Education: The PTI’s false promises won’t help

Published: February 8, 2012

The writer currently teaches physics and political science at LUMS (Lahore). He taught at Quaid-i-Azam University for 36 years and was head of the physics department. He received a doctorate in nuclear physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Zero attention was paid to recent news which, in many a country, would justifiably have been cause for panic. But in Memogate obsessed Pakistan no military or civilian ruler — or any normally loquacious TV anchor — has yet commented upon the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER). Released one week ago, this damning indictment of Pakistan’s schools shows how badly the country is failing to teach children even the most elementary of skills. For a country with a huge youth bulge and a population growing out of control, the consequences are fearsome.

Painstakingly prepared by a professional team — and helped by 5,000 local volunteers — the ASER report covered 2,599 villages/blocks, 49,793 households, and 146,874 children. It confirms that Pakistani children find it difficult to read any language, or even to do simple arithmetic. Just 40.1 per cent of the 5-16 age group could do two-digit subtraction sums (with carry) whereas a mere 23.6 per cent were able to do three-digit division sums. Only 41.8 per cent could read a sentence in Urdu or their mother tongue (English is a far cry). Far fewer could read a story.

This saddens, but does not shock. About 25 years ago, deeply worried by the poor preparation of our incoming students, my colleagues at Quaid-e-Azam University and I sought to understand the causes and suggest remedies. Pakistan Television invited us to do a detailed 13-part TV documentary series that explored important aspects of education. In these nationally-viewed programmes, students and teachers came before our cameras, and we visually examined the curriculum, textbooks, teaching of history and science, teacher education, examinations, etc. Today, with much sadness, we learn from the ASER data that the situation has worsened over a quarter century, not improved. The question is: why?

To blame corruption and a particular government is easy but wrong. Many governments have come and gone without making much difference. Corruption, though widespread, is also not central. It has not prevented Pakistan from having reasonably good hospitals, a national airline that still manages to fly, and an ever-improving network of roads. No particular vision of the world (read, ideology) is needed for building roads. But for building education, and its institutions, it’s a different story.

Murray Gell-Mann, the famous physicist, described education as the “cultural DNA” which is transmitted between generations. As such, schooling is all about building minds for a future society. That society would, of course, have to have the desired normative values. So, here is the rub: the modern education needed for modern times cannot do without the ideology of progress. Pakistan’s failure to create a viable education system is not primarily because of poor administrative practices or corruption, but an idea system unsuited for modernisation. So when Imran Khan and the PTI proclaim that they are going to revolutionise education after rolling into power, one must first ask what they mean by ‘education’.

My first exposure to Khan’s vision was in 1996 when he convened a private meeting at his Lahore residence. He said he wanted our help to bring about an “education revolution” in Pakistan. Three of his six invitees were bearded maulanas. They agreed with the need for revolution, but declared that it could only happen through mosque schools and madrassas. During our noisy three-hour meeting, they ranted against the existing education system as a western conspiracy to secularise Pakistan. One maulana insisted that literacy was worthless without teaching “alif-se-Allah, bay-se-bandooq, jeem-se-jihad”.

The meeting was a total disaster. I was shocked that Mr Khan thought that such primitive views were worthy of discussion. He told me that it was necessary because we need to have these people on board for the greater good. Years later, one of his invitees, Maulana Ghulam Murtaza Malik, known for extreme sectarian views, was gunned down along with his armed guards by opponents when his Land Cruiser stopped at a traffic light.

One hopes that Chairman Khan has travelled some way since those days. But the signs are not reassuring. His recent autobiography tells us of an evangelical born-again, furiously raging against his “pukka brown sahib” education at Aitchison College and Oxford University. Like most repentant sinners, he is frequently inchoate and contradictory. For example, even as Khan calls for more technology he vehemently assaults the foundations of science and the scientific method. But pragmatism reigns in other places: somehow ‘seeing the light’ did not stop him from sending his children to those very elite schools which,he says, he now despises.

A public can learn to live with leaders with some personal contradictions, provided there are not too many. But what is one to make of Khan’s principal claim that he will introduce one standard curriculum and language for all Pakistani schools? This certainly appeals to all equalitarian sensibilities, and to a country split by an educational apartheid.

But, short of a miracle, this is impossible because Pakistanis live in non-overlapping parallel universes. Just how does Chairman Khan plan to get agreement on a single religious curriculum in an avowedly ideological state engulfed by bloody religious strife? Fix a single language of instruction in communities fiercely divided along ethnic and linguistic lines? Or make Beaconhouse school students in Karachi study the same materials as those in tribal Waziristan and rural Sindh? Now that Beaconhouse, a chain of high-end schools, is solidly represented in the PTI through Mr Khurshid Kasuri, this will be interesting to watch.

Instead of asking for the moon, Chairman Khan could serve the genuine interests of Pakistan were he to demand that its school system stop spreading sectarian and religious hatreds; stop viewing the people of other countries as their enemies; stop telling lies about our history; stop using wretchedly bad locally-written science and math textbooks; stop rewarding parrot-like memorisation in examinations; and stop tolerating widespread teacher absenteeism.

The PTI’s self-proclaimed ‘education tsunami’ is just a stomach rumble. It shall pass, but not without leaving a bad odor. Its youthful supporters, idealistic but naïve, are being led by the Pied Piper towards disillusionment and disappointment.

Pakistan desperately needs education that produces socially responsible, thoughtful, and well-informed individuals equipped with a mindset that can readily accept the country’s diversity of languages, cultures, and religions. The goal must include imparting a sufficient skill and knowledge level to enable employability and participation in a modern society. Imran Khan’s demagoguery will not deliver this.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th, 2012. 

Reader Comments (220)

  • Nadir
    Feb 8, 2012 - 11:57PM

    Brilliant sir! Been trying to say the same thing! But obviously, Imran Khan can do no wrong!


  • hamza khan
    Feb 8, 2012 - 11:58PM

    ouch!! not a big fan of mr. hoodbhoy, but he’s definitely correct here. imrans simplistic (till now) reforms need much greater in depth study. perhaps imran wants to respond?


  • Feb 9, 2012 - 12:06AM

    Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy seemed more like Maulana Fazl-Ur-Rehman in this article; as if blaming Imran Khan and PTI are responsible the current Messy state of Education in Pakistan.
    Dr. Saheb, PTI is not in the Govt. Don’t PREEMPT its decisionsRecommend

  • asad
    Feb 9, 2012 - 12:12AM

    I wonder if there is any madarsa inside namal college in mianwali … i also wonder if mr hood bhai can write something without word mullah in it …


  • Feb 9, 2012 - 12:26AM

    But obviously, Imran Khan can do no wrong!

    It is also obvious that we have not learned anything from our past mistakes. One demagogue was enough. Half the country was lost. There are no easy answers but Bombastic Khan is not the answer. Recommend

  • Saima
    Feb 9, 2012 - 12:30AM

    ‘One education system for all’ had never been existed in the world history and in any part of the world. Every society safeguards the interests of privileged by providing superior education to them.


  • Arifq
    Feb 9, 2012 - 12:36AM

    Populism my dear Professor is much easier than acknowledging and telling truth. Imagine if Khan sahib actually believes in his fantastic theories, then we are surely doomed!


  • Questioner
    Feb 9, 2012 - 12:40AM

    I find it interesting how Mr. Hoodbhoy just based the story on personal encounters and news. He forgot to mention NUML college altogether? Does it not exist in your memory set sir? Or you consider it not worth mentioning at all?


  • Reddy
    Feb 9, 2012 - 12:42AM

    imran is a drama queen, he can concoct more crap in a flash than both paris hilton and veena malik ever could in their life.if not for his(mr.Hoodbhoy) naivety, he wouldn’t waste his time on trying to inject unknown entity like rationality into the cult worshiping cheerleaders.


  • Talha
    Feb 9, 2012 - 12:45AM

    Here come the PTI trolls, 123….


  • White Russian
    Feb 9, 2012 - 12:47AM

    What is more astonishing that same childern who cannot do simple arithmetic grow up to earn Doctor title in our numerous public sector universities which are nowadays obsessed with producing junk PhDs and engaged in their idea of what they think is research.


