‘Through first class education, a generation matches down the long uncertain road of the future with confidence.”-Wynton Marsalis
Education is regarded as the third eye of man. It enables him to develop a sense to differentiate between right and wrong. It has a potential to turn all trials and tribulations in peace, progress and prosperity. Education acts as a custodian of nations rights. It is education not a standing army that guards nation. It is meant to nature the minds and shape destiny.
Unsurprisingly, Sindh lacks behind in standard of the education. Education in Sindh is totally ruined, there is no quality education. Many schools in rural area are closed since decades. There prevail ghost schools. Copy culture is rampant and educational boards give high grades on kickbacks. Infrastructure is destroyed. Syllabus is outdated and obsolete. Teachers in province are untrained and incompetent. There are no extracurricular activities in educational institutions and prize distributing ceremonies are very rare. Education standard in Sindh has worsened. It has been nothing but a handsome business to acquire money. Fee of private schools is scaling new heights. There prevails an educational apartheid in public-private schools which has further deteriorated the education standard in the province. As the problems are high and severe, they need a range of viable solutions. Government must update the obsolete syllabus. It needs to develop a uniform syllabus at per modern needs and requirements. It must bring an end to the menace of corruption and rampant copy culture. In order to bring a positive change, policy makers should adopt those strategies which could ensure merit based recruitment of teachers. It should device plans to make sure the increased number of enrollments in public schools. A vibrant education policy is the need of hour. More Funds need to be reserved for educational development projects. Modern labs and research centers should be established. In addition to that, Public-private partnership could prove fruitful. Such pragmatic measures are supposed to uplift the worsen education standard in Sindh and make it in line with 21st century needs and demands.
It should be noted, Education doesn’t merely provide information to the young souls rather it is a social construct. “The highest education is that which doesn’t merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence.” Rabindranath Tagore. It confers upon people, the sense of responsibility and develops their attitude towards others. It promotes peace, harmony and respect for diversity. It transforms information in innovative ideas and makes the best use of that for man to achieve all summits of success and glory. Nelson Mandela; A revolutionary from South Africa, has rightly said, “Education is the most powerful weapon that we can use to change the world”. It is education which paves way for nations to prosper and progress. It acts as a stair to peace, prosperity and privilege. This is therefore, The Last Prophet, Hazrat Muhammad (SAWW) has said, “Seek Knowledge, even if you need to go to China for it.”
Education standard in Pakistan and in Sindh particularly, is ruined. Education in Sindh is in tatters. It doesn’t follow the internationally standardized method of teaching and education. It lack in almost all area. Sindh’s education is full of flaws and its standard is ailing. Being signatory of the Treaty under the Dakar Framework, signed in Senegal in 2000, the province has to provide free education up to primary level at any cost. The enhanced slogan of Dakar Framework is Education for All (EFA). But a recent report by UNESCO has declared that Pakistan and particularly Sindh is at lowest EFA index because of low enrollment at primary schools, adult literacy, gender equity and equality and quality of education. Sindh is encompassed with enormous problems and all these pose a great challenge to education sector of Sindh. Sindh’s education standard is adversely affected by these problems. UNESCO report vociferously depicts the deteriorated Education standard in Sindh. It is confronted with many problems. Syllabus taught in the province is obsolete. It is no longer in use; anywhere in the world. Outdated syllabus is of no use. If it is taught, it won’t be providing updated information rather would confuse the minds. To prosper the fresh minds, it is necessarily to acquaint the students with accurate and updated information. One cannot deny the fact that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Hence, outdated use of information is dangerous for fresh minds. To add an example, atom is divided in more than 22 particles but syllabus taught in Sindh still tells that atom has three parts Electron, Proton and Neutron. Same is the case of English Grammar, British have shun the use of shall and will but decades old syllabus in Sindh still insists the use of such obsolete helping verbs. Passing of correct and updated information is as necessary as education itself.
