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. 

The Most Popular News of the day in your Inbox daily.

Reader Comments (220)

  • Falcon
    Feb 10, 2012 - 12:21AM

    I agree that the solution is not easy. But criticizing IK rather than helping PTI fine-tune the education policy is not the healthy route either. His approach is based on controlled privatization, progressive revenue allocation (I believe additional 0.5% – 1% of GDP compounding every year), curriculum standardization, and most likely revenue substitution (to expand education net to child laborers). You are right we need additional funds for that but let’s also keep in mind that we are have one of the lowest tax-to-GDP ratio vis-a-vis other developing economies. Provided we are able to fix it, we will have reasonable sum to channel to this under-invested sector. The good thing is it is one of the four top pillars of PTI manifesto and therefore is expected to get reasonable revenue allocation once we are able to close our fiscal deficit in the near-term. Lastly, there are new private-public education partnership models that are emerging, which might be worth evaluating as well. Let’s find solutions rather than pigeon hole ideals, that’s all we are saying.


  • RK
    Feb 10, 2012 - 12:24AM

    For the umpteenth time, have you read the manifesto. Please do not ask me to “summarize” the whole thing for you. This is exactly what disgusts me in any debate on PTI. I am sure you idolize IK to death, and i respect your right to do so. But when i point out any issues with his grand scheme of making things better, you would resort to labeling me as being happy with the status quo.
    I am not saying things are great, but i am trying to see how they can be made better. Most of the PTI supporters (ones i have encountered, present company included) seem to believe that if IK is the “supreme leader”, everything will be fine: Gas, electricity, corruption, education, self-reliance, economy. If you do not get up, start understanding problems, diagnosing them and trying to solve them, IK would not pull solutions out of his magic hat!
    Fixing things is going to be a collective effort, Khan sahib is not going to personally visit your street and clean it, visit your schools and teach children daily. Can you explain, since you are such and expert in education how his scheme fixes things?
    BTW, I have taught at a state university in Pakistan for five years, and have experienced schooling abroad (US included). Please do not question my experience with education in Pakistan.
    Finally, for the umpteenth time, i “DONOT CARE” who solves Pakistan’s problems, maybe you do, and you just IK in power regardless of whether he does anything or not. I do not care for IK if he cannot be of use to Pakistan.
    Good day sir!


  • Hassan
    Feb 10, 2012 - 12:26AM

    shame to u for targeting his children…they are under custody of his ex wife…shame on u for getting personal…and i think its something positive that all mind sets…islamic extremist (like mullah u mentioned) to anti islamic extremist like u…were sitting together…in the end namal university…and please do positive criticism instead of pleasing west…tsunami will come no matter how much confusion u create Recommend

  • Alam Dar
    Feb 10, 2012 - 1:11AM

    I think u and I read 2 very different books. What Imran Khan means in his book is that there should be 1 education system for all. And also that education system needs to be revamped. And it is important to include religion to that because education of religion is also an important aspect in development to society. The US has one education system for all and it works. Same goes for UK,India etc. So there is no reason Pakistan can’t have a successful education body. However it requires a lot of improvement. As far as religious extremism is concerned Pakistan needs to also exert some control over madrassahs and mosques. I live in Dubai and one of the striking things abt the UAE is that the khutba in friday prayers in all mosques in UAE is the same every week. This suggests no imam/cleric is able to inflict his own personal views. They make absolutely sure that nothing said in the khutba relates to extremism.


  • The Man with No Name
    Feb 10, 2012 - 2:30AM

    First of all a great article if a writer wants to be biased. I thought educational insitutions were mean’t to act upon the moral values leaving aside the religious values. I have got questions as you being an educationist might like to answer…
    Is LUMS providing a moral culture to our youth? Have you ever written something on that? Are Pakistani universities just money making machines? I am asking you this because of all the scandals that are available in the internet.
    If someone wants to change the system you can criticise at that but please your criticism should contain solutions so that the guy can review his/her plans.
    Purpose of education is to teach the youth moral values not Physics or Political Science, that has to be your secondary choice so that students must be handed with a responsibility. Had these things been done before would have been in a different position by now. And one more thing, PTI’s education policy is not implemented yet, it is being told so there’s a huge difference. Recommend

  • Feb 10, 2012 - 3:02AM

    While I agree 100% with what Dr. Hoodbhoy says in this article, what I really miss in this piece is that he doesn’t really recommend who else to vote for, since the article speaks so passionately about one political party. I think all parties offer false promises. Either say political parties can’t deliver or recommend one. Why target one?


