I vividly remember the first day of my school, I literally hated that place. I was surrounded by all the alien people on the planet and my sole desire was to run away and never come back. Almost all of us, at that point in time, are unaware of what we are there for and what we will be when we eventually finish our school. Had I known the end result, I would have been more than eager to start learning right away.
Education, I believe, transforms an individual. It is an essential change agent and has no substitute. What distinguishes developed economies from developing economies is primarily the education. Same goes for an individual person as well. We tend to respect those who are well-educated and often seek their advice. Thus education sets a bar which defines capabilities, expertise and skills of every individual.
Pakistan’s education system is one of the least-developed in the world. Therefore, the literacy rate shows a dismal picture. Preceding governments have been taking extensive measures to increase the penetration in the remote villages and towns but this is not an easy task. Concrete policies need to be devised in order to make the education pervasive for all. But what’s truly unfortunate is that the existing system of education does not engender learning and development of analytical and critical skills. The whole education structure along with text books needs to be revamped. We do not prepare our children for the world out there. Education should add value to a person’s over all personality which is unfortunately not the case here in Pakistan. I intend to restrict my opinion here to what we actually study in academics and what we face when we step into the outside world.
Many talk about bridging the gap between academics and the practical world. Very few actually strive to do it. It is a fact that what we actually study in our schools and universities very rarely helps us in the corporate world. Many learn on their own or solely based on their experience. This is where lack of creative thinking jumps in. Creative and “out of the box” thinking is not encouraged at the school level because the instructors want us to stick to our books. All they expect and want us to do is to cram the books intensively so as to get good grades and earn accolades. Another dilemma of our society is that undue emphasis is placed on getting good grades. It is not necessary that a student getting all “A” grades is an exceptional student. He might have a very good memory because he retained everything that was taught in the class and reproduced the same in the exam. Our examination system is a memory tester not a knowledge tester.
The foremost priority should be to bridge the gap between academics and the corporate sector. Much has been said about it but no concrete step has been witnessed. Bookish knowledge is not going to save a person in the practical world. Many people face difficulties in the start of their careers because they are confronted by a whole new situation where books do not come to their rescue. Therefore, the education structure in the universities should not be book-centered. Students should not be enclosed in a shell. They need to be given a free hand to come up with new ideas and develop their thinking and creative skills. Interactive sessions can work wonders for students because that is where their mind actually starts thinking on the same lines. Students should be encouraged to come up with creative ideas. Thankfully a number of universities in Pakistan strive to inculcate the same spirit in the students because they know that these students will be future leaders. They prepare them for the outside world. These values are ingrained in the students therefore when they step into the outside world, they know what they have to do and how will they go about doing it. This is the very reason many multinational organizations in Pakistan prefer to hire graduates of renowned universities.
The job market is very limited these days. Only the fittest can survive in the current dire circumstances. Only those who will break free from their shell will manage to succeed and this is exactly what is going on today. All those graduates have managed to land in respected organizations that have shown verve and a desire to add value to their employer’s company in one way or the other. MNCs today place an emphasis on multitasking. You cannot be a multitasker unless you have the extra knowledge and a clever mind. The individuals possessing such attributes come from institutes that know the real world situation and devise their education structure in accordance with that. Thus it all comes down to the education system and structure.
There are many solutions which can be implemented at the primary level, secondary level, and higher secondary level and then at the university level programs that ultimately lead to graduate and advanced degrees. Also the issue of faculty is as critical as the issue of education structure in Pakistan. There is no set criterion for faculty members even at the university levels. The syllabus needs to be revised and instead should be replaced with literature which arouse interest and promote learning. Students should be given real world examples through demos and guest speaker sessions to get first hand learning. Teachers should be competent enough to relate the knowledge that is present in the book with the practical examples. Class sessions should be considered as a forum where ideas are discussed and knowledge is exchanged. Students should be encouraged to bring new and innovative ideas to these forums. We can benchmark other countries’ education systems and styles because benchmarking is a very important tool. We should adopt their best practices and adapt them to make our practices more efficient and fruitful. Education system at the university level holds immense importance because students enter the real world after that.
Pakistan also faces dearth of competent and promising teachers in Pakistan. Teaching was once considered a very well-respected profession but young professionals today do not want to be associated with teaching. Teaching is an ever-learning experience and more and more individuals should be encouraged in adopting this profession and transferring their knowledge to other people. It has been observed that individuals who have previously served in any organization make very good teachers and their teaching style is also different and innovative. This is because they know what it takes to survive in the corporate world and inculcate the required expertise and knowledge in their students.
Pakistan has huge potential in terms of human capital which needs to be polished and preserved. Revamping of education system requires long-term planning; every individual can help make the difference remaining in their own domain. Our focus should be to develop future leaders not mangers. It is also student’s responsibility to seek knowledge and nurture their skills to be successful in the practical world. By doing so, we can build the best human capital in the world which will ultimately benefit our own country. Let’s not wait for tomorrow; let’s CHANGE today.