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Burn these books, please!

Updated Dec 12, 2015 06:25pm


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The writer teaches physics and mathematics in Lahore and Islamabad.
The writer teaches physics and mathematics in Lahore and Islamabad.

NO, I take that back. Books shouldn’t ever be burned. Instead recycle the paper, use for wrapping vegetables or fish, or dispose of in some environmentally friendly way. But please keep our students away from the rotten science textbooks published by the Sindh Textbook Board (STB), an entity operating under the Sindh Ministry of Education. Else yet another generation will end up woefully ignorant of the subjects they study — physics, mathematics, chemistry, and biology. Tragically they will see these magnificent human achievements as pointless, boring, and dry as dust.

I have a pile of STB books before me at the moment. Both in English and Urdu, they are the officially prescribed texts for classes 4 to 10 (ages 10 to 16) and are in current use. In addition, I have two manuscripts on general science for classes 4 and 5, scheduled for publication this year or next. My blood pressure is steadily rising as I turn the pages, and I take careful sips of water.

Imagine the torture inflicted on a class 4 kid from Sindh, a non-native speaker of English, when confronted with difficult words (no explanations provided) like ‘obesity’, ‘ulcer’, ‘characteristics’, ‘interpret’, ‘deficiency’, ‘osteoporosis’, ‘decomposers’, ‘ecoregion’, ‘translucent’, ‘trough’, ‘lukewarm’, ‘constriction’, etc. In class 5, he will be haunted by monster words like ‘monocotyledonous’ and ‘dicotyledonous’. Strewn across these unattractive books are hazy diagrams, hundreds of capitalisation and spelling mistakes, plus countless grammatically incorrect sentences.

Keep our students away from the rotten science textbooks published by the Sindh Textbook Board.

More serious than the get-up or language is the frequently wrong or nonsensical content. A doctorate in physics did not prepare me to deal with questions like: “Explain how one state of matter (solid, liquid and gases) dissolves in the other”, or with, “Explore that the greater the force, the greater the change in the distance covered by the object”. Or with an electric circuit described as, “The device that uses electricity converts it into other forms of energy such as heat, light and other forms”. Evidently someone who lacks common sense, not just knowledge of science, wrote this.

The science books in Urdu are no better. This underscores that lack of conceptual understanding — not language — is the real problem. Most teachers, and these textbook authors, don’t understand what they teach. Hence every science subject is reduced to dull drudgery and rote memorisation.

Mathematics, a beautiful subject that sharpens reasoning and logical thought, becomes a meaningless mind-deadening exercise, devoid of reason and motive. Why learn logarithms? Or matrices? I fruitlessly scoured the class 9-10 textbooks to find out. If our 15-year-olds know less math than a nine-year old Korean kid, you should know why.

The biology book (Urdu) for classes 9-10 is impossibly bad. A full-page tree chart of biological evolution, with English letterings, was obviously stolen from some unacknowledged text. But items in the chart find no mention in the text. Beyond reiterating the religious view that all life evolved from water, the book doesn’t say how life started. There are countless names of plants, animals and detailed descriptions; one dry fact follows another. But how any fact was established is not explained.

The class 9-10 physics book takes the cake. This book is so comprehensive, it says, that a student doesn’t need another. A couple of pages later the reader is told that uttering just one word brought this universe into existence “kuch lakh sal pehlay” (around 100,000 years ago). This misses the correct age of the universe by a whopping 13 billion years — so it’s wrong by more than one hundred thousand times.

Reader: ask yourself why STB books have a minimum of six authors (most have nine to 12 authors). That’s because everyone wants a share of the plunder — let consistency and pedagogy be damned! If this results in some awful gobbledygook with things scattered higgledy-piggledy, don’t be surprised. For example, one book introduces multi-cellular organisms in an earlier chapter and single-celled ones in a later one!

Let’s look at the economics of crookery. Sindh’s population is about 30 million, so each class 4 textbook title would have a print run of around 300-400 thousand. Multiplying by the number of titles, and about Rs150 per title, you see that billions of rupees are involved. The publishers, distributors, authors, and managers know the weaknesses of a public monopoly. In an opaque system, who profits how much is anybody’s guess.

It is time to dissolve the Sindh Textbook Board, and possibly its sister organisations in Punjab and KP too. Poor production quality proves that STB does not have the intellectual capacity, or organisational integrity, to deliver quality science books. Although PIA and Pakistan Steel Mills are said to be inefficient public-sector organisations, even they deliver better products.

Authorship of science textbooks by our college professors is seriously problematic. College professors, through no fault of their own, have generally received a poor education in science. Most don’t understand their subjects, and cannot solve the exercises in any decent ‘O’ or ‘A’ level textbook. Yet these badly educated persons have been entrusted with educating Sindh’s young.

The solution: instead of futilely experimenting with local authors, the government should purchase rights to adapt, translate, or cheaply reprint those books which have a good international track record. It is absurd to assume that science and math are Pakistan specific — water is H2O everywhere, and two plus two makes four even in Timbuktu. Pakistan’s universities and colleges already use books by foreign authors at the BSc, MSc, MPhil, and PhD levels. So why not extend to school books and make our science curriculum exactly that in other countries?

Pakistan needs to provide good, cheap books to its children through open competition. That only local authors are permitted violates this principle. Authors and their agents cleverly appeal to national or provincial pride but the real reason is the fat pickings. These vested interests have successfully thwarted reform and will keep doing so. The tiny number of Sindh’s children privileged to access British ‘O’ and ‘A’ level schools — and use their books — are doing okay. For the rest, one can only weep.

The writer teaches physics and mathematics in Lahore and Islamabad.

Published in Dawn, December 12th, 2015

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (192) Closed

Sheraz Dec 12, 2015 02:47am

Finally someone spoke about the state of affairs in education. In my opinion its not only the Sindh text board rather Punjab, KP as well as Federal board follow the same lines. Its time that kids of Pakistan get real education which makes them think along logical lines rather than just memorize some randoms bits of text. I hope someone in the governments reads this article and makes some efforts to revamp the educational system that is rotten to its core.

I myself am a product of this rotten educational system and i can say without doubt that right now i wish i could get back those futile years and learn something useful from scratch.

Muzaffar Ali Dec 12, 2015 03:24am

Why have we become like this?

No words to show my disgust!

"Future Asian Tiger?"

Tahir A Dec 12, 2015 03:27am

Shocking revelation but now I am not surprised.

While working in the Middle East I was under pressure from our Company principals to hire people from Pakistan too because "it is a brotherly Muslim country" - that being the topmost qualification required more than anything else. Sadly, these "engineers" then needed to be given menial tasks and many would be too happy to transfer to admin and clerical duties. There were exceptions who did work hard going back to understanding the basics.

MIRZA Dec 12, 2015 03:28am

Why invent the wheel. Use science/mathematics books designed and written in Uk or USA

Bahadur Dec 12, 2015 03:39am

I agree with Sheraz that someone in Federal Government (not just Sindh) and do something about education in Pakistan. They should learn from small nation Singapore. Singapore revamped how they taught math. They did such a good job that even in USA they admire Singapore system and teach that method. I hope someone will talk to Singapore officials and try to learn from them.

ROHIT PANDEY Dec 12, 2015 03:46am

There are a number of similar complaints about textbooks used in Indian schools.

I remember reading in one of Richard Feynman's books, as how he was once called to evaluate textbooks to be used in an American state. and the tone and tenor of his complaints were very much like Dr Hoodbhoy's!!!:):):):)

Woz Ahmed Dec 12, 2015 03:58am

Lives are being destroyed by the sheer incompetence of our administrators.

But will anything change ? I doubt it

divend Dec 12, 2015 04:07am

I agree with Mr. Hoodhbhoy. I would go one step further and say that the fault just isn't with the books. The best book in the world cannot replace a good 4th grade science teacher, while a good science teacher doesn't need a good book to teach - he/she and her students will make do with her notes. I would strongly recommend a stringent teacher training program. Properly educating our children is perhaps the most important task our government can undertake.

