Education is a vital investment for human and economic development and it is a long-run phenomenon. Education system is affected by the customs, culture, traditions and faith and at the same time reflects them. It is considered as the most essential source of nation-building and leads towards growth and development of the whole country. Equal access and high quality education are imperative for the development of a country. All students regardless of the family or socio-economic background must be entitled to quality education. Quality of education feeds and drive the whole generation, the future of the nations. Designing, planning and broadly seeding the well-developed policies about educational system and the modernized curriculum to be followed in the institutions develops innovation, rationality, critical thinking in the society as a whole.
Pakistan defines youth as people in the age bracket of 15-24 years (Youth Policy 2009) and the quality of education for this energetic and resourceful segment of the population matters a lot. We can scrutinize quality of education through analyzing the curriculum which is current in practice. Curriculum can be defined as the subjects comprising a course of study in a school or college or the lessons and academic content taught in educational institutes. Curriculum is the one way to measure the quality of education. Curriculum development is not a static process rather continuous so it must encompass a diverse variety of potential educational and instructional practices. The greater standardization of curricula and consistency across the provinces must be maintained to achieve the learning expectations and meet the new developments. Designing the curriculum to develop and enhance innovative and analytical capabilities is vital to bring the change the learning and implementing methodology of students of Pakistan so they can compete the world confidently. And in this regard, inculcating modern developments of the world tied with practicing the advance techniques right from the beginning would be supportive.
In Pakistan, education is essentially a provincial affair rather than federal. However it is the obligation of the state to ensure the national cohesion, integration and preservation of the ideological foundation. Curriculum is the basic thing which when practiced in school, start structuring the thought process of the whole generation who is rightly considered as the future of a country.
Pakistan seems to be backward in technology and innovation. The key reason behind this is our outdated curriculum which restricts the capacity building and creativity among the students. The present generation is learning the same knowledge which the last two generations have learnt. Institutes in Pakistan lack activity-based learning and cramming culture restrains concepts development in students. Hence the teaching methodology also needs to be advanced and practical learning should be adopted. Using e-learning as a platform to provide education to students should be considered as an option in our educational system.
Weak research work curtails the abrupt learning of students. Deficiency of research and evaluation system in curriculum should be filled by involving project based tasks in the curriculum.
Further, the new trend of commercialization of education (Private sector: 70%) is to be addressed. In Pakistan, about 40% of population is living under poverty line (according to MPI). People cannot afford highly charged institutes and only a particular class of the country is receiving far advanced education there. Though, these commercialized or private-sector institutes provides high standard education but it is widening the inequality gap among the poor and rich class of Pakistan. The curriculum they follow is pretty modern and advance whereas public sector schools and colleges are still following the old-designed curriculum and conventional teaching techniques. It would depict its impact in long run when the two different classes will enter the labor force, and only the specific number of people belonging from private sector institutes will set high standards of employment requirements and the poor one will still remain deprived. In short, provision of opportunity on equal basis should be ensured to procure comprehensive outcomes and to shrink inequality.
If we compare the positive and negative sides of different curriculum practiced among different provinces and then compare with the current situation, it can be ascertained that positive side of different curriculum among provinces is that it create competition paving a way forward to innovation and ultimately results in growth and development. Discussing the negative side of different curriculum practiced is the creation of more heterogeneous society band which leads towards inequality in country and hence affects national integration. If we particularly analyze Pakistan, resource distribution is not equal in the country. Number of schools and colleges and the quality of education among the provinces depicts wide differences. It is safe to say that in the country like Pakistan, implementation of one curriculum throughout a country is difficult and a time taking process but this if implemented, leads towards the greater development.
We are living in a century in which we are in need to prepare youth which can cope with the rapid changes occurring across the world, to adopt latest technology, and to become capable of inventing new ideas and excel in skill development. This would help in dealing with the challenges for growth and development being faced by Pakistan.
The duty on the behalf of government, both provincial and federal, is pretty much sensitive in this regard. Population of Pakistan is increasing swiftly and it demands higher public expenditures in education sector. Apparently, government is direly failing in providing educational services and meeting current demand. National curriculum 2006 was approved after 5 years in 2010-2011 for implementation but even then government failed to implement it fully due to unavailability of textbooks. The desired outcomes articulated in national curriculum cannot be achieved unless government does not enforce its policies to get rid of rote learning and memorization practices and replace it with modern techniques of education being followed in the developed world. Government must increase the tax ratio on private sector schools and colleges and fund its spending for improving the public sector educational standards. This may lessen the gap between the different classes in terms of education and commercialization of education will be restrained. Hence, government should act as the regulatory authority and immediate basis for the uplift of this sector.
Last but not the least, Education governance and curriculum reform is one of the greatest and most urgent challenge in Pakistan. Absence of Youth led models in Pakistan’s education system hurdles the creativity, critical thinking, innovation and skill development in students which must be altered in national curriculum. National curriculum reform should be undertaken and it must be designed in such a way that shapes Pakistan’s citizenry into a collectively-conscious body and disparities in the provision of education in the country can be removed. Ultimately, it is youth of Pakistan which should be capitalized for the transformational and sustainable socio-economic growth and curriculum is the catalyst in this regard.
is an MPhil scholar of Public Policy at Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE). She is currently working as Research Associate. Her area of interest includes education sector of Pakistan and Reasons behind Student’s dropout in Rural Areas of Pakistan.