  • abdul
    Feb 9, 2012 - 12:48AM

    Pervez HoodBhai’s biggest problem is that he is strongest opponent of Allama Iqbal whereas Imran Khan is the strongest proponent of Allama Iqbal.Just to tell you one complete lie in the article about Dr.Ghulam Murtaza Malik.Mr.Malik was never ever a sectarian extremist.Infact, he was among the very few Deobandi scholars who was an advocate of inter-sectarian harmony.Mr.Malik was not gunned down on traffic signal.Rather, he was shot dead at night at his home by his own gurad. Then, Dr.Hoodbhai is the firm believer that the making of atomic bomb is nothing more than an M.Phil thesis of Physics.This he said in one of his articles in Daily Jang and on Geo News many years ago in a Program with Hamid Mir.If atomic bomb is such a trivial act , then why Iran is dying to make atomic bomb for so many years and still not succeeding.Recommend

  • John B
    Feb 9, 2012 - 12:50AM

    It takes about 40 years for the investment in education to pay off. The present school going youth will be the voters, govt staff, army men, and even some will be politicians in charge of policy making in 10 years.

    If not realized soon, those advocating educational reform today will retire from public life or find themselves in minority and even be portrayed stupid by the majority coming out of the school system tomorrow.


  • Abdullah
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:00AM

    I would like to know what Mr. Hoodbhoy has done for the propagation of education, esp primary level education.

    Its pretty easy to criticize others. Why not come up with some solutions?


  • NA
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:07AM

    Brilliant article. Although I am a big fan of IK, but you are absolutely 100% correct


  • Sajid I.
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:09AM

    With current education system and its ideologically contaminated curricula, Pakistan is well of with fewer “literates”.


  • Farhan Gilgiti
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:09AM

    I think this article, in subconsciousness, is also a complaint against a lacuna in PTI’s strategy.Professor Hoodbhoy is pointing towards an important weaknesses and it should be looked at as such, neither more, nor less.

    PTI needs to do a course correction here :-)

    Thanks professor


  • Shahid
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:16AM

    Leave private education alone. Attempts to increase and improve publc education system is needed.For Imran khan he is a white collar taliban at heart but more western than westerns by deeds.


  • Ali
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:25AM

    What Imran meant was to make same quality education accessible to every body. It is not a question of Beacon-house students put to Madrasas curriculum or vice versa, but a quality education for every child of Pakistan and of course Govt. can set one curriculum or a choice of subjects in state run schools.

    The reasons why Madras run in the first place is that people don’t have enough money to put their child in expensive schools or they don’t have Beconhouse or Lums in their area. Now if they have good quality and cheap state run schools available they are most likely to put their child there rather than in any religious extremist school. All the parents in the world, rather poor, rich or from any walk of life have similar aspirations for their children.

    Private schools are also available in developed countries for the rich and affluent but it is the government responsibility to provide education for the masses. In our case Gov. has badly failed to provide education and that is why, you see Madrasas and even low quality so called “English Medium” schools sprung all over which then teach their own ideologies to students.

    Lastly any society stricken in poverty,socioeconomic and ethnic divide can only be resolved through education, good education for every body and state has irresponsibility providing so.Recommend

  • Maryam
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:27AM

    In fact Imran Khan each ‘strategy’ is a disaster for Pakistan if implemented as ‘envisioned’ by Kaptan. Imran Khan and his supporters’ naivety on “war on terror”, “democracy”, “education”, “women’s rights” are all a recipe for disaster.


  • Hafeez
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:29AM

    Great job Professor! Imran Khan’s naivety is obvious not just from his viewpoint about education but also from his views on the current geo-political scene. For instance, his insistence that once USA leaves, there would be no militants anymore. I wish you would write about it in future.


  • Super Pak
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:31AM

    Your crticisms only tell me one thing, that even you expect imran and only imran to fix the problems in pakistan. Its funny that pti is the one being attacked for its education policies when its not even in government. What proposes is exactly what you want, except that every student in waziristan can recieve an education like the boys in karachi. You mr. Hoodboy are as divisive as you claim the country. A person with a beard isnt automatically a radical. Being a MIT grad you should know better.n


  • imran ghazali
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:36AM

    Mr. Hoodboy – do you even know anything about Namal University? how c#n u blame IK and PTI for the mess we r in right now?


  • Ali Tanoli
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:38AM

    Indeed right and Mr Murtaza Malik shaheed was best Deobandi scholar ever produced.
    I totally agreed and problems is not Mr Hoodbhoy but there sect is ….


  • faraz
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:52AM

    How will tens of thousands of private schools and madrassas adopt a single syllabus? Sir, this single observation of yours has literally demolished Imran’s education policy.


  • Tahir
    Feb 9, 2012 - 2:02AM

    ‘Pakistan desperately needs education that produces socially responsible, thoughtful, and well-informed individuals equipped with a mindset that can readily accept the country’s diversity of languages, cultures, and religions.’

    A single education system can cover those things, it happens in other countries and it will help to unite rather than divide.


  • NA
    Feb 9, 2012 - 2:06AM

    Namal Collage

    Imran Khan brainchild to make an entire knowledge city with international standard education


  • Khan
    Feb 9, 2012 - 2:10AM

    Perhaps you need to know meaning of ‘one education system for all’. Providing same syllabus and single curriculum to public & private schools is one thing and giving more facilities, better class attention & different teaching method for pupils coming from privileged background is another.


  • KiJ
    Feb 9, 2012 - 2:12AM

    IK has to his credit the establishment if NAMAL College, in partnership with University of Bradford, UK… NAMAL College offers bachelor degrees in engineering and computer science…

    If three of IK’s six invitees were bearded maulanas, what was wrong with it? Every walk of life needs to be heard and understood…. The bottom-line is did IK agree with the maulanas? No, otherwise instead of establishing NAMAL college, he would have erected a madrassa…

    It’s just an article with underlying intention of criticism for the sake of criticism.Recommend

  • Shahid
    Feb 9, 2012 - 2:15AM

    I could not agree more about the education system degradation in Pakistan. It certainly needs to be fixed on an emergency basis. Imran and PTI seem to realize that. Perhaps intellectuals of the country should give some guidance to the politicians. How to fix it. I am sure Imran and his associates will listen. At the end of the day there is a common goal – to make a better Pakistan.


  • KDP
    Feb 9, 2012 - 2:26AM

    Well Nuclear Technology was not Pakistan’s ingenious development. Father of this technology stole it all from European Countries who generally trust their educated workforce even if they come from foreign countries.


  • Adeel
    Feb 9, 2012 - 2:30AM

    I liked this one:
    “alif-se-Allah, bay-se-bandooq, jeem-se-jihad”.

    We should Start with “alif-se-Allah”, but the introduction of a source of destruction, next in a row with a benign figure is totally unjustified.

    I am not denying jihad present in the end, do jihad but until or unless a greater genuine conflict arises, to protect yourself or to protect every thing you love from destruction.


  • Ali
    Feb 9, 2012 - 2:39AM

    The difference between Imran Khan and all other politicians is this:

    “My first exposure to Khan’s vision was in 1996 when he convened a private meeting at his Lahore residence. He said he wanted our help to bring about an “education revolution” in Pakistan”

    He cared about education, or the lack of it in 1996. He gained nothing from helping the poor, he was making no great strides in politics at the time. However he wanted to contribute to the country.

    Now compare this to Zardari and Sharif, at the time they were busy siphoning off money to Swiss bank accounts and wrecking the economy respectively!!!


  • Khan
    Feb 9, 2012 - 2:41AM

    Dear Dr. Hoodbhoy. Generally, I am a big fan of you, specially on your opinions on Indo-Pak peace process. However, have you ever bothered to write a single article on the mess in Education sector created by PMLN and PPP? If not, then you have no right to be speculative on a leader who is not yet in power. Thanks.


  • zeeshan
    Feb 9, 2012 - 2:48AM

    Sir you only criticise but have not given any remedy rather called issues imposible. its easy to criticise and point fingers which you did. sir let me remind you professionals like you called shaukat khanum impossible…it was impossible to beat west indies in 1987 it was impossible to win 1992 world cup namal education city is also impossible but all stood wrong..InshALLAH you ill be wrong…and you mention linguistic and ethinic facts sir we need national integration so its my request to you atleast people like you who are educated should not bring this cultural and ethinic facts atleast in education as knoeledge and education have no limits so dont put any barriers.Recommend

  • Ali
    Feb 9, 2012 - 2:53AM

    Yes, Imran Khan has some personal contradictions, who doesn’t? Your research is not very thorough this time Professor Sahib. I would’ve liked to know if education in Namal College or Bradford Uni (where IK is chancellor) is of the kind of standards you complain about. I don’t think so. Also, please try to understand that we won’t move from from radical Islam to secularism overnight. Moderate Islam can be a force that acts as an antidote against radical Islam at this ponint in time. The public won’t accept your secularism right now. There is nothing wrong with promoting it but enough with bashing Imran Khan on every topic under the sun while you give present and past govts a clean chit.