Ali Ahmad Dec 12, 2015 04:49am

This is an alarming phenomenon. Needs immediate remedial measures.

Thanks to Dr. Perverze Hoodbhoy for hi lighting such an important issue which certainly have grave repercautions.

The pace of technogical and scientific advancement almost in all walks of the life and all around the globe is very fast, admirable and microulous.

What we can expect by giving such books to students?

tariq Dec 12, 2015 05:23am

Thank you for pointing this out Mr. Hoodbhoy. You are great.

Malik Dec 12, 2015 05:24am

Your points are valid, true, and justified. Most of the science books in USA are printed in Singapore-of course colored and bold pictures, graphs, diagrams and analytical questions. The kids in Singapore are the best in any math competition. In Korea (South of course), the government has placed ban on those tuition center who keeps kids late hours because that was affecting the health of children. Something drastic has to be done because the madressa is taking over our students in every field and deterioration is felt throughout. Even our doctors, engineers and lawyers are the product of our rote memorization methodology--the examination system is a joke, and the so-called English medium has taken over and directly competing with madressas. There is no middle ground of public schools. I would say the free education is a bogus issue. Let the public schools charge decent fee to improve themselves along with salary of teachers and the improvement in buildings and facilities.

Nazir Ahmed Dec 12, 2015 06:10am

Thank you, Pervez Sahib. You have really opened our eyes. But this government is not interested in education. They are a lot of illiterate corrupt politicians always fearing someone (rangers) will catch them off guard. Pakistan's politicians a legacy of British Raj.

P. S. Natarajan Dec 12, 2015 06:13am

What the author tells about the state of education in Sindh or Pakistan is equally true for India. However, I don't see anybody in India to call a spade simply spade.

Nazir Ahmed Dec 12, 2015 06:15am

The cleverest politician of Pakistan, Khursheed Shah, once tried to run a motor car by water.

Shah Dec 12, 2015 06:38am

Thank you sir for discussing this important matter. The situation in KP is the same if not worse. Please have a look at the college level (F.Sc.) text for physics in KP board.

k Dec 12, 2015 07:21am

Text books are systematically destroyed in the name of revision. With every passing year, the quality is going down. Please buy the copyrights of international text books and reprint in Pakistan. May be PH want to have a look on books from subjects of literature. Just compare the SSC and HSSC English and Urdu text books with the books from around 20 years back. You will see how the content quality of these courses are recklessly destroyed.

Ayub Dec 12, 2015 07:36am

The government should create a separate service cadre for teaching professionals similar to DMG, police, foreign services, custom services etc. There should be a line of promotion for the teachers from Grade-17 up to Grade-22. The teaching staff at elementary level should be offered more incentives, and privileges than the others. They should be given bank loans for purchase of cars and construction of homes on easy installments. They should be offered foreign scholarships and accorded respectful treatment at hospitals, police stations and courts. Automatically highly intelligent and capable persons shall be attracted to this profession. And after 15-20 years, you will see result.

javed Hasrat Dec 12, 2015 07:47am

these STB and PTB should learn from history, they violating history as well as disdain standard of education. in PTB many violence and crimes seen there, prejudice based curricular in it. sectarian and nationalism also seen there...? what we expect from our future generation...? what they be learn...?

indialover Dec 12, 2015 07:50am

If you agree, I can send sample copies of NCERT books on Science from Class 4 to 10 for evaluation and use in Pakistan . I shall purchase the same with my own money. And yes, I am neither an author nor a publisher in India

AinOther Dec 12, 2015 08:07am

Sir, as u said the real glitch is the conceptual deficiency on the part of teachers, so how changing syllabus books would be effective in bringing about significant changes? If they dont understand their subject now, how will they then?

Ahmad Mustansar Dec 12, 2015 08:14am

I do agree with Parvez Hoodbhoy to an extent. Books published in English/difficult English are OK as long as there are teachers available to properly teach them.

As for errors/misinformation/incomplete information regarding scientific facts, that truly is deplorable and is not excusable.

The same is true of grammatical errors. There should be none whatsoever in books being taught at our schools, colleges, universities, wherever.

Ashamed Pakistani Dec 12, 2015 08:25am

Totally agreed my son who is in grade 6 in Canada has no books but he is much better in solving word prolems which I only heard after grade 12 in Pakistan......

Agha Ata Dec 12, 2015 08:40am

Who, do you think, would teach these sciences to students if the books are changed. The teachers themselves haven't studied them.

Random Pakistani Dec 12, 2015 08:52am

I don't agree. I studied in government school in Multan and I found the science books interesting. I even compared my books with those of my cousins who were studying so called oxford textbooks in a Grammar school and there wasn't much difference.

The fault is not with the books rather it is teacher's job to make them them interesting.

Our education system does need improvements but books are not the only thing that need to be reformed.

As far as the foreign authors are concerned, I find their books annoying because they are all about places that i don't know and don't care to know.

Zain Dec 12, 2015 08:59am

It is so unfortunate to see the science course work of the secondary level. I have not found any kind of relevance and continuity which is necessary for coherent thinking.

Agha Asad Raza Dec 12, 2015 08:59am

Totally agreed!! Destroy these books and the Textbook Boards and we will be better off! Well done!

Shaukat Ali Khan Dec 12, 2015 09:01am

Enforce Governor rule in Sindh for 10 years.

Philosopher (from Japan) Dec 12, 2015 09:18am

Awesome I agreed 100%.

Parwaiz Abidi Dec 12, 2015 09:19am

The standard of educating the masses is constantly in decline in Pakistan. We do want a good education but we never confer with those who gave us this format of teaching meaning those who live in UK and the educationist in that country.

A massive change needs to happen. We have a bright set of kids and with more spending in schools we can bring a change in the country. Well done Mr. Pervez Hoodbhoy. Your constant focus on education will surely give food for thought.

Tariq K Sami Dec 12, 2015 09:31am

Khan Academy can help. Or go on line.

Zulfiqar Dec 12, 2015 09:35am

Why, Why did we throw out the British? Please come back and save us from ourselves.

m m amin Dec 12, 2015 09:38am

Prof.Hood you have exposed the incompetence of the Sind Text Book Board .Looking at the Economics of the work under review its certain that there are some Big names who were heading the Deptt. of Education and those who approved these books for use as Text Books .The stink of corruption is too strong and the scandal must be investigated Not by the Provincial agencies .Merit has no place in our society.And the same may have been done in other provinces .Excellent ,as always ,Sir.

m m amin Dec 12, 2015 09:43am

@Woz Ahmed .....dear its not incompetence.Guess? Corruption and murder of merit.

Asif Jamil Dec 12, 2015 09:44am

I totally agree with Dr. Hoodbhoy. Our nation is heading for a disaster with this education system. I am visiting from abroad. Two days ago because the motorway was closed I had to take the old GT Road from Peshawar. Every village, every town on the way was littered with schools and I wondered what the students were learning from teachers who may not be fit to teach!

I then got an email from a MBA educated in a local college. His three line email was full of grammatical blunders and other mistakes that even I as a reader felt embarrassed.

Talk about Singapore, if Pakistan continues this way, it will always remain a third world country. It has very serious problems: attitude, corruption, education are just a few of them.

Mushtaq Ahmed Dec 12, 2015 09:46am

OUP Pakistan publishes whole spectrum of quality text books for school children. KP government should come forward to introduce these quality text books together with teacher training if they want a real change in reforming education.

Najam Dec 12, 2015 09:47am

Pervaiz bhai, you are awesome. Write what people observe and experience.

