Pakistan Education Crisis A National Security Threat: Causes And Remedies – OpEd


Education is a national might and crucial component of human capital of any country like Pakistan.   A better-educated citizenry means a more productive economy, political stability, peaceful social cohesion and thus greater military potential for the country’s security integrity and independence.   

Education determines the fate of a nation. Quality education leads to prosperity, technological advancements, political maturity, economic dynamism, and adherence to constitutional norms by cultivating a civic sense in the citizenry of a polity. Education and socialization must impart to the learners’ good values, and they include respect and self-confidence, skills to master life. 

Scholars and strategists have long understood that nations draw strength from their populations. One of the most important ingredients in human capital is education: more specifically, the sheer quantity of schooling received by national populations. Overwhelming evidence shows that more schooling means more productive potential at the national level, but contrary to the facts, in Pakistan the flawed educational policies of the last 75 years has ruined everything particularly national cohesion, our polity, economy, integrity and social fabrics of the nation.

Since 1947, Pakistan has faced both real and perceived threats to its existence particularly obsessed with India as a “perceived existential threat”, but nuclear deterrence has minimised such threat further Indian has focused on development of its economy rather than threatening Pakistan’s security. 

The Pakistan basically has faced continual ethnic and sectarian turmoil — terrorism,  depleting water resources and an ever-worsening energy crisis, climate change related disasters and finally recent political instability which has resulted in economic meltdown. All keep threatening our national security.  Above all the real threat to Pakistan existence is within that is self-inflicted bleeding wounds of the intellectual poverty receding day by day due to criminal negligence on the part of our so-called elite ruling club.

The education system in Pakistan is literally broken. The consistent erosion of the educational edge has eventually weakened the country’s global reach and image both. With a less highly educated youth and unskilled workforce have resulted in less economic, political, and military heft with which to defend its national interests within and outside the world. Eventually. It is not hard to imagine that an army of uneducated citizens particularly unemployed youth will be a burden and threat to the national security.

Pakistan basically has inherited the colonial system of education, the primary purpose of which was to develop lower-order thinking skills (i.e., remembering and understanding of a text without considering its context). The basic idea behind such flawed education system was to produce a class in the society only to serve their colonial interests and masters. To date, this rotten education system is vague. Nearly all public and most private schools continue to engage with teaching and learning practices through this narrowly conceived view of education.

Our schools, the key service providers in the education industry, therefore remain more focused on promoting students than on developing their critical thinking skills. Resultantly, our schooling system produces graduates who can remember and comprehend a text, but lack any ability to critically engage with it or question it. Such graduates find it difficult to apply the knowledge they thus acquire to real-life situations, or analyse and evaluate it, or create any new knowledge out of it for others to benefit from, thus our educated youth is not marketable anywhere.

Teacher is the back bone of education system but due to flawed recruitment processes, political induction and interference majority of them come from poor academic background that is why Our teachers, in their approach to instruction, either function as tellers, or information loaders, or, in the worst instances, as dictators. They approach the curriculum as if it can be reduced to a set of textbooks; something that can be reproduced if you complete a set of discrete tasks. Both of these are major issues plaguing our education system.

Moreover, Teachers are facing a lot of issues. They have been assigned all kind of duties like Election-duty, polio, dengue, census etc. The duty they are not doing is the duty of teaching. Our teachers are neither academically sound nor trained in their field. Teachers also do not get the facilities and privileges that are expected.

To achieve the objectives of education all stakeholders, especially policymakers, have to focus on teacher’s training to empower them with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and expertise they need as change agents. 

Our policymakers, curriculum planners and educational leaders should refocus their energies on questioning skills and coherent thinking among these young minds to help them prepare for a higher education system which puts premium on scientific thinking and strong research skills.

incorporating critical and coherent thinking even at the basic levels of education to prepare young students for the rigours of intellectual demand at universities is the need of the hour. Better quality of education at the primary and secondary levels is more likely to ingrain analytical thinking that can eventually develop into true scholarship thus equipping students with the intellectual capital needed to find solutions in an increasingly challenging global environment.