  • Dee
    Feb 9, 2012 - 3:13AM

    I am not a big fan of Mr.Hoodbhoy but he knows the existing loopholes and future threats which we can’t deny. He is education guru hope this piece will help IK for his future plans.


  • Ali
    Feb 9, 2012 - 3:16AM

    Actually many backwards societies have moved into modernity as the result of the efforts of committed governments for example South Korea, China, Malaysia, more recently Qatar. I can’t believe you have absolved past and present govts of all blame. IK is not even in power yet. But since everyone is resting their hopes on PTI, its members could do well by sifting out any recommendations from this piece. It would’ve been better if you had attempted to make more constructive criticism rather than attacking Imran like this. Thanks for bringing that report to our attention though.


  • Arijit Sharma
    Feb 9, 2012 - 3:37AM

    “Chairman Khan” … sounds nice – don’t you think ?


  • Ali
    Feb 9, 2012 - 3:41AM

    Many backward countries have moved into modernity because of committed leaders. He first absolves govts of blame and then attacks a political aspirant for his resolve to improve things. He then blames the attitudes of people. Does he believe that the task at hand is too much for any govt and our attitudes are too firm to be changed? What then? What is to be done? I’m sorry but this article does not hold up to the quality I expect from a Hoodhboy article. I do have a lot of respect for the man.


  • Disco
    Feb 9, 2012 - 3:51AM

    Sir it seemed more of an education Jirga from your accounts rather then a meeting, hosted by the Kaptaan. Imran envisages an Islamic welfare Utopian society in most of his public discourses, which can be posturing on his part, but far from pragmatic progressive times of today. Youth may have no choice but to get fooled sir, but its good to learn that at least your not the part of the best team, Imran’s promised to present soon.Recommend

  • Munir Ahmad Saeed
    Feb 9, 2012 - 3:55AM

    Imran Khan is oversimplifying Pakistan’s problems, such as corruption and crisis in education sector. He claims corruption will be removed in 90 days. Even prophets can not do this. It will be a great task even to stem corruption at its current rates let alone uprooting it. Similarly he is oversimplifying challenges in education sector. Untill and unless he brings out serious plans for ending corruption and fixing education problems he is no different than other political leaders who are promising miracles once they get into the corridors of power.
    Prof Hoodbhoy has rightly pointed out the nature of challenges in education such as abysmal literacy and numeracy skills of kids at school, the impossibility of teaching in one language- only possible if in English, but how Mr Khan will convince the Mullahs to adopt English as medium of instruction, making Urdu as medium of instruction will be a huge step backward. Possiblly to have one curriculum in all schools- public, private and religious schools should be a first step.


  • Ashvinn
    Feb 9, 2012 - 4:03AM

    Education is the soul of society, but building one takes time, many mistakes are made, hopefully mr khan learns from the mistakes he makes or is going to make, as for the mistakes such as distortions in history, science etc have happened in the last64 years one cannot wish them away in ten years Pakistan had to build indeed evolve its system in the last 60 or so will take professor don’t expect miracles. Maybe 20. Years Pakistan could have better education policy n implementation.


  • QB
    Feb 9, 2012 - 4:05AM

    I think the author’s personal bias has clouded his judgement. IK did not claim that this is something that can be done overnight. I think it is a good goal to have equal educational opportunities for all Pakistanis. That’s the main difference. IK can dream big and go for it. Rest is in Allah’s hands. If one were to settle for these analysts and whole life will be spent in calculations but nothing will be done.

    I bet there were many like this author who called IK a fool or someone out of touch from reality when he said he will build a free, state of the art cancer hospital. Look where we are now. It is kindly reminded to the author an IK critics that it is not wrong to think and plan big. Why do we have to keep lowing our goals to be “practical”. What’s wrong with having one education system. Obviously people will have choices. But what’s up with this English Medium and Urdu Medium. I think IK is a great visionary who thinks of uniting Pakistan in all possible ways. That is why our elite are threatened who want to keep their kids in O-level and A-level but keep so called urdu medium for the masses.


  • Dan Dennett
    Feb 9, 2012 - 4:45AM

    Hoodbhoy finds faults with anyone who tries to bring positive change. He was and remains a staunch and vociferous enemy of HEC and Dr. Ata Ur Rehman. He wants to be seen as the face and mouth and ears, in essence whole embodiment of reasonable Pakistan. Be it education, flood relief, humanitarian assistance from global donors or initiative by western policy institutes – he would only speak in favor of it, if it is routed through Hoodbhoy. To extend his persona, it is essential even imperative that he decries and defames all others who seem to project a positive image of Pakistan.


  • Ali UK
    Feb 9, 2012 - 4:51AM

    Mr Hoodbhoy expects wonders in a short space of time. Education needs time to evolve and mature, and yes all endeavours start off with primitive steps, you build a good foundation with good managements and then you will see positive signs in a matter of few years.

    IK at least has proven to some level with building working institutes and one of them is around education.

    @tribune your mobile app is really poor to use.


  • AA UK
    Feb 9, 2012 - 4:52AM

    hood by needs to read history of islam.islam is one religion,but people have had followed their different school of thoughts .people don’t need to follow one strict imposed version of islam. basically,it is the social justice,the state has to provide all for the people then law enforcement as per religion applies. These so called liberals influenced by the west with their inferiority complex,always find something to .
    One man who talks abut justice and to uproot the corruption… and all are critical and ask him how is he going to do it….which is a very silly question.As if he should not talk about it and let it be as it is. At least his is talking about change .

    These critics will always sit aside and criticise .what is needed now is to how to help anyone let it be imran khan who invites people to wake up and fight against the menace of these ruling elite ,the proxies of clonal powers.


  • wsd
    Feb 9, 2012 - 5:07AM

    Dr. Hoodbhoy, it seems, wans to blame PTI for all the present mess in education. He has based his paranoid article on the 1996 conversation with Imran. Dr. Sahib grow up please…….. You have already mentioned ASER report and do you want this mess to continue?????? Imran and PTI. are, at least, giving education its due regard but such paranoia and lack of understanding about Pakistan’s ground realities is sad.


  • waqar
    Feb 9, 2012 - 6:02AM

    Mr Hoodbhai have no idea or plan to improve things. He can only do baseless criticism. Let Khan come into power and he will show you how to bring change.


  • American
    Feb 9, 2012 - 6:04AM

    A lot of bias and anger in your article. Your complaints may be legitimate, but the tone of your article makes it lose credibility.

    You offer no solutions, and seem to abhor the religious. I must add: this is the kind of response Khan received from “professionals” when trying to build Shaukat Khanum. I think you need to open your mind to new possibilities.


  • Qayyum
    Feb 9, 2012 - 7:41AM

    MR Hoodbhai, You should ask this question once PTI is in power or have been in power. This is non sense that you blame this 64 years of mess to PTI…..All nonsense and this is called Hypocracy….


  • Fahad Ahmad Gilani
    Feb 9, 2012 - 8:20AM

    I 110% agree with the writer. Its just political demagoguery of Imran Khan, who fears mullahs and fanatics…..He has said in one interview given to CNN IBN he doesn’t want to be another Salman Taaseer.


  • Asif
    Feb 9, 2012 - 8:20AM

    Pakistani public has been intentionally kept ignorant by successive regimes with least allocated budget for theimportant sector. No government to date has shown interest. IK cares and he has sensed the gravity of issue during his efforts in establishing NAMAL Uni. There is no point in solving the problem with same mindset that created it. It didn’t work before and will not lead any where. Dr Sb please spend your energies on solutions as your commentary is more or less criticism that doesn’t help.


  • Arjun
    Feb 9, 2012 - 8:27AM

    Only 41.8 per cent could read a sentence in Urdu or their mother tongue

    Astonishing. Since the jyllands-posten controversy, you’d think the vast majority of Pakistanis can read urdu, english and danish.


  • Adeel Ahmed
    Feb 9, 2012 - 8:35AM

    Despite the fact I am not agreed with Imran’s simplistic plan with good intention but I am not impressed with Hoodbhoy (only) critical approach instead to come up with solutions and proposal. Unfortunately, even discussing this serious subject, his bias attitude overcome the issue. I am afraid, this article cannot be a part of solution.