Sajjad Ur Rehman Dec 12, 2015 09:52am

We are still suffering from the wrong concepts inculcated in our minds in young age. Its not about books, its about teachers as well. Little fraction of teachers know what and how to teach. Even if books are put in order,most teachers will continue with their non-sense stuff

wellwisher Dec 12, 2015 10:01am

Pl study Indian education system in same manner and report.We shall be deeply indebted.

Sameer Dec 12, 2015 10:11am

There is a fundamental mistake in our society. Very few of us has habit of reading, if someone is reading then it is Novel or story books. We should encourage for reading from a young age, then someone like to read would eventually find good knowledge, since they are no restricted to the rotten textbooks. The whole system need to be corrected, from books, un-qualified teachers, examination paper, checking and grading, admission policy etc. E.g someone interested in computer science ends up studying Civil Engineering etc. I was lucky to study in a good private school, they were using oxford press books, they were much higher standard when I was in the class, I realize now it was really extra burden and a lot of the things were only memorization because they were much higher standard. So most of the school are using such books to impress parents that their standard is too high, but in reality it burdens students not educating in a fun way, science have to be fun.

Jamal Dec 12, 2015 10:14am

Just yesterday Sind CM QAS said media is more harsh on our corruption.With this mindset & reputation I doubt anything will come out of this wonderful column by PH.Billions are involved here PPP governments are notoriously infamous for not even let go thousands and here is billions in the taking and we expect they will look the other side,how naive of us. So not difficult to imagine our kids will continue with this very test books.

Syed Ahmed, Canada Dec 12, 2015 10:22am

People of Sindh less the children of the lords does not need quality education, if they do, the lucky few will be doomed.

India Needs You Dec 12, 2015 10:23am


Please come to India and open our eyes too!! We need this kind of clear, critical review too!

I think you are fighting the MOST needed battle: Ignorance!

Saleha Dec 12, 2015 10:31am

Eye mind opener is needed to presurize the government to act urgently.

Riazullah Baig Dec 12, 2015 10:32am

@Random Pakistani what do you mean by foreign places in physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics? Don't you have H2O or CO2 at your place? Or do you breathe some other way?

Malik from Australia Dec 12, 2015 10:33am

I am in total agreement with Professor Hoodhboy. There needs to be an independent inquiry about the entire education system in Pakistan. There are international institutions with resources to help education in developing countries whose services should be solicited. There are world class universities, educators of international repute, philanthropic and non-profit organizations looking for challenging projects. I fail to understand why people at the top of the education pyramid in Pakistan are unable to access these resources. The governments of the USA, the UK, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore should be able to help. The well doesn't to to thirsty, the thirsty needs to go to the well. Thankyou Professor Hoodbhoy for the article. You are doing a great service to the country. Best wishes.

logicaldude Dec 12, 2015 10:45am

I would like to start an online petition at to get Pakistanis from all walks of life all over the world to urge adoption of an easy solution to a nasty problem. I shall do it if just a dozen persons email me at

Junaid Dec 12, 2015 10:46am

I am a teacher myself there are issues i am not denying it, but your article doesn't present actual status of education system . Still there are people working tirelessly and Honestly to change situation.

Asma Dec 12, 2015 10:49am

curriculum taught in Pakistani schools is the crux of all the problems in Pakistan.

Asghar Dec 12, 2015 10:55am

No doubt, Government needs to concentrate on improving knowledge and skills of our school teachers but simultaneously bad books must be replaced with good ones.

abdul Dec 12, 2015 10:56am

I studied in Urdu medium schools and art subjects were of my interest. Later on when i was in university and encountered philosophy i conceived the value of science and the deficit i have accrued for not touching it. But this article alleviates my pain and i am feeling kinda satisfied that the deficit is not heavy as doctor hoodbhoy explains in plain language.

bryan Dec 12, 2015 11:03am

@MIRZA My daughter studies at Delhi Public School with a CBSE syllabus. I take time off from office and teach her. My mother has been teaching kids from class 2-10 since 1986. She is happy with the curriculum design and the overall lucidity of subjects. Instead of taking UK as an example Pakistan can consider taking a look at CBSE curriculum. Take what you feel is relevant.

rich Dec 12, 2015 11:04am

well pakistan always have all weather friend china to pass tech knowhow to pakistan so no issue with school text books

MUNSIF Dec 12, 2015 11:04am

my dear pervaiz hood bhai, pakistani government agencies managers will realize after kuch laakh saal baad, that in civic agencies, auto vehicles such as tractors, trucks, should use distance and hour measuring meters, so as to spend fuel accordingly.

if you read a book of urdu of maths for sixth class, and see its algebra section , where the author starts teaching algebra to beginners, i dont know what does he mean by pus like urdu words. They dont bother to explain, what an english character carries up on the right side and by the left side, when it is simply an english alphabet . so excellent observations. we will discuss more, if we can come into contact with each other, my e.mail:

A Pakistani Dec 12, 2015 11:06am

@Random Pakistani

You find these books interesting? A physics book which states:

“ A couple of pages later the reader is told that uttering just one word brought this universe into existence “kuch lakh sal pehlay” (around 100,000 years ago).”

We can never progress till our education system is overhauled totally – and this surely includes the textbooks.

charu Dec 12, 2015 11:10am

@P. S. Natarajan : though i agree with writer...the problem is not just of urban India holistic education is stressed upon but the point is when you have 1000s vying for few vacancies it all boils down to concerete facts abd figures and rattofied knowledge...thats why our societies are not based on has to be too focused get a job and having financial security

Muhammad Ali Dec 12, 2015 11:13am

I agree with writer now its we say enough is enough ,its true that now its time we choose scientific books of developed countries publish books there is no need of text book board .

Nazish Dec 12, 2015 11:20am

oh, I remember 9th grade science was so boring. A teacher told us about evolution in a loathsome way, by mumbling and abusing Darwin and his mother profusely. needless to say, I didn't get a thing. And I had gone to a private institute in Punjab. when I grew up and read american textbooks online, they were filled with humor,critical thinking and try it yourself activities. I was pleasantly surprised. In order to teach our children we need to make education fun, fun and more fun. Because who remembers what they read in 5th grade anyway; especially the boring parts

Saeed Masood Dec 12, 2015 11:44am

Pervez are right..special attention is need for the books at schools,why we can't copy the success stories of the good international schools from Europe...

Khubaib Usmani Dec 12, 2015 11:44am

An eye opener indeed.Quality education leaves much to be desired.Corruption, incompetence and willful neglect has eroded social fabric and education is no exception.

Ankush Dec 12, 2015 11:59am

Provide them free internet. This will solve the problem. Wikipedia zindabad. Best written content. You can create awareness and help wiki translate content in urdu. Otherwise academic content on wikipedia is fantastic.

sheeraz Ali Dec 12, 2015 12:20pm

A good stand against this STB publications, i belongs to sindh, I myself study these books, i was shocked one day when my father took physics book of class 12 and said O' son we have also the same when we were of your age and more shockingly he cleared his intermediate in 80's . I become speechless and left engineering afterwards because of weak basis provided to us through these rough books , and step into accounting field.

Abu.Ashhad Dec 12, 2015 12:21pm

@divend - the country where most of the government teachers politically appointed and I am sure they play key role in elections as presiding officers. And this is the reason people are approaching private schools.

Abu.Ashhad Dec 12, 2015 12:26pm

Do not burn this garbage but there must be law that all government servants including parliamentarians children must go to government schools so I am very much sure our education standard will improve and it will help the general people of Pakistan.

ashar Dec 12, 2015 12:26pm

No need to change the books. its the teaching system that need revamp. Presently the last one in the row takes teaching as profession.

