THIS refers to the article ‘How much change’ (July 31). In pursuance of its programme for new Pakistan, the PTI government had expressed its desire to reform the educational system to end educational apartheid by eliminating the wide disparity in the opportunities available to students qualifying from elite private schools, government schools and madressahs.
The PTI seems to believe that this objective could be achieved by prescribing a uniform syllabus in all educational systems. However, improving standards would require excellent coaching together with modern educational facilities and tonnes of money.
Because of cost and affordability factors, at present these are available only to elite private school students. As stated by the writer, under its Education Policy Framework, the PTI government highlighted the following priority areas: 1) putting all out-of-school children in schools, as required by Article 25-A of the Constitution; 2) eliminating apartheid in education by introducing a uniform curriculum (for private, government schools as also for madressahs); 3) enhancing the quality of education; and 4) emphasising technical and vocational education.
To provide schooling for nearly 23 million out-of-school children, the government will need to nearly double the total number of schools which presently serve 25 million students. So far, the government has only worked out a uniform curriculum. However, the way it is structured, instead of developing critical thinking and analytical skills, it is likely to bring down even the standards of elite school students, without raising those of government schools and madressah students.
Moreover, compulsory employment of Qaris in all educational institutions risks introducing the element of extremism in the name of religion to government and elite private schools as well.
By taking up educational reforms, the PTI will only mess things up in education sector as well, like it did in wheat, sugar and petrol scams. So, PTI better try to improve the basics first and leave education reform alone.
Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2020