  • Falcon
    Feb 9, 2012 - 8:53AM

    I think many good people hit an ego wall somewhere in their life when they are unable to see the noble intentions of another good man. Sir Ji, having bearded mullahs in the meeting showed at least this that he treated even those people as equals (even if only for discussion) that your elitist peers won’t even bother to converse with. Secondly, the reason he is pushing for uniform educational curriculum because elitism is built into our societal structure right from the cradle and the foundation of most prevalent extremism in Pakistan is within this class disparity. Furthermore, uniformity of education also brings about convergence of thought process and national identity. Let me be clear that I will never be as smart and sincere of an asset to this nation as are you even in ten lives, but still I hate to point out that being a self-righteous critic is the easiest thing and being an idealist with zeal a difficult one.


  • Ahmad Ali
    Feb 9, 2012 - 8:59AM

    It means that successive governments were doing fabulous job. It is all rubbish. With less than a 1 percent on education and least attention to institution you can’t promote education. Khan Sb is sincere and he has built a model institute that is promoting education in the middle of rural environment. His action speaks louder than his words. Criticism of Khan Sb will not help neither it will solve the problem. Referring to an old meeting where Khan Sb tried to bring different players of various background is an inclusive approach and it shows his genuine interest in education of masses. By the way he also invited you. It is very easy to criticize but very difficult to act. Get out of your home and ask for a single paisa and then you will understand the gigantic task. Recommend

  • Nasir
    Feb 9, 2012 - 9:00AM

    IK is not known for his communication skills. We as his supporters accept that there may be a problem of articulating the problem and the solution being proposed on the issue of education. He does not claim to be education philosopher of 21st century. He only claims to be a good manager and administrator to put some basic things right in this county.

    We should not question his integrity and sincerity. First time in the recent history of this country he has given hope to teeming millions. So, please don’t rob us of hope being overly critical. You always have right to genuine and constructive criticism. And your column was not short of that either!Recommend

  • usman ahmed
    Feb 9, 2012 - 9:17AM

    as for the part on Imran Khan, id say the criticism by Mr hoodbhoy is Fair

    since PTI has failed to bring up any concrete policy on education, i ask you all, do you really want to experiment with some one who has no plans- you say we have tried the rest- then why try him, stick to someone who at least has a vision,

    id rather vote for ANP- at least they stand for something


  • Feb 9, 2012 - 9:48AM

    Why people give example of Beacon-house school, rather than Nimil University? :O


  • Ibn-e-Maryam
    Feb 9, 2012 - 10:11AM

    Great article.

    IK is simply wrong in pursuing one curruculum for all students. How is it possible? Unless, we all subscribe to Beaconhouse’s curriculum. We will NEVER let our children study Madrassah curriculum


  • Jurir
    Feb 9, 2012 - 10:34AM

    “Instead of asking for the moon, Chairman Khan could serve the genuine interests of Pakistan were he to demand that
    1) its school system stop spreading sectarian and religious hatreds;
    2) stop viewing the people of other countries as their enemies;
    3) stop telling lies about our history;
    4) stop using wretchedly bad locally-written science and math textbooks;
    5)stop rewarding parrot-like memorisation in examinations;
    6) and stop tolerating widespread teacher absenteeism”

    This is what Prof. Hoodbhoy is demanding from IK which seems rather realistic as compared to a unified school system. Of course if such an ideal situation becomes viable it would be very desirable. However, right now it seems a far cry.


  • Feb 9, 2012 - 10:59AM

    Agreed 100% with hoodbouy, had discussed the same thing earlier in my blog

  • leader
    Feb 9, 2012 - 11:02AM

    to know Imran khan’s educational vision

    visit Namal College ==> Knowledge City of future… InshAllah


  • Sadia
    Feb 9, 2012 - 11:19AM

    read carefully. he has given a remedy, in fact the only one.
    “Instead of asking for the moon, Chairman Khan could serve the genuine interests of Pakistan were he to demand that its school system stop spreading sectarian and religious hatreds; stop viewing the people of other countries as their enemies; stop telling lies about our history; stop using wretchedly bad locally-written science and math textbooks; stop rewarding parrot-like memorisation in examinations; and stop tolerating widespread teacher absenteeism.”


  • Anthony Permal
    Feb 9, 2012 - 11:19AM

    The comprehension skills of a majority of those commenting completely affirms Hoodbhoy’s point.

    He hasn’t ‘blamed’ PTI for anything. Did any of you bother reading the article in its entirety?


  • haider ali
    Feb 9, 2012 - 11:21AM

    Excellent article!!!


  • Kamaal hay
    Feb 9, 2012 - 11:34AM

    LOL Imran khan said one syllabus for all not one education system for all


  • Ahmed Bilal Wahid
    Feb 9, 2012 - 11:37AM

    The only thing the Writer has displayed in his article is an exceptional sense of Journalism. Given a chance I would only ask the writer ONE thing – Do we have an alternative to Imran khan? Anyone? Any politician even remotely close to the Ideals portrayed by PTI? Anyone can criticize but to Give a better solution completes the Cycle. Would you care to give us a Solution?


  • zafar ul hassan
    Feb 9, 2012 - 11:38AM

    The main issue which is totally neglected by the educationist, policy makers and academic institutions is the way intellect develops. The following questions need to be answered before coming to any conclusion.

    a. Does Allah Taala play a role in intellect development?
    b. Why would Allah Taala enhance the intellect of a person?
    c. What does Allama Iqbal say about education?

    If we want our society to be known for high islamic moral ideals and if want to become the epicenter of wisdom, creativity, scientific innovation we have to use the answers to the questions mentioned above to formulate the core of our education policy.

    I believe Imran Khan when coming up with his education policy will take all the questions into consideration. He will pull it off.


  • Shariq
    Feb 9, 2012 - 11:50AM

    If Imran Khan can get Kasuri to admit only 50 impoverished children free of cost in Beaconhouse (now that Kasuri is in PTI, shouldn’t be a problem, right?) and educate them on full scholarship, I will start believing PTI’s sincerity to the cause and not term it just political rhetoric. Sadly he cant even do that and we’re made to believe he will change the whole education system. Good luck to him.


  • Mustafa Kamal
    Feb 9, 2012 - 11:55AM

    The article blames previous governments as well, not only IK. The trollers of IK should read the article from top to bottom, ” To blame corruption and a particular government is easy but wrong. Many governments have come and gone without making much difference”, by Hoodbhoy is a reflection of this. At the same time, he wants to say it clearly that the future of education or the state is dark, because IK has no gist of the basic problems faced by country. How IK can solve the problems, if he even is not aware of the basics of the problems.


  • Deekay
    Feb 9, 2012 - 11:58AM

    Mr. Houdbhoy has written this article on the basis of his personal conclusion based on 1996 meeting and has forgot to mention about current Numal University founded by IK of PTI. From this point, you yourself has not complete information or great vision to write this article.

    From this article, you are eagerly waiting to point your finger when Beacon House and Madarsa do not have same curriculum.The vision which is given by professor ( or professor expecting from PTI) of making the same courses for teaching in whole Pakistan means Beacon house should have Madasa Curriculum or vice versa., this is impossible and injustice to the merit students. There should be selective & compulsory courses as whole world have, compulsory course should be standard to teach in whole Pakistan.

    Education revolution cannot be done in magic, it will take more than 10 – 15 years of implementation in phases.


  • Rakesh
    Feb 9, 2012 - 12:01PM

    We need a Taleem Party!


  • Bill
    Feb 9, 2012 - 12:26PM

    Dr. Hoodbhoy,

    Unfortunately – I dont think that Mr. Khan seems to be taking a simplistic approach of fixing the world problems, I think its you.

    Sorry to state, but all I see in your report is ramping on about Pakistans problems and suggesting that we simply press a button to fix it all. You merely discuss a textbook solution to the problem. There is a lot more complexity in taming and tacking a tribe of hundreds of millions of people. Its like cat herding.

    You only dramatise the problem for me and fail to present a meaningful/tangible solution.Recommend

  • Feb 9, 2012 - 12:27PM

    So what do you suggest? Let things go on the way they are right now?Recommend

  • abdul
    Feb 9, 2012 - 12:30PM

    Can a student of M.Phil physics make nuclear bomb? It is true that Dr.A.Q Khan learnt the nuclear technology from Europe and Pakistan also bought centrifuges from the international black market but Pakistan didn’t stole the bombs from Europe, packed them in a container and brought to Pakistan.There are lot of things to successfully build a nuclear bomb.If you think in terms of everything indigenous, then only the US bomb is his own.Even Russia stole it from the US in terms of your definitions.Why doesn’t Prof.Hoodbhoy send his pupils to Iran who could help them build the bomb very quickly before UN imposes sactions on it.