  • Kashif Jan
    Feb 10, 2012 - 4:21AM

    Dr. Hoodbhoy in his article has quoted from Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) and the plight of education in Pakistan. However it doesn’t take him long (3 paragraphs to be precise) into the article, before the learned doctor retreated to his favourite pastime – criticising Imran Khan. This time he had to dig into Khan’s personal life and decisions to make a rather bizarre analogy. It beggars belief as to what else would he need to write about his visceral hatred and contempt for a person who without even having come into power has already given us a noteworthy and remarkable “Namal” college.

    Before we go any further and address some of the criticism hurled at Imran, it may be pertinent to note some of Dr. Hoodbhoy’s own perceived prejudices. To begin with we are told of a “private meeting” organized by Imran Khan at his residence in 1996. He very conveniently forgets to mention the actual date of the meeting which could establish if it took place before Khan had launched his movement for Justice in Lahore on 25th April 1996, he however does at least concede it was a private meeting and not a policy framework on education being thrashed out by the new party. A private meeting is by definition entails a frank exchange of ideas and a meaningful meeting can only be one which carries a broad range of diverse opinion. Dr. Hoodbhoy shows his contempt and narrow minded bigotry by commenting on participants personal appearances by stating that 3 of the 6 participants at the meeting were “bearded maulanas”. Are we meant to deduce that people with beards do not have anything intelligent to say? Or does it signify in the stereotypical world of our elite that anyone from middle class or lower middle class with a religious disposition is beneath our elite to engage with? Doesn’t that reality highlight a bigger problem of our society as a whole?

    The point Dr. Hoodbhoy makes symbolises the malaise and the deepening divide of our society where people are not even willing to tolerate each other’s viewpoint let alone trying to persuade by reasoning. The article then ceases to talk about education and moves more into a critique of Imran Khan the person. He talks of Imran furiously raging against his “pukka brown sahib” education. No Dr. Hoodhboy yet again you miss the point he is not condemning the education but the mindset and divide that it perpetuates and gives the privileged in our society a feeling of being superior to other less fortunate. Imran talks of the inequality that this system breeds in our society which manifests in greater resentment and hatred amongst the populace. Dr. Hoodbhoy makes another unsubstantiated charge that Khan is against scientific advancement without actually giving us any concrete evidence to back his claim. But the low point of the article has to be his absurd claim that Khan sends his kids to the same schools that he despises. To begin with Dr. hoodbhoy Mr. Khan has never ever suggested or said anything against his former school and university which would suggest that he “despises” these institutions, if anything he is all praise for the quality of education he received. Furthermore if the good Dr. is unaware may I remind him that Mr. Khan is divorced and the children happen to live with their mother as part of the divorce agreement in UK and the children’s educational requirements are a mutual decision for the parents and not a political football that Dr. Hoodbhoy wishes to exploit for the sake of his personal critique.

    Dr. Hoodbhoy doubts Imran Khan’s PTI stated desire to introduce one syllabus across the country to bring equality in our society and to send a signal to everyone in Pakistan that everyone is equal and equally important for our country be it the child in Beaconhouse in Karachi or a child in Waziristan. There is clearly a lot of cynicism and an almost twisted desire to see PTI fail in achieving its objective hence it is being ridiculed even before it has had a chance to implement its policy. To bring hope is one part of this Tsunami for change – the implementation will be the bigger and more lasting legacy that it will leave behind and for that Dr. Hoodbhoy you will just have to wait and see.


  • usman malik
    Feb 10, 2012 - 4:48AM

    Dear Pervez Hoodbhoy,

    Yes, it’s a well fabricated plot that sheds light on the rightful aspect, bit biased from the beginning and with very little “agenda making” in the end. After your third argument I was sure of the fact that you’re actually against “mualana beard” culture but in order to propose something you had to back down to something else and so the phlegm came down to Imran Khan’s naive “education tsunami”.I could see your academic accreditation,positions and affiliation with prestigious institution with a Phd, but the question of your proposal of “other” education reform tickles my stomach.
    Alright, we get it, Imran Khan can’t deliver the promised education reform and you concluded this idea due to the failure of 3 hours long noisy meeting? because three mulanas were also invited and they proposed what they had in their heads?but you hardly touched what Imran Khan’s policy and intervention would be to tackle this emergency (I doubt if any PTI’s party member would be even aware of that;new party, new challenges and a transition phase do justify the silence). It’s getting bit too hard to digest,I am afraid!