Likewise, in the wake of devastating floods of 2010 and monsoon rains of 2022, public education is province of Sindh has faced an existential threat. Estimates indicate that, almost 16,000 out of total 36,648 functional public schools were been badly damaged, either by flood victims of 2010 or by those who took shelter in them. According to Sindh government, almost 20,000 schools (Primary, Middle, Secondary, and Higher Secondary) schools have been affected. 7,503 schools have been completely destroyed. And the buildings of almost 12,305 schools have been partially damaged. The monsoon rains have affected the education of 2.4 million students at all as per government report. School infrastructure in Sindh has already been in tatters and the recent wave of very harsh monsoon rains has made it even more worse.
Ironically, the education boars have started a new business of selling high grades at kickbacks. It is a very dirty game played by educational boards in Sindh. Those students with well-to-do families and high background are offered A-1 grades by while the meritorious students are deprived of their right to secure high grades. Nepotism has entrenched it roots very deeply in education boards. Marks and grades are sold out to influential students and to the Kith and Kin. This practice of corruption is a serious threat posed to the talented students of the province. The poor students who burn midnight coils to reach the destiny are kicked back by such notorious practices. The practice of taking bribery is very disappointing for competitive students because it ultimately sacks their bright futures. It is an assassination of the dreams and aspirations of competitive students.
Pathetically, the teachers in education sector of Sindh are less competent and even less educated. Teachers play a pernicious role in nurturing a mind. It is a teacher who educates the students and develops their mental outlook. A teacher can prepare a good student. It provides a base that could affect whole society in a very positive manner. If a teacher is competent, talented, updated, he would be an immediate cause to develop student’s interest in educational activities. On the other hand, if a teacher will be dull, incompetent and less aware, he would remain annoying for the students. Such teachers yield very negative results in regard to students learning outcomes. Therefore, it is very mandatory to hire the teachers purely on merit basis. It is because the competent, talented and meritorious teachers make children interested, active and vibrant in achieving their higher goals.
Education department could produce such highly competitive teachers when it will remain full fledge in running its affairs. Political Interference in educational institutes produces no good sign. Unfortunately, Sindh is engulfed with that problem too. Political figures and high officials are found directly involved in recruitment policy. They exert pressure and influence in order to get their specific candidates recruited. Their very interference in universities and colleges has further aggravated the situation. Their interference and influence is very deep rooted that even the transfer and posting- form peon to principal is made through their consent. Those who decline their orders are removed from the chair immediately. The educational sector is weak that local representatives of political parties order the transfer and posting of teachers and other staff at their will. And this is not an end, if someone at chair in education department would disapprove their consent, he would be transferred to remote area. This blue practice has a severe impact on education standard in the province.
Similarly, another problem is that of low allocation of funds. Government of Sindh spends 22% of its budget on education sector. It is not enough, because a huge chunk of this amount goes is salary of teaches and other staff members. The remaining funds are not property utilized. There is manure of funds as well. A huge amount is wasted in inappropriate means. Sometimes because of the incompetency of high officials, a good amount of funds is lapsed and the reaming is unnecessarily used. Following the 18th Constitutional Amendment, education became provisional subject, but despite that, funds allocation I education sector has ridiculously went to lowest ebb. There prevails a hollow situation. Due to the shortage of funds, new educational institutes are not established. Sindh province has only twenty universities at all. This shows that the province is deprived of quality education. On the other hand, Hiroshima; a city in Japan, almost destroyed by an atom bomb- has above twelve universities .A city of just nine hundred thousand people has maximum number of educational institutes. Contrary to that, Sindh having a population of 60 million has got very least universities.
Likewise, each individual has some inner capabilities. There dwells an artist is each soul. The dire need is to find it, shape it and present it before world. Such talents are wasted because of copy culture. It exists like monster that eats the talent of student and deprive them of creativity and innovative ideas. Copy culture is deep rooted in education sector. Resultantly, such students who are used to copy culture prove themselves to be burden on educational institutes. Though, a piece of paper cannot judge the abilities of an individual. It is talent and confidence which offer man high prestige and esteem in society. Quaid -e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in an education conference had said very meaningful words “education” Doesn’t merely mean academic education and even that appears to be of a very poor type what we have to do is to mobilize our youth and build up the character of our new nation”.
