That Pakistan has an education emergency is beyond question. The poor quality of government schools nationwide has led to a massive growth in the private sector, with some of the private schools offering education that is not significantly better than that offered by the state. In general terms, the state is turning out children that are educated to second-best standards and are poorly equipped to join the knowledge economy. Occasionally concrete evidence of the failure of the state to educate its children surfaces, and the report that only a single student from a government school has made it into the list of top position holders in the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, Mardan in the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exams is no surprise. A depressing 71 per cent of children from government schools failed the exam. Figures such as this may be found across the country, not only in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
However, despite an overall picture that remains bleak, there are signs that the situation can be salvaged, and a recent survey carried out in K-P says that 34,000 students who were previously receiving a private education have returned to the state sector. The survey found that there was a mix of reasons for parents opting to re-engage with state schooling, but it was the improvement in the quality of teaching in government schools that proved to be significant. This goes to show that if the education sector receives the right kind of resources, parental perceptions of state education can be changed. While this is encouraging news, the report on the poor SSC exam results in Mardan indicates that one swallow does not a summer make. Teacher appointments are heavily politicised, countless schools lack boundary walls, toilets and a potable water supply — to say nothing of desks, chairs and even blackboards. There is a relatively narrow window of opportunity to fix the education crisis, but with a mighty effort fixable it is. The children of today are the human capital of tomorrow, and a failure to invest in them serves none of us well.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2016.
Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