In defence of nationalising education

Published: November 17, 2016

The new dictator made sure that Bhutto was not only removed from power, but also from the face of earth. PHOTO: FILE>

This post is a reply to a recent article’s attempt to blame nationalisation for the degradation of education in our country. There is absolutely no doubt that the standard of education in our country is deplorable and in fact, it would not be ridiculous to say that education is practically being murdered. However, if nationalisation did not do any good to education in Pakistan then neither did privatisation.

In politics, there are two major ideals; equality and freedom. The leftists are known for valuing equality over freedom and those on the right argue for the supremacy of freedom over equality. Those who value equality more believe in nationalisation of certain commodities and education is one such commodity. They want nationalisation for education in order to make it available for everyone, so a larger number of people can be educated even if the quality of education does not match international standards. This could have been good for Pakistan if it hadn’t been interrupted as it would have increased our overall literacy rate.

If nationalisation was given a chance we would have had more educated people around now, and all of them might not have been doctors, engineers, and successful businessmen – but they would have understood the importance of education. Therefore, if nationalisation had been around for longer, more people would be sending their kids to schools today and the situation of education would have been improving.

What comes to your mind when you think of Pakistan and education?

I know that the author of the article, along with most others, believe that a commentary on how a select few academic professors teach and speak sums up our entire education system. And so if universities are hiring people who are not competent in public speaking and writing then there is something wrong with education in Pakistan or if there is a lack of research potential in the academic staff of a university – there is a problem. While the university system does need a lot of work and we do lack good professors, there is first a need to make sure that everybody in this country is getting the opportunity to go to an educational institution. This and only this, was the aim of nationalisation.

But of course, the restless and always-ready-for-change public of Pakistan got tired of the idea of nationalisation and therefore welcomed Islamisation instead.

Oh the horrors we have welcomed in the name of change!

Anyway, the new dictator made sure that Bhutto was not only removed from power, but also from the face of earth (which was far from civilised).

Now that the idea of nationalisation has been dead for a long time, we now have this enormous disparity in education that seems like an unsolvable issue. There are certain schools that are bringing international standards of education (which is frankly quite debatable but that is at least what they claim) to Pakistan, but even the upper middle class has to struggle to afford these schools. Once students graduate from such schools, they go to good but outrageously expensive universities and after that – they are just too good for Pakistan.

On the other hand, there are those who still don’t know how to spell the word ‘school.’

Moving towards the actual argument of this recent article, Sheikh Rasheed’s foolishness cannot be one of the factors that we judge nationalisation by. Whatever Sheikh Rasheed says in an international conference is his own folly. And if there is a rampant desire to discourage him then my advice is that people unite to shut him and his friends up by giving democracy a chance.

Another important and ridiculous comment by the writer was his description of a good teacher. A good teacher, my dear friend, is not someone ‘who is not afraid to use a cane’ but far from it. To put it simply, a good teacher is someone who has the ability to induce love for learning in students. And that person does not have to be the best writer, the best speaker or the best researcher, but a simple person who can help students understand the importance of learning and make them want to learn.

Hadeel Naeem

Hadeel Naeem

The author is reading for a PhD in Philosophy at The University of Edinburgh. She blogs at tweets as @hadeelnaeem (

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

  • Alex Sal

    The guy who failed this nation.Recommend

  • twister286

    So how would “educating people” on paper but with practically useless knowledge be beneficial to Pakistan?

    If you feed garbage into a system, garbage will be the output as well. Yes it’s true that private educational institutions are expensive but the disparity of the quality of education between them is a policy failure of successive governments, not an inherent endorsement for nationalisation.

    Private schools and universities all over are expensive, and it’s not their job to be egalitarian. Eton, Harrow (UK), Scotch, Wesley, Melbourne Grammar (Australia) to name a few are extremely expensive private schools.

    What we need in Pakistan is a through revamp of the curriculum, more focus on teacher training and updated examination standards, and much more emphasis on research at the higher levels of education. Nationalisation would not have solved any of this.

    What has made our education what it is now is a collective multi-faceted failure on our part, not due to nationalisation or privatisation.Recommend

  • DevilHunterX

    Nationalism – Gift of Bhutto.
    NRO – Gift of Musharraf.Recommend

  • Shakir Lakhani

    “Whatever Sheikh Rasheed says in an international conference is his own folly”. The Shaikh Rasheed of my article has long been dead (apparently the writer confuses him with the politician of today who wants a revolution to change the system).Recommend

  • abhi

    Very well articulated article. Government has the responsibility to provide the basic education to all the citizen. We cannot rely on private schools to provide education to all.Recommend

  • Sane

    Nationalizing schools and other institutions has made an irreparable damage to Pakistan. Nationalization was politically motivated not for good for the country, but to give employment of incompetent and corrupt political workers of PPP to increase PPP vote bank. This legacy of nepotism and corruption still prevails and followed by all other governments. The corner stone of this progress deterrent act was laid by Bhutto. Before Bhutto era corruption was not rampant. He introduced corruption, political victimization and vandalism in Pakistan. Others who followed after Bhutto specially PPP leadership and other political parties in general excelled in this act of destruction.Recommend