Dar Ab. Gani Dec 12, 2015 12:34pm

Sc. is caught and nottaught.Actually trs. are inborn in every field.Today societies in different parts of the w orld have reached such a civilizational and cultural climax where we are bound to create trs. who can impart the rapid present explosion of knowledge to young blooming students.So we generally find made trs. in almost all the world over especially in theOrient and even in the Occident .Rapid explosive information has to be adjusted somewhere in school books .So wr have to bear with the toughness of texts.The created trs. must be exertive and resouŕceful who can inculcate the talents and scientific temprament in young educands and to lure them to creative activities.We had been colonized for centuries.I wonder how can we compare our ednl.institutions who had had the status of Imperialists in the erstwhile world order and exploited the resources of the vast world and flourished their economy and education.To compete and excel in 21st centuary ,we must overhaul our edu.s

Mohammad Obaid Rasheed Dec 12, 2015 12:38pm

@Tahir A wow what kind of company is that! i would like to join, you know being a Pakistani in Middle east!

Abdul malik Dec 12, 2015 12:38pm

Water is passing under the bridge. It will never retun. From where remedy is get started? So many hurdles. And we have to go long ahead to compete. An action on emergency basis should be taken to arrest the worsening day by day situation.

jm Dec 12, 2015 12:47pm

It was only when I taught my son in grade 6, I discovered that maths is an applied science; and LCM & HCF can be useful in daily life e.g. tiling the floor. Area of a circle is a useful tool to quantify pizza and compare the prices, if not more :) I look forward to see how all the theorems I did in classes 9-10 would help. I fully endorse the author. I memorised all but learnt nothing.

Anees Dec 12, 2015 12:47pm

This is called the autopsy of Pakistans rotten education system. Thank you Sir for that. When I get myself involved in the discussion with my kids year 9 and 12 here in UK, I really have to read and understand before I engage and then I realise how much I lack in my understanding of their subjects. Education in Pakistan needs a complete overhaul right from the bottom to the top.

Ghulam Abbas Dec 12, 2015 12:49pm

That is OK with the books , but what say about the teachers who teach?-these books. If the teachers are appointed on political source or by bribing education officers then how that kind of teachers will teach foreign written books which are written in conceptual way with up to date syllabus? The solution for the better education for the Pakistani students, who are studying in government schools, is that the government should make the appointment way transparent ; training should be given to the teachers every year and the training faculty should be foreign.

Adnan Khan Dec 12, 2015 12:58pm

Thanks Mr Hoodbhoy for highlighting this core issue with Pakistani education. I am a team member at Funoon Foundation ( and we are working on writing Pakistan-specific, science and maths textbooks. We are looking for talented people, scientists and artists, storytellers and engineers, to help us write open, collaborative textbooks that will be available for free online, and at an at-cost basis in printed form. Please contact me at if you'd like to help out.

Shah Izat Mir Dec 12, 2015 01:00pm

The text book boards should be dissolved and We as a nation always going for copying the west but why not copying them in the betterment of coming generations. The good books may provide the correct information but needs good teachers. Every government appoints lot of poorly educated persons as teachers on political basis rather then on merit. So no one can point out or dire to point out such blunders in the government policies openly. Still I am optimistic with new generations because there is a spark of hope due to the fast communication systems.

Mij Dec 12, 2015 01:07pm

The open market solution won't solve this problem, education is already been treated like industry, this requires passionate people offering sacrifice. Industrial objectives of education don't change societies anyways, just changes crime to white collar crime.

TRUTH Dec 12, 2015 01:16pm

you are right sir...well explained problem. Sindh Govt should take action please.

wellwisher Dec 12, 2015 01:17pm

In India it was noticed that very poor don,t send their children to school, instead they put them to work for earning money.So the Tamilnadu chief minister started mid day meal scheme enticing the poor with free whole some lunch.Aim was if children come to school, they will get SOME education.Now in Bihar and UP it is big source of corruption.

calypso Dec 12, 2015 01:25pm

Thank you for exposing one of the main Problems in our Country: the widespread illiteracy. I had been a Tutor for experimental physics at an Engineering college in my Young days and I can understand your sufferance looking at a few examples cited by you. A German proverb says: the fish stinks from the head. Therefore, it is necessary to look at the rotten head of STB. If STB brings out wrong books, Persons responsible at STB are wrong. They should be removed immediately.

sunil Dec 12, 2015 01:35pm

And I thought the Maharashtra State Board for Secondary and Higher Secondary Board (MSBSHSE) was the worst in the world ! But no, it seems, they have company. I think STB has emulated the legendary MSBSHSE. Only GOD or a miracle can save poor students !

calypso Dec 12, 2015 01:36pm

@A Pakistani Is it true? I am sorry for the stupid question, but I left Pakistan decades ago. Finding such a nonsense in sciences book is horrible. Send the writers of such a book to a primary school as students!

sunil Dec 12, 2015 01:38pm

@indialover Sir, Are you saying the NCERT books are better? They are also equally disgusting.

abhishek Dec 12, 2015 02:02pm

in india we follow ncert books.anybody can download it for free from ncert website.They are extremely good and errorless.plz refer to it and adapt whatever you has no boundaries.

suresh kumar Dec 12, 2015 02:08pm

Sir,I am fan of you and always listen you in talks shows and read your columns in daily news papers and like your thoughts always based on logic. The situation is worst than you described and now there are mafias in each and every sector but playing with children's future in this way is blunder. Because the children of elite class, both of politicians and bureaucrats, have access to A and O level education and being prepared to rule over we poor people and they do not need to give similar access to poor peoples' children. All actors of civil society should think on this and raise voice to stop such blunders with future generation. Hats off to you sir.

Jamshed Bashir Dec 12, 2015 02:11pm

Sorry state of affairs. Action needs to be taken urgently. I support the authors suggestion of replacing these substandard textbooks by good quality foreign books, until our local authors are up to scratch

Ayaz Ali Dec 12, 2015 02:21pm

wow. amazing article

ahsan khan Dec 12, 2015 02:29pm

Point well taken, however, just being critical is not very helpful for poor kids. Could Mr. Hoodbye give some alternatives books?

awais Dec 12, 2015 02:34pm

Sorry state of affairs.. It's agonizing.. Kudos to the writer for pointing out the fallacies ... Goes to show we have people who not only understand what the real problems are but also the solutions..

naqash Dec 12, 2015 02:54pm

great article but i disagree on some points ......its not the matter with the author in my view,if we adopt western books, there we may found very much complexion too ..what the need of the hour is the upgrading the knowledge of our teachers, its no longer a era of providing just a conventional information to kids,what lacking in pakistan is the ability of rising a question in classes in university level too.because teachers discouraged students to arise different conceptual question in school life,which discouragement chase them in uni level too.

Junaid Dec 12, 2015 02:58pm

Exactly! I am thankful to you for writing down this article, We desperately need to change / update all the books from scratch. Even my phone has updates every other day we live in a very fast developing world we need to update the education system and its content may be change the whole system from tip to core its all outdated, boring, and not attractive. one more thing to add here also must focus on Creativity and Productivity give students a little free space with an open canvas to explore

Fahd Dec 12, 2015 03:03pm

The things pakistanis lack in every field are vision and loyalty,

sherafzal gujjar Dec 12, 2015 03:43pm

@Sheraz our social engineers all do this .....

Ahmed Ali Changezi Dec 12, 2015 04:22pm

Dear Sir a very outstanding article and I got very happy by reading the lines that we should translate the foreign books for our young generation. Sir I belong for a province where literacy rate is below then fifty percent (Balochistan). I now the condition of my people and when they get admission in other university of Pakistan outside from their provinces like Islamabad, Lahore Karachi for their higher education they faced many numerous problem like pronunciation problem concept of any theory problem. Dear Sir I request from you to take any initiative toward our orphan province.

