines, 85 percent have no electricity and almost 50 percent of these schools in rural areas lack clean drinking water. Such an uncomfortable physical environment has certainly failed to induce a sense of security and creativity in the students of these schools, thereby making them feel less motivated and empowered to reach for the skies.

It could be plainly deduced from the current state of the educational system of Pakistan that this sector is facing a multitude of challenges. And in order to end the education emergency that the country is suffering, measures such as allocation of more funds by the government need to be taken immediately.

Mehak Ameer

Mehak Ameer

A law student of the University of London International Programmes who is also a member of Ilmpossible. She tweets @mehakameer

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