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Human beings - fortunate of all the creatures- are unfortunately plagued with needs. We want material things and comforts of life besides our basic wants like love and social recognition. Sometimes ago, in an effort to improve material well being, my outer adult joined an educational institution to study the behavioral sciences that are at work to shape the very complex society at present time. This brought back memories of student life: students’ culture, fun of the school days, aspirations I used to have when I was very young, prophecies of my teachers and the missed opportunities I (now) think I should have availed. My admission also brought in focus the main stream education system working in our country.

Earlier, I learnt most of what I have known throughout my life during early stages of life from my parents and in the primary school. My teachers in small village primary school taught me reading, writing, counting and other basic skills required to lead a successful life. I have never forgotten the efforts of junior Vernacular Teachers to instill some kind of discipline in me. They also taught me about giving, sharing, enjoying, commitment, helping, smiling, trying and caring in addition to the academics.

After 16 years of schooling, as fresh graduate from a professional academy, I started looking for the openings to join the race for practical life. The field I landed in was very demanding. This was like boarding an express train. I had the chance to go places, meet people from different walks of life and experience few of the fading cultures of our society.

Someone write this, I always think for me, “I learnt to take orders, give orders, solve equations, Write a poem, program a computer, butcher a chicken, make a tasty meal, fight efficiently and listen to others. Specialization has never been a passion in my life. I used to think it is only for academia and intelligentsia.” I always thought I knew enough to live in the world of mortals. Obviously, I was wrong. Knowledge is cumulative and keeps changing. “The process of learning”, as they say, “is stretched from cradle to grave.”

During my career marathon, I have had enlightening three years in National University of Modern Languages (NUML) Islamabad - one of the finest institutes in the world. There I learnt a rich language of Mikhail Yurievich Lermontov, Fedor Mikhailovich, Dostoevsky and Maksim Gorky. Without physically going to Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (now Central Asian States), I got aquatinted with the close Soviet society and classic literature produced by Russian writers during eighteenth century.

In developed countries, almost every student has to take one foreign language of his choice as a compulsory subject. This chance has not been provided in our system of education. But I was lucky to get a chance to learn the language. It is during my three years at UIML that I learnt as to why largest circulation Soviet newspaper Pravda (meaning truth) failed to report the news of Soviet occupation in Afghanistan in 1979. I also became vaguely aware of some of the reasons that ultimately caused death of USSR - despite large natural resources and literate work force - at the age of 74.

Thus, as a student all my life I have experienced our rich and diverse educational heritage. But sadly, I am aware that we have no regular standard and perpetual education policy. Even the curriculum is different in different institutions. In last 52 years eight education policies were given by different governments that died the moment governments went out of power. Which is why we find no uniform education standards in the country?

So as student, who started from a village school, where in summers classes are still held under shady trees and who has now joined one of the best universities in the county, I would say to the government to accord education a priority it merits, not by giving yet an other policy or plan but by providing perpetuity and conducive atmosphere where schools, colleges and universities can become centers of excellence and innovation. Visionary initiatives should be taken to enable these centers of learning to create new knowledge. Me by, then we will not need an additional test for admission into medical or other professional colleges and our degrees will have their value. Student’s teachers, private sector, publisher of books, government all have to play positive role to change the existing education culture before it is stagnated.

Albert Einstein, one of the exceptionally intelligent scientist of last century who gave the famous theory of relativity, in his book entitles ‘the world as I see it’ wrote, “Lecture rooms are numerous and large but the number of young people who genuinely thirst after truth and justice is small”. The youth of my country, who are faring well despite all disparities and olds, have to disprove this thought. Provide them the opportunity and they can do it.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Friday, August 08, 2014,

13 Comments:

At 22:22, Blogger Sidhusaaheb said...

I think the education systems in India and Pakistan face some common challenges.

I agree with you that standardisation can go a long way in improving the education system.

Entrance exams for professional courses might still be required though, for there are numerous instances where students use dishonest means to score in the qualifying examinations.

However, improving basic infrastructure at the grass-roots level should also be among the top priorities.

 
At 08:48, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great story...thank you

 
At 13:39, Blogger rama said...

Hullo! Thanks for this reflection, and the great quote from Einstein! Best, rama

 
At 14:29, Blogger Deb S. said...