  • usman malik
    Feb 10, 2012 - 7:55AM

    Dear Pervaiz,

    If you’re saying considering whole young lot as “naive”, then support your argument with some evidences.Because what we been taught that these young people are the actual power of any country.Most of commentators and writers have analysed your piece of writing from various dimensions.And lets be honest, all of these are actually defending Imran Khan. Well, how do you feel when “naive” people stand up and actually find non-sense from what you have perceived a big sense? I can see those people who are starting with “sir” and ending with “thank you” and then there are those people who are starting with “what” and ending with “how”. Definitely, in any part of the world, later ones are being considered as intellectuals and formal ones get the tag of plagiarism.


  • Abdul Aziz
    Feb 10, 2012 - 10:14AM

    Don;t forget you were also the part of that group who were teaching Pakistani student and we know how good you were a teacher or a commentator and your love with Islam which is the basis of all moral grounds if you had learnt and taught it to the youth of this country.
    Now you find flaws.


  • Ahatchi
    Feb 10, 2012 - 10:57AM

    I think hoodbhoy is spot on. It is so sad to see that the so called tsunami is being led by a gentleman who has a slit/confused personality. Not only education, but much of his analysis on the national issues and proposed reforms are naive, lacking an understanding of both strategic and operational considerations. I honestly wish and pray whole heatedly that he moves beyond slongeering and starts making more sense.


  • Sajida
    Feb 10, 2012 - 11:31AM

    Mr. Hoodbhoy should wait until Mr Khan is able to deliver on the promise.
    He seems to be grinding an ideological axe of his own. I am not surprised by Pakistan’s education performance. While Mr. Hoodbhoy teaches at US universities he seems to have missed that the future minority-majority has an education capacity that is not much different from that of Pakistanis. And innumeracy is an epidemic in the US and is even blamed for being a factor in the financial crisis. If he spent anytime on the subway (I doubt) he ever visited a slum or poor locality in the US and si suffers from what I describe as the gated community complex syndrome, he would see that poor minorities also have trouble speaking in English. Meanwhile, in England the school grads are not even capable of being employed by grocery stores.


  • mansoor alam
    Feb 10, 2012 - 11:31AM

    mr. hoodbhoy do u have any workable solution to 64 years mess ?


  • Zaffar
    Feb 10, 2012 - 12:01PM

    I am really gald at the constructive comments for pro-IK. Clearly we are winning. The author has been critical and focussed on IK who is not even in the picture! IK educates everyday about morals and science-so he has learnt and WILL prove. the last bit of education pearlfrom IK was for his supporters to convince others on the basis of evidence and not heresay-which is more like this article


  • Mohsin
    Feb 10, 2012 - 12:15PM

    People are targeting PTI for getting fame…….PTI is not in power u cannot say Imran cannot change the system……we r with him.


  • Shah
    Feb 10, 2012 - 12:53PM

    I dont get our people at all. I dont say Imran is a saint but dear writer, from is meetins you can atleast understand one thing. He wants to change. This makes him different from other politicians. We need a sincere person. We need to change the trend of having PM’s who are just filling their pockets.

    I do believe that Imran is flying high. But I atleast trust that we will give the change Tsunami a push. This will bring us atleast on the right track. In the future than we can start are trains and move forward.

    I hope you got my point.


  • Syed Mohammad
    Feb 10, 2012 - 1:45PM

    @Dan Dennett:
    Well said. That’s exactly seems to be Dr. Hoodbhoy’s problem.


  • kashif
    Feb 10, 2012 - 2:22PM

    Well one thing I learnt from my education was that many writers just write what they want to write. An almost perfect heading of this article is perfect attention getter for the readers. It is a misaligned argument based on what one of the persons in Imran Khan’s group said, but Imran Khan is not quote anywhere, is that not a joke? Atleast to make your writing more authentic give us some quotes from his biography, do some proper research, some quality writing, do not give the media a bad name by airing poorly researched articles. I am amazed why Imran Khan even contacted you and also 1996 was very different from 2012 it was 16 Years ago, many things have changed.


  • qasim
    Feb 10, 2012 - 2:50PM

    I am sure PPP and PML’s education policies have been fantastic over the years.


  • Sadia
    Feb 10, 2012 - 3:47PM

    @zafar ul hassan:
    sorry, but what you quote from iqbal appears like a load of crap to me.


  • Feb 10, 2012 - 4:15PM

    You show a lot of bias in a lot of points in this article, Imran Khan may not be the expert when it comes to education but you have to commend him for at least speaking of the root causes. These are not the things which will get him famous with the crowd, like most of the status-quot parties do. but you have to agree talking long term this is the single most important thing we have to address. Imran Khan is not so clear on a lot of things which he addresses by telling us that he will bring experts/managers in all the fields to run those.

