The Plight Of The Public Education System

The Plight Of The Public Education System
According to World Economic Forum’s Global Human Capital Report 2017, Pakistan is at the 125th spot out of 130 in a list that ranks countries based on how well they perform in education An ideal system of education develops reasoning skills and intellect in the students. Quality education enables people to develop various attributes and skills required to achieve their potential as human beings and members of society. In Pakistan, the focus of the policymakers is on quantitative expansion and thus the education system lacks quality.

In Islamabad, there are 348 public schools in which 186,526 students are enrolled, according to the Pakistan Education Statistics 2016-2017. I interviewed students and teachers associated with two public schools in Islamabad (Islamabad Model College for Girls I-8/4, and Islamabad Model School no 1 G-9/2). Spending a couple of weeks in an educational setting provided sufficient information required to analyse the factors for the low quality of education.

In the first week, I focused on the issues faced by the students. The students of public schools are not able to think critically at all. The most unfortunate yet interesting thing was that I had to explain the idea of critical thinking to some of the teachers in the primary as well as the high school. Critical thinking is essential for the cognitive development of students. There is no focus on the cognitive development of the students studying in these schools.

Critical thinking is discouraged by the policymakers and the descriptive pattern of evaluation is proof of it. According to Dr. Parvez Hoodbhoy, critical thinking is considered a very dangerous thing in Pakistan because it is a theological state. When a child thinks on his own, he would think about anything and in any dimension. Thinking always leads to constructive as well as critical thoughts. These thoughts will then urge him to ask questions from the teachers. No one can control the thinking of a human being since the human mind is the most intelligent thing in this universe.

Students studying in public schools are good at describing things because of the widespread trend of rote learning and memorisation. While sharing her views regarding rote learning, a student in grade 7th said “rote learning becomes the last choice when we have no understanding of the basic concepts of a lesson.”

The students face various issues in public schools for instance suppression of confidence, personal attacks made by teachers, ridicule, corporal punishment, and psychological pressure. A student in 4th grade said, “One of my teachers used to slap me in front of the class for not completing homework.” Almost 70 percent of the students interviewed have faced corporal punishment in their school life. When teachers hold grudges against their students, they can’t become role models for their students. Studies show a positive relationship between the teacher-student bond and the learning of the students.

The quality of education has much to do with the quality of evaluation. The teachers will teach in accordance with the pattern of examination. The pattern of examination for the students studying in public schools leaves no room for critical thinking. The teachers do not bother about critical thinking by the students because it is not endorsed by the descriptive pattern of examination. Answering the questions in the exams does not require critical thinking. Instead, it requires memorisation and rote learning.

The medieval teaching methodologies adopted by the teachers in public schools are also responsible for the low quality of education. The teachers teach an entire lesson to the students without having a discussion or session of questioning with them. The teaching-learning process is one-sided in these schools. A major difficulty faced by the students is the difference in the medium of instruction (Urdu) and the medium of examination (English). While explaining this phenomenon, a student of 10th grade said “I have many ideas in my mind but cannot write them in the English language and therefore compelled to memorise the lessons.”

I engaged a group of 8th graders in a writing activity and became shocked to see the results. Not even a single student was capable of writing a simple grammatically correct sentence in English. When a student has knowledge but is unable to produce that knowledge in written form, he would rely on memorising.

During the second week, the focus of my research was on how teachers are responsible for low-quality education in public schools. While interviewing, I came to know that only 2 out of 20 teachers wanted to adopt this profession out of passion. The majority of them entered into this field just to earn money and have financial security. The teachers do not try to capture the interest of the students during the course of teaching. A teacher just considers teaching the whole syllabus to the students as his job. Nothing more, nothing less.

The competence of a teacher can be judged through the extent of the conceptual understanding of his students. Concepts can only be made clear when a teacher answers the questions of the students. In these schools, there is no trend of questioning by the students. A good teacher encourages as well as provokes the students to ask questions. From primary to high school, students made complaints about a lack of conceptual understanding due to which the majority of the students had to take tuition in the evening. This tuition, on one hand, costs their parents and on the other hand, increases the time duration of study in a day.

There is an immense lack of practical work, creative activities, class presentations, oral testing, and dramatic and sports activities in these public schools. The students are neither given adequate opportunities nor are they encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities. There is no effort regarding developing creative skills in the students. There is no trend of open-book testing. 20 teachers were interviewed and not a single one of them has ever taken an open book test from the students.

Another thing that is mandatory for ensuring the quality of education is feedback. Formal feedback has never been taken from the students. No committees are formed for inquiring about the issues of the students. The provision of feedback by the students to the vice principals is considered a disrespectful act.

Education is the most important aspect of human development. The efficiency of labor in a country is highly dependent on the quality of education being provided. In public schools, students are deprived of quality education. The teachers serving in these schools are not well-learned. The administrators do not have any autonomy to run their institutes since they are bound to follow the instructions of the government departments. The policymakers are clueless about the core issues of the education system.