Invest In Research To Fix The Education Sector

Invest In Research To Fix The Education Sector
Alweena Hasan highlights the problems faced by Pakistan's education system. Her fix to these issues is more investment in the research department and uniformity in education system

All the stalwarts of the Pakistan Movement have stressed the importance of education.

Quaid-e-Azam especially laid great emphasis on it in his speeches. In 1947, in an address in Karachi, he said: “Education is a matter of life and death for Pakistan. The world is progressing so rapidly that without requisite advance in education, not only shall we lag behind others but may be wiped out altogether.”

Pakistan is facing many challenges when it comes to higher education -- starkly visible in a fact the number of students has increased but the quality of education has not been upgraded. In light of these challenges, the institute of PIDE arranged a webinar on “Future of Higher Education in Pakistan” to discuss the dilemmas faced by the higher education system.

One of the guest speakers, who works as  DG Research & Development Unit at HEC, was quite optimistic about the future of higher education in Pakistan. He highlighted that the level of exploration in the field of education has uplifted many deep-rooted issues faced by the students over the past two decades, such as the relevance of programs being offered and their quality.

Currently, the budget stands at Rs77.262 billion after 20 per cent decrease, which has significantly affected the quality of education in Pakistan. Thus, adding to the challenges faced by students.

The second major issue Pakistan is facing due to their lack of attention is relevancy. Relevancy to contemporary affairs is done through being proactive towards them. This can be only achieved through research that can foresee the upcoming events through closely examining criteria, either quantitatively or qualitatively.

China has progressed mainly due to its heavy investment in research and development. Unfortunately, in the case of Pakistan, society itself is not cooperative and progressive enough to incorporate the mandatory research steps.

HEC is working hard to develop and run programs that are industry oriented and skill developing oriented. But these actions can not achieve their designated goals unless the research is done in an efficient and disciplined manner.

Another thing, a lack of funding has also impacted education adversely. Education could not be taken as an industrial problem which can be challenged through new innovation. It is like a plant that requires plantation of seed in the right environment and careful growth. The structural flaws in the education sector are concerning as it is proving to be a great issue in the skill development of graduates, with the unemployment rate at 30% recently. It seems degrees and skills are not going hand in hand.

PIDE VC Dr Nadeem also talked about the misconduct of the researchers. He said research is not something that should be done by paying money.

Another issue that plagues the education sector in Pakistan is the disparity between the public and private education systems. The educational institutions are seen through the lens of elitism. For instance, students of  O/A levels are seen as more bright and treated differently compared to the students of FSc and Matric. This culture creates a dichotomy in society leading to the death of knowledge.

Also, the future of higher education in Pakistan would be bright if women in Pakistan get access to education. Ms Asma, who moderated the webinar, highlighted a study in which it was claimed that even with a mere high school degree, women of Pakistan would be able to overcome the issue of maternity and mortality rate in Pakistan.

It is high time Pakistan promoted the research culture, as the future of education and society lies in research. We have to value the research and the researcher, we should do research for personal interest in the betterment of society rather than money.

Our focus should be on quality work rather than quantity. And to the disparity between students, we need a uniform education system which could be a solution to the problems of the education system.

Alweena Hasan is a student at Pakistan Institute for Development Economics (PIDE), Islamabad.