    When it comes to education, he is talking about people like yourself to give him the best suggestions. He will shape up but for now he is the single most important option we have got. He is going for the kill and needs our support. Godspeed Pakistan !


  • Sadia
    Feb 10, 2012 - 4:37PM

    @Samson Simon Sharaf:
    a ‘sensible crackpot’? what on earth is that?


  • Raza Ali Kazmi
    Feb 10, 2012 - 4:48PM

    Brilliant writing Mr. Hoodbhoy… But i must warn u of the impending backlash of the PTI cyber army… U differed with their revolutionary chairman and now see how they repay u Recommend

  • Dr.Akbar
    Feb 10, 2012 - 4:56PM

    Why not privatize education and provide for a freedom of choice and competition in the curriculum’s rather than embarking on a socialistic utopia … After all why strive for uniformity where god has created diversity, in the human mind. Education is concerned with intellectual advancement which does not blossom under coercive compulsion.


  • Mukesh Lohana
    Feb 10, 2012 - 4:59PM

    In my opinion, the people of Pakistsan need a Self-Education programme to attain a high level of emotional and mental maturity. The self-education program should be offered to all individuals regardless of age including doctors, phds, teachers and all others professionals. It has been seen that many of the hlighly qualified people also do not compose the right character and attitude towards life. We need the education system which may help to make an independant and mature mind to make a right decsions, and develop appreciation over people and life


  • mf hussain
    Feb 10, 2012 - 7:44PM

    You Sir are a small beacon of rationality amidst the black hole.. Too bad there are not enough of you out there.


  • XX
    Feb 10, 2012 - 8:39PM

    Indeed I agree with the author; Imran Khan and PTI’s false promises on education are nothing but demagoguery for it’s naive supporters, and Imran Khan coming into power will have disastrous impacts indeed for this country
    Indeed, only the true forces of democracy, led by the Pakistan People’s Party of the gallant Asif Ali Zardari, and the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz, of the chivalrous Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, can save this country from educational disaster – but only if they can rein in the scheming forces of the Army / ISI / Imran Khan and the national nuclear program.Recommend

  • The Youth(also a student of his)
    Feb 10, 2012 - 8:47PM

    The part that was soothing for me to read was the bit where stated that such a vision was impossible. The reason being what IK has always said that there will ALWAYS be some who’ll say the I-word. From the SKMT hospital (where 19 out of the 20 medical experts blatantly put down the idea of a FREE Cancer Hospital) to the NUML university, his optimist and idealist approach always got the better of him and the our nation. I’ve seen him planning strategies with the TOP educational team, compromising of brilliant minds of Razzak Dawood(LUMS Dean) and other educational experts(and fellow optimist if i might add). Like all his other (ideological) ideas, what mattered in the end was his his clean intention. Therefore, i am relieved after reading this article as it has assured me of what right task my leader is doing for the betterment of MY NATION. Recommend

  • The Youth(also a student of his)
    Feb 10, 2012 - 8:56PM

    And if i might add…IK NEVER claimed Aitchison as a bad experience, infact he told me several times never to be ‘nashukra’ of what i had at the time when i was in this prestigious institution. Moreover, the reason his children are studying there are for quality education and legally speaking its the mother choice of where she sends he child, IK doesnt have a voice in it.


  • Mir
    Feb 10, 2012 - 11:16PM

    Dr Sahib while I admire your services to this country specially after having done PHD from MIT you had chosen to return and dedicating your life for the betterment and teaching of Physics to Pakistani students, I respectfully disagree on your views . Imran Khan is far removed religious fanatics who are irrational and clueless when it comes to decide which education system will work for Pakistan. Remember politician are different breed than academics, as their role is to impart hope and optimism among oppressed and miserable masses. Yes , we can, should be his mantra and if he would be as calculating and reserve as you expect then how will he lead? Demagoguery is misleading and dishonest but how would you perceive his previous life, far away from religious right and for-sale politicians ,a successful athlete and philanthropic. Don’t shoot the messenger and blow up only and last ray of hope on Pakistani horizon. Recommend

  • RK
    Feb 10, 2012 - 11:30PM

    Yes, you are winning, and unfortunately, that does not necessarily equate to Pakistan winning.