I love how you segue back and forth between your observations on education policy and your personal experiences. I also think the Einstein quote is a nice touch.

 
At 21:45, Blogger Alina said...

A generally applied system is indeed required. And education usually lacks the attention and interest it needs. However, the framework applied is not always enough. In Romania, for example, the structure is basically the same, they changed a little, invented alternative manuals, yet every geneneration seems to know and want to know less than the previous one. In my opinion, this is the teachers' fault on one side and the state's fault on the other. They have little wages so they do nothing in class to have children come for private tutoring.

Loved this post and your personal experience on the subject. I must confess I always wanted to take some classes in the outdoors. Some place like the poet Tagore's school in India. There were no common rules applied there, yet I am sure there have never been happier students who loved spending their time in school!

 
At 21:53, Blogger Bonita said...

Here in the United States we have numerous opportunities for good education, but our young people lack interest and motivation to excell sometimes. Their activities with TV and computer after school seems to be a distraction. I hope this will not be the case elsewhere in the world.

What I've noticed is that teachers also get caught up in fulfilling 'requirements' set by the administration, and they lose their love for the process of loving the students, which is so important. A spark must be lit with deep affection between teacher and student.

 
At 21:57, Anonymous Syed Sibgatullah said...

Quite right!! the state of academic infrastructure, like any other thing in this country, seems like a piece of junk. It's only seeking to turn out robots that are capable of doing what they are told to do, creatures that can't think critically on their own accord. Atleast, this is what it's like till the Higher Secondary stage. This very phenomena turns pupils mad when they face entirely different scenarios at universities. I'm not saying that the universities here are an incarnation of heaven. No. But in recent times, have turned out to be a notch higher than the Primary, Secondary and Higher Secondary education.

Therefore, the system largely leads to a harvest of risk - averse subordinates instead of enterprising and risk - bearing entrepreneurs. So it needs a vast change and a total rethinking of priorities. I agree with you that we have the human talent to bring about a revolution in the area of education as we have some very intelligent men and women in our country; but this junk of a system results in a sheer waste of talent.

By the way Shirazi, I wasn't aware that the most circulated Russian daily failed to report Russian invasion of Afghanistan. And I still don't know the reason for this failure. I'd request you to enlighten me :) .

And that Einstein thing - The World As I See It. It's one heck of a good read.

 
At 01:48, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent post. :-) I'm always fascinated to hear about education from a global perspective.

Thank you.

 
At 02:15, Anonymous Irving said...

A wonderful post :) Sadly, educating the young, which is the first priority of an advanced civilization, has become an institutionalized nightmare in America, and much of the world. But I loved your remembraces.

Ya Haqq!

 
At 13:58, Blogger Nayyar Julian said...

Its really a good article ..education system in pakistan
Public Schools or Government Schools
These schools are managed and financed by the government. Unfortunately, the majority of the schools are in poor condition.

» There is no any merit system; teachers and other staff are appointed by the ministers on their own wishes.
» There is no any accountability; a large number of GHOST SCHOOLS AND GHOST TEACHERS are listed in the documents.
» In Rural areas, the buildings of public schools are mostly held by Waderas and Feudal.
“Public schools are the nurseries of all vice and immorality.” (Henry Fielding)
Elite Class Schools (private schools)
Due to badly failure of government in providing the Education, the Elite Class Education System in Pakistan got successes very quickly. Today, even poor prefer to send their child in these private schools but because of high fee structure many aspirants are unable to part this Education System. It is generally accepted that, the standard of Elite Class Education System is more reliable and first-rate than Public Schools and Madarsas. There is accountability, transparency and checking system. Generally, the students of private schools are more competent than those of public schools and Madarsas. The government should take lessons from this Education System. These are successive models for the government i.e. CITY SCHOOL, BEACON SCHOOLS, PAK-TURK SCHOOLS etc.

 
At 14:15, Blogger jalalHB said...

Oh NUML - I was there too when it was NIML and this post reminds me of these days, learning languages and meeting lot of people. Good days

 
At 23:17, Blogger Hijab.T said...

Amazing =D
I have always wished to learn a new language and u have just made me feel i should really do it instead of just talking about it =D

Great post!

 
At 10:06, Blogger SAQIB NAVEED said...

I had read it twice it's really very much inspirational for me. It is having a great moral for our students and for our education policies makers.

 

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