Editorial: Need for quality education

WEB DESK: The 18th Amendment to the Constitution may have strengthened provincial autonomy, we do not know. But what we do know for certain is its negative impact on the education sector.

Whatever little we had in terms of national standards before decentralization of education that has been lost, resultantly it is just possible that a matriculate from one province may be better qualified than an intermediate girl or boy from another. In fact there is nothing in place to monitor the national standards.

But that may change now given the Asian Development Bank’s modest yet pioneering offer to carry out a comprehensive education sector assessment in Pakistan. The bank has approved what it calls Small-scale Policy and Advisory Technical Assistance (S-PATA), which would help assist a broad overview of education and skills development issues for the country as a whole, beginning from Sindh.

This is expected to help the ADB to initiate a policy dialogue with the Sindh government and other stakeholders on its support to education and skills development in the province. As of today, Pakistan faces major challenges in education sector, particularly in terms of enrolment and completion rate for primary education which according to a World Bank report, is among the lowest in the world. And this is mainly due to poor teacher quality and performance, weak governance – we in Pakistan have more ghost schools than anywhere in the world – and accountability in the government education services. Among the weakest areas are low enrolment of girls, as well as children from poor families, rural areas and disadvantaged social groups.

How poor is quality of education in Pakistan the result of written test for the Central Superior Services (CSS) this year is a disturbing indicator. Out of the 9,643 candidates who appeared in the examination only 202 passed the written test! Over the last 10 years or so, the pass percentage has steadily decreased, a trend attributed to a decline in education standards and what a specialist said ‘Pakistan’s failing education system’. Not only are the syllabi taught in schools and colleges out of tune with the contemporary requirements, these are also out of synch in relation to modern schooling systems and methods.

This is particularly true of the public schools and religious seminaries where focus remains fixed on social sciences and humanities instead of specialised subjects such as physical sciences, technologies, public administration and economics. Given poor quality of education we as a people and country have failed to harness the great potential Pakistan offers in terms of natural resources and govern ourselves as a forward-looking progressive nation. Maybe, the country’s elected assemblies would look into the negative fallout of the 18th Amendment on the sector of education and bring it back as a concurrent item.

Source: Business Recorder