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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Education in Pakistan: A Boondoggle

On a fine sunny morning, under the burning sun and in the middle of the roaring horns, one stands helpless to the traffic jam on the Mall. “Sir, could you please direct me towards Kalam Street?” to which the only answer you have is “No, I am sorry”, “Wow that was fast”. Trying to find the reason behind this abrupt answer the seeker leaves with disappointment. Wondering why wouldn't be necessarily important and neither time taking, but rather shameful. After this common act of phony many of us never leave enough space for further thoughts.

Not vexing the perspective further and elaborating the stand point, we are presented with the reasons behind other familiar acts of dreadful self judgment and past analyses. There are basically two reasons for not being able to appreciate, what one has achieved. One, the inability of recognizing self achievement and second, the inability of accepting the former one. To which the translation is “Illiteracy”.

We have always been asked, “How much of education have you got?” or “Have you done Masters or Bachelors?” I bet you have too, at job interviews, at marriage proposals and at new promotional stages of life. Everywhere, I see people answering with dignity and poise, “Yes sir, I have a degree of Masters in Philosophy” or “Yes madam, I have attained a bachelor’s degree in Science”. But what I have always wanted to ask them is, “How much have these degrees helped you practically?”

What is education? No matter how perfectly one defines it, it still appears as a perplex designation in the mind. As verified etymologically, “to bring out, what’s brought up” and “to bring forth what’s within”. In Pakistan, out of the total population of 169,708,303 (Est. 2009), 45% are literate and the remaining, Lord knows how, are surviving. The people who are luckily literate are unfortunately under the title of “The Literate Illiterates”, a term which is popularly known as “Parhay Likhay Jahil” in Urdu.

In Pakistan, people have a tendency to make a big deal out of everything, so why not let it be education. Hence, in Pakistan when a thief is elected as the head of the state, by us, we call it our ‘education’. When a coward slave is subject to the post of the head of the government we call it our ‘freedom to vote’ and when a bunch of feudals are held responsible for running the affairs of the state and it’s provinces we call it ‘Literacy’. And at the end we grumble about our government. Sweet Niblets! Who are we kidding? (Nayy America didn’t really barge in, this time).

All we care about is how many schools are built in how many areas, or how many children go to school in different areas, or how many institutions are affiliated with which good universities. These concerns suite thoughts, which arise from a soul which is rather distinct and fed upon well. Educational Institutions in Pakistan are advancing dummies scooped up with material which is rote learned and then erased periodically. Every day, students attend school with an idea of rote learning things which they are provided with, rather than attending the classes with an initiative of learning through level-headedness and practicality. As it is truly said

One of the things that may get in the way of people being lifelong learners is that they’re not in touch with their passion. If you’re passionate about what it is you do, then you’re going to be looking for everything you can to get better at it” - Jack Canfield

Hence, if we want to set forth an aim we have to be the guardians of our ambitions, not captives of our fears. We shall confront a bitter truth rather than living a noble lie. Therefore, while we stand as the protectors of our aims we shall keep in mind that we shall guard ourselves against ourselves. As Juvenal sets off,

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” translates to, "Who watches the watchmen?”

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