The article is Published in the daily Express. See English translation below

Education in Pakistan

Undoubtedly, our higher education has stemmed from European and American curriculum. Academic books which are written in Urdu are merely translations from the work published in English language; and the books which are written in English language by our authors are more or less plagiarized. By virtue of privatization of schools and business colleges, now students have better access to read the same books which are taught in American and European educational institutions. Hence, it might not be wrong to contend that now our pupil and students are, directly or indirectly, studying the same material as the pupil and students of the developed countries; however the important issue is that we have still not developed economically or socially as the other developed nations.

The secret of development of nations is not merely concealed in reading books or obtaining degrees; for example, the author had written in one of his articles that ‘graduate parliament’ would never be a source of changing our political culture – we have been observing it. Another example is our bureaucracy in which highly educated are of no shortage but their performance is miserable. We have so many people who have obtained Master and PhD degrees from the overseas prestigious universities but failed to improve performance of their departments in the right direction. If our institutions have not been developed even after hiring highly educated personnel, the would-be reason is our negative thinking and behaviour – which we must not be ignored.

The objective of reading books or taking education is to learn and take advantage from others’ research and experiences by implementing them in professional and personal life. Unfortunately, we ignore all those principles that the education inculcates in us. We only refer to research and experiments to impress others being considered highly educated but reluctant to put into practice in day-to-day life. We understand neither the real essence of education nor use the acquired education. The learning from the books has been rejected and ignored on the grounds of providing ‘bookish knowledge’ which cannot be put into practice. A good example is of establishing Human Resource Department in Pakistan. It has become just a fashion in Pakistani firms and public institutions to create a Human Resource Department of without knowing the real purpose of the department.

We quickly forget the good principles and ideologies that we learnt through education which is one of the reasons that we are behind from the West. Most of the people who come back home after completing their studies abroad they praise the developed countries’ system but ignore good values of those countries the moment they land at the Pakistani airport.

Studying the private educational system shows that whosoever has capital in Pakistan is willing to open a school or a higher education college. They hire a few qualified people on a higher salary which help them to improve rating of their institutions in the eyes of public; however, the emphasis of these business educational institutions is not on inculcating quality education. It might be correct to argue that our approach and behaviour is artificial therefore we follow the West at superficial level. For example, following the West our institutions has only learnt to run attractive advertisements but hardly learnt to take work from the employees according to the advertised job description. Generally, when private and public educational institutions run faculty job advertisements, they demand the same level of qualification as demanded by the Western universities such as the applicant must hold a Phd degree and have experience of teaching and research but offer low remuneration. Moreover, if we question how much research has been conducted by the existing faculty member or how much resource they have allocated for the research, they have no answer to such questions.

Likewise, ethical level of the West appears to be much higher (especially for their own people) than the locals. It is suffice to give only one example to elaborate level of difference in ethics between the Western and locals. In 70s, when a Norwegian company did not provide the adequate safety tool to a Pakistani worker who got injured at work, it was the daughter of the owner reported to the police even though Pakistani worker was not willing to make a complaint (a film was made on the issue in Norway). This is a time for us to ponder how many people have reported their blood relations when they involved in illegal behaviour! In the West, many people consider it as their duty to stop at the red light even at night whereas our people do not think it illegal to break the red light in the day light.

It is not difficult to induct from the above examples that education is not the only source for the development of a country. Education without improving social ethics is meaningless. A country will not develop until social ethics are not improved.

Another sad fact of our country is that we run after specific education in all different eras. There was a time when everybody wanted to be a medical doctor or engineer; then there is a boom for MBA and now students are running after computer science. Musharraf in one of his speeches proudly talked about the development of computer science and technology but ignore to emphasis on the education of social sciences. Similarly, the government started loan scheme only for students of natural and computer sciences and discard students of social sciences from the scheme. Studying the history of the West shows they developed expertise in the sciences which dealt with society and people. America and other European countries are not only ruling the world because of they have latest armaments and technology but they also know how to bring change in societies and people. Still students of the West get scholarship for studying subjects like Political Science, Sociology, Psychology etc. They understand the reality they need people of diverse knowledge and expertise.

In short, there is great difference between our approach and the West: our approach is stagnated and static; we close the topic by saying, ‘bookish knowledge’ instead of thinking how we can implement the gained knowledge to improve our country and nation. Nadeem Yousaf