Dar Ab. Gani Dec 12, 2015 04:27pm

.....We had been colonized for centuries .I wonder how we can compare our educational institutions with the people who had had the status of imperialists in the erstwhile world order and had exploited the resources of the vast world and flourished their economy and education.If we want to excel and compete with other developed nations in 21st century we must overhaul our education system and equip the institutions with scientific gadgets and instruct our young blooming learners through environmental studies.Otherwise we will remain the rag pickers and beggars who can never prove themselves as chosers .It is the TEACHER who must be on the war path to enlight the tender hearts with innovative,ever magnifying concepts and ideas

Fahad Javed Dec 12, 2015 04:37pm

Dr. Hoodbhoy please take a look at grade 2 English book of Punjab board. I can find a number of flaws in it but overall I think it is much better book than some of the books being taught in the private schools

berni Dec 12, 2015 04:43pm

Not only educational institutes but all our institutes are damaged by constant interference by establishment. Try asking them to sacrifice 10% of their budget to education. Corruption's root is in our lack of freedom but few people know this.

Fazal Mehmood Dec 12, 2015 05:46pm

I am afraid, situation is even grimmer for computer science books. The books do not cover algorithms (the building blocks for computer science) in much depth. Instead the focus is merely on memorising un-necessary things.

Jan Dec 12, 2015 05:49pm

@Malik I strongly disagree with the idea of allowing public schools to charge big fees. This again will result in leaving vast majority of our children illiterate. Major issue of our society and country is corruption. You plan and try to implement any policy, and it becomes a new source for filling pockets of those corrupt elements.

Rabbiya Bajwa Dec 12, 2015 06:14pm

Thanks to respected Hoodbhoy for his deep concern on this important issue . It seems that we r living in Stone Age where we prefer dogmatic approach rather than reasoning and scientific knowledge

Osama Shujaat Dec 12, 2015 06:37pm

Thanks Professor for highlighting this problem. I am myself a victim as these books are nothing but cheap imitation of some terrible crap compile together in a place. the same is the case with intermediate level books of the Sindh tectbook board. e.g. mathematics book of grade 12 was revised in 1992, There are about 100 or so mistakes in it but they have continued publishing the book with the same flaws.

waykii Dec 12, 2015 06:40pm

Teachers are more worse than books in the sindh.

Uzair Dec 12, 2015 06:43pm

He has altly addressed books ineptitude to deleiver knowledge to students . Ny school times is not very far , i remember we were used to memorize lessons without understanding what topic we are studying . This system needs complete overhaul , from teachers to curriculum . My teacher and his father , both had same curriculum in schools , is this joke of some kimd or what ?

Aeyaz Kayani Dec 12, 2015 06:55pm

While I appreciate your frustration with the current situation, I think you offer a solution that is far too simplistic. Translate books with a good international record? Who is going to perform the translations? Wouldn't it have to be someone highly competent as well? Are you and your colleagues (the few educated scientists in the country) actually willing to get your hands dirty and make sure that a good consistent vocabulary for translation exists? Otherwise I shudder to think how terms like "Hilbert space", "wavefunction", and "diffraction" will be translated. On the other hand use the sorts of books used in Western countries (e.g. Halliday and Resnick etc.) and most do not have a sufficient understanding of English to learn from it.

RUMI Dec 12, 2015 06:58pm

Mr. Hoodbhoy, this is a very hot issue you have raised. But it seems like Balochistan is not part of Pakistan. That's why there is not a single person who highlight the educational issue of Balochistan. It would be better if you talk about the educational problem of Balochistan like the rest.

sh Dec 12, 2015 07:03pm

same with KPK, outdated course and the urdu books are horrific.this is what happens when ruling parties have their own agendas and are self absorbed and there are no regulatory authorities so everyone should suffer becuz incompetent people are sitting at top. imran khan claiming to stream line education all over KPK,but things have become worse than ever, his young inappropriately appointed health and education ministers do nothing but harass govt teachers and doctors.

Raziuddin Dec 12, 2015 07:14pm

Very good Hoodbhai. In one Federal Text book sentence ends with 'the'. :)

Faraz Bughio Dec 12, 2015 07:14pm

This makes it a lot clear how ignorant we have been made through textbooks. That's the reason those who can afford never admit their kids in govt schools to study these rotten books.

Shabbir Dec 12, 2015 07:20pm

Prof, unfortunately we all are the products of same text books. And that is the reason "Agha Waqar" is our hero.

Dr.Parvez Dec 12, 2015 07:36pm

@sh Dear Dr hood bhai agreed with your observation. I closely know your personality and intellectuality when I was student at qau chemistry dept in 2007-15. Here i want to share intresting fact that books for Hsc part I and II are editions of 1989. The same books i studied in 2003 still the same. How one can think different ir make logical concepts clear?

Nasir Zuberi Dec 12, 2015 07:41pm

Thanks for disturbing us. The revelations are disturbing, I agree that these books be abandoned immediately as they are destroying the generation instead of adding value. The priorities of Sind & other provincial Govts is off course on other issues that Education.

suresh kumar Dec 12, 2015 07:46pm

The reason for all this is to keep the poor at the feet of the rich from generation to generation. Pakistan badly needs thousands of people like Prof. Hoodbhoy.

A. A. Dec 12, 2015 07:57pm

Why do we need 1-2 books per subject at all? Why not invest in a good teacher. Encourage children to explore themselves about a topic (Internet, libraries etc.) and then classrooms should be for discussion only. And if I be allowed to go one step further, why have any exams whatsoever? There should be individual evaluation, not exams with relative marking. P.S: My daughters are going to Norwegian schools, and there are no exams till high schools. The teacher will not even tell us in which areas our kids are weak as they feel the parents will put undue pressure on the kids. Just a food for thought.

Hussain Dec 12, 2015 08:33pm

Kindly write an article about how to get educated yourself if one hasn't attended any school, college or university because I don't think education system of Pakistan will change until next decade, it's better to educate our coming generation by ourself rather then depending on our education system.

fida Dec 12, 2015 08:49pm

DHA has water but it does not come to the home in pipeline instead it is dumped on to the house through tankers, which brings enormous wealth to the water tanker mafia. So is the education in Pakistan, the school teacher does not teach in the class, they insist on tuition at the teachers house. Dr. Hoodbhoy if the government had any sense of nationalism, they would have appointed you as a adviser on Education Policy. I feel pity for my country and its people.

Ahmad Dec 12, 2015 08:51pm

Sir Please keep writing , you are the only renewed theoretician physicist in Pak and we dont have any in around us...

No one can understand the the importance of fundamentals as you can.

Great respect to talk for masses

Farooq Dec 12, 2015 08:54pm

Shikwaa-e-zulmat-e-shab say toh kahin behter tha, Apnay hissay ki koi shama jalatay jaatay!

I completely agree with Dr. Hoodbhoy that those books are pathetic in terms of quality, but the key question is, what have we done as educators? Did we write any textbook or did we even inspire any of our own students? Dr. Sahab must have produced dozens of PhDs. Did they write something for educational purposes? People involved in higher education are too busy in their esoteric work which affects only 1% of the public.

Tahir Dec 12, 2015 09:00pm

Problem starts with language. English at college level is inevitable, what should be the language of in schools? if it is going to be urdu then what is the plan for the shift from urdu to english. Many students suffer and fail in shifting from urdu to english when they move to college.

AB, US Dec 12, 2015 09:04pm

Bravo! What a pragmatic statement! The same problem is arising in India in respect of educational institution not books though. There are mushrooms of private engineering and medical colleges in India do not teach at par with Govt. colleges. Another growing issue of constantly expanding IIT affiliation to other institutes rather than building a new one with the same quality of seven original campuses. The elite status IIT abroad will be erasing soon. Your honesty is commendable, and we need a scholar like you too.

naveed Dec 12, 2015 09:06pm

You have hit the nail on the head. Better late than never. Hope someone with Authority to make a change reads this article and I hope the message sinks in.