Sadly, it is to write that, the resources rich province of Sindh has failed to provide even the basic facilities to its children. Infrastructure is deteriorated. Schools don’t meet the basic necessities. Washrooms are not available. Pure drinking water is also unavailable. Desks are broken. Even the roof cover to many school are out. It is very disappointing situation. Sindh government has completely failed to provide its children, the learning induced environment. Girl’s schools have no boundary walls at all. The electricity connections are missing even in the primary schools. Schools of Sindh are not meeting with basic facilities by fits and starts. Out of 12 million children more than 6.7 million children are out of schools. According to some estimates, literary rate has actually been declined from 60pc to 58pc. With regard to urban-rural gap, 73pc of population above 10 is said to be literate in urban areas while rural areas experience a sharp decline in the race which has stood at 39pc in as per new report. When it comes to girls education, things are more than worse. Government of Sindh has not taken any serious step to get those children enrolled them. During that critical time, education minister of Sindh Sardar Ahemd Shah has issued a notification is which wearing Ajrak (a traditional Sindhi chadar) has been made compulsory. When student don’t have washroom facilities to respond to the call of nature, there issuing a notification for wearing an Ajrak would change nothing and affect nothing.
Simultaneously, the ghost schools are another problem. Stories about ghost schools have keep surfacing in print and electronic media but government has paid no heed toward it. Ghost schools have haunted Sindh’s education. These schools are declared functional in paper work only. To add an example, a school named Government Primary School Lal Bux in Dokri is reported to be a ghost school in Dawn Newspaper. Another village Government Primary Boys School Kamal Khan Chandio in Taluka Kamber is another stance in view. There has been much news published in different dailies regarding ghost schools. It is an alarming situation which needs proper handling.
Moreover, technical education is as necessary as an academic education. But unfortunately, this sector has not been paid much attention. Sindh also lacks in vocational education as well. Number of technical and vocational Institutes in Sindh exist but are not enough to provide skills to the jobless students. Unskilled, untrained and non-technical youth is burden on an economy. Technical education needs priority handling by the government. Same is the case with special education. Children with special physique cannot be properly educated with normal children. For this very reason, special education centers are set up. Sindh has almost 49 special education centers but this number is not much satisfactory because more than 50% of special children is out of schools in Sindh. If all the children with specialties would be educated, trained and provided technical assistance, they would contribute more to the national cause of development and progress. Physical disability cannot deter talent and skill to grow and shine. The dire need is to provide such students opportunities so that they could prove their mettle.
Additionally, education has because a handsome business in Sindh. Education is imparted to produce the sharp and creative minds rather than earning money. Private schools have set their own standard of education to attract the maximum number of students. The fact is that, these institutes don’t strive hard to produce quality rather emphasize on to increase quantity.
People of Sindh experience educational apartheid. On the one hand lie public sector schools and on the other hand lie other private schools. These differ from each other to every possible extent. Public sector schools lack basic infrastructure and competent teachers while private schools focus much on well decorated classrooms and infrastructures. The facility at provide school is given trainings about etiquettes and behavior. They promote friendly environment with students in order to attract the lucrative business. While public sector schools present a drastic image. Parents are literally afraid of sending their children to government schools. Broken chairs, unavailability of water, electricity shortfalls and incompetent teachers are the main reason behind the rapid emergence of private schools. The imbalance between the two sectors has widened the gap of learning as well. Syllabus taught at private sector is completely different. Private schools follow Oxford and Cambridge syllabus and offer A Levels and O Levels. While public sector schools go with outdated syllabus which has no match with Oxford and Cambridge syllabus. This shows a very gloomy picture in regard to standard of education in Sindh.