  • RK
    Feb 10, 2012 - 11:42PM

    Yes, I totally agree with finding solutions. But here is the disconnect that i perceive. Most of the people expect IK to magically fix things without realizing that people themselves would have to be involved in the process. For instance, would all of the current PTI jialas be willing to pay more taxes to see the actions take place? We want a western standard of living without realizing the cost and responsibility we have to bear to reach it. I am a big fan of IK, but not as a politician. I want him to succeed, but he has to convince me that he can, i can simply not take his word on it. If he presents a good and realistic solution, i am totally on board with him.
    But i find it condescending when PTI supporters say that “The Khan has spoken, there can be no debate”. You get people attacking at a personal level “Oh, so you are a PPP supporter”, “oh, what have you done, he has built a hospital AND a university”. Mind you, great deeds as those are in their place, we do not (at least me) expect to run Pakistan as a charitable foundation.
    I realize that IK might be the only hope for us, but lets make it work. Lets ask him the right questions and ensuring he makes the right decisions!


  • Kashif Muneer
    Feb 11, 2012 - 12:08AM

    I liked Mr Hoodbhai’s physics documentary program on PTV in 90s, when I was a child. Anyways, Sir, are you also going to analyse the education-vision of Zardari sahib, Nawaz sharif sahib, Altaf Hussain and other major stake holders in Pakistan? That would help me to choose the better one, perhaps!


  • Feb 11, 2012 - 12:09AM

    Dear Dr. Hoodbhoy, I appreciate your efforts to highlight the difficulties that are expected to be faced by Imran Khan when he will try to introduce the educational reform. However I would request you to please put forward your suggestions as to how Mr. Khan should go about improving the system in Pakistan. We have to scrap the garbage of 65 years from this country and no doubt it is a very difficult task. But there has to be a start. So instead of mere critique you should give your inputs as an intellectual. Thanks a lot.


  • Freeman
    Feb 11, 2012 - 12:27AM

    @Nadir: I think Pervaiz has written this article on the behalf of some other politicians who do not want Imran Khan to win and come in power.

    If Imran is better than other Political LEADER THEN WHO IS??????????

    I do not beleive Pervaiz on even one word his article clearly shows that he wants status qou in Pakistan. We will not change our mind as we beleive only Imran Khan is honest, brave and stonge leader of Paksitan who can put Paksitan on a correct path.

    We will vote for Imran Khan and will give Imran Khan atleast once and test him.Recommend

  • Freeman
    Feb 11, 2012 - 12:33AM

    @faraz: Imran and his party will introduce their Education policy on 26 Febrauary 2012.

    Also Nmal College clearly shows different story than this article.

    check this video and listen carefully Bradford Universities what Vice Chancelers said.


  • Feb 11, 2012 - 12:56AM

    @ Author
    1St Commandment of Politics
    The dirtier the better.Recommend

  • Shane Hashmi
    Feb 11, 2012 - 1:13AM

    In the history of the world, great leaders have transformed societies towards progress and prosperity and turning the fate of nations. They all defied common perception and logic and eventually turned out victorious. They all must have come across similar criticism. But they had vision, drive and passion. That is all you need to bring about change in any field, be it education or governance. Imran Khan possesses those qualities and has a proven track record of similar achievements in the form of the institutions he has created. I am with such a leader who has vision, passion and walks the untrodden.


  • Feb 11, 2012 - 1:44AM

    Uncalled for debate on a public forum. All this rant on a mere statement that ‘we want to have on syllabus’. It shows intent to have uniform educational system and can be discussed but Pervez Hoodbhoy tried to shun the debate. Disappointed.


  • ayesha khan
    Feb 11, 2012 - 2:41AM

    @sikander: “Mr.Hoodbhoy ,Who should we vote for then ? Any Suggestions ?

    Nowhere has he implied that people should not vote for Imran (or encuraged people to vote for Imran either). As a lifelong educationist, he is simply bringing some facts related to the education system to Imran’s attention, so that in case Imran wins he can have a betetr education policy than the one he currently talks about. The reason is that the situation is dire and the country does not have the time for trial and errors to fix the problem.

    Every analysis of Imran’s policy/position does not have to be turned into a single point referendum of ‘Are you for Imran or against him?”


  • ayesha khan
    Feb 11, 2012 - 3:21AM

    @Hassan: “shame to u for targeting his children…they are under custody of his ex wife…shame on u for getting personal”

    I agree that his kids and ex-wife should be kept out of this debate.

    I have noted however that Imran does not hesitate in getting personal. After all he constantly has been accusing Zardari of corruption (which is personal) but the fact is he has not come up with any concrete examples of corruption practiced by Zardari during his rle (2008-todate). He said that Babar Ghauri looks like an African (because he is dark) and many similar things. Imran also says that anyone with liberal ideas is a fascist scum – is that not personal?

    Yes personal attacks should be avoided. However Imran needs to practice what he preaches.