Fakhar Pirzada Dec 12, 2015 09:34pm

Yes,this is correct and it is the problem of whole Pakistan.Whole education system is deprived of good and beneficial reforms.Last year during my local visit to rural Sindh ,it is ridiculous.A high budget school foundation was constructed but it was not for education enhancement but for cows and buffaloes and half of the area was dedicated to the SAENS relatives and guests.Teachers who are responsible for better growth of new generations , are themselves ignoring their oath and duty and unfortunately receiving money sitting on derras.This is really disgusting.Same is with the urban areas,there are nominal government schools and as far as the private schools mafia,they are only number guys.Pay them more and get good service not education. There must be an equal,cheap and qualitative education system for every child of this country whether he/she belongs to high or low class.

ROHIT PANDEY Dec 12, 2015 09:54pm

@sunil I did the NCERT books when I did the CBSE examination for my higher secondary certificate.

The books are EXCELLENT as far as curriculum is concerned, but, their explanations of crucial concepts was not good as the authors were not good in written English.

I supplemented my maths and physics books with books from the Schaum's series and it worked very well for me,

Check out this link?

Rao Dec 12, 2015 10:19pm

@Muzaffar Ali No Sir, a future mini superpower as claimed by a minister!

Rao Dec 12, 2015 10:23pm

@Tariq K Sami Khan academy is an excellent source. I think teachers themselves have to be 'revised' and trained.

Rahmat Ali Tunio Dec 12, 2015 10:37pm

Glad to read, there the STB is responsible for our poor education. Most of intermediate pass students do not understand the sylabuss prepared by STB, and also they have not right information. it is the main reason of backwardness of Sindh's education.

Muzaffar Ali Dec 12, 2015 10:40pm

"Burn" has a very negative connotation and it should not be used for books......

Better expression is "change these books" or "replace these books".

I agree with the content but not the title.

A.K. Wadia Dec 12, 2015 11:31pm

Hear Hear!!

Something Fishy Dec 12, 2015 11:35pm

to who is not it clear that it all is intentional by the powerful to keep people as they are?

BP Dec 13, 2015 12:02am

As a professor of physics who received my basic education in India, I am appalled by Dr. Hoodbhoy's description of Pakistani textbooks. It is better to leave the student uneducated rather than give them information like this. Thank you Dr. Hoodbhoy for the column, and keep on the good fight.

Abdul Rehman Dec 13, 2015 12:03am

That is why I get sick when I study Maths or Physics. There is no proper explanation of what is written. I am student of 12th grade of B.I.S.E Hyderabad.

Ali Waris Dec 13, 2015 12:05am

EASY SOLUTION: Make it mandatory for every university faculty member and State Text Book Board Member to take the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) test.

Shawn A Dec 13, 2015 12:06am

Thank you Sir for bring this very serious problem to the surface. The education department of Pakistan also needs a Zarb-I-Azb as well. This is happening due to shear incompetence of education department otherwise there is no shortage of competent people in Pakistan.

Omair Khalid Dec 13, 2015 12:37am

I would like to point out the NTS exams as well, one of which is conducted for the Commonwealth Scholarship. The English section is horrible, filled with grammatical mistakes of all kind. Many of the answers for the questions in the English section are a random guess since the questions are already wrong! Bhai, agar paper sahi bana nahin saktay tuo letay kyun ho!

Syed Badshah Dec 13, 2015 12:38am

Tremendous written,the root cause of every problem is often underestimated.To be very specific,there is a mafia - corriculm makers makia sitting above who controls this system under the capitalists gang called politicians.Actually it is they who don not want the commons to be educated to the level of their corrupt growing generation who are admitted to A and O level buying commodity which is far standard than govt institutions.

Waqar Dec 13, 2015 12:44am

Yes, Sindh Text Books are pathetic to say the least! If one compares the textbooks of Punjab and KP are far better! I agree that Sindh Text book board should be dissolved. I disagree that foreign books be taught here, they could be used as a good reference books. All the text books should be same in the entire country and should be written by prestigious Pakistani writers.

Mushahid Dec 13, 2015 02:35am

Why do not people who have appropriate background in science and technology write text books? Perhaps there is more money in appearing on political and social issues!

Raza Rabani has destroyed higher education in Pakistan!

Federal govt should play its role to rectify the situation!

md Dec 13, 2015 02:42am

why blame only Sindh whole education system is rotten. thinking is harmful.

AB, US Dec 13, 2015 04:07am

@sunil I don't know you are qualified like Dr. Hoodbhoy to make a remarks on NCERT books. I haven't read these books but heard those are quite exceptional. Some advanced private schools in US are using these books as resources. If possible, I request Dr. Hoodbhoy to peak at these NCERT books and enlighten us with his expert opinion. These NCERT book are also available in URDU.

We all know your disgust about India is quite pronounced but please do not make remarks w/o even looking at the resources.

Rvel Dec 13, 2015 04:14am

@Woz Ahmed Too many people who understand problems but they don't it take to the next level, ponder, dig deep and find solutions. Everybody got to play his/her role for prosperity. I pick education department.

Hassan Dec 13, 2015 04:18am

The author is right. I am an A'level student, trying to prepare for NUST entrance exam using PTB books and believe me I didn't understood a single topic clearly. The difference between A/O'level books and local books is huge. Much of the content of these local books was useless. I gave up on these - pretty much useless - local books.

Aziz Dec 13, 2015 04:35am

This is so very scary and should be treated as national security issue. This some how explains why we have some individuals void of cognitive skills to engage in critical thinking. Thank you for bringing this to light. What is the solution to this serious problem and can it be implemented.

N. Dec 13, 2015 05:17am

Rushing through this article to avoid getting a king size headache and nausea, the only suggestion I have is for the politicians from the PM down should have a true academician to present the current state of education and radical changes to rectify. Whether to buy books from US, UK or other Asian countries that are genuinely science books should be decided on political or purely educational desires. Period. Enough damage has been done to the country by such gross neglect.

Syed Zafar Kazmi U.S.A Dec 13, 2015 06:17am

I wish I had never read this article as it is so horribly depressing. It even robs you of your last hope when you resort to ' hoping against hope'. Pakistan with this state of education and those who impart education is, unfortunately, cast in a downward spiral. Our malaise is not just corruption or terrorism, even worse and incurable is systemic ignorance that is being transferred from generation to generation. Hoping some miracle save this country.

Rajiv Dec 13, 2015 06:28am

All NCERT study material for class 1 to 12 are available for free online download as e-pathshala mobile app.

Rajiv Dec 13, 2015 06:32am

@Hussain In India All NCERT study material for class 1 to 12 are available for free online download as e-pathshala mobile app.

chacha Dec 13, 2015 07:00am

Bravo for shining light on our archaic education system

Just Someone Dec 13, 2015 07:05am

And yet there have been calls in the Urdu media to stop O and A level exams in Karachi to provide a level playing field for everybody by ensuring that "no child gets ahead" by studying something decent.

Just Someone Dec 13, 2015 07:09am

@Malik : As of today, teachers in govt. schools are paid a lot. Senior teachers and head mistresses in primary schools can earn close to a six figure salary.

Ashraf Dec 13, 2015 07:13am

The incompetent govt of Sind is the fiefdom of some uneducated but powerful power brokers. unlikely they will do much to correct the sad reality

Salahuddin Nizamani Dec 13, 2015 07:42am

I myself had taken ‘education’ from one of these peeli schools in a village of Sindh. One year back when I myself came back once again to these schools as a teacher, I was shocked “Had I been really studying this stuff?” Sindhi text books at all levels are teaming with all kind of mind twisting stuff. Math books contain countless errors, even the first sentence on the first page of Chemistry book of class nine is incorrect in Sindhi itself. Who would trust these books and stuff they contain? School is a Latin word and means ‘a place of pleasure’, however outdated curriculum, less educated staff members and reckless administration of education department have changed schools ‘a place of torture’. We need to do something or we will continue to produce ‘blind followers’.

flipflopcarrot Dec 13, 2015 08:45am

Well one can only imagine the standard of our education system. No wonder why we have many students who fail and are unable to join the workforce. This also leads to more suicides among students, more students skip classes, and they often end up bribing the professors. Understanding and learning difficult things at an young age does not make us smarter, instead it only damages child growth both emotionally and mentally.

