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Pakistani Schools Need To Teach Life Lessons, Not Just Book Lessons

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It is a commonly held opinion that an educated person is a well mannered, courteous and organized one. But this definition does not fit a lot of people even with degrees from reputable institutions. People with graduation degrees and above can be seen behaving in a manner that is far from educated. All they have is book-based knowledge.

We need to address the root cause and that is the presence of loopholes in our upbringing and schooling.

Let’s take an example from the schooling system of Japan.

In Japan, children are supposed to bring their tooth brushes, chopsticks, luncheon mat and a cup for brushing teeth with them. When the classes are over, their class teacher takes them to the eating area. Not to forget, potatoes harvested by 6th-graders are used by the school cooks to make mashed potatoes and other dishes. All the children wear their lunchtime dresses and hats. They say “thank you” to the cooks for making food for them. Different duties are assigned to different students, e.g. one of them is responsible for giving out sanitizer to everybody for washing hands, one of them puts a pack of milk on everybody’s table, one of them distributes soap etc. When the food is served, all the children recite a prayer and start eating their food. When they are done with their food, they recite another prayer, brush their teeth, collect the dishes and take them to the washing basin. Here again, duties are assigned. One student collects empty milk packs and takes them to the recycling bin, another collects dishes and carries them to the washing basin. After all this, students start cleaning their school areas like their classrooms and hallways. And like before, duties are again divided.

This kind of training not only makes them responsible, it also eliminates the differences between poor and rich – as duties are assigned to everyone and nobody is given exceptional treatment. Japanese are extremely hardworking and are famous for their products in global market. If a nation can rise to this level after a horrible setback like defeat in World War II and the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, then why cannot we accomplish similar things?

Our schooling systems lack focus on proper upbringing of children. There is a bundle of books that they have to memorize. There is no lesson for teaching students the basic manners or the way they should behave in their daily lives. Probably that is why we see people with a lot of degrees but no manners.

Pakistan is an Islamic country and we have got so many beautiful teachings in our religion of how to live and how to be a good citizen. But unfortunately, very few people are aware of these. All we focus on are the grades of our children. Increasing instances of sexual violence, even in our educational institutions, are also linked to poor upbringing and mental grooming. We need to teach our children from the very beginning that they have to respect each and every person around them.

It goes without saying that teachers alone cannot do the upbringing: parents also have to pay attention towards the grooming of their children, especially now, when our children are vulnerable on social media. But schools can play a significant role in making our society a better place to live.

We start pushing books on to our children at a very early age but we forget that we have to teach them manners first. Many of our children are clever but ill mannered. During primary classes, students should be taught ways of living and behaving, at least for six months, then the phase of teaching course books should begin. In view of the current situation of our societies, we need good human beings and not just some degree holders lacking manners and respect for others.

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Naya Daur