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 We all know the flaws: rote learning, outdated syllabus, disinterested teachers and a poor grading system, yet headlines such as ‘Girls outshine boys in SSC exams’ invite the readers’ attention year after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.

  • Zunair Ali

    As conclusive as your stand is on the issue of corruption and poor quality standards in the Education system are, I take this opportunity to second you. I understand your annoyance and antagonism to the subject but I differ in your means to point out the disease rather than its remedy. Corruption is the disease that infects every institution of Pakistan, from education to all the way up our military forces (keeping in mind the so called accidental plane crash of Zia ul Haq). Forever more this plaque will continue to impinge on our systems as long as we as a nation decide to change it. What we need is change of thought by realizing national welfare than personal welfare. Considering the number of students lost to other countries by a self created problem known as the brain drain is staggering. The problems lay within our policies. Why are not all members of the government forced to send their own children to our public schools and universities as apposed to a prestigious institution abroad where they go and provide so much funding that there children have their own dormitories to their fathers’ names? Change of thought. That’s all there is to it.Recommend

  • Ali Haider

    There is another facet to what you are trying to say and I think it is important because the fraud that we see today has its roots in ill-planned system as you said.

    Generally students get low grades in subjects like Urdu, Islamiat, Pakistan Studies and Fine Arts. This effects their overall grade despite good marks in Science subjects and guess what we do with them? We do not allow them to join a good university to study science (something they are good at) and rather have them study arts which their grades already show they don’t like.

    The craving for learning is overwhelmed by the race of getting an A. The tuition centers offer fast track exam specific methodologies to just target a particular exam and students forget everything as soon as they come out of that examination room.

    The GRE’s of the world do the same. They test how many words of English you can remember rather than how many words actually make sense to you. The race is endless and it is dangerous too. Students cry in front of teachers for As and not so much if the teacher did not explain anything well in the class.

    You go one step further and there is this race of publications in ‘reputed’ journals and conferences. For some, only their name can get them into a conference and for others it is one heck of a job.

    Over all, in the entire world, the system of education is geared towards getting As even if that means forgetting any learning.Recommend

  • Madiha Mustafa

    I totally agree with all 3 of u..but again the core reason for all this is our policies, our govt, non existance of governance.And this all is there because of our leaders..as they them self have fake degrees and they dont know what education really means…Recommend

  • khawar khan

    Aroosa khan i quite agree with your views,but who can change the whole situation the overall system has been demaged.in karachi or in whole country edcation is a busniess here,second thing the school system in country which also effect,if a person have a money he can get education the more you have money the more and better education you can get,our federal government have annouced the education policy but i am prety sure that the emplimentation of that policy is a dream.another thing is wadairashahi if a wadaira
    of any village give education to their people they know their right
    which is not aceptable in anycost in the rural areas.Recommend

  • Engr Muhammad Ikram

    The actual failure of our education system is the poor quality standard and non mature polices of our government.the break down of polices and methodology of development of education system of one government by other coming government is raw material for the failure of our education system.Another cause is the randomly change in the syllabus.poor quality and unqualified stop also play a role in the failure of our education system.Recommend

  • ali ameen

    What has education got to do in a feudal society?Recommend

  • Dr.Atif Roz

    its solely the govt responsibility to formulate and make reforms in our existing educational policies but question is again as how can one expect good policies for quality education from those incompetent policy makers who themselves hold fake degrees and are the products of same rotten educational system…Recommend