Pri­ori­tis­ing qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion

Pakistan Observer - - OPINION - M FAZAL ELAHI

Qual­ity in ed­u­ca­tion con­tin­ues to be a vic­tim of ut­ter ne­glect par­tic­u­larly in the pub­lic sec­tor in­sti­tu­tions of our coun­try. The sad­dest part of this un­for­tu­nate state of af­fairs is that even af­ter seven decades of our ex­is­tence no one at the helm of af­fairs in the gov­ern­ment has ever both­ered to keep a tab on this crit­i­cal is­sue and re­solve it with a sense of com­mit­ment and re­spon­si­bil­ity. Un­ques­tion­ably, how­ever, rhetoric vis-a-vis the vi­tal is­sue of qual­ity has al­ways been at the top dur­ing the reign of suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments in Pak­istan.

The sit­u­a­tion in other South Asian coun­tries has not been bet­ter ei­ther. In fact, it has been equally poor. Ac­cord­ing to a World Bank re­port, ‘Stu­dent learn­ing in South Asia – chal­lenges, op­por­tu­ni­ties

and pol­icy pri­or­i­ties’, many South Asian teach­ers hardly know more than their stu­dents. For ex­am­ple sur­veys from India and Pak­istan show that per­for­mance of the teach­ers is abysmally poor in Maths and Lan­guage tests based on the cur­ricu­lum they are sup­posed to teach. It wouldn’t, there­fore, be in­ap­pro­pri­ate to say that Qual­ity in Ed­u­ca­tion is one of the most crit­i­cal chal­lenges that the South Asian coun­tries are con­fronted with to­day. Pak­istan too oc­cu­pies a con­spic­u­ous po­si­tion among them.

Qual­ity, as stated ear­lier, con­tin­ues to be an is­sue that gravely con­fronts ed­u­ca­tion in our part of the world. One of the ar­eas pri­ori­tised by World Bank re­port on qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion is that learn­ing out­comes should be­come the cen­tral goal of the ed­u­ca­tion pol­icy. Stu­dents learn­ing in South Asia are far behind the lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional stan­dards. Stu­dents do not get even the ba­sic nu­mer­acy and lit­er­acy skills af­ter putting in a rea­son­able time in school. Ac­cord­ing to some as­sess­ments, the re­port says, about one third of pri­mary school stu­dents lack the min­i­mum level of nu­mer­acy and lit­er­acy skills needed to fur­ther their ed­u­ca­tion in higher classes.

The re­port au­da­ciously em­pha­sizes that ‘school­ing is suc­cess­ful when it en­ables stu­dents to lead fuller lives – as in­di­vid­u­als and as labour mar­ket par­tic­i­pants. For this to hap­pen, merely spend­ing time in school is not enough; there has to be a sig­nif­i­cant gain in cog­ni­tive and non-cog­ni­tive skills’. Yet another area pri­ori­tised by the re­port for qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion is ‘teacher ef­fec­tive­ness and ac­count­abil­ity’.

The re­port em­pha­sizes that level of mo­ti­va­tion and method­ol­ogy of teach­ing are two im­por­tant de­ter­mi­nants of teach­ers’ ef­fec­tive­ness. Teach­ers in Pak­istan are found lack­ing on both these counts. They are a highly de-mo­ti­vated group. It seems as if the teach­ing pro­fes­sion has been thrust upon them. The rea­sons for this de-mo­ti­va­tion are ob­vi­ous and need no fur­ther elab­o­ra­tion, the re­port says. The grav­ity of the sit­u­a­tion makes it in­cum­bent on those en­gaged in pol­icy mak­ing, in the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor in the coun­try, to put their heads to­gether and find out as to what should be done to deal with this gar­gan­tuan chal­lenge; a chal­lenge that con­tin­ues to un­abat­edly con­front Pak­istan even af­ter seven decades of its in­de­pen­dence. — Islamabad

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.