Despite this, it could not be said that public sector is not producing good minds. These also cater the cream for future. In the words of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, “some of the brightest minds in the country can be found on the last benches of the classrooms”. Most genius students are also produced by public sector schools. Though the degrees offered at both sectors are same but the scope of knowledge is different. Contrarily to that, Madaris, religious educational centers, pursue religious syllabus where Arabic and Persian languages are taught. Urdu and English languages are almost neglected. A Madarsa student can never be fitted in the race of getting a job. Because of his nurturing being confined only to religious education, it cannot cater something new to society. It is a miscellaneous situation where every sector has its own syllabus, language and teaching methodology. This indifference creates a gap between students who have to compete with each other at national level. Medium of instruction play a coordinating role in enhancing the capabilities of students collectively. But sadly, Sindh presents a dark picture in this accordance.
Moreover, there prevails a different medium of instruction at government and private schools. Public schools prefer Sindhi and Urdu language as a medium of teaching while private schools and Madarsas emphasize on English and Arabic respectively.
Furthermore, poverty also adds fuel to the fire. It plays a pernicious role in downing and ultimately declining education. A man on hungry stomach can never pay heed towards education of his children rather would engage them in child labor to earn morsel of food. One who cannot properly satiate his hunger cannot afford to send his child to school. Poverty is a major cause which hinders education in Sindh. If one goes for education, he would have to risk his livelihood.
Along with poverty, unawareness is another setback for education sector. People are unaware of the advantage of education in general. Education is regarded as a business of rich and affording people. Many people prefer their ancestral business meet their basic needs. They are unaware of the fact that education enables man to differentiate between right and wrong.
Simultaneously, many children in a single family is another cause of low enrollment in schools of Sindh. Parents having more than a specific number of children face many problems. Due to lack of planning and awareness, parents keep on producing children and leave everything other thing to Allah Almighty. They believe Allah Almighty himself has taken the responsibility to provide food and shelter to all the people. Sadly, they are blinded to the fact that, “Even God helps those, who help themselves”.
Indeed, Sindh is engulfed with enormous problems which ultimately hinder the standard of education but it doesn’t mean that it would last forever. Such issues could be sorted out. These need proper consideration with utmost dedication. There are many pragmatic measures available which if taken could bring about transformation is education sector of Sindh. And ultimately revolutionize it.
First and foremost initiative that Sindh government should take into action is to update the curriculum taught at schools. There is dire need to keep the syllabus updated. If it remains obsolete and no change is made in it, it would rather rust the minds. Hence, it should be set on modern principles of teaching and learning because, In the words of Aristotle, “education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity”.
Additionally, there is a need to eradicate the menace of corruption. Corruption in educational institutes halts the rights of meritorious students and overshadows their excellence. Unless, corruption is stopped institutions cannot grow stronger. Eradication of culture of nepotism and bribery is as necessary as updating the syllabus and its renewal.
Moreover, efforts should be made to bring down the student-teacher ratio to 15% which stands at 40% currently. To serve the cause, government should appoint teachers on vacant position, very immediately. Shortage of teachers is a serious drawback in education sector of Sindh. All vacant jobs should be filled and even new jobs should be created. To raise the education standard in Sindh, government must assure merit, quality and excellence. Teaching fraternity should be appointed purely on merit basis. It must over throw the culture of favoritism and kickbacks in order to ensure quality education.
Ironically, Sindh government doesn’t spend much of its budget on education. The number stands at 21%. This amount must be doubled to meet pay the teachers and meet with other officials expenses and the expenses of development projects. A sizeable chunk of funds and education budget is swept out in salaries, the remaining development funds are not used properly. There have been reported many irregularities in utilization of those funds. Government should keep an eagle’s eye on funds distribution and its usage. It should increase the education budget because spending on education means sending on generations.
