Pakistan’s Educational Systems

Malee
Posted December 1, 2018 from United States

Before I met Sister Zeph, almost 4 years ago now, I honestly did not know that much about Pakistan or its educational system. I always thought that I had to be rich, know a lot of people and travel the world to make any difference. I turned out to be wrong and I also was unaware of how dire the educational system is in Pakistan until I actually went there. There is no documentary or blog article, even the one you are reading right now, that can prepare you for actual reality.

What I knew about Pakistan before I met Sister Zeph and started working with her school, Zephaniah Free Education, consisted of what I knew from Malala Yousafzai. After Malala was shot by the Taliban I started following her. I read her autobiography and started following her on social media in the winter of 2013. In March of 2014 while I was scrolling through Facebook I saw that Malala had shared a documentary called “Flight of the Falcons: Bring Our Girls Back”. I watched it and immediately reached out to Sister Zeph because I saw that she was online.

My relationship with Sister Zeph and her school blossomed from me teaching art classes via skype on the weekends to where I am now, with my own non profit. I got to know some of the students well and of course I got close to Sister Zeph and her family. Through my relationship with them I learned how the educational system was failing the students there in government run schools. The government run schools are filled with abuse, they don’t expect children to learn nor do the teachers spend much of their time instructing. Students are expected to read from the mandated books, memorize and score high on tests. They are not even allowed to ask questions or they may get beaten.

At Sister Zeph’s school abuse, neglect and forced memorization are not allowed

Addressing the Key Flaw

I found an excellent article about the educational system in Pakistan that was written by

-Dr. Ashiq Hussain Dogar from The University of Education, Lahore,

-Dr. Tahir Mahmood Butt, the Assistant Professor of The Government College, Gujranwala,

-Dr. Intzar Hussain Butt, The Assistant Professor of The University of Education, Lahore and

-Dr. Shahzada Qaisar The Assistant Professor of The University of Education, Lahore.

Together they wrote the article, “Revisiting Pakistan’s Education System: Addressing the Key-Flaw” (2015). They state that ever since 9/11 the educational system in Pakistan has been attracting researchers and scholars from around the world. A large number of studies have since brought to light the apparent need for educational reform.

At the moment there are three main educational systems in Pakistan: public schools, private schools and Madrassas.  The private, elite, schools cater to the wealthiest in society and are entirely different in their curriculum, textbooks, exams, administration, teaching resources, etc. The major difference between private schools and public schools is the use of the English language. Private schools use English as their main ode of instruction whereas public schools use ether Urdu or the local languages. Madrassas focus purely on religion and do not teach academic studies.

The problem with public schools and Madrassas is that they are not preparing their students to work or even get decent paying jobs. Children’s chances of success in the world after attending those schools, and Madrassas, are slim to none. The superior jobs and careers are associated with proficiency in the English language. The authors, Dogar et al, (2015) go on to state that the colonization of South Asia by the British created an even larger social divide then before. In post colonialism English was associated with the elite and higher classes. Also the Pakistani Government spends less than 2% of the country’s GDP on education. The constitution of Pakistan actually underlines the importance of education for all but there are no guidelines on how to achieve that.

Dogar et al, (2015) suggest that all three educational systems be merged into one national educational system. The Madrassas would have to also teach classes based on the national curriculum in addition to their religious studies. The Madrassas cannot be eliminated because over 2.5 million children attend them and they are a large part of the country’s culture. This suggested “National Education System” by the authors would make 12 years of free education compulsory for both boys and girls equally no matter socio economic status. The curriculum would be based in English instruction and after completing secondary school, what we call high school in America, the students would have the option to move to any professional educational field. All institutions then would have to work under observation and control of the state in order to achieve higher standards and monitor for any abuse.

Education in Pakistan’s Punjab Region

Sister Zeph’s school, Zephaniah Free Education, is located in The Province of Punjab where over a quarter of school aged children are not in school because they ether never attended or droppe out states Habib (2013) in “Education in Pakistan’s Punjab: Outcomes and Interventions”. Habib (2013) argues that now is the opportune time to strengthen the nation’s educational system, invest in developing skills and talents in Pakistan’s population. Schools like Zephaniah Free Education, that are higher quality attract the poorest families because they are looking for a higher return on education. Those families want their children to go to school and get better opportunities than them so they can achieve more in life.

Shockingly almost half of Pakistan’s 220 million + population is illiterate and a quarter of all school aged children are not attending school. What is happening to these children and those that are the most illiterate and poor? They are being use for unethical labor, being sold into human trafficking, child marriage, child labor and experiencing honor killings and violence in their homes and communities. It really doesn’t help that the government only spends 2% of the country’s GDP on education.

Pakistan;s population is very young and the opportune time to educate them and give them better opportunities is now. Habib (2013) points out that 40% of the population is under the age of 15. Also, focusing more on efforts in the Punjab Region, where Sister Zeph’s school is, will help because 60% of Pakistan’s population lives there. A big problem with the educational system in Pakistan and India (although the Indian Government has taken more of an initiative in recent years) is that when the British left in 1947 they left behind a colonial system (as stated earlier) that was designed to prepare the government and army officials to better serve their British rulers. Since then Pakistan has yet to define its own post colonial objectives on education. This may be due to the lack of a vision. Unfortunately Pakistan’s enrollment rates are far behind its South Asian neighbors. These low enrollment rates have serious consequences for the country’s future and development.  

