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The State of Pakistan’s Education System

The State of Pakistan’s Education System

To identify issues related to the education system of Pakistan and propose practical solutions,
renowned academic experts from all across Pakistan engaged in a discussion, via the GEN-Z
The Gen-Z Webinar is an initiative of IoBM (the Institute of Business Management) Chapter of
the United Nations Association of Pakistan. It aims to highlight and propose viable solutions to
prevailing social challenges by engaging both the youth and experts in a productive debate.
During this first episode of the webinar, the experts were as follows: Dr Irfan Hyder (Rector
IoBM), Ms Salma Ahmed Alam (Rector GECE and Founder Durbeen), and Mr.Ahmed Saya
(World’s Most Dedicated Teacher award winner).
The academics shared their insights on education around the world and in Pakistan.
What are the issues within Pakistan’s education system?
The popular belief is that a stable academic system enables citizens to realize their
responsibilities and achieve their goals. Unfortunately, a myriad of problems in Pakistan has
undermined this system. Unstable socio-economic conditions, sectarianism and extremist
sentiments are the offshoots of weak and non-unified academia.
Drastic changes, as mentioned above, have had a ripple effect on youth development, such that
the Global Youth Development Index ranked Pakistan 154 among 183 countries, even trailing
behind Ethiopia.

  1. The Three-tier education system
    Pakistan has long neglected the importance of fair, inclusive and quality education. The
    amalgamation of an unsynchronized three-tier system, ineffective public schools, madrasas and
    expensive private schools have collectively deteriorated the situation. For instance, in 2017,
    education expenditure was only 2.9% of the gross domestic product, far behind the target of
    4%. 44% of children (5 to 16 years) were unable to gain an education. Likewise, the United
    Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization measured merely 43% gross
    enrolment rate in secondary education.
  2. Curriculum design
    In Pakistan, the framework of the curriculum is very diverse. Be it intermediate, A-level and O-
    level. Hence, the challenge of incompatibility confronts students. According to Dr Irfan, the

curriculum design needs to be more relevant to practical learning, rather than restricted to
course books.
He says, “The start of the ratta culture began because of the race for marks”.
This race again has decreased the autonomy of examination boards and damaged their
credibility. He further stated that education should enable students’ decision-making based on
logical, moral and aesthetic dimensions, where self-assessment is fundamentally “responsible
for the change”.

  1. Gender-disparity
    According to Human Rights Watch, the variable also specifies gender disparity, where 32% of
    girls against 21% of boys are out of school in elementary. Such disparity is not only between
    genders, rural and urban regions, among provinces, but also regional: e.g. India (73%), and Sri
    Lanka (98%). To eliminate such gaps, Ahmed Saya emphasized that the government needs to
    create and implement certain policies. For instance, encouraging parents to allow their children
    to acquire education and setting state sponsored penalties if they resist.
    What solutions did they propound?
    One must note that the current framework of the Pakistani education sector needs rigorous
    modification in parallel with modern advancements. Such changes are also crucial to preparing
    the present and future generations for cutting-edge competition.
  2. The autonomy of academic boards
    Literature review shows that the educational institutions in the 1960s-70s were more successful
    in delivering quality education. According to Dr Irfan, there is a lack of autonomy and
    competency in the current education system of Pakistan. He believes that giving institutes
    decision-making power and authority will eradicate the loopholes that currently hinder the quality
    of education.
  3. Teacher-recruitment process
    Professing certain careers, Salma Ahmed Alam says, has damaged the importance of the
    teaching profession to the point that it is now viewed as a C-choice for many youngsters.
    She states, “It is not about what to teach, but how to teach?” where each element would end up
    uplifting the other to broaden the spectrum of an individual.
    Hence, she is of the view that it should not be available to everyone but only interested
    aspirants. Ahmed Saya also agreed that the scrutinizing process needs proper check-and-
  4. Self-assessment

Experts have highlighted that students need the freedom to choose professions that captivate
and encourage them for untiring engagement.
Salma Ahmed Alam, though, suggested that children do not need pressure for career selection
at a very young age, rather exposure to a variety of experiences. An example is summer
internships to taste flavours of different professions. This would enable them to decide about
their field of interest. Furthermore, Dr Irfan blamed the grading system for creating a virtual race.
This, in turn, has compromised the process of self-learning and research in students.
How Can Pakistan’s Education System Compete With Foreign Education Systems?
The education system in Pakistan faces dilapidated facilities: be it sanitation, electricity, non-
professional staff, rampant corruption, or a non-existing monitoring system [6].
Dr Irfan contrasted the university culture in the United States to that of Pakistan. He emphasized
that universities in the USA remain open 24/7 to cater to students’ needs: be it extracurricular,
learning-based, or online learning activities. He further stressed upon utilizing the essence of
minors in curriculum design and the importance of hard skills–the skills that enable youngsters
for self-reliance by their earnings. Such initiatives would open more doors and career
opportunities for self-sustenance in students.
Similarly, Ahmed Saya praised the role of attaining hard-skills and nourishment of independent
and responsible student attitudes as against the current “parental-pampering” in Pakistan.
What Is The Future Of Education In Pakistan?
Experts were optimistic about the future of Pakistan’s education system. The COVID-19
pandemic has driven people towards technology: this has been in the form of online teaching,
exposure to diverse sources of knowledge, cross-culture academic systems and the increasing
cult of freelancing services.
Yet Salma Ahmed Alam opined, “This would increase the divide in access to quality education
because of the availability of technology and its penetration” in rural areas. For instance, a
staggering 85% of youth (15-24 years) still lack access to the internet [7].
Hence, the government should allocate more funds and ensure easy access to remote learning
avenues. An existing example is the Prime Minister’s Tele-School Program established for
those in underprivileged areas.
In summation, an acceptable solution demands a holistic approach, involving the sincere
participation of all stakeholders. We need to freshen our outlook on the importance of the
education sector to break the vicious cycle of generational damage.