It’s been years, government has not introduced an educational policy. It should be chalked out immediately to serve the cause of education. There are many stakeholders in education sector so, Sindh government should discuss, debate and draw an education policy in consultation with all the stakeholders. A teacher plays an important role in this regard. Therefore, all and sundry attached to education department cause should be made consulate in order to formulate a favorable and effective policy. Public and private sectors both should be given equal weight age in dialogue session to come up with a decisive policy.
Apparently, the government works for promoting and maintaining the standard of education but the worst dropout ratio and notorious education system presents an extremely deteriorating picture. Hence, Sindh government should declare education emergency in the province. Problem of education should be given a due consideration. It should be listed in priority cases. Government should shun unnecessary activates and focus on education.
Besides that, technical and special education should be added in regular system. Technical education makes youth capable enough to earn their livelihood. Special education enables children with disabilities to become self-sufficient, self-supportive and self-motivated. With the ever growing population, demand for vocational, technical and special education increases. To cater the needs, government should emphasize on establishing such institutes. It should held seminars and conferences to promote technical, vocational and special education. A saying by an anonymous person describes well, “Every student can learn but not in the same way and on same days”.
Apart from this, to provide latest and updated information at education institutions, government should establish modern labs and research centers. Sindh doesn’t need educated minds rather it needs minds with innovative ideas and creativity. Research centers play a healthy role in increasing the capacity of students. Modern labs equipped with every apparatus and needed instruments are the need of the hour. Norman Levis has rightly said, “A library is a delivery room and a birth place of ideas, a place where history comes to life’. One cannot deny the fact that libraries are like nurseries where people learn to think at their own. Understanding deeply the importance of libraries, government should establish the network of public libraries in every corner of the province. A library is an essential component of education which needs to be promoted.
In addition to that, there prevails a strong disparity between public and private sector. This must be bridged to introduce a uniform system of education. Sindh government must focus on lessening the gap between the two sectors. Both the sectors promote educational cause but differ in medium of instruction, quality of education and uniform syllabus. To provide equal opportunities to all students public-private partnership should be aired and enhanced .Two systems of education in one province air different approaches and widen the gap between poor and rich. It is the responsibility of government to provide equal opportunities to its students. Therefore, a uniform syllabus should be developed. If government schools would follow outmoded and decades old syllabus and private schools would impart modern education this would create an educational apartheid. Hence, it becomes mandatory to develop a uniform syllabus.
Similarly, university professors and rather concerned faculty should be encouraged to translate foreign research work and papers in native languages. This practice would add up some literary treasure In Sindh. Such work could benefit millions of students, professionals and researchers. A province cannot go in isolation in 21st century in an arena of modern science and technology. This is the century of inter-connective ideas and exchange of information. Solo nations cannot prosper without giving modern teaching methodologies and work a due and viable consideration. In order to keep a pace with 21st century’s needs and demands, government should promote better environment for teaching and learning.
Likewise, needy and well-deserving students should be offered financial assistance and scholarships to meet with their educational expenses. They must be motivated rather than rusting their minds and moral. To make the best use of their talent and excellence, government should generate opportunities for them, the best it could. It should establish committees on District and Taluka level to accommodate deserving student. Fully funded merit based scholarship programs should be introduced making the mechanism easy, approachable and accessible for poverty stricken and helpless students. Often, they lose hope because of unavailability of resource. If government would take this responsibility, this move would develop their confidence in institutes. In result to that, they would offer the best of their valuable services for the progress and property of their nation.
To conclude, Sindh government should realize the importance of education because it is education which makes nation stronger and paves way for its development. It should cut the non-development expenditures. Rather than spending on lavish assembly halls, cultural celebrations and new experiments in education sector, it should utilize that amount on organizing educational conference, seminars, science exhibitions and IT expos. It must shun all pompous appendages. Hence, if education will be prioritized, nation would guard itself well than a sanding army. In the words of Nelson Madela, “education is the most powerful weapon that we can use to change the world’’. Malala Yousafzai too has endorsed this in her autobiography; I Am Malala, One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.
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