Shahzatb Qadeer Shaikh (17020011) Raazia Waseem Tuesday, October 15, 2013 “The idea of a uniform education system for all is an exercise in futility. It can never happen. So resources should not be wasted on attempting to achieve the impossible. ” Poverty, terrorism and social and economic insecurity are a few of the numerous problems this country faces, the roots of all of which lie in a more basic issue: illiteracy. To solve the complex, ever-growing problem of illiteracy in Pakistan, numerous measures, including the prospect of a uniform education system, have been suggested.
Although the idea of a uniform education system to tackle these problems shows promise because of the sense of unity and equality that it will give the nation and a more balanced educational curriculum it is expected to offer, the high costs relating to the project, the problems of centrally governing a one tier education system and the long period of time that it will take to properly implement the idea nationwide make it an exercise in futility.
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Broadly speaking there are 3 secondary education systems that exist in Pakistan: the SSC, HSC education system locally termed as the Metric/lntermediate system dministered by the Board of Secondary and Intermediate Education (BISE); the GCE (General Certificate of Education) system that replaces the SSC/HSC with O and A levels, administered by external British Examination Board of Cambridge; and the ‘Maddersah’ system that is responsible for primarily providing religious education to children at secondary level.
The education provided by the current SSC/HSC system has become totally outdated and given the pay scale of the average Pakistani citizen not everyone can afford to have their children study in the GCE system. There is need of a more balanced education system that provides up to date education to cater the needs of the modern world along with sufficient importance given to subjects like Urdu and religion which are somehow neglected in the GCE system.
But a new uniform education system isn’t really the answer to the problem, given sufficient funding and proper supervision the SSC/HSC curriculum can be re-written to modern standards to compete with external alternate examinations like the GCE system. The government can save on the huge costs of setting up the new one tier education ystem and use the capital elsewhere. Apart from that the existing 3 systems somehow create a barrier between the classes, the upper middle and elite class have their children study the GCE system the middle and lower class (those who can afford it) have their children study the Metric/lnter or Maddersah system.
The gap between the classes has been deepened by the ever long economic crisis the country faces. A new uniform education system can give the privileged studying in the same schools in the same system will give the nation a sense of unitary direction. Then again it can be argued, education as a whole whether it’s uniform or systematic, teaches us about equality and unity. However, equality and unity are values which cannot and should not be drilled into young minds.
These are the things that are understood and learnt more outside the class than inside, so no real need of a uniform education system exists for the sole purpose of promoting unity and equality. The idea of a single education system would mean that these education systems are replaced with a single centrally governed education system. The first thing to onsider is the new curriculum that has to be written up. A lot of research will be required to write up the new course outlines and the way they are taught.
Extensive training for teachers in both rural and urban area will be required . This mean a lot of capital to start up with and continuous funding to keep the project running. Education projects in the early 2000s like the Education Sector Reforms ESR (2001-2003) passed by the Ministry of Education Pakistan were budgeted around Rs. 50-60 Billion, the budget for a project like a uniform education system of such a big cale would have to be even larger. Can a country with a budget deficit exceeding $5million afford such a project?
Even if half of the capital that was spent earlier on previous projects is spent now under proper surveillance and without political bias, the existing SSC/HSC system can regain its former validity as a national education system that it had when it was originally introduced. Apart for the large costs attached to the idea of a uniform education system in the country the next big setback is the swarm of administrative problems that the project is deemed to face. The SSC/FSC system started failing to provide quality education to cater local needs in its early years because it was centralized.
Although there are regional boards that are responsible for some aspects of education in their own particular districts but the main administrative responsibilities still rest in the hands of the BISE Pakistan. Dawood Shah in a Country report on Decentralization in the Education System of Pakistan stated: “It is believed that highly centralized system of education is greatly hampering the efficiency and effectiveness of delivery service at the grass-root level. A decentralized education system can respond more effectively to local needs and will be easier to administer.
A common education system being followed by the whole nation would mean a homogeneous standard of education being set wherever the education is being provided. This is a task near impossible because of the lack of trained staff available plus the huge geographical and cultural differences that exist in Pakistan. A uniform education system would not only be ineffective in delivery, it will also be suppressing cultural diversity which needs to be celebrated and built upon.
Excessive training and better higher education facilities might solve the problem regarding the lack of trained staff but if a new uniform education has to be kept effective it has to be kept immune from diseases like corruption that mostly work when the system is large and highly centralized. Breaking down the system and giving more authority to the regional education and keep the system effective at every stage. More importantly, changes like these do not happen overnight and the time taken to bring a project into proper nationwide implementation has to be taken into onsideration while taking such a decision.
Properly designing a new one tier education system and bringing it into working requires as much time as it does capital. A project of such a large scale could take up a decade to come into reality and keeping Pakistan’s progress on recent development projects in view it could take well over a decade. However reforms to the existing education system to rid it of errors and improvise the teaching standards requires lesser time and seems more practical as compared to the idea of designing a new one tier education system from scratch.
Even if the project is successful people take time in placing their faith in something new. The parents who previously had their children studying the GCE curriculum would be reluctant to have their children study the new education system introduced by government. On the contrary if the SSC/FSC system is corrected and reformed to compete with modern education standards the parents would feel more comfortable in placing their trust in it. Not to forget that the GCE system gained popularity only recently and most of the parents themselves studied the SSC/HSC curriculum for heir secondary education.
Although the countrys current situation makes it necessary for the government to rethink its education policies because of the failure of the existing education system to deliver quality education but the idea of a new education system will only be adding to the countrys cost and giving birth to more administrative problems in the already deeply faulted education system. However a series of education reforms to re-new the existing curriculum, re-train the faculty and rid it of flaws like corruption nd invalidity in terms of grading can bring about the same effects that the new single education system is aimed at doing.
The solution is basically to rectify the system from the core not to replace it. Citations Dawood Shah, Country Report on Decentralization of Education System of Pakistan: Policies and strategies. Paragraph 3. http://www. aepam. edu. pk/Old/Publications/ Decentralization%20in%20the%20Education%20System%200f%20Pakistan. pdf ESR( Education sector Reforms) budget reference, http://siteresources. worldbank. org/ PAKISTANEXTN/Resources/Pakistan-Development-Forum/EduSectorReforms. pdf