The state of Pakistan has repeatedly shown itself to be unresponsive to the problems of education and has demonstrated a complete lack of interest in improving the situation of education in Pakistan.
This observation was made by Dr Abdul Hameed Nayyar, an educationist, a physicist and an author, while speaking at a talk, titled ‘Education: What failed us? In Conversation with Abdul Hameed Nayyar’, organised at the T2F on September 16.
Salma Ahmed Alam also spoke at the event, which was the third in a series of talks commemorating Pakistan’s 70 years of independence.
Dr Nayyar touched upon a number of aspects of the problem, including a lack of access to quality education, a shortage of schools and facilities, poor education standards in public educational institutions, the quality of education depending on the curricula and measured by achievements of students, training of teachers and the flawed examination system.
“The state has failed us,” he said in reply to a question what had failed the education system in Pakistan.
Dr Nayyar also discussed the nation’s commitment to education in terms of expenditure, which he found to be quite deplorable. “The resources are constrained, and it’s a small pie with too many to eat.”
Quoting figures from some reports, he said 30 percent of children were out of school in Pakistan, and state provided education to only 45 percent of children. Learning of skills and awareness of the surroundings and the nature should be a primary focus of education, he added.
According to the Annual Status of Education Report, fifth grade student cannot read or write third grade curricula nor can they solve simple arithmetic questions, and even teachers fail to do so.
The SDPI report has called for revising and reforming the curricula and textbooks.
Dr Nayyar drew comparisons between the global K-10 educational system and that of Pakistan. He spoke about the allocation of the education budget, which, he said was relatively low given its sheer importance and need in the country.
He stressed the implementation of Article 25-A of the constitution and said public office should have to have resources, governance and commitment to achieve standardised education.
He was of the view that the entire budget of education, which was a little over two percent of the country’s GDP, was not sufficient to address all pertaining problems, and other institutions should reduce their budgets for a fair allocation of resources in public offices.
The guest speakers highlighted that more than half of the children in Pakistan were deprived of education and that the standard of education was unsatisfactory, right from the primary grade.
On this occasion, T2F founder the late Sabeen Mehmood was also remembered and her contributions to the country honoured with the hope that her mission would continue in future. The two-hour event was live on Facebook and viewed by over a thousand people, who expressed their thoughts and shared concerns with Dr Nayyar and Salam Ahmed Alam.
Alam discussed the educational emergency declared by Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah after he had taken over office from his predecessor last year. Alam added that it was imperative to organise resources if a uniform education system had to be achieved.