    Feb 9, 2012 - 12:42PM

    does not agree at all , people like you sir sitting in drawing rooms and have done nothing for future generations… , IK vision can be visible while he made a university for poverty stricken Mianwalli rather than some overhead bridge or roads ( even when such things attracts more votes in Pakistan) Let him come in power , you contradicts yourself in Article , first you criticize khan for inviting mullah in debate , then you say how can he over haul existing system in presence of mullahism.? ..he did this try at first while putting all stake holders on same table ..People like you were there too when he embark on near to impossible journey for building Hospital ..He did it and we just talked …


  • A reader
    Feb 9, 2012 - 12:53PM

    Dr. Ghulam Murtaza Malik was one of the finest religious speakers who had the ability to present Islamic concepts in easy to understand views. Be a secular marxist or wheterver if you like, but don’t brand every ‘bearded’ religious person as militant/extremist.Recommend

  • Usman
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:02PM

    A nice and illustrative article…
    Mr. khan is just a new entrant in this world of contradiction,at times he will take his words back immediately…His youth n revolution will be greatly disappointed by his actions.Pakistan is in need of a solid plan to create a strong education system..


  • Arif Iqbal
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:02PM

    When IK wanted to make SKMH “experts” like him told him it will never happen, IK is a dreamer he never was a realist and that is why he is the hope. IK being a dreamer is gonna be the next PM. Just moaning about the policy will not work. What is you alternative Mr. Hoodbhoy to me all you are doing is negating something which is yet to happen and yet we don’t see anything from your side being an “expert” (only in criticizing IK) which is an easy way to be noted these days.Recommend

  • A S
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:09PM

    please tell us one thing all Becon and city school owned by kasuri of PTI will be changing to what sir IMRAN khan is saying.


  • RK
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:10PM

    Great article. Although i do not agree with some of the recommendations, i completely agree with the scale of the problem. The underlying cause is the naivety of PTI supporters in realizing that things are not that easy to fix. None of the PTI supporters i have encountered has even read the manifesto, yet they defend Chairman Khan irrationally, to the point of taking personal offense!
    You cannot put a question to the PTI supporters without them being “offended”. When you question the feasibility of some of their “goals”… you become a “traitor”Recommend

  • Hassan Siddiqui
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:12PM

    The present education system is going nowhere..What worst can IK do to the system…take it further down..well that will go if the present system will prevail…So better take note on IK education policies as he is in better position now politically to take on with these issues.At least he hasn’t been tried…till then lets support his cause and don’t judge somebody…


  • Muzammil
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:20PM

    Bravo. “Or make Beaconhouse school students in Karachi study the same materials as those in tribal Waziristan”. Just because you think its difficult we should hide our head in sand and forget about it
    I guess the writer has been living, teaching & following the current educational system for too long to actually accept that any good change can be brought. I am not that much big fan of PTI but seriously i dont expect Imran to sit on TV and explain the tiniest bits of how it will be done. he is a policy maker, not plan maker. There is no will from anywhere to actually change the rotten system, even these educationists. What else is left to destroy us, i wonder.


  • Murtaza
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:24PM

    Dr Hoodbhoy, there is a factual inaccuracy and another bad analogy in your description. At first, Dr Ghulam Murtaza Malik was a champion of Shia-Sunni harmony and his death was a loss to such efforts in Pakistan. Secondly, primary education in Pakistan is more comparable to the primary health care and public health system (not good tertiary care hospitals), to roads and access in rural areas (not highways and the good roads you see built in urban centres) and to buses, trains and other means of mass transit (not your national airline which mind you, only you and I and others in the richest 1-2% of the country can afford).


  • Zamir
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:28PM

    Beautifully put!


  • Zamir
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:31PM

    Hoody my boy . . . we were together when you said it was impossible to split the atom . . . but one of your peers persisted . . . and look what happened!
    Lesson . . . aim high, challenge your limits . . . you are getting old matey . . . time to accept change and stop being insecure.


  • rehman
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:49PM

    criticising someone just Because he has some sort of vision? and giving reference of a meeting which occurred fifteen years ago and then forget to mention IK’S recent practical work i.e. nimal university speaks biased mind of the writer


  • qasim
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:54PM

    Fantastic! Blame PTI for wrong doings of all the governments over the years!!! lovely!


  • harri
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:58PM

    stop writing lies in their history book, really shameful act………..


  • lodhi
    Feb 9, 2012 - 1:59PM

    Mr Hoodbhoy is absolutely correct.Imran khan still needs to change his ideas.


  • Asad Hasan
    Feb 9, 2012 - 2:00PM

    Well, I am a big fan of Dr. Hoodbhoy, as I am of Imran Khan. Dr. Sahib: Why don’t you join PTI and become head of its education mandate? Seriously !


  • Feb 9, 2012 - 2:21PM

    @Asad Hasan:

    Why should a serious educationist commit suicide?Recommend

  • Lobster
    Feb 9, 2012 - 2:33PM

    Dr. Hoodbhoy was also critical of HEC. But HEC was a right step in right direction!


  • waleed
    Feb 9, 2012 - 2:34PM

    Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy you are the only glimmering hope left in our intelligentsia…our youth always looks for inspiration from you…I am extremely humbled by your intellect, dare I say Bravo! Dr.Sahib please keep alive and kicking!!!


  • MAC
    Feb 9, 2012 - 2:35PM

    Mr.Hoodbhoy is spot-on in his assessment of Imran Khan’s “policies”. He is a demagogue who will say whatever he thinks will appeal to the audience. In Jamia Haqqania in Akora Khattak, he will say that jihad is necessary. In India, he will say no militancy will be allowed against India (what about jihad then?). He is a chameleon. I don’t know to what extent Zardari and Nawaz are corrupt financially. But this is intellectual and moral corruption.
    We need leaders who can at least say the truth regardless of the type of ears listening. Imran is not a leader, he is an actor thriving on the ratings…how will he change Pakistan if he cannot even utter bitter truths about it for fear of being labelled or killed??? If he cannot speak against terrorists because he is afraid of death, and gives meaningless references to Islam and how it makes one fearless, then he doesn’t deserve my vote because he is either clueless about his beliefs, or hiding his beliefs, both major disqualifications in my opinion.


  • Sadia
    Feb 9, 2012 - 2:38PM

    @zafar ul hassan:
    ET, it would be nice if you had a ‘not recommended’ option too for posts like this one


  • Adnan
    Feb 9, 2012 - 2:52PM

    Look, if Imran’s education policy is never said same education for everyone. It says same ‘quality’ education for everyone. Plus, he has never resented being in Aitchison. He always adored it calling it ‘best times of my life’.

    And the basic fact remains true, HE HAS NEVER BEEN IN POWER! All other idiots have and currently he is surrounded by a team of experts that knows how to get things done. He knows how to get things done. Made a hospital, made a university all these are what you, Hoodhboy call for when you are on TV. Saying cut spending build hospitals and universities and stuff.

    Plus, I WOULD BE VERY GLAD THE DAY The WORDS ‘MULLAH’ and ‘IMRAN’ are not together. The mullahs call him ‘yahooodi lobby’ and liberals call him ‘taliban khan’


  • yousaf
    Feb 9, 2012 - 3:03PM

    @Mr.Hoodbhoy—-Who is your audience?where every second utterance is blasphemy and causes a man of your calibre to ask “what is meant by EDUCATION”.Sir there is no education here which gives you knowledge “as this comes only by doing research work” unless one is prepared to be labelled as a blasphemer and is ready to bear the consequences.The education-system only distributes degrees/diplomas after one manages to get a certain number of marks.Otherwise one can easily purchase a degree of any level according to the job he seeks.btw. what do you think,why Mr,Kasuri has joined PTI?


  • Uza Syed
    Feb 9, 2012 - 3:19PM

    Stop jumping on the good professor, the man is anything but a friend of everything Pakistan and a thinking one at that, a rarity here! He is an educationist and knows what he is talking about and then, of course, no one is obliged to follow what he has got to say. See, if there are things of value here—if you find them valuable or workable use them, if not then let that be his opinion and that’ll be that. Look at the message for its worth and stop targetting the messanger. And yes, as far as Imran Khan’s priorities are concerned. Let’s take out the transcripts of his two majour speeches, in those big Public Gatherings (“THE JALSA”) in Lahore and Karachi and count the number of times the man talked about education, in his speeches there, or even uttered the word “EDUCATION” at all —- not even as many times as the word “I” ———does it say something here? Ponder a little!