  • umar
    Feb 11, 2012 - 4:32AM

    Imran Khan has repeatedly communicated in interviews that in his opinion off all the challenges that Pakistan faces and any future government will have to overcome, the problem of education is the most difficult and will require the most effort in which the whole nation will need to come together to help resolve. In addition he has also repeatedly pointed out that this is the one issue he feels which will take time to resolve i.e is a long term issue
    PTI recognises the enormity of the education challenge and is under no illusions when it points it out as the single biggest danger which if not tackled on an emergency basis, will only lead to more friction, division and social unrest in our society.
    Fortunately or unfortunately where we stand, the bearded maulanas (no thanks to hypocritical and self serving policies of past rulers) in significant numbers have become a part of our society and will also have to be engaged and brought into the mainstream lest we wish to treat them as pariahs (as Mr Hoodbhoy seems to prefer – i apologise to him if i have inferred incorrectly) and do not engage them in a wide ranging solution for all rather than the select elite few.
    And finally, the PTI atleast recognises there is a growing problem and has a broad policy to address the issue. It requires motivated Pakistanis to help it achieve its objectives, not cynical old men pouring scorn over their honest intentions!


  • zafar ul hassan
    Feb 11, 2012 - 9:24AM

    its not crap. reflect on the verses of the Quran that I mentioned (2:269, 12:22). what Iqbal is saying is that through the education system a person should be trained to perform the correct moral actions (good actions) because he believed that Allah Taala rewards people who are doers of good with knowledge and wisdom. Thats what verse 12:22 says. For better understanding of this verse i suggest you visit site and select tafsir al-jalalayn.


  • mansour
    Feb 11, 2012 - 10:22AM

    What Imran Khan has done with Namal College proves this author wrong. The author is implying Imran Khan is siding with the mullahs to bring about an education change; do we see any mullahs at Namal college? I also would like to know which leader’s education policies does this author endorses? It is very easy to pinpoint and criticize but rather difficult to give an alternative solution, which makes this author no different from others who just criticize for the sake of criticizing and that is damaging to the author’s own credibility.


    Feb 11, 2012 - 1:10PM

    A good article showing oter perspective of of over ambitios PTI lover


  • Feb 11, 2012 - 3:02PM

    PTI supporters, do also look at the other side of coin. Don’t call it a bias, only one hospital and a few speeches can not convince the youth, folks. Wake up, and be a little pragmatic. Khan has a charisma, indeed. He looks very smart and intelligent, but will that smartness and intellect work in politics? We have no answer than yes, only because Pakistan does not have another choice.


  • dndrite
    Feb 11, 2012 - 5:38PM

    I initially got sad after reading this article as I had my hopes pinned on IK but after scrolling through the comments and reading about NAMAL, I had to research this further. IK isn’t against the advancement of science or technology, he probably has more passion for education than the author. He is not in power and still manages to form an institution with a strong research component. Check NAMAL’s website, they have degrees in engineering and computer science with courses in technology and professional development. With the courses they offer it is clear that they are focusing on making future leaders in the field of science and tech. Furthermore they have weekly seminars, the current one on the website is “Robotic system development for surgical purposes.” Isnt it a bit silly to label a man anti-tech/science when the institution he started is researching on the use of robots for surgery? By the way the author should probably criticize Bradford University as well, there are two bearded professors with doctorates from Bradford that are teaching English and Mathematics at Namal. IK IS WISE ENOUGH TO KNOW THAT ECONOMIC GROWTH WILL OCCUR THROUGH HUMAN CAPITAL AND THAT IS WHAT HAPPENED WHEN HE AFFILIATED NAMAL WITH BRADFORD, TRANSFER OF KNOWLEDGE FROM BRADFORD TO MIANWALI. NAWAZ AND ZARDARI CAN ONLY SCARE AWAY CAPITAL!


    Feb 11, 2012 - 10:01PM



  • Pappo Piplia
    Feb 11, 2012 - 11:01PM

    Bhutto destroyed education in Pakistan by nationalizing educational institutes.


  • Engr. Mohsin Raza
    Feb 12, 2012 - 9:30AM

    HOODBHOY, We, the Pakistanis, are going to vote for Imran Khan. If you have problems with PTI’s Education Policy, join PTI and correct it, PERIOD!


  • Haider
    Feb 12, 2012 - 2:13PM

    Problem with Mr. Khan is that he doesn’t have a manifesto. It’s nothing but rhetoric. The author has rightly questioned about his definition of EDUCATION. NAMAL can’t be taken as his vision for education in Pakistan because NAMAL is a college and we are having a problem at the grass-root level. Primary education requires objectives and goals. Madrassah and Cambridge philosophy is totally opposite. Imran hasn’t clearly mentioned what side he is projecting or he is presenting a midway between the two. If it is a midway then has he experimented it somewhere because NAMAL is a totally different story.


