Stories about education in Pakistan

Nation uniform curriculum: Are we compromising equity for equality?

In another move towards a Naya Pakistan, Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood has announced a uniform national curriculum policy to not only ensure the quality of education, but also provide a level playing field across the country and present equal opportunity to everyone. This may sound utopian to many, but can we start celebrating yet? Let’s unearth this thought by taking a glance at the omnipresent institution of ‘schools’. How old is this institution? Impromptu responses might suggest perhaps thousands of years old, or maybe dating back to Socrates. Not only would these responses reflect our ...

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Why do Pakistanis think Asad Umar’s claim of 10 million jobs is impossible and impractical?

While outlining the 100-day agenda shared by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) recently, Asad Umar spoke about the possibility of creating 10 million jobs in five years.  He mentioned promoting tourism and announcing new destinations in an attempt to produce thousands of employment opportunities for the youth. He also mentioned making an extra effort to attract investors in Pakistan and creating an economic link with China through China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Ultimately, enhanced investments and exports would create a bulk of jobs for the unemployed youth of Pakistan. Hue and cry, sarcasm and ridicule poured in over his statement, with the consensus ...

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18th amendment: Teaching Pakistan’s children the importance of their vote

With July fast approaching, election fever is at a peak. The selection of the interim prime minister is dominating the news cycle, rallies are being held regularly, and parties have begun advertising their policies. But the question remains: have the structural problems pertaining to electoral quality been addressed?  They are wide and ever perpetuating; a lack of voter turnout, the gender parity in the turnout, non-coerced voting for women, representation in turnout from all areas of the federation, including the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and the question of escaping the seduction of dynasty politics. Keeping this plethora of electoral issues ...

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Teachers threatening mass suicide – How did it come to this, Pakistan?

It was a despairing day in the capital, when around 1,800 teachers and staff of public schools and colleges threatened to commit mass suicide outside the Supreme Court. Having not been paid for a shocking period of over 10 months, the protestors said they would kill their children alongside them. One wonders how this is possible in a country where even low-ranking ministers have imported, luxury cars, and where politicians are on the next flight to England upon a hint of the slightest ailment. There is no doubt the state of public education in Pakistan has continued to dwindle, but ...

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Private schools: Money guzzling mills or upholders of education?

The exorbitant hike in private school fees in Islamabad was caught red-handed by the auditor general of Pakistan. This highlighted the failure of Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (PEIRA) as a potent regulatory body. Although PEIRA was established to mandate fee scales, which includes all fee and payments due from parents, private schools have displayed an attitude of absolute non-compliance to any such rules. Apart from failure to enforce adherence to fee structure rules, PEIRA also failed to regulate the teachings of Islamabad Capital Territory’s (ICT) mandated curricula in private schools. The incident in ICT cannot be brushed off as something that the rest ...

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We need to teach our children ‘how’ to think rather than ‘what’ to think

Education, much like everything else in the field of human knowledge, is rooted to philosophy. The curriculum texts, teaching pedagogies and school structures all reflect a particular philosophical premise. Be it the idealist school or the existentialist one, the pragmatist theorists or those who seek to use education for social change in the critical paradigm, education is about ‘wide-awakeness’. Today in education, a crucial issue facing us is the need to find ways of educating young persons to sensitivity, potency, social consciousness and a healthy citizenship ethos. In my journey so far as a teacher, I have been particularly impressed with three schools of philosophy: the idealist, pragmatist, ...

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Hindi Medium proves that English is still the language of the colonisers, except the elite are the colonisers now

When you think of language, you think in a language. For me, it’s English. It always has been. Sometimes, I wonder if my thoughts were in another language, would I be different? Would my life have turned out differently? Perhaps. You never know, that’s the thing. Hindi Medium made me realise that language has the power to change. I see it every day around me. I see it at work when I try to communicate in Urdu but my vocabulary falls short. I used to see it in school, when people mocked that one kid for speaking in Urdu because God forbid, ...

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The decline in Pakistan’s civil services is no longer a myth but a stark reality

Following the result of the Central Superior Services (CSS) exam every year, numerous analyses are raised, largely outsider points of view commenting on its so-called decline. Such run-of-the-mill analyses blame the dismal state of education in Pakistan, the faulty examination system, the indifference of fresh graduates in regard to joining the civil services, the constantly deteriorating quality of candidates as compared to the bureaucrats from yesteryears, (including those who happen to pass the exam). There is no denying the fact that the education system in Pakistan is constantly facing a downhill slump. Yet, this decline is often associated with insufficient spending on the sector, which to be honest, is misleading ...

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Why are students always relying on guess papers instead of following the syllabus?

As a teacher, the most intimidating questioning I am frequently asked is, “Miss, aapka guess paper nahi hai?” (Miss, don’t you have your own guess paper?) On one hand, it makes me feel like a lethargic potato who is probably failing at teaching, but one the other, it also feels like I am not putting enough effort into educating my students. The tragedy I face with not being able to devise a guess paper is exacerbated by my inability to apply my mathematical skills and probabilities to come up with one. This particular question often has its similar counterparts to further drive me into a phase of ...

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‘Aadhay Adhooray Khawab’: Exploring the death of creativity through education

Shahid Siddiqui’s ‘Aadhay Adhooray Khawab’ is like a tangible dream you can hold in your hands. You are a part of a chain and a constellation of dreams, only if you believe in the beauty of the imagination. This novel is a dazzling critique of educational practices in Pakistan. It distinguishes itself from other contemporary Urdu fiction through its content, diction, and style. The story follows the journey of a devoted teacher, Saharan Rai, who is selfless and gallant, and uses his heart and soul to fulfil his dreams. This is where it gets interesting. Rai’s dreams are universal and he illustrates the same desire that many ...

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