  • Ayesha
    Feb 9, 2012 - 3:20PM

    I don’t understand what is the problem in trying a person who has never been tried, and what you are trying to say is not to vote for PTI. I ask is all that present fuss in educational sector because of Imran Khan????
    If you really think he don’t have better remedy for education system then you must recommend something fruitful which can bring new arena to Pakistan instead of this baseless criticism.


  • Syed Mohammad
    Feb 9, 2012 - 3:24PM

    Dr. Hoodbhoy, what if out of three bearded out of six invited for meeting by IK in 1996,
    one was a bearded Dr. Salam, the Nobel Laurette and the other Maulana Hasan Mussanna Nadvi, a maulana without a beard. Are you after the beard or the Maulanas?
    You being such an experienced educationist should volunteer your services to PTI to formulate a pragmatic education policy instead of just criticising. To me you seem to belong to that category of people who are always there to say ‘why it can not be done’ and not ‘how’ best to address this most important national problem.


  • Maaz Mansoor
    Feb 9, 2012 - 3:37PM

    Although a very well written article, but it mainly focuses on what Imran Khan and what he thinks. There should have been something in it which could have highlighted what he has already done. Also absolving the political parties which have done nothing to address this issue seems to make it a little biased. We should be idealistic in dealing with these issues. Being pessimistic results in where we are standing today.


  • Ali Khawaja
    Feb 9, 2012 - 3:58PM

    I have read some of Mr. Hoodbhoy’s articles. He has chosen a set of problems for Pakistan, that he believes need to be solved most urgently. I agree they are very serious and deeply entrenched problems. However, whenever anyone identifies any other problems besides sectarianism and extremism as problems of Pakistan, he tends to ridicule those people. I do agree that Imran’s vision seems childish and unrealistic…..Recommend

  • siddique
    Feb 9, 2012 - 4:02PM

    This man need attention.
    PTI will do better than these peopleRecommend

  • Khawlah
    Feb 9, 2012 - 4:04PM

    Let me share an observation after reading the comments section here. After reading 102 comments, I found that 20% of the comments were in line with the findings of the articles while 80% of the comments were of PTI-sympathizers who were defending the skipper at any cost as they they did not argue why the Author is wrong and why PTI policy of “Educational Emergency” will be a failure. However, the recommendations for different comments show that more recommendations were received for the comments who are in-line with the author’s view. The arguments of the commentators who are in-line with that of authors were powerful and logical. So this show another interesting pattern that the opponents of PTI do not want to indulge with PTI supporters because PTI supporters don’t believe in accepting logical arguments. Just an observations and hope ET will publish this as well :)


  • Qamar
    Feb 9, 2012 - 4:27PM

    Criticizing is the easiest suit!!!! It would have been much more delighting if the doctor could come with solution also!!!!!!! Yes there are problems in education system; yes it does not create critical thinking; yes it is too much about crap ideology. And yes there is no easy solution. So break the huge problem into pieces and try fixing the easiest piece first.

    In PTI education reforms group, our approach is to touch the least controversial issues first. For example, reforming science education is the ideological issue therefore it is easy to create consensus over this. A good scientific syllabus would also reform ideological issues indirectly. Next is creating good teachers; for this we need to reform many things: teachers qualification, their job structure, their salaries etc are some of them.

    Job of the political party is to unite as many people as it can while sticking to its core principles. This is not very easy; criticizing is!!!!!!!!!


  • Samson Simon Sharaf
    Feb 9, 2012 - 4:40PM

    Dr.Sahib’s bias despite being a PhD Scholar always gets the better of him. This is not his first. In quest in myopicism, he has also dragged children who have a right to live with their mother. How caustic indeed.

    The sole purpose of this article was to put Imran Khan on the mat for treading into the domain of education that is presumably Hoodbhoy’s turf and also satisfy the so called liberals. He certainly is a very good teacher and a supervisor but that cannot deny a social reformist his right to dream. As someone said,

    “Mein aisaie shaks ko zindon mein kiya shamar karun,
    Jo sochta bhi nahi, khwab dekhta bhi nahin”

    Imran Khan is indeed a dreamer with a rare ability of relentless pursuit; someone who makes happen what he believes in. He is a daredevil and a crackpot, a progressive non conformist; yet one who believes in co-opting everyone with him. Pakistan needs a crackpot and a doer, specially if that person also happens to be sensible. He sits like a silversmith over fire to refine the metal till it reflects the image of Jinnah’s Pakistan.

    There is no dearth of doubtful Thomases in Pakistan. The same was said of him during his 15 long years in wilderness, Shukat Khanum Hospital and NAMAL University. Yet all three are reality and growing.

    Education is not PTI’s false promise. Neither is it something wishful and air fairy. Being part of the PTI Think Tank, member Roman Catholic Board of Education that reaches the poorest, Rector of a University College, Member of the Academic Council of a reputed University and having completed two higher education projects, I am convinced that Imran’s dream is practical; but like anything new will take time.

    We have painstakingly and critically gone through the entire mechanics and made plans/corollaries to ensure that it happens. I assure you that it is not a false hope. The least these scholars and critics could do is not spread rumors, uneducated guesses and with it: despondency.

    Samson Simon Sharaf PTI Spokesperson


  • sashayub
    Feb 9, 2012 - 4:44PM

    @Tehreek-e-Insaf FATA:
    I guess you don’t realise that governance is a state of mind and thought and not of being in government or out of it….learn to take positive criticism in stride and put your party on the right track, instead of just whining about bad press


  • Arshad Khan
    Feb 9, 2012 - 5:02PM

    Well Sir, at the back of scene, Mr. Khan knows it is not easy. I am pretty sure he will sit in opposition… with the current P.T.I government vision.


  • Naeem ur Rehman
    Feb 9, 2012 - 5:11PM

    Good luck to Imran Khan and I really mean it! On one side he is fighting Mullas like Fazal ur Rehman and others who want to label him Jew and their supporter and on the other hand these ‘Liberals’ ! In all over the developed countries there is one curriculum but it should not be in Pakistan, Genius!Recommend

  • Sohail Haider
    Feb 9, 2012 - 5:17PM

    I am a big fan of IK and PTI. But this article must be taken very positively although it apparently opposes IK and his thinking patterns, since Dr, Hoodbhoy does make sense most of the times including this one.
    Just one correction; Maulana Ghulam Murtuza Malik was NEVER EVER a sectarian extremist. I have myself seen him attending at least 2 gatherings arranged on the birthdays of Hzt Muhammad (saww) and Hzt Ali (as) despite of the fact that he was an Ahl e Hadees rather Wahhabi scholar. I believe that we with his demise, we lost someone who could do wonders in current extremism


  • Pak Tester
    Feb 9, 2012 - 5:21PM

    Well, being a strong supporter of the thought socialism through capitalism, I provide a following solution which may take its time to grow and reap its fruits. You , being very respected, and some of your respected colleagues can crate a educational revolution yourself by creating a private educational society which will include the top Pakistani businessman worldwide and asking them to invest in modern education sector for their own long-term benefits. Talking of benefits to the business houses, the education society can argue that if there will be no good modern education(required education) then there will be a lack of skilled Pakistani workers, which they will need in the future. This investment will show reaping fruit within 10-20 years. The education can also bring down the extremism to which the Pakistani children are thrashed into. Oh! Of course, I forget to mention that the institutes must provide free education as well as meal for atleast one time a day. The cost can be enormous and the path is rocky, with determination the goal seems to be realistic.

    I am asking you(and your colleagues) to come forward because you are highly respected withing Pakistani grounds as well as in between business houses.


  • Rizwana
    Feb 9, 2012 - 5:29PM

    Really we forget the real focus of this article. Remember deteriorating Pakistan schools we’re edging towards abyss of ignorance. So what are we doing about it. The leaders/, bureaucrats should be held responsible and penalized on the media, as well as,the streets. Instead we sit and read the tea leaves and applaud predictions.


