One can not deny the crucial and healthy role of education in the development of nation and specially, in this 21st century, where civilizations are suffering from serious environmental crisis, vanishing resources, food crisis, economic inequality, threats from atomic weapons and massive military budgets.
Viewing these realities, nations are struggling for smart economics, smart foods, smart treatments, smart medicine and even smart politics. The word smart means quick and inexpensive way of doing something, in my opinion.
But last year, Pakistan has been declared as the second largest country of the world in terms of out of school children, whose number is 22.6 million. The propensity of illiteracy is greater towards girls, as 12 million (53%) of total are girls.
Recalling April 2010, when article 25-A was added to constitution of Pakistan via 18th amendments which put the burden of free and compulsory education to all children of age 5 to 16 years, on state.
However, it is still in stagnant status largely due to vast socioeconomic disparity in Pakistan, where such fundamental right to education is different for different classes in term of choice of school.
As there are clusters of schools, where only kids of Parliamentarians, Ministers, and Bureaucrats are enrolled, while the government schools are the only choice for poor children.
A massive madrassas belonging to various sects of religion are also serving education such that student from on madrassa contravene another madrassa student.
Resultant, the roots of religious extremism are bolstering in the country and we have seen several episodes of shia-suuni crisis and other delinquent running of religious-based organized groups such TTP, SSP, TLP etc.
Being failed in quantity, also the quality of education is too low. As, majority of our students after, matriculation, intermediate and even graduation do not competent in speaking Urdu or English or any other International language.
Concerning the professional education, the students wishing to approach International reputed universities are failed in the exams GRE (Graduate Record Examination) due to lack of understanding and knowledge in the relevant subject, and in ILETS or TOEFL due to a debile proficiency in English.
The infrastructural issues are also vitriolic reality. Majority of schools from private sector do not possess wide and clean buildings. As according to Environmental Protection agency(EPA), the quality of indoor environments has a direct and marked impacts on health. So, infrastructure is as important as quality of education.
Not only the elementary education, higher education sector is also facing many bugs. In a written response to my article published in Daily Time, October 31, 2018 about quality of Higher education in Pakistan, a reputed indigenous Professor at Quaid-i-Azam university Islamabad, Dr Farhan Saif remarked as;
“The gradual decline of higher education over last fifteen years has seen today a scientific culture based on greed, nepotism and superficial activism. The intolerable academic corruption in scientifically established countries is being given shelter under different names.
The main pillars of research program in maximum of degree awarding institutions are plagiarism and mediocracy which very well blend with the desire of universities top management to gain higher ranking. The present day scientific methodology introduced by Arab scientists a thousand years ago, that requires theories based on solid experiments, is rarely seen at work among Pakistani researchers.
The so-evolved clumsy environment has its devastating effect on the PhD program being run in the country. The basic requirement of the local research program is to solve the problems and challenges faced by a country by its own people locally.
In contrast our local faculty in higher education institutions and universities are least concerned with the purpose, instead of becoming a bacon of knowledge maximum are busy in self-projection and in making money by writing, low quality but high in number — papers.
On one hand in different departments incompetent bosses invented ways to kill research program for example by letting them registered as directed by chairman or director not letting them to register with worthy and competent colleagues.
On the other hand the greed to collect money in the name of PhD students gave incentive to opportunists professors to register students with them to maximum limits and with junior colleagues in any number possible, trading unjust academic favors and tailoring admission committees.
These over booked students are provided unethical support from the local setup in universities in the form of non-serious attitude towards course work, corrupt examination system, poor or zero invigilation, engineered referee reports and nepotism in awarding grades.
Plagiarism which is considered as a menace in developed world and mediocracy in research which tarnishes its true spirit help here to produce the large number of low-quality PhDs per year by such self-proclaimed big shots, who are eventually disgrace for the nation.
For the same reason latest word for plagiarism in Pakistan is being introduced as ‘academic misconduct’ and self-plagiarism is named as ‘academic neglect’ — that is to generate an illusion in the eyes of public and to change a disgrace to grace — eventually presenting us living in a fool’s paradise”.
Dates to Musharraf era, a new system so called Tenure Tracking system(TTS) was introduced with vivid incentives to encourage quality research. While the conventional system basic pay scale (BPS) is still partly remaining. However, this new system causes the intense greediness, shallow research environment and quantity preferred environment over quality.
Consequently, our universities have entered into game of publication, with pseudo-education system running in the country. It is worth mention here that, Pakistani scholars, have written no good books on science as our libraries are full of books of foreign authors. The fact deems, there are bugs in research programs and innovations.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute professor of biomedical engineering, international health and medicine at Boston University, Muhammad Hamid Zaman writes in his Tribune article “One of the editors of a leading IEEE journal recently told me that for his journal and conference proceedings, when it comes to plagiarism Pakistani researchers continue to be among the top”.
The education sector required emergency reforms. The government must embroil itself in the solution of problems mentioned earlier, otherwise innovation, peace, advancement, mitigation, social and ethnic norms will be probably not our destiny in near future.