ALI ALTAF Dec 13, 2015 09:08am

I am completely agree with your thought except the second last paragraph in which you have rise the question. "why not extend to school books and make our science curriculum exactly that in other countries?" answer in my opinion is"no. because inside of copy other culture we have to rewrite our book again with complete accuracy then we may get what we want. otherwise situation will be the same as the university level student are suffering :) hopefully sir you may understand. Thank you. waiting for your reply

Syed Irfan Ali Dec 13, 2015 10:24am

Oh my God! where are we heading??? Is the government reading or sleeping? Would some better minds in Sindh likes of Murad Ali Shah and Nafisa Shah do something please?

M Iqbal Dec 13, 2015 11:41am

@Agha Asad Raza Sir, by reading one article in news paper, why you are destroying all the book. No doubt there are errors in the books but so for physics of class 10 , there are those subjects which are in o level physics. We need better trained teachers and practical facilities.

Munir kakar Dec 13, 2015 11:45am

Yes the text books are written by teachers/professors whose competency and knowledge are woefully deficient. But this whole process is controlled by curriculum wing of Ministry of Education studded with educational advisors. These advisors are the most conservative lot and have the assigned privilege of closely guarding the ideological frontiers of the state. Even the science books are not spared from this ideological onslaught. The overlapping is too explicit to be indicated. The idea of introducing quality books written abroad is worth pondering. After all we are importing everything from F-16 to fast foods. Why not excellent text books to make our young generation properly educated. Kudos to Hoodbhoy for highlighting the crucial issue.

Khalid Dec 13, 2015 12:00pm

Many thanks for bringing this subject up. We can only "hope" something is done urgently to address these issues by the government.

logicaldude Dec 13, 2015 12:22pm

Friends I am glad for this article, I am preparing a petition to be launched on addressed to the provincial and federal education ministers. Expect it may take as much as a week to draft the petition. Then I shall need help from you the educated and dedicated readers of Dawn to promote the petition. If our small efforts ends up raising the quality of Math and Science text books and inspire more boys and girls to do better in these subjects and compete with world's best, that will be a dream come true. Please feel free to express your interest by emailing at WE WANT OUR KIDS TO HAVE THE BEST EDUCATION POSSIBLE. Most Sincerely Syed Kamal. (This effort is entirely voluntary and non-profit)

Syed Ali Dec 13, 2015 12:57pm

What is MQM doing whom we elect election after election.

Ahmad Dec 13, 2015 01:01pm

At least Imran Khan and PTI should abolished the present text books in KPK and start introduced the western authors in schools

Ali Raza Dec 13, 2015 01:14pm

Finally Dr Hoodbhoy threw light on the criminal mismanagement in drafting sub-national curricula by locals. Garbage In Garbage Out! Why not use acclaimed international standardized science curriculum books widely used elsewhere drafted by more experienced instructors as suggested by Dr Hoodbhoy?

Safia Baig Dec 13, 2015 01:26pm
  • And that's the reason i have switched to A-levels after doing matric.
Aurangzeb Ghauri Dec 13, 2015 01:27pm

Dr. Hoodbhoy,

You have done a great service to this nation by raising this very important subject. This type of education in schools and lack of sincearity by authorities to educate our children is equal to terrorism if not more of a crime.

Is any one from the responsible elite is even reading these articles? Do they have time to tackle these things? Where are our priorities?Is education one of them?

I fully support the idea of using internationally recognized science and math course books at our school level (translate in Urdu where needed).We may in some places need to highlight the Quranic view on some concepts where necessary by authentic scholars.

I am to be honest against the idea of teaching science in local language as it restricts our student to the available resource, Internet has made English a truly international language. So why not teach science in English from early age so later our students do not have to go to take special classes to qualify for the job market.

ROHIT PANDEY Dec 13, 2015 03:59pm

That link, provides the ultimate recognition of India's efforts to improve its education system.

Lots of lacunae exist in the Indian system, but recognition of efforts and results is coming in as well?

gopal Dec 13, 2015 04:18pm

One of the best Science school textbooks are published from Singapore.

gopal Dec 13, 2015 04:20pm

Indian science textbooks are pretty dry as well though the contents are fine. Very few diagrams, and less stress on practical part of it.

Dr. Anjum Siddiqui Dec 13, 2015 04:30pm

@Random Pakistani Dr. Hoodbhoy is making his observations on the basis of factual evidence and he has only skimmed the surface due to space restrictions on length of articles. I too have noted glaring misrepresentations and deliberate distortions in Pakistan's history books. I also experienced very hard textbooks on Urdu poetry and added to that were incompetent teachers who compounded the problem. Teacher competencies and adopting foreign textbooks with appropriate copyrights is essential. So, please "agree", the author is taking sense. Let's not bring any cheap nationalism in this debate on education.

khanm Dec 13, 2015 04:40pm

when zar-e Taleem becomes wazeer-e taleem ..what do you expect... the first and far most important chapter our education ministers and government need is honesty and that is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.

gopal Dec 13, 2015 04:43pm

@Aurangzeb Ghauri In Indonesia, even medical books are translated in their own language, Bahasa Indonesia, ditto from US books with diagrams intact.

Aurangzeb Ghauri Dec 13, 2015 05:16pm

@Gopal There are many more countries who translate medical and engineering books to their local languages, but we also see how these doctors and engineers struggle at international level in job market or when they go abroad for higher education... I am suggesting that keeping science, engineering and commerce in English (being a global language) will help these students in future and above all they will be able to make use of tonnes of material available on the internet free through various sites.

In my professional life I see this problem on daily basis as I interact with graduates of local language science and engineering studies. And most of them say they wish if their school was using English to teach them basic science.

Daniyal Dec 13, 2015 06:02pm

I agree with this. During my school days my mom used to buy me lots of books (not the Sindh text book board jamshoro ones,) really good books of prominent universities. Out of the books she bought for me, I was particularly interested in encyclopedias, history, physics, astrophysics and biology. This helped me understand quite a few things which none of my friends ever understood, for example at the age of nine I used to help 9th grade students with logarithms and algebra. All this may seem as if it were a piece of cake for me to understand what was being taught in my class, alas that was not the case. What those books taught me opened my mind,however I started questioning if whether or not what I am being taught in school is correct. For example in astrophysics the sun is not considered to be stationary, however we were taught that it is. So imagine a kid having the correct information and then being bombarded with incorrect information by his mentors.

Khan Dec 13, 2015 06:11pm

In Pakistan, it's easier to plunder than labor. Plunder has its consequences for the nation but not for the plunderer. We shouldn't be shocked when a braveheart like Dr. Hoodboy calls out attention to such problems.

Arslan Ali Dec 13, 2015 07:31pm

Sir, you have depicted true picture of Pakistan Education, specially school education, the burglary in the education system is now on top. The quality of education & research in our universities have plummeted, and will be more in next fee years, because illiterate and foolish folks are the head of our educational institutes.

Samia Dec 13, 2015 09:54pm

Thank you, Mr. Hoodboy, for speaking out for us students. As I read my F.Sc 2 course books, I am truly surprised by how our authors make beautiful knowledge so boring and burdensome. I have, because of the horrible system, stopped learning for my intellectual development or satisfaction of my innate curiosity. The only reason I open my books now is in hope of getting a decent job.

Khurram Dec 13, 2015 11:27pm

@Random Pakistani one major reason for education is to inform kids about the vast world around them, to introduce them to places and people who are different from them. It promotes tolerance and understanding of others as human beings. what is the benefit of education if as you said "don't care and don't want to know about other places."

Maajid Dec 14, 2015 01:52am

"So why not extend to school books and make our science curriculum exactly that in other countries?"

