Educational Dialogue Forum: Pakistan at 70 – National Agenda for EducationInstitute of Policy Studies
Pakistan’s education system must fuel nation-building
Terming Pakistan’s present educational system inadequate for nation-building and fueling the country’s socio-economic needs, the first annual educational dialogue forum held at IPS vowed to work rigorously to help shape the country’s new educational policy which is currently under-preparation and is expected to be finalized around the mid of January in 2018.
Themed as ‘Pakistan at 70: National Agenda for Education’, the forum was jointly organized by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) and Tanzeem-e-Asatiza Pakistan – a countrywide organization of teachers – on December 27-28, 2017 with a view to generate an academic discourse by analyzing the country’s present-day education system in line with its national ideology and values as well as its present and future socio-economic needs.
The educational dialogue was attended and addressed by academicians and subject experts from across Pakistan.
Dr. Mian Muhammad Akram, president, Tanzeem-e-Asatiza Pakistan, in his speech, said that the country’s present education system was not reciprocal of its ideology. A variety of education systems and syllabi are prevalent in the country which is only deepening further the already existent divide in the society. There is a lot of foreign influence and yet no monitoring mechanism to safeguard our own interests against it. The private sector is overwhelming the public education sector and the government seems disinterested in addressing the situation. The religious studies are also not well integrated. There has been a lot of emphasis on women education but its present paradigm seems more inclined toward adopting Western ways instead of focusing on improvement of society. Our moral, social, religious and ideological values are being ignored. There is not much quality nor any research-oriented approach being pursued. There is no mechanism for career planning and as a consequence of all this, the present education system of the country is completely failing to fuel the country’s economic, societal or ideological needs.
Dr Qibla Ayaz, chairman, Islamic Ideology Council of Pakistan, expressed similar sentiments stating that it wasn’t necessary that the Western academic designs yield similar results in our society as we follow different sets of values, norms and lifestyle. He also criticized the prevailing paradigm of ‘elite education’ in the country while maintaining that the 18th amendment had further worsened this divide. He viewed that there had been less focus on improving the quality of education and more on increasing the number of academic institutions; and the human resource being produced on tax-payer’s money for elitist roles was being wasted in form of a ‘brain drain’.
The academic also termed the emergence of new departments in every university without much focus on quality control as a sign of a worry while fearing that the under discussion vision of establishing a university in every district of the country will not only affect the quality of education due to the lack of trained and qualified teachers, but will also impact the national unity adversely.
He stressed the need to revise the scheme of studies by injecting into it the sense of national cohesion while aligning the education system to address the country’s multifarious needs.
DG-IPS Khalid Rahman in his concluding speech said that our goal should be to compete with the world which is moving very fast in scientific, technical, vocational, business, commerce, trade and industrial education. He said that we need to realize that the conventional education systems around the world are being replaced by modern systems which are more technology oriented, and in its response, the regional societies are merging into a global society.
In the end the speaker stressed on first putting our own house in order if we were to compete with the fast-moving world of today. He maintained that where there were a lot of short comings in our national education system, there have been some achievements as well. He said that it was now up to us to project our accomplishments to the world amidst these wars of narratives where we were being portrayed only negatively, and accept our shortcomings as opportunities rather than the failures in order to set them right.
The participants of the dialogue resolved to make joint and continued efforts for a meaningful contribution in the policy arena to improve the education system to meet the present and future challenges.