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Archive for February, 1989

The business of education-II

(This is the SECOND and concluding article on this subject)

The basis of education is that it should profit the individual and in extension, society as we know it, i.e the nation. In essence, by spending billions of rupees for the purpose of education, the nation expects to get a fair return in the form of contribution that an individual can make towards the nation eventually in any of the many diverse fields. It becomes important, therefore, to make education cost-effective, with pragmatic syllabi oriented towards national gain and an education organisation so crafted that national objectives are attained. Great care must be taken to ensure that only essential knowledge is given priority in the syllabi and though mostly it will be theoretical detailed knowledge in the first few years of the educational life of our average student, attention has to be given to subjects that will be of assistance in the practical aspects that an individual is likely to encounter as he or she takes his or her place in society. While we should draw material from the existing syllabi, one should not become strait-jacketed by existing practice.Considering the theoretical frontiers that we try and attain, we lag behind western standards and due to the advent of computers, this gap is widening to an extent that it will ultimately become an unbridgeable chasm, leaving us relatively speaking as good as in the Stone Age.

We must resolve a number of variables, the most important premise being the planning of the syllabi and the principle that while teaching must remain in the hands of educationists, administration is a separate discipline and we must create a particular cadre that will professionally look after this aspect. It is necessary not to segregate the two, on the other hand the closest possible coordination is necessary to ensure that each complements the other. This process must necessary support education without draining expertise away from the actual imparting of knowledge. We have studiedly ignored this aspect in the planning of our educational policies, to great detriment to the national product evaluated negatively in the results achieved.

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The business of education-I

(This is FIRST of two articles on the subject)

Any nation that wants to prosper on the face of this earth must inculcate a sound system of education for its youth. Disregard for basic principles and ambiguity in thought is the bane of the education process in Pakistan, complicated by lack of resources, mixed blend of expertise in teaching staff and the advent of private schools in an haphazard manner. Vast sums that have been spent by the Government in supporting education have not had adequate return. A new Federal policy needs to be annunciated that will clearly spell out objectives in the (1) public sector (2) private sector while delineating the responsibilities of Provincial Governments. This policy once announced needs to be carried out in letter and spirit.

The Federal Policy should not be a long drawn out document, detailed in rhetoric but short on happenings. It should include among other details, the following (1) syllabi to be followed upto (a) kindergarten (b) middle school (c) high school and (d) colleges and universities, with emphasis on technical education (2) qualifications and standards for teaching, administrative staff and their salaries, perquisites thereof (3) extracurricular activities of the students including games, drama, union and social activities, etc (4) conducting of requisite examinations (5) remedial training for teaching and administrative staff (6) rules governing establishment and running of Government schools, colleges and universities on corporate basis (7) evolve an effective coordination procedure with the Provincial authorities to ensure successful implementation of Federal policy (8) monitoring the working of private schools through effective Corporate at Provincial levels (9) rules to govern the sending of exceptional students abroad on a countrywide merit basis with bonus points given for students from rural and non-developed areas, etc.

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The basis for co-existence

When two unbending forces meet, one has to give, the tragedy of Pakistan is that in the case of our two major political forces the primary impact will be the end of the story, the secondary detonations will set off a chain reaction having the potential of destruction of our society — and our nation — at stake. It is unimaginable that our newly emergent youthful leadership, blending itself so assiduously with the experience of our political veterans, would willingly countenance such an eventuality, yet surface perceptions speak otherwise and economically bankrupt as we are, our multiplying worries are leading this nation to a situation not many miles from midnight. The good people of this country must cease being disinterested bystanders of their own creeping destruction, sown in the seeds of polarisation along ethnic and religious lines, now spreading like a cancer through the body politic. The final nail is the great divide on the basis of personality, more of the dead than the living, the living resurrecting their own dead as heroes and those of their opponents as villains. There will be a long haul to remove the great chasm along ethnic and religious lines but it is very much in the realm of possibilities to come to terms with each other on the basis of personalities. Assumed pride must give way to the requirements of the living, the future of the nation’s living souls being more important, dictating a shunning of the politics of the living dead to concentrate rather on the economics of the living. We must face the realities and the needs of today, approaching financial apocalypse it will require a combined team effort of all our disparate political forces to cobble together an effective policy to ameliorate the sorry economic lot of our masses.

Marc Antony eulogising Ceaser talked about “the evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones,” and so on or so forth, in the case of the two deceased leaders dominating the present political scene from the grave, the reverse must be held to be true. While their constant memory is being evoked by the choice of their own supporters (if favourable) and by their detractors (if unfavourable), both men were great in the context of Pakistan and the world, sheer force of their respective personalities raising them head and shoulders above leaders of lesser stature, with vastly different approach to one mutual belief, the betterment of the masses of Pakistan. They have left indelible marks on posterity and yet both had aberrations, one more than the other, which living beings do not except the prophets of God? While history is an analysis in depth, for the purposes of national prosperity we must concern ourselves only with the good that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Ziaul Haq did for this country and build bridges of compromise on the basis of mutually overlapping successes that benefited this country and the people of this country. It is time that we take a positive and objective point of view that while the routes followed may have been different, they do not subtract from the common aim. People have used the word “power hungry” to describe them, but then who in politics is not, is not the essence of the end game in politics the acquisition of power?

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