Before I start writing this article, let me extend my gratitude to all who encourage me to write. We all discuss the Catch-22 but refrain ourselves from offering portentous ideas for rebuilding. The first and the foremost objective of this article would certainly be offering solutions to eradicate the self-imposed plight and rebuild the structure again. For me, it would be a sin to conclude on a note of despair. There is a definite hope that the system could improve if certain measures are taken.
First of all, the government should step forward and provide a central mechanism for appointment of teachers at Pakistani schools. Some factors must be given importance in the hiring process. Candidates must prove their command over the subject. Then, they must pass the interview conducted by a committee consisting of senior and credible anchors of teaching and a psychologist. The primary concern of the committee must be judging suitability of the candidates in terms of IQ, EQ and TQ. They must produce a criminal certificate along with three references from their school, college and university.
Second, every teacher’s performance of the first two years must be monitored and it must be checked if it was up to the mark or not — this does not mean only the result of their students; it must include their rapport with the students and their conduct, especially outside the educational milieu and in routine life. The result of the students is just a small factor among many others. A teacher’s conduct with his colleagues must be given some weightage because if he can’t work with them how can he teach team spirit to his students. Only teaching the syllabus and helping students pass the exams does not show real worth of a teacher.
Third, intuitively, another most crucial step towards building a better education system in Pakistan is supporting academia. This goal can be achieved primarily by following a unanimously centralised syllabus for all and sundry; and it must be an amalgamation of our cultural norms, religious teachings and modern contemporary scientific knowledge.
The fourth step that will resolve the issue is holding some quality training workshops in the country and abroad. If a teacher doesn’t get refresher courses, he will start stinking and the miasma of his personality will hang around him. As we all know,
stagnant waters smell a lot”.
While supporting teaching and learning is necessary, it is also important to emphasize that a teacher’s personality must be continually recapitulated and enriched. Teachers must be trained to adapt themselves to a humanistic approach. The authorities must develop and change the insights into how both students and teachers approach learning and teaching. Teachers must realise and accept that their responsibility is beyond limits. It doesn’t cover only the classroom; it covers the entire lives of the students.
For me, school administrations must offer personalised training workshops and courses focusing on individual needs. Governments must listen to teachers as they can tell you the real story if they are supported well to tell the truth with the assurance that it will help them as well.
Fifth, the government must assure that public, public servants, judges, politicians and all haves send their children to public schools. Until we make Pakistani leaders and higher-ups view a distraught education regime as a political liability, we will keep grasping at scanty solutions. When everyone’s children will study in the same environment, they will certainly take interest in improving the educational milieu in public schools.
Sixth step, to me, is really very crucial, challenging and demanding. Teachers’ financial situation and family life plays a pivotal role in their teaching. Their pay structures should be revised to benefit them so that they can concentrate on their job. In my previous article, I said “take care of their bellies and they will take care of your future”. The social status of a teacher is a big hurdle in his way to perform better. Teachers are in dire need of positive reinforcement and they are receiving just the opposite.
Seventh, parents must be involved in the process so that they are aware of the music they are going to face if they don’t take interest in their children’s study. Not all, but there are some areas in our country where parents are always hesitant to send their daughters to schools. If you ask for my humble submission, let me tell you my observation shows that parents are the leading mentors until a child attends his first school and they remain a major influence on their children’s learning throughout their life. The school and parents both have decisive roles to play. Children accomplish more when schools, teachers and parents work together. Here, I take schools and teachers as two different identities because here school means the administration of the school.
Last but not the least is sports. Curricular, co-curricular and extracurricular activities can play a significant role in rebuilding our education system. I have observed that many schools if not all are in complete defiance of the importance of sports and co-curricular activities. They have no grounds for children to play at all. A 20-marla building is considered sufficient and appropriate to be modified into a school. Isn’t it the greatest irony of our country that we have started ignoring the sports and their importance? Are we not aware “a healthy body carries a healthy mind”? Schools are ignoring sports and the grounds seriously and deliberately. I consider it a criminal offence for it is damaging our generations and this damageability is everlasting and irremediable. I wish to see the times when we will encourage our children to take up sports.
Finally, let me say that these are my humble suggestions to upgrade, especially our schools, and our entire education system in general. However, there is a lot to say and do. Remember, what we can do very easily today would become a herculean task tomorrow and that with extra liability too. It is never too late to mend your ways.
The writer is an educationist and teaches at a public sector university in Oman.