IN an overall environment of doom and gloom in Pakistan, one business sector that has flourished is private education. In a country with a population of over 190 million (the sixth most populated country in the world), and a near breakdown of the public education system (from the primary to university level), it was only natural for the private sector to fill the vacuum.
In fact, the role of the private sector and charitable organisations in the provision of education could have been significantly greater had Zulfikar Ali Bhutto not nationalised almost all medium-and large-sized economic units, including many schools and colleges. Pakistani schools can and must play a role in the international market for education and studies. There is a need to develop new curricula and qualifications for the Pakistani market with such quality that these would be marketable internationally. This can be achieved provided Pakistani private schools become real leaders in the provision of a high standard of education. Failing to think outside their comfort zone, Pakistani schools will continue to deliver foreign qualifications locally (or elsewhere) without getting due recognition in the international market for school education.
The success of private schools is not merely failure of public-sector schools, but also the failure of Pakistani curricula and examination boards. It is imperative to develop an alternative examination board, nationally, in addition to the boards of intermediate and secondary education on a divisional level.
All the private schools must subscribe to the examinations conducted by this alternative board, even if they follow British or American curricula. There is also a need to develop new qualifications, which must be taken up by the students of private schools.
S. UMARULLAH HUSSAINI Karachi