A new system of education
It should be compulsory for all college and university students to spend six months to one year teaching in remote parts of Pakistan.
The idea is simple and yet has the potential to make a big difference. I suggest a National Education Service be setup in Pakistan which makes it compulsory for all college and university students and graduates to spend six months to one year teaching in remote parts of Pakistan.
The dynamics of the process like curriculum, rotation and teaching structure etc. can be worked on - it won't be rocket science - but as a start it might help to make enlistment to this service compulsory for all people to serve in areas far away from their domicile.
The benefits will be many, not only will an increased interaction between different people and children from different provinces help create better understanding and alleviate ethnic tension, a direct solution to illiteracy also stands a chance. There are a lot of modalities that need to be looked into of course, like the feasibility of such a project. How can the existing setup of educational institutions in Pakistan play a role in this? Can a meaningful curriculum be introduced? Can such a service be introduced at all; is it pragmatic, will it really help allay ethnic – socioeconomic divisions in society? Are there past experiences that can be looked into for precedent? There is a chance that it might succeed, there may not be ghost schools anymore or more missing teachers on pay rolls, we can trust the young and educated elite of Pakistan to have a better conscience than most and discharge their duties effectively.
Ways to avoid any corruption or abuse of the system or to improve its performance can be done after a pilot is run. If budgetary allocations can be made I propose a progress center be built in every town and village which provides classrooms, a health center, IT center and accommodation for visiting faculty and in time, doctors. The IT center can help the locals learn more about the outside world and build their own career paths.
An increased role for women in society and education needs to be encouraged. For a start the problem that women face of not being able to work or study after getting married can be partially solved if their children are going to school at timings which are similar to office working hours. If a mother has school going children, she has to ensure they are fed, clothed and ready for school at around eight in the morning. If her children are at school from 8am to 5pm, then she has a better chance of entering the workforce.
Increasing school going hours will ensure more time per subject, vacations should be limited to only 3 weeks a year instead of three months which would mean that children have more time to educate themselves and study. Class duration should be increased so that more time is spent per subject. These ideas may seem out of the box and Utopian but they are actually being practiced by an educational institution called KIPPS in the US. KIPPS is a government school, so the curriculum remains the same as all public schools; it’s just that more time is given to students to learn and teachers to explain concepts better. The results have been remarkable - kids have an actual chance of a good higher education, 90 per cent of KIPPS graduates have moved on to higher education.
I bring these points to light in the hope that something good can be picked from them. A combination of KIPPS style education by graduates on National Service – teaching all over the country sounds Utopian but is a realistic possibility.
Singapore, Greece and Israel have a compulsory National Service for their men and women to serve in the militarily. What we need more is an educational solution otherwise we will fail to progress as a nation ethically, morally or scientifically. It's a vicious cycle trying to enforce such a 'National Service' given the law and order situation but the buck stops at education in any problem, so it must be addressed in every aspect.