  • Ramla Akhtar
    Feb 13, 2012 - 12:32AM

    Imran has a point when he suggests that the ‘maulanas’ must be listened to and integrated. He is, however, an inchoate person. He cannot be wholly ‘blamed’ for this. He is a product of a deeply inchoate society, after all. As the society collectively corrects itself and becomes sane, its members and leaders will become sane. Society is not an entity in itself, though. It’s just a collection of individual human beings. In short, the task is of individuals to cast the dust off their minds, and investigate into the real nature of life and humanity.

    Political decisions come much after. First of all, we have to discover who/what we really are, and what our imperatives are as a specie.


  • Mansoor Siddiqui
    Feb 13, 2012 - 1:36AM

    While the writer has brought up some wholesome food for thought viz Pakistan education; his focus became blurred when he started to talk about Imran. What was the point Pervez?
    In my view the following need to be done:
    1. Universal Curriculum for all Pakisan.
    2. Equal opportunities to all children as regards spending of taxpayer’s money. (Here IK’s name can be mentioned that he has said NOTHING about scrapping “institutions” like Aitchison College and redistributing the saved funds to thousands of national schools).
    3. He is unfair with Beaconhouse. Here is one school system that takes no money from the government and has gained much deserved respect for making it work. I think the Beaconhouse has an academic system in place which could be used by the new government to develop curricula based on Mr Hoodbhoy’s recommendations. I think Mr. Kasuri’s inclusion in PTI is an asset. The only thing Mr. Kasuri has to do now is to put his organization in the service of Pakistan. I think if his wife makes a little money running the school then it is acceptable as long she pays her taxes.
    4. Educational TV is essential. There are thousands of stations in the U.S. (national & local) who put out an amazing volume of education absolutely free. We can base our school system around TV specially in remote areas and make world class education available to the poorest.
    5. The school system in the U.S. will be more than happy to support us. We can translate and sub-title their programmes and use them.

    So please speak with Imran again: Maybe he has something for us.


  • Nadia Siddiqui
    Feb 13, 2012 - 1:50AM

    Imran Khan just want to win election. He has no idea that after winning election it is not like the trophy that you keep in the shelf. He just wants to WIN!!!


  • Feb 13, 2012 - 7:52AM

    Someone from Tehrik insaf should come forward in such observations to clarify the party position and remove the doubts of the person who raises them and of course the doubts arising in the minds of general public. By sitting silent on such observations the party is a loser.


  • Feb 13, 2012 - 5:25PM

    I am not sure either this article is for the sake of education or blame on Imran Khan, We are society and instead criticizing each other we should help each other to coupe with the situation, if someone has good and concrete ideas they can share with PTI, I hope their ideas will be honored.

  • Ramla Akhtar
    Feb 13, 2012 - 9:14PM

    I made two comments, one of which has gone missing. In sum, it sggested that the entire notiono of ‘universal education’ is a flawed one, as different children have different needs and aspirations, and also, different regions require, by natural necessity, that their residents be trained in skills specific to that region. As Eskimo child is trained differently from an Australian child due to differences in geography.

    Education is not only cognitive (academic). Current educational thought suggests catering to innate human diversity.

    Therefore, political solutions to educational are and always will be flawed! Education is a very individual and then local/community decision. The whole country does not decide what kind of education each child must have — though countries have overall attitudes brought on by culture and the environment of governance. (When people are insecure due to poor governace, they wil make poor decisions based on fear or greed.)

    The goal of universal education sounds lofty, but it’s neither in alignment with (human) nature, nor practical precisely because it’s not in alignment with reality.

    And that is why, that I think Imran Khan’s intervention in education will eventually fail, even though it is based on good intent. Nature, and not liberals or radicals, will fail it.


  • Dr. Umar
    Feb 16, 2012 - 12:35PM

    An excellent article.A Scientist does not waste many words to put his point of view across.
    I fully agree with you on the issue of Education in Pakistan.We need to EDUCATE our children and not INDOCRINATE them.I read Khan saheb’s biography and can not help thinking that how simplistic his views are towards the workings of this Universe.Can a person like him be entrusted with the task of deciding the destiny of an entire nation?


  • Hassan
    Feb 16, 2012 - 2:35PM

    Pervez, if you have better ideas – then why don’t you just form a party, like Imran did, and struggle like him for 15 years and get what you think is right implemented? Just because he doesn’t give you the importance that you think you should get, doesn’t mean that you start referring to a 16 year old meeting and try to defame him. What better choice do we have than Imran? Nawaz? Zardari? Or you?