Probably because our esteemed Finance Minister, in his entirely finite wisdom, thinks it would contribute to the unemployment problem.

Sara Dec 14, 2015 02:18am

"The tiny number of Sindh’s children privileged to access British ‘O’ and ‘A’ level schools — and use their books — are doing okay. For the rest, one can only weep."

These lines just made me realize how blessed I truly am. Having done O and A levels and getting decent grades, I just realized how much students -who have access to quality education- take their education for granted and fail to realize the blessings/opportunities that lie ahead of them. Thank you for making me realize that I am among the very few lucky ones and its indeed my responsibility to give back to society in whatever way I can.

Arsalan Wahid Dec 14, 2015 03:10am

This is not the only problem with STB even federal board and other sister board books lack the zeal to cater the interest of the student it is meant for . I've done my matriculation and intermediate and honestly I feel khan academy and other websites do a better job teaching science subjects than the pathetic course ware set up by God knows who people that call themselves representatives of our education boards

Syed Ali Dec 14, 2015 04:07am

This problem You mentioned is not a STB problem; rather worldwide. Even in USA there is heated discussion on "common core" a uniform and standard method of content delivery and testing. Some of the best run states in USA Massachussetts evbeing one and early adopter are now moving away from "common core". In USA book publishing is a big business, every few years books are changed, usually you would see a bunch of authors and thanks to tons of professors plus connection of publishers with politicians. Nonetheless quality of has to be improved.

Dr. Patel Dec 14, 2015 06:29am

Pakistani youth is being wasted by the wholesale. I wonder whether Pakistanis will ever become "producers", looks like they will remain "consumers" without producing even simple things.

AB,US Dec 14, 2015 09:13am

I wish Dr. Hoodbhoy becomes the director of one of our IIT, especially KGP my solitude for four yrs. The recent expansion of IITs in India and abroad probably starting with Malaysia is diluting the quality of education due to lack of distinguished faculties and extensive reserved quotas. We need people like him to stop the rot.

sunil Dec 14, 2015 09:36am

@AB, US Dear AB, in every Science or Maths book a new concept is supposed to be introduced only after the requisite prior knowledge has been imparted through books of previous grades. For example, in XI std physics book, in the initial section on mechanics, there is requirement of students knowing integration of functions, which is introduced only later in the maths textbook. Similarly, in chemistry books, concept of natural logarithms is required prior to its introduction in maths books. I can go on. (Continued in next post)....

Aafiyat Nazar Dec 14, 2015 10:01am

Great job sir.... this malpractice is not only confined to science subjects, it is also prevalent in other subjects too, particularly the is completed distortion of facts.....We distort history and in turn we get a distorted nation....

sunil Dec 14, 2015 10:27am

@AB, US (Continued from my last post)...But The basic principle that science is a step-wise learning is completely lost on textbook makers. I have first-hand knowledge of this because I have taught my son and daughter through this nightmarish situation. In my times, (in late seventies and early eighties, the textbooks of both NCERT and the Maharashtra state board were excellent. I still have the copies of those books (Class VII to XII) and I can clearly see the difference. Every topic that requires certain prior knowledge has already been covered in the previous class curriculum. I urge you to look at the textbooks from this point of view. Lastly, you spoke about my qualifications: I am a PhD in pharmaceutical Sciences from UDCT, Mumbai.

N Dec 14, 2015 10:35am

Thats more like it. Slap slap slap. But dont blame the writers. Pedagogy is our last priority. Look at how system behaves with the primary school teachers. If I were one of them, I would have been doing it intentionaly. Systemic unjustice requires systemic vendetta.

Ashutosh Mishra Dec 14, 2015 11:18am

Sure sir, one can only weep. And just as I am for my failure to learn mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology in Allahabad, India. But my wife made up for that, she was earlier an IIT Professor and is currently at IISER Pune as also my student daughter, a biotech major at Mount Holyoke in Masschusetts, USA, while the son is following in his sister's footsteps. All this resulted because my father chose a mathematician daughter-in-law to complement his "naqara" son who could manage teaching social sciences alone...

Ashutosh Mishra Dec 14, 2015 11:20am

@indialover boss I think these NCERT books are available over the internet...

Omar Dec 14, 2015 01:17pm

No wonder children being educated in private schools are miles ahead as only foreign textbooks are used to impart education for the math and sciences. Public education is so poor in our country that a 12 year old private school educated child has a better grasp on the sciences and math than a public school 'educated' matriculate. Shame on the government, provincial and federal!

Kazim Reza Dec 14, 2015 01:21pm

Don't burn. Preserve all those in a museum under the name "Symbols of Darkness". Beside create a centre which would give answers para by para from those those books (preserved in the museum).

Wiqas Dec 14, 2015 03:20pm

A very well written article. One thing that I feel is missing is research work, which is absolutely absent in our system and that is why there is no growth in local resources and all the quality is dependent on imported stuff. I would request writer to please share his thoughts also on the need to start research in our country.

Jawahar Dec 14, 2015 07:57pm

The very format of books, poor unintelligible language peppered with needless jargon only confuses children. Then there are tuitions to take care of this problem. So there is a vicious cycle of vested interests and the ruin of kids! I've suffered and so have my children. Let's stop this. I agree with Parvaiz sahib. We need recycling of books and Sindh Textbook board!

Zahir uddin Dec 14, 2015 09:01pm

Dr Sahib I have always admired your courage to call a spade a spade. Your take on the STB Board probably applies to Punjab and other provinces too. It seems we becoming a living example of " Mind your Language"and going thru the comments you got at the end were even more mediocre. It pains me to see the level of the English language from PhD s from the USA ( probably University of Southen Antarctica ) not to talk about our homegrown PhD & MPhil students. They will tell you "there are 60 mints in an hour". But alas : Nothing will come out of nothing.

NarendraVKumar Dec 14, 2015 09:13pm

First and foremost, a scientist/technologist must have excellent communication skills. That said, he must be proficient in the languages and its nuances. Language and Science are not mutually exclusive. Develop these skills early and follow the excellent text material be they from the West, North, or South. There are many excellent text book materials available from India. Knowledge knows no boundaries. No reason to re-invent half-baked material. Send teachers for frequent training in the subject areas or , even better, hold summer camps to improve their skills. Even the worst can improve!

N.K Dec 15, 2015 12:12am

Thank you very much Dr Hoodbhoy, for pointing this all out. You have received rightly lot of praise for this. I , as someone who has spent considerable number of years working on child rights issues , would particularly like to thank you on behalf of millions of children. Those innocent souls , who don not know what is being done to them. Those 4-15 years olds who could not do it themselves. Salute.

Abdul Shakoor Narejo Dec 15, 2015 12:56am

The text material/ content of the books officially recommended in public institutions is in such condition further Sindh government's education policies and their ineffective implementation results in widespread illiteracy rate and the poor quality of education in the province. In this stage students are good at cramming so they can tell the exact definitions and concepts but actually they lack in conceptual learning and the understanding of the terms due to mess in the text books. Most of the teachers dealing the subjects are facing the problems while teaching the terms and concepts with examples and elaboration.

Ayesha Khalid Dec 15, 2015 02:08am

Agreed to most of it. But I feel abolishing the books written by local authors will discourage the writing, at all. We hardly have well read scholars, and by discouraging it, will have repercussions for the domestic writers. There should be a comprehensive framework to teach the teachers, writers( in order for them to become authoritarians to the textbook). Because there are all other subjects than maths and science, we might have cheap copies for maths and science but we still have to locally publish Pakistan Studies, Islamiat and Urdu. So rather than eradicating the whole locally writing business, there can be a set of criteria that every writer should meet before publishing any work for students.

rehan Dec 15, 2015 09:15am

There is nothing extra ordinary about the books being taught at 'A' and 'O' levels. It all comes down to the teacher in the end . I have met children reading those so-called "foreign" books and they were learning them by rote because the teacher had failed to inspire them.