Ed­u­ca­tion: En­gine of de­vel­op­ment

Pakistan Observer - - OPINION -

AS nar­rated by Hazrat Abu Hu­raira (RA), The Holy Prophet (PBUH) said “The Hour (The Day of Judg­ment) will not be estab­lished un­til knowl­edge will be taken away, earth­quakes will be very fre­quent, time will pass quickly, af­flic­tions will ap­pear, mur­ders will in­crease and money will over­flow against you”. (Ha­dith No.1 Vol.I) Ed­u­ca­tion has al­ways been the en­gine of hu­man progress and de­vel­op­ment. A well known philoso­pher Aris­to­tle some more than 2000 years ago had said “The roots of ed­u­ca­tion are bit­ter, but the fruit is sweet” which still ring true to­day. In other words it may cost the na­tion some money and time of in­di­vid­u­als to keep on learn­ing, but the re­sults al­ways worth it. Eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment is in­con­ceiv­able in a coun­try that ne­glects the ed­u­ca­tion of its peo­ple.

Pak­istan is ab­so­lutely un­cer­tain where our coun­try is head­ing. Its des­ti­na­tion is still un­known. Pak­istan is the coun­try which has no min­is­ter for ed­u­ca­tion. In Pak­istan, no ed­u­ca­tional qual­i­fi­ca­tion is re­quired to be part of the Par­lia­ment. So called Pub­lic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives there­fore do not know the im­por­tance of ed­u­ca­tion at lo­cal level. They send their own chil­dren abroad to get ed­u­ca­tion so they need not to worry about the ed­u­ca­tion within the coun­try. Rul­ing elite do not want com­mon peo­ple to get ed­u­cated and pro­mot­ing il­lit­er­acy. They need the sta­tus quo to pro­long their re­ten­tion in the power but if the poor peo­ple are get ed­u­cated, they can­not be be­fooled any­more then who will serve and vote for this ex­tremely cor­rupt elite.

Un­for­tu­nately, PPP and PML-N so called ‘demo­cratic’ gov­ern­ments at the fed­eral and pro­vin­cial lev­els have been guilty of dere­lic­tion of their ba­sic duty of ed­u­cat­ing the chil­dren and the youth on whom the fu­ture of the coun­try de­pends. De­spite the de­vo­lu­tion of power to pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments, the woes of pub­lic sec­tor ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions have not im­proved at all rather it has wors­ened. Both the gov­ern­ments bear the en­tire re­spon­si­bil­ity for this shame­ful ne­glect of ed­u­ca­tion

The sim­ple cri­te­ria to de­ter­mine the real pri­or­ity of the govern­ment at­tached to any sec­tor is to look at the re­sources al­lo­cated in the bud­get for that sec­tor. Just take an ex­am­ple of the sit­u­a­tion of ed­u­ca­tion in Is­lam­abad run un­der the Min­istry of Cap­i­tal Ad­min­is­tra­tion and De­vel­op­ment (CAD). Last year the fed­eral govern­ment ir­rel­e­vantly al­lo­cated Rs one bil­lion to the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry, hav­ing noth­ing to do with the ed­u­ca­tion of Is­lam­abad, to in­tro­duce re­forms in the Cap­i­tal ter­ri­tory. The whole is now go­ing to be lapsed but no re­form has taken place in Is­lam­abad, per­haps those re­forms have been car­ried out in pa­pers. The fed­eral govern­ment also did not feel any need to en­hance the de­vel­op­ment bud­gets of the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry and the HEC last year. In­ad­e­quate spend­ing on ed­u­ca­tion dur­ing so called ‘demo­cratic’ regimes has left Pak­istan lag­ging far be­hind even the African coun­tries.

Al­lo­cat­ing spend­ing even less than 2 per­cent of GDP on ed­u­ca­tion is shame­ful, no doubt which re­mained far above dur­ing mil­i­tary regimes. Low­est spend­ing on ed­u­ca­tion has caused huge dis­par­i­ties in the coun­try where pub­lic sec­tor ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions, the only af­ford­able source of ed­u­ca­tion for poor, have been to­tally ig­nored. In com­par­i­son, Pak econ­omy spent a whoop­ing Rs 1.596 tril­lion (5.846 % of GDP) on debt ser­vic­ing dur­ing the last year, the debt si­phoned off by the rul­ing elite and never used to bet­ter the life of com­mon man, where more than half of pop­u­la­tion is liv­ing be­low the poverty line. We are a poor na­tion of this rich coun­try. Pri- vate tu­tors or get­ting ed­u­ca­tion in pri­vate schools, col­leges, and uni­ver­si­ties is a dis­tant dream for this na­tion. The poor peo­ple can­not af­ford to pay the fees pri­vate schools de­mand. There are a huge num­ber of masked tal­ents be­ing de­stroyed in ru­ral and poor ur­ban ar­eas which are re­quired to be un­veiled with proper op­por­tu­nity.

The govern­ment should not shrink its re­spon­si­bil­ity through pri­va­ti­za­tion. It should im­prove and strengthen the pub­lic sec­tor schools in­stead of their loot sale like other pri­va­tized en­ti­ties. Mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tions in pub­lic sec­tor ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions should be con­trolled. Once the teach­ers were ill paid but now the sit­u­a­tion has al­to­gether changed. Now they are get­ting good salar­ies many times more than their coun­ter­parts in pri­vate schools. The govern­ment is in­cur­ring huge funds in shape of salary and perks with al­most zero con­tri­bu­tion to the so­ci­ety. Low per­form­ing teach­ers should be made strictly ac­count­able and their salar­ies should be tagged with their per­for­mance. Po­lit­i­cal cor­rup­tion in the ap­point­ment of teach­ers and heads of ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions are one of the main rea­sons for in­fe­rior qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion which may now come to an end. — The writer is for­mer banker based in Is­lam­abad.

Shaukat M Za­far Email: smza­far101@gmail.com

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