KARACHI: Members of the Shura Hamdard Karachi raised a number of education-related issues and presented their suggestions in a monthly meeting held at the Hamdard head office recently on the topic ‘Our education system and ever-changing global horizons’, presided over by retired Justice Haziq-ul-Khairi.

Prominent journalist and education expert Zubeida Mustafa, as a chief guest, said educational issues should have the highest priorities and there should be a greater emphasis on girls’ education because only an educated woman could have a deeper, positive impact on society.

She said the ground reality is very alarming as there are approximately 23 million children who are not attending school. Moreover the statistics are not accurate given the fact that the data-collecting mechanism has not been modernised.

Dr Riswana Ansari said: Majority of government schools in Sindh are in deplorable state. Incapable teachers are the biggest hurdle in educating children; they instil fear in child thus hurting his/her learning abilities greatly. She said there should be military-style training for teachers in order to discipline them. Schools should be strictly monitored to raise standard of education as well as teachers’ behaviour. Moreover government should have one uniform educational system for whole country.

Anwar-ul-Haq Siddiqui said basic education should be the top agenda for reforms in educational sector. According to him around 91pc of government schools in Sindh are primary that is why there is major dropout ratio in the province. Children have no other option but to give up education as there are no middle or higher educational schools available for them, he said. He added that the quality of education was falling due to lack of monitoring and if such trend continued there might be a time when the international community would discredit all of the country’s degrees and certificates.

Prof Muhammad Rafi said: We have to be transparent before formulating basic education policy. Character-building and creativity should be main focus along with education. He highlighted the importance of information technology and said that technologies were upgrading with rapid pace. In order to create an efficient technologically advan­ced workforce, we have to have greater technology use in education and technical education should be given to children at a young age so that they can evaluate the practical application of their studies, he suggested.

Retired Commodore Sadeed Anwar Malik said uniform single curriculum all over Pakistan would reduce the prevailing ethnic, religious and social discrimination, bias and prejudice. While speaking on the marginalised children of madressahs he said these children do not have enough opportunities to explore therefore they should be part of the mainstream and a single curriculum would help boost their potential and competitiveness. He said cheating in education is disturbingly high.

Retired Col Mukhtar Ahmed Butt highlighted different issues and said education is a service not a business. Government should discourage this corporate shape of education. Corruption is rampant in education sector. Institutes are involved in selling degrees. Ghost teacher is a common phenomenon all over Sindh. He said government spending on education was 2pc of the GDP which was lowest in the region. Major portion of this 2pc goes as salary expense of teachers and department is left with little funds to establish new schools and increase facilities in all schools, he said.

Ibn-ul-Hassan Rizvi, Usman Damohi, Dr Khalida Ghous, Dr Amjad Ali Jafri, retired Brig Riaz-ul-Haq, Dr Tanvir Khalid and Shamim Kazmi also spoke.

Published in Dawn, March 17th, 2020