Is our education system modern as well as practical enough to eliminate unemployment, and thus poverty?

A modern education system emphasizes free thought, creativity, the freedom to choose what to study based on a person’s talent and ability. It also involves the use of Information Technology and the skill to look at situations with an open mind and come up with creative solutions to solve problems. The education system in Pakistan, however, is more conventional, emphasizing conformity, following the textbook without question, rote learning and an adherence to rules. The education system in Pakistan is not modern or practical enough.

Unemployment and poverty are two evils which are very high in Pakistan and can be eliminated through education. Last year, the unemployment rate was approximately 5.6% (CIA Factbook) and approximately 33% of the population is living below the poverty line, according to a report by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI). If Pakistan has a proper modern education system, it could reduce both.

Currently, there is no proper education system, let alone one that is modern and practical as well. There are fewer educational institutes compared to the population. Education and its emphasis first needs to start from the government level. The education budget is just Rs. 47,874 million, whereas the government will spend around Rs. 545,386 million on defence (Federal Budget2012-2013). The importance of education needs to be built on the individual level, since there are negative perceptions associated with the schooling for children, especially females, since illiterate and poverty-stricken parents who make a majority of the population in Pakistan feel that their children can earn from an early age, therefore, they prefer to put them to work, rather than in schools. Once the importance of education is highlighted only then, can the education system in Pakistan flourish and provide education that leads to a better future for the current and future generations.

Then, we need to start providing basic education to people and afterwards go about making it modern and practical. In Pakistan, the gross enrolment rate of students overall is less than 100%  which is a low figure due to the fact that parents do not realize that an education can provide their children with a more secure future and less chance of unemployment and thus poverty. The number of enrolled students is higher in the public schools because of the provision of free education. But, public schools unfortunately do not have modern and practical education, compared to the private schools. Public schools emphasize rote learning, conformity and no analytical thought. Where as, some private schools provide an education which promotes analyzing concepts and modern trends rather than just memorizing textbooks and regurgitating them in exams. At times, there is no right or wrong answer, allowing free thinking, which means that students’ reasoning and thought processes are developed and their arguments count more than a single right answer. Since the number of public schools is 194,151 in Pakistan, which is higher than the number of private schools which is 76,674, the change needs to start from here by increasing the number of public schools providing modern education, reducing gender disparity in the attendance of schools (57.38% of male students, compared to 42.62% of female students), providing good quality education and also restructuring and re-thinking the curriculum would provide great benefit to the people.

Even though there are a lot of primary schools, they make up 58% of the educational institutes; there is a lack of higher education institutes that provide free, quality education at the undergraduate and postgraduate level. This is vital for people to gain an education that will help them get employed and reduce chances of unemployment and poverty. There are very few universities, only 135 all over Pakistan. And out of these, most are private universities and not public and are for engineering, medicine and management sciences and not for degrees like political and social sciences which allow for more thinking from different perspectives. More universities need to be there that provide free thinking, even courses in degrees like management sciences can be made more different and interesting. I feel that both private and public universities don’t provide that opportunity to allow creativity and innovation as they do internationally. So, the curriculums also need to be revised.

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