WITH the exception of perhaps a very few, educational institutions practise the routine rhetoric of ‘investing in the success of children’ and that ‘each child should rise and shine’. Seldom do they deliver what is actually required to pave way to the promised success.

There is no denying the fact that those with higher levels of cosmetics and glossy narratives end up attracting more attention. It makes business sense, if nothing else.

In any educational institution, there are two major stakeholders – the teacher and the student. Being part of many systems, what one finds in the name of professional development of teachers is the unnecessarily enhanced paperwork, which, in the absence of any corrective feedback, is nothing more than a penalty or merely ‘donkey work’.

There are training sessions that are redundant in nature, unfocussed and, hence, unwanted. Faculty is seldom happy and often questions the need to be part of such stereotyped, oft-repeated courses. In addition, there is dirty politics, groupings and WhatsApp groups offering nothing but hollow, unauthentic ‘forwarded’ messages and hypocrisy of ‘you scratch my back and I will scratch yours’.

Professionalism is somewhere gone down the drain, and in the name of many restraints that include course coverage, centralised curriculum with no room for innovation, paper pattern, etc., most teachers are found helpless, with ever-diminishing finer values that once used to be part of the teaching profession.

As for the students, living in a grade-oriented society, they become good at rote-learning rather than analytical thinking. One in about a thousand institutions would have a playing area, but will never have equipment and trainers. The old notion of becoming a ‘doctor or engineer’ is still rampant,

albeit with a few more options thrown in. Upon completing the intermediate level, most students stand disillusioned, and join any study course their ‘dear ones’ suggest.

What is required is to offer more platforms to these budding individuals. Many of them might become great politicians, sportsmen, musicians, chefs, dress/shoe designers, handicraft makers, technicians, journalists, actors, lawyers, professors, writers, social media experts, artists, photographers … the list is unending.

It will be far more worthwhile to ask the teachers to groom the students and expose them to newer options in today’s world rather than overburdening them with purposeless loads of work. In this way, the teachers will be engaged in real-life activities with a true sense of making contribution to the success of all.

Syed Farhan Basit

Gujranwala

Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2021

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