Our schools need teachers, good teachers that come from different walks of life and possess the basic skills needed to teach young minds. I’m not just talking about our public schools here. I’m including private schools, single-sex and co-ed, rural and urban. Our education emergency is based on the fact that millions of children are still left out of the current education system. While this truly is the most major education-related problem that needs attention and fixing on a national scale today, one has to give in to the truth that there exist many more problems for education in Pakistan — the rising costs and limited availability of quality education being the next two major factors for me.
Both problems can be solved on smaller scales — teach people how to teach. Quality education comes from good teachers (I bet school administrations disagree) and the teachers are also the number one cause of rising costs of education everywhere. The salary brings the motivation. Not being able to pay well has caused a drop in the number of people willing to join the field and hence, we’re left with those who take these jobs on as a last resort. More often than not, they don’t end up doing their jobs so well.
Teacher training in this country, although far behind what the developed world has set as standard, is capable of making such a contribution possible. Professional lawyers, doctors, engineers, journalists, artists etc. could all teach something of value to the young minds in this country. In a place where most people cannot afford to continue their education beyond matriculation or the intermediate level, does it not make sense to up the inspiration and knowledge provided at younger levels?
If time and money are what keep most people from entering the teaching job market, then this option presents a simple solution to the problem on a long-term basis. It sounds like an over-simplification at some level, but small steps have presented us with good results.
At the end of the day, what is more important: making sure enough people go through the current outdated and ineffective education system to become a proud member of the ‘literate Pakistan’ clan or imparting knowledge and skills that can help people support themselves in the long run?
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2013.
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