  • Sadia Mahmood
    Feb 9, 2012 - 5:34PM

    The article does make a valid point for those who are educated and sincerely think about educating the children of this country and dream of making education available to all brilliant minds. PTI supporters need to engage with concepts like ‘Revolution’ and ‘Tsunami’ before erupting into emotional criticism on an Educationalist. IK is a politician and not a scholar or thinker. This country is mainly screwed by Politicians who are immature and naive. This is an expert opinion and not a lay man talking on Education. But yes, we hardly respect our scholars and intellectuals and follow the politician pied pipers!


  • sikander
    Feb 9, 2012 - 5:35PM

    Mr.Hoodbhoy ,Who should we vote for then ? Any Suggestions ?


  • zaheerkhan
    Feb 9, 2012 - 5:44PM

    I have great respect for Prof Hud but i dont take his aspersions here. the article, however, shows that the issues this country is facing are huge and complex and keeping in view the political clout, it will be very challenging for any political leader to confront and deliver. i think it is quiet premature to doubt before despair.We should believe in democracy and let the process continue for a while to see its due outcome.


  • Ali S
    Feb 9, 2012 - 6:01PM

    This was quite an eye opener. I’ve had some reservations about Imran Khan too – not that I doubt the man’s good intentions, but how he implements upon them is another (and fairly vague as of yet) story. But I never imagined he’d actually consider to have people who are running madrassas on an education committee. This is something that really needs more attention, especially among the media-washed youth – any real ‘tsunami’ or ‘revolution’ in this country can only come through educational progress. Well argued, Mr Hoodbhoy.

    However, there’s just one little problem with the article: you said that Pakistan has “reasonably good hospitals”. Define “reasonably good”. a government hospital in Karachi?Recommend

  • Rafaqat Hussain
    Feb 9, 2012 - 6:05PM

    @Abid P. Khan:
    Still he is the best available answer


  • Reddy
    Feb 9, 2012 - 6:18PM

    @zafar ul hassan: in fact in pakistan from polio drops to Islamic bomb completely revolves around the islam.don’t you think ,incubating more islam into your system would not help you to get up from the annihilation that you are suffering from. Recommend

  • Lord
    Feb 9, 2012 - 6:24PM

    Now PTI should look into forwarding its comprehensive education policy just slogans should now work.


  • Talat Haque
    Feb 9, 2012 - 6:56PM

    What are you going to do?
    How are you going to do it?
    Why are your children exempt from it all?
    When is this going to happen?
    Who is part of your team that will accomplish your revolution?
    ………… anyone making a bid for power over us needs to answer these questions.
    ………….anyone asking these questions is not ‘criticizing’ – it is their right to ask.
    And I am a big fan of Dr. Hoodbhoy!


  • M Umer Khan
    Feb 9, 2012 - 7:02PM

    Dr Sb, we understand your concerns, however, lets make an individual/collective effort to turn things around. Also, Constructive criticism should be appreciated by the readers.


  • Feb 9, 2012 - 7:29PM

    @Talat Haque:
    Did you leave out the question of financing on purpose? Schools don’t cost that much. Do they?
    Let’s not talk dirty, “paesa toe haath ka mael hota hae”.


  • BLing BLing
    Feb 9, 2012 - 7:32PM

    Actually, sir, the problem here is that most people support him mainly because he has not been tried so it is only (somehow) fair that Mr Khan is also given a chance as well. It is a change for the sake of change. Also, I find his supporters lack maturity and the ability to listen and refute, if possible, constructive criticism in a civilized manner. A lot of them have been acting like your typical Mullahs, you are damned if you question Mr Khan’s views, vision and plan.

    Imran Khan, has only made great promises so far but he does not seem to have a plan. Forget his 90 days promise, I highly doubt he would be able to do anything worthwhile even in 90 months.

    Not just education, Mr Khan’s whole political career thus far has been full of contradictions and hypocrisy. A leader like him can only lead this nation to a deeper hole.


  • wasim
    Feb 9, 2012 - 7:50PM

    There are people who cry out darkness and then there are people who light a candle.
    Dr Sahib gave a clean chit to all those who through poor administration and corruption destroyed our education system, with one sentence ” Pakistan’s failure to create a viable education system is not primarily because of poor administrative practices or corruption“.
    So what is that has ruined our education system? Dr Pervaiz conveniently side steps the main question and moves on to blast IK by portraying him as religious fundamentalist leader whose whole philosophy is contradictory and attacks the basic foundations of science. On what grounds he came to that conclusion he doesn’t care to explain except that IK invited three maulana’s in a meeting held to save the education in Pakistan some 18 years ago. There are over 50000 madrassas in Pakistan we cannot modernize our education without taking the maulanas on board, excluding them would only tantamount to maintaining the “non overlapping parallel universe” it is a simple fact which Dr pervez fails to understand. IK didn’t became a fundamentalist by inviting maulanas in an education meeting, as a leader it his job to take everyone on board and exclude nobody. Recommend

  • Farhan
    Feb 9, 2012 - 8:00PM

    Pervez Hoodbhoy, would be good to share a solution. Anyone and everyone can talk about problems and needs.


  • Kamaal hay
    Feb 9, 2012 - 8:05PM

    @MAC.. Your comment shows that you have not observed Imrans interviews closely. He says there should be no militancy from Pakistan in all his interviews, weather they are taken in India or Pakistan. I dont think there is anything wrong in saying Jihad is necessary (in fact it is obligatory upon every Muslim), and I dont see how both these statements contradicts each other, unless of course if you think the militants are fighting true jihad. What I find amazing is that the so called liberals who are apprehended by Imrans Religious statements, have the same simplistic interpretation of Islam as the fundamentalists have.


  • wasim
    Feb 9, 2012 - 8:14PM


    Can all those reforms be achieved by excluding mullahs who operate 50,000 madrassas in the country???
    And then he says IK is contradictory in his views, Dr Pervez talks about sweeping reforms but excludes the people where the reforms are most needed he rejects the idea of one syllabus as impractical and accuses Imran of demagoguery but by excluding the maulanas and the madrassas and by maintaining different syllabuses and by giving a clean chit to all the previous corrupt and inept administrations he is voting for status-quo and the same “non exclusive parallel universe” of education for which he criticized IK.


  • mani
    Feb 9, 2012 - 8:17PM

    Imran never holds public office in Pakistan. He just tries to debate different issues to get best answer. Instead appreciating his effort people tries to drag him in controversy. why not anybody write articles about the ruling elite which never give policy paper about any issue.


  • Mubashir
    Feb 9, 2012 - 8:35PM

    If you have any other suitable alternatives to IK please do let us know.. Other than Zardari and Nawaz please… Please don’t mention Maulana Fazal…


  • RK
    Feb 9, 2012 - 8:49PM

    The lamest answer to any of IK’s critics is “If you have anyone else…”. Why do we not try to solve the problems instead of following individuals as if they were gods?

    The criticism, if i understand correctly, from Hoodbhoy is directed at solving problems, not to fulfill a personal agenda! Yes, I totally agree that IK’s strategy leaves much to be specified to make it realistic, maybe Hoodbhoy has some suggestions, i might not agree with them, but i agree with the existence of the problem.

    If you think there isn’t a problem, justify. The last time i read the PTI manifesto, i was not impressed at all.


  • Nauman Muhammad
    Feb 9, 2012 - 8:54PM

    I agree that the education sector in Pakistan is in a pathetic state. However I fail to understand why to pick on Imran? PTI has so far never been in the Govt. and rather then criticizing PPP & ML, the illustrious professor is highlighting the gaps in PTI policy. Imran Khan has done a great service to Pakistan’s education by setting up the NAMAL Univ. Recommend

  • wasim
    Feb 9, 2012 - 9:03PM


    Just a loose statement that you weren’t impressed by PTI’s statement doesn’t mean anything for anybody else, why don’t you share your observations.


  • Khurram
    Feb 9, 2012 - 9:05PM

    “Pakistan’s failure to create a viable education system is not primarily because of poor administrative practices or corruption, but an idea system unsuited for modernisation.”

    One thing that Prof. Hoodbhoy doesn’t realize is that the “idea system unsuited for modernisation” is also a result of “poor administrative practices or corruption”

    Nevertheless, what makes me uncomfortable about PTI’s education policy is the implication of centralization. That threatens to undo the gains made by private educators and take us back to the days of ZAB when everything was centralized and driven to ruin.