Despite pumping billions of rupees in education system, are we achieving the aforementioned purpose of education ?. Honestly speaking, the answer is in negative. All our inputs in shape of time and resources go in drain because our education system has been surrounded by a range of complex structural, institutional and organisational problems. Particularly irrelevant, outdated, distorted and irrational curriculum has been imposed upon the students.

 Much of today’s curriculum can be thrown out, and relevant content introduced, where the learners, too, influence what they want to learn.

To achieve the purpose of education, We must overhaul the rotten education system and rethink of our approach, policies and strategies on war putting, other wise all our investment in education will be meaningless.

Suggestions for improvement.      First and foremost, the provincial education departments should start training all teachers (newly inducted and in-service). 

Teachers should be incentivized by setting for them certain targets (academic and co-curricular), after achieving these targets they should be accredited officially. Early promotions and financial stimuli are the most tested options to be resorted to. 

Second, Curriculum of international stranded reflecting the regional and National sensitivities shall be introduced.   Government must develop a uniform curriculum to eliminate the multi-tier system of education that furthers the class divide. It should enable the child to compete at national and international level. Teacher students’ parents’ academia professionals and public involvement must be ensured .

Third,   controversy over the syllabi is as old as this country. In drafting syllabi, the first issue which has been time and again spearheaded is the medium of instruction.  The syllabi should be kept thoroughly updated keeping in view the fast-moving age of scientific advancements. Moreover, a democratic and accommodative syllabus is that which inculcates moderate tendencies: civic and political sense, conceding constitutional norms, abhorring terrorism and extremism, sex education, and gender-related issues, in the young minds by drawing symbols on the cover pages, 

Third medium of instruction,     A lot of research has proved that mother-tongue should be primarily inserted in the syllabi of early classes, along with other supplementary languages, e.g. English and Urdu in our case. 

Fourth.   to bring transparency to the recruitment process of teachers, testing agencies should be depoliticized through resilient regulatory strategies. Political induction and interference shall be banned forthwith.

Fifth, more than seven million children are Out of school therefore constitutional obligations under article 25-A must be implemented and necessary resources be made available to meet the high dropout and out-of-school children ratio which is testament that the public schools have the worst building infrastructures. Most of the schools in the far-flung parts of the country have no proper buildings, electrically-equipped classes, libraries, and toilets. 

Sixth, all different streams of education i.e. public, Private, non-formal and Madrasah schools’ system should be synchronised and formalised under one management system and legal, financial and political hurdle be removed.

Seventh, technical education should be encouraged. Introductory technical subjects should be taught at the middle level to enhance awareness and encourage interest of students. The network of polytechnic colleges should be expanded to cover the remote areas as well.

Eighth, information technology (IT) should be given due importance Computers with trainers should be made available in secondary schools and higher secondary levels.

Ninth, education must be relevant and responsive to national environment, culture, society and economy. The social and religious values must be embedded in the children to make them good citizens. The education should conform not only to the local industry but also to international market.

Tenth, higher education deserves serious attention in this regard. Steps should be taken to attract youth to higher education. The investment in this sector should be increased to meet the demands of universities. An effective reform of the higher education system in Pakistan requires a down to up approach; without the improvement of colleges, it is out of question to improve the quality of university graduates.

Eleventh, a uniform and sound system of national testing should be promoted. The National Education Assessment System (NEAS) should be entrusted with more such tasks.

Twelfth, the importance of teachers in education need not be overemphasized. The remuneration and incentives for teachers should be increased to attract the intellectual and competent persons. In-service teachers training should be arranged on regular basis.

Thirteenth, a qualified and motivated teacher also needs training and grooming. Therefore, the capacity of training institutes should be enhanced with expert trainers. A well-thought-out syllabus and policy should be formulated containing modern teaching techniques.

Fourteenth, the last but not the least,  Importance of private sector cannot be undermined as it has saved Pakistan’s education system from complete collapse. It’s difficult for government to uplift the education sector single-handedly, so the private sector should be encouraged to invest more. There independent regularity authorities should be established to oversee and keep checks and balances on private sector. 

Sher Khan Bazai, Former Secretary Education, Balochistan Pakistan. The writer can be reached at [email protected]

Sher Khan Bazai

Sher Khan Bazai is a retired civil servant, and a former Secretary of Education in Balochistan, Pakistan. He can be reached at [email protected].

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