  • zeeshan
    Feb 16, 2012 - 5:43PM

    i love ik


  • Gull
    Feb 17, 2012 - 8:50PM

    I am also not a big fan or Imran Khan but I would like to point the attention to the fact that whenever we are making decisions, we need to look at alternatives. Columnist generally portray pictures like these but my question is different. I ask you, that if you have identified problems in the past or present policy, thats great. But, just pin pointing policies is not enough. write it with solutions. Like this is the problem and this is the solution. And if you dont have solutions, then keep quiet and wait for to see someone who claims that he has solutions, or if you are really well wisher of society, then help the one who is willing to help the crumbling society rather than just sitting outside and passing sarcastic comments but adding no value

    This comment is with very due respect of author and all the readers. I didnt mean to hurt anyone but just wanted to share my personal thoughts with the ones who are interested

  • Danial
    Feb 18, 2012 - 2:47AM

    The term, ‘pukka brown sahab education’ in no way reflects a hatred against good educational institutions, it only highlights the need to make good education available to a greater number of Pakistanis instead of continuing with the educational divide that exists among the different economic classes in our country. Secondly, Namal University is a perfect example of the type of education that Imran Khan wants to be provided to the common public.
    Coming to the mention of the ‘bearded maulanas’, I don’t know what the maulanas have done to Mr. Hoodbhoy that has made him so biased against them. Since he teaches at LUMS, perhaps he should take a Writing and Communication course there so that he can learn about ‘generalisation’ being considered a fallacy, and highly unrecommended when trying to provide a logical argument. Not all maulanas are bad Mr. Hoodbhoy, quite a few of them are good people too you know. I’m not surprised though, since all those who have heard and read Mr. Hoodbhoy know of his obsession with demeaning everything even remotely religious (oh and also with the discontinuation of Pakistan’s nuclear programme).
    I am an Imran Khan supporter, and while I can’t give an absolute guarantee that he will succeed where all others have failed (i.e. deliberately failed), I am certain of one thing, that Imran will at least try to make this country a better place. And frankly, after the long line of disgraceful politicians that we have had, that knowledge is reason enough for me to believe in him.


  • SAM
    Feb 20, 2012 - 12:57PM

    Excellent Article Sir. Now a days youngsters think from heart not brain. Today’s youth don’t know anything about Logical thinking. But again its not right to blame these kids as they are also product of same insane Educational system in Pakistan. The last paragraph summarized what need to be done. Imran Khan just want to be a captain but this time he wants to lead country of 18 Crore Jacks. IK is not and will not be the solution for Pakistan troubles becz we as nation is lost and don’t know whats need to be done to get things right.


  • Rehan Khan
    Mar 6, 2012 - 12:52AM

    The article seems to merely tighten the noose around the neck of Imran Khan with the art of diplomacy. He might have pious intention have failed miserably to convey his actual message. Had only the blaming brought ripples in the still waters of our educational system, the phrase ‘Titanic-unsinkable’ would have been the reality!


  • M.Ali
    Mar 8, 2012 - 12:41AM

    We got very bad background so we planned not to proceed:)
    Obviously it will take time to make a system where everychild can study same course…
    For muslims there will be islamiyat and other there will be some elective
    its simple …I am big fan of
    dr. Pervaiz but I cant agree u here …


  • ali gilani
    Apr 4, 2012 - 2:44PM

    It’s not “his” secularism
    Why don’t you explain IK’s covert enthusiasm for taliban and their extremist ideology, Mullah has no business what-so-ever in governance of a state. But IK seems to think otherwise. If he gains power, we are all doomed to revisit stone age way of life. One good thing is that people quickly relized that about IK and he’s deflating pronto.


  • Apr 4, 2012 - 9:27PM

    yes solutions required, with the limited resources we have?? why not the mighty thinkers come out and propose the simple way out and then press for the demand, which is not asking for any special favour–but the best for the nation to come up in a better way??


  • Apr 4, 2012 - 10:12PM

    IK must make a positive start and start setting up schools , like silent TCF, why not??Full support for him on his education endeavour foe a second humble start, after sk hospital >>


  • Apr 5, 2012 - 9:17AM

    We can judge Imran Khan by looking at what he has done in practice. He established Namal Colege in Mianwali which offers degrees in eletronics and computer science and uses English as the medium of instruction. Its board of governors does not have any mullahs but qualified PhDs and prominenet businessmen such as Razzak Dawood. Pervez Hoodbhoy’s article is full of insinuations and assumptions and little to do what Imran Khan’s vision as clearly manifasted in the college founded by him in his home town with the help of the University of Bradford (UK).


More in Opinion