Our ‘rotten’ education system

Published: August 20, 2010

Being a product of the Pakistani education system myself I can’t help but wonder why the system is so rotten.

Amid the flood coverage, it was interesting to see one of the national dailies pick on the corruption in our education system. The story discussed how the chairperson of the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education bypassed certain rules and regulations to ensure that her children got high grades in their SSC examination.

No amount of reporting seems to change the behaviour of those in positions of responsibility for the better, but being a product of the Pakistani education system myself I can’t help but wonder why the system is so rotten. We all know the flaws: rote learning, outdated syllabus, disinterested teachers and a poor grading system, yet headlines such as ‘Girls outshine boys in SSC exams’ invite the readers’ attention year after year, without anyone actually questioning the aptitude of the so-called bright students. An education system where exam papers are leaked as a routine, cheating is rampant, answer sheets are sold in advance and examiners bribed, how can one actually trust these results? And more importantly, why?

As if this was not enough, we have the government granting university status to colleges which have barely been able to produce decent high school graduates. This, we hear, is done to encourage students to apply for Masters or PhD programmes and compete with international students. You don’t have to be exceptionally gifted to understand the implications of such unplanned moves. Instead of trying, unsuccessfully, to make our students compete with the international ones, with our limited resources and even more limited commitment to quality, our leaders should come up with more practical solutions, such as, focusing on the provision of quality education at the primary and secondary level.

And taking the likes of Shaheen Khan, chairperson Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, to task – is that too much to ask for?

Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2010.


Aroosa Khan

A Karachi based reporter at The Express Tribune who focuses on human rights and social issues.

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