  • zafar ul hassan
    Feb 9, 2012 - 9:07PM

    @Reddy: we have to rely on the Quran to find solutions to the problems. The reason for the annihilation being experienced is failure to live the way Allah Taala wants and nothing else. We as a society have failed to understand islam and the reason for this is the pathetic way it is being taught in the schools. Following are the views of Allama Iqbal regarding education:

    “But what sort of education? There is no absolute truth in education, as there is none in philosophy and science. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge is maxim of fools. Do we ever find a person rolling in his mind the undulatory theory of light simply because it is fact of science. Education, like other things, ought to be determined by the needs of the learner. A form of education which has no direct bearing on the particular type of character which you want to develop is absolutely worthless. I grant that the present system of education in India gives us bread and butter.” He further goes on and says “Life is not bread and butter alone; it is something more; it is a healthy character reflecting the national ideal in all aspects. And for a truly national character, you ought to have truly national education. Can you expect a free Muslim character in a young boy who is brought up in an aided school and in complete ignorance of his social and historical tradition?”

    taken from the book- Speeches, writings and statements of Iqbal by Latif Ahmed Sherwani, published by Iqbal Academy page 110


  • zafar ul hassan
    Feb 9, 2012 - 9:14PM

    @Sadia: I suggest that you read the following verses of the Quran: 2:269, 12:22 and Allama Iqbal on education. visit site it has got multiple translations. This is what he had to say:

    “the present system of education in this country is not at all suited to us as people. It is not true to our genius as a nation, it tends to produce an un-Muslim type of character, it is not determined by our national requirements, it breaks entirely with our past and appears to proceed on false assumption that the idea of education is the training of human intellect rather than human will.”

    Speeches, writings and statements of Iqbal by Latif Ahmed Sherwani, published by Iqbal Academy page 110


  • Saad
    Feb 9, 2012 - 9:33PM

    And everybody else has who has been in power has been really good in handling “war on terror” “democracy” “education” and “women rights”? I really don’t know any sector which has not been turned into a disaster by any of our previous govts specially the current one, maybe you know any? Plus its really easy to criticize someone, and you have the right to, but the people really deserving of criticism are those who have been given many chances and all they did was to destroy every institution under them, not those who have never been given the responsiblity of running any area that’s under government and still have done good for public in the form of Shaukat Khanum and Namal college!


  • Saad
    Feb 9, 2012 - 9:49PM


    And everybody else has who has been in power has been really good in handling “war on terror” “democracy” “education” and “women rights”? I really don’t know any sector which has not been turned into a disaster by any of our previous govts specially the current one, maybe you know any? Plus its really easy to criticize someone, and you have the right to, but the people really deserving of criticism are those who have been given many chances and all they did was to destroy every institution under them, not those who have never been given the responsiblity of running any area that’s under government and still have done good for public in the form of Shaukat Khanum and Namal college!


  • fahad
    Feb 9, 2012 - 9:57PM

    Education only helps you become a good dinner partner. Outside of aesthetics, top-down education has zero practical importance. All the major businessmen, great industrialists, pioneers in different fields were completely uneducated. The modern concept of a school is a recent phenomenon. This modern degree culture is a temporary phase. I have done Masters, but my neighbor who couldn’t even complete matric, owns a multi-million dollar business. If only i had spent all the money wasted on education and opened a startup. Then I too would have done better and would be contributing to society in a much better way. With my degrees i can’t even contribute to my own home, let alone society in general.


  • RK
    Feb 9, 2012 - 10:07PM

    Seriously? Have you read the manifesto?
    Please understand that i have nothing against IK nor anything to gain from anyone else. But just because everyone has failed does not give IK the right to shout slogans he cannot back up!
    By claiming he can solve the education crisis, he is making the problem easily solvable; it is not. The population of India is 8 times ours, but the ratio of grad school applications to top US schools is as bad as 100:1. He says he can fix it? I would like to see a more realistic plan than just a “unified education system”. In the manifesto, PTI says it will bring the salaries of teachers on par with private sector. Really? Do we have the funds for that? Where is he going to generate the revenue? And mind you, education, primary education that is, takes 20 years to return. Would that be his priority or ensuring our circular debt on power is resolved to win another term?
    I hope he, or for that matter anyone, can solve that problem. But just because he has a great cricket career, is a philanthropist, set up a university and everyone else is corrupt does not give him the right to shout away problems. I think it is sad on part of many of us that we take his word without understanding the challenges.
    Before PTI supporters start questioning the motive of all critics, i think they should focus on solving problems. Right now the attitude is “He himself must be corrupt that is why he does not like IK”. Again, i do not care who solves problems, as long as they get solved. My input just serves to highlight what i think is an aspect missed in the proposed solution, and so does Hoodbhoy. You might not agree with the alternate people suggest, i do not have one to be honest, but please for the love of all that is sacred, do not silence your critics just because you cannot answer them!


  • Feb 9, 2012 - 10:15PM

    I am a big critic of India’s educational system. But, it seems much much better when compared with Pakistans.

    The problem with Pakistan is, as this writer wonderfully points out, ideological not just structural.

    The difference is simple. India’s ideology is simple,well defined and modern. Pakistan’s is not. The very idea of Pakistan- the 2 nation theory is anti-modern. The end result of following this ideology is that you get people who reject Darwin’s theory of Evolution just because it does not match and directly contradict the Islamic version of evolution.

    The West also had this problem, but with Industrial Revolution people started rejecting Adam and Eve and embraced Darwin.

    India’s culture, thankfully, celebrates science and doesn’t seem to contradict it. It even doesn’t contradict the Big Bang Theory. But, the problem in India is systematic and structural, never ideological.

    Pakistan has to fix many things before they can start fixing their education system. But, it will be impossible to re-teach something that is brainwashed into people’s mind. It has can never agree to a single ideology.


  • Indian
    Feb 9, 2012 - 10:57PM

    When IK calls liberals “fascist political scum”, then his supporters feel happy. But when he gets criticized, they start blaming jardari,sharifs,liberals etc…

    Why this hypocrisy di ???


  • Ali UK
    Feb 9, 2012 - 11:10PM

    I think IK needs to be scrutinised more and more, this will help Imran to adjust his ideas and plans to improve.

    Let’s say PTI don’t form a government but manage a sizeable opposition then I can see his party stopping some of the corruption that is, and has been going on for decades.

    Pakistan has a perfect opportunity to say NO to the major parties who have ruined the fabric of this country.


  • Feb 9, 2012 - 11:18PM

    Ironically everyone wants to come to power and then enforce new policies, on every issue.

    INSTEAD, to prove his/her mettle

    Can we not thrash out the fine points;

    What is the EDUCATION, today we are getting in Pakistan?

    How can we improve on it??

    What should be the Standards, applicable for all schools??

    Can we not entrust the Educational Field to Renouned Educationists??Offcourse, duly

    overlooked by a worthy duly educated(certified degree holder)

    Can we change the age old concept of handlinmg Education in and educated way and atmosphere??


  • Feb 9, 2012 - 11:27PM

    Sheer Brilliance. Been attempting to convey the same message for some time now


  • Imran Mohammad
    Feb 9, 2012 - 11:52PM

    Well Said Samson Sharif ! IK is not PM neither PTI is in power and never has been in 60 years ! Why spend so much energy criticizing PTI’s educational policy. Blame those who have been at the helms of affairs for all these years. IK is daring to challenge the status quo, that is his FAULT !!


  • wasim
    Feb 10, 2012 - 12:13AM


    I am not sure why you think that I am trying to silence you, in fact I wanted to hear more from you to know what made you reject his manifesto.

    So You are rejecting his whole manifesto on the basis of his two claims that he will fix the failed education system and he will raise the teachers salaries and bring them at par with the private sector Because you believe no one can achieve this goal and hence we are better off with the status-quo. AM I right.


  • azam
    Feb 10, 2012 - 12:18AM

    Dr. Hood is extremely correct in putting our lost attention on education again and setting up some objective measurements of the one standard education and potential risks, never mind, it feels me as he get bit furious during the above article writing so he should be don’t you think it happen to you also but no one can challenge him on his voice of education.

    don’t you think we should all be like Dr. Hood so we can make all politician accountable ?

    few days ago I was thinking that real problem does not exist with our politicians but with our own nation and national ideology which has been destroyed to that extent that we could not judge are leaders, and leaders can only be judged by the nation they rule.
    we probably still a confused nation and we will be till the dawn of quality education. So education is the best policy. And I hope one Mr. Khan would also deal with it no matter from which facet and angle.

    THINKING ABOUT HIS ANXIETY on MULLAH, its quite simple as we are still lost in useless discussions on religion and developed world has gone too far to reach.Recommend

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