Better pass percentage: ‘Intelligence, good grades are not the same thing’

Educationists say school education needs an overhaul.

Aroosa Shaukat July 26, 2012


Though the pass percentage for the Lahore Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education secondary school examination results showed a six per cent improvement over 2011, educationists say it does not necessarily mean effective learning.

“Intelligence and good grades are not the same thing,” Nabiha Meher, a freelance writer and teacher, told The Express Tribune. Meher said that there could be “several reasons” for the improvement, it should not be equated to good learning. She, however, added that  a detailed analysis of the examination system would be needed to identify the reasons. In an environment where students gets bad grades if they do not provide ‘right memorised’ answer, noted Meher, rote learning becomes the norm.

Meher stressed that the ‘passive’ educational system needs to become ‘active’ but added that that could not happen until the government addresses the lack of trained teachers and devises syllabi that encourage critical thinking. Another reason for the sorry state of the education system listed by Meher includes the salaries teachers are paid. “[They] are so low that the teachers become de-motivated,” she said.

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pakistan National report 2012 of the Social Audit of Local Governance and Delivery of Public Services, in the last decade, provincial governments have run ‘specialised education campaigns’ to improve primary and secondary education.

Despite this, says the report, there has been a three per cent decline in the level of satisfaction from 2009-2010. In 2011-12, the satisfaction level was 55 per cent as compared to 58 per cent n 2009-10.

Dr Baela Raza Jamil of Idara-i-Taleem-o-Agahi also agreed with Meher. She described results as “mere numbers, which often fail to take into consideration the intelligence and aptitude of a child.” Dr Jamil, who has previously served in the Ministry of Education, questioned the lack of diversity in examination techniques.

“There’s a lot of undue pressure on children to get good grades,” she said while indicating that teachers focused their energies on the students getting high scores rather than ensuring that they learn.

“A do-or-die situation has been created, where a child who fails to score a certain grade is considered to be a failure,” she said.

Similar concerns were voiced by Ayesha Aslam who secured the first position amongst girls in the humanities group in the Secondary School Examination 2012. A student of Government Model Girls High School Okara, Aslam said that most of the questions in the exams are designed to examine the student’s ability to ‘memorise’. The problem, in Aslam’s opinion, lies with the way the exam papers are formulate.

“There need to be more concept-based questions in the exams,” she said. Aslam, who wants to join the civil services said that an education system which encourages students to question things is needed.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2012.