Conclusion

Despite these grim realities there is still hope if we act now. Also, supporting grassroots educational leaders like Sister Zeph also helps to provide not only hope but an investment in future generations and peace. The more disparity between the rich & educated and the poor & illiterate the more extremism we will have in the world. Education is an equalizer, balancer and opportunity multiplier. Habib (2013) and Dogar et al (2015) both point out that in 2010 the 18th Amendment to Pakistan’s Constitution made education compulsory for the first time in their history.

Article 25-A of the 18th Amendment states:  

 

The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in a manner as may be determined by law.”

 

Parent’s prefer schools that are closer to them (to help keep their girls safe when walking to school), teachers that are dependable and a higher quality education that is based in English instruction. By helping support and uplift grassroots educational leaders we are literally saving lives and changing the course of history. Let us build world peace together one child at a time.

References  

Comments 14

Log in or register to post comments
Sister Zeph
Dec 01, 2018
Dec 01, 2018

What an informative article Malee. you have written it very well. there are three main education systems but then there are sub systems also. when it comes to religious schools they have math, science and English language in their syllabus but their focus is only making of religious leaders who they most of the time do not teach true religion but they put hate for other religions in their hearts which ultimately cause a big damage for the society. your article is so full of information and it should be read by everyone who wants to know about education system of Pakistan

Lisbeth
Dec 02, 2018
Dec 02, 2018

Dear Males,
How amazing your story was touching. You have keen interest in her and to consistently followed it. This is only easy when your love is very sincere.

Keep it up you never know who might be following your footsteps :-).

Warm regards
Lizzy

Jill Langhus
Dec 02, 2018
Dec 02, 2018

Hi Malee,

Thanks for sharing your informative post on the Pakistani educational system. I love your story of how you came to work with Sister Zeph and also came across your purpose at the same time. I do love synchronicity. I'm curious why after 9/11 a lot of studies and curiosity around education in Pakistan has increased. Can you clarify?

Tamarack Verrall
Dec 02, 2018
Dec 02, 2018

Dear Malee,
Learning about Sister Zeph's work and also about your ongoing collaboration with her has been so encouraging and inspiring of what women are capable of doing even in such dire and dangerous situations. I was so moved too by the recent film made and shown on Sister Zeph's Facebook page that shows her going door to door to convince people in her village to allow girls to go to school. https://zephaniaheducation.org/documentary/?fbclid=IwAR1kn9xCkI5tERbSvqB...
Your collaboration is truly proof that two strong and determined women teaming up together can make a dream come true and blossom. I have read some of the stories of students graduating from Sister Zeph's school and celebrate their accomplished and important writings. You are both wonderful, and make a powerful Team.
With love in sisterhood,
Tam

Beltivate
Dec 02, 2018
Dec 02, 2018

This is a wonderful write up I love the whole courage and persistence. Courage my dear sister

Tarke Edith
Dec 02, 2018
Dec 02, 2018

Hi Males
Thanks for sharing l am happy your meeting with Zeph has yeided fruit thanks for colaburation sister.

Beth Lacey
Dec 02, 2018
Dec 02, 2018

I learned a lot in reading your article. It's great that you are working with Sister Zeph.
Beth

Adanna
Dec 03, 2018
Dec 03, 2018

Dear Malee,

Thank you for sharing your story on how you met sister Zeph. I am glad you are contributing in your own way towards education in Pakistan.

Well done!

Love,
Adanna

Ngwa Damaris
Dec 03, 2018
Dec 03, 2018

How sad for children in public schools!!I had never heard of it before.I will love to follow up when you and Sister Zeph are always up to:)

Mauwa Brigitte
Dec 03, 2018
Dec 03, 2018

Hi MALEE!
Your collaboration with Sister Zeph is really proof that two strong and determined women teaming together can make a treasure and flower. Education is capital for all, invest in our schooling so that their futures are better. Without knowledge we are half dead. Let's support children to go to school including private school with solid teaching with teacher technicians, who will be proud of the promotion after the tests of the end of the years. As for religion education what is the point, follow it if it does not lead to a good result? Says the Bible: Ecclesiastes 3: 10 every thing is time. You are both wonderful and make a powerful team.

leila Kigha
Dec 04, 2018
Dec 04, 2018

thank you for such an insightful article Malee. Education is a big problem in every continent and the principal reason why we have youths who are unskilled and unable to operate in our societies. Pakistan is no exception i can tell you, the entire continent of Africa is plagued by this system that births half baked graduates. it is time we supported initiatives that focus on educating the whole man. thank you for shedding light on the situation in Pakistan.

Theresa Takafuma
Dec 04, 2018
Dec 04, 2018

What an informative piece. Thank you.

Ngala Nadege
Dec 07, 2018
Dec 07, 2018

Hello Malee,
Thank you for educating us here about the educational system in Pakistan

Jacqueline Namutaawe
Dec 11, 2018
Dec 11, 2018

Thanks for this informative piece on the education system in Pakistan.