what is wrong with the schools in karachi?

there is an ongoing debate these days about the curricula used in karachi’s schools and high schools. it is beginning to dawn on the powers that be that your average intermediate student isn’t exactly at par with your average a’ level student. having been through both systems, i can say i wholeheartedly concur. an article in dawn today reported of a workshop where they debated taking islamiat and pakistan studies off the curriculum.

interesting. they have, at the very least, begun to address one of the weaknesses in the system – outdated, rigid course combinations. but is that really the problem? is the education department looking out for the better development of students or is it simply a move from zia’s legacy of insular islamization to musharraf’s much touted, america-appeasing enlightened moderation?

to understand this we have to first understand what a school is all about. a place of learning, yes. a centre of development, yes to that one too. the fertile grounds for the cultivation of a future generation? a place to enrich our children? road to success? check, check, check.

unfortunately a school is also, in my opinion, a battlefield. a battlefield beause a place where the mind learns to question is where the seeds of dissent are first sown. because education, or rather schooling (which is simply a synonym for “programming”) will empower a person to rebel against what he or she, rightly or not, sees as oppression. it is a system of schooling that gave you you altaf hussains and afaq ahmeds. it is a system of schooling that gave you suicide bombers and terrorists. it is schooling that gives you supporters of al qaeda and lashkar e taiba. schooling everywhere. from the pulpit, from the rostrum and under the shade of the peepal tree. from the words that are wriiten by some writer specifically selected to write a few chapters of certain textbook board books. the kind of writer that taught you not to question because it was heretic. the kind of writer who’s teaching you not to question because its backward.

of course the government knows whats going on. and i’m sure this all done very properly and above board and all. but the fact that you get people proposing that the islamiat subject be dropped in musharraf’s reign is pretty reflective of a schooled mindset. come what may, follow the party line. and most of these people have their roots in nawaz sharif’s iji.

so is all this overkill on payjee’s part? we have the aga khan education board. we have one news channel blasting the hudood ordinance left, right and centre (how far away is fox news?). we have foreign students expelled from madrassas. and now we have people attempting to change the sacrosanct – the islamiat subject in high school. where does it stop? they say that there is no tyranny like that of the free thinker, because he more than anyone else, believes that what he believes must be followed by all.

don’t get me wrong. i’m all for the left leaning changes that the current government has brought about. i’m as opposed to fundamentalism and fanatacism as probably musharraf is himself. but i think that forcefully creating a generation of anti-fundos is as bad as creating a generation of fanatic radicals.

pull out the “policy” from education. give us a shot at managing ourselves.

what do you think?

28 Comments so far

  1. Cy (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2006 @ 2:23 pm

    From the article: ‘The workshop on “what subjects should be taught in colleges”‘

    They proposals were for colleges, not schools.

  2. Xill-e-Ilahi (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2006 @ 2:31 pm

    a college in karachi is simply a high school. an extension of the school you send children to. in fact the college certificate you get here is called a higher secondary certificate and it is the equivalent of an a levels or an international baccalaureate.

    in any case, its just part of the same “policy”, cy. i’m sure you get my point.

  3. Cy (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2006 @ 5:11 pm

    Why is teaching islamiat to college students sacrosanct?

    You also referred to the Aga Khan board with suspicion – what exactly does it prescribe that bothers you?

    And finally you mentioned Geo and its ‘assault’ on the Hudood ordinance – implying that it was unwarranted. The ordinance is without question odious and I would like to understand how one goes about defending laws introduced by a brutal dictator? Exactly what about the ordinance strikes you as divine and beyond attack?

    Fox is disingenuous, so before you label Geo as being the same, do explain what it is that Geo has done on this particular issue that is deceitful.

  4. verysmart (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2006 @ 6:07 pm

    I agree to CY

  5. MB (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2006 @ 7:00 pm

    We have wasted 59 years debating what uniform should be, should Friday be off, should we include this subject and should we include that subject. I am just pissed off this all, frankly. We will, unfortunately waste our next 50 years in this again if we keep on doing this debate thingy. I wonder why these things are not as a big issue to the whole world than us. What the heck educationist is for I wonder. What they heck the government is doing by arranging debates.

    I am not an education expert so I won’t say this should be taught and that should not be taught. But if any one makes a mistake of asking me I would say the student should have the option at college & university level with some rigidity in schooling age, as at that age he doest not have, frankly, much idea of what are his interests and capabilities & strengths. Also because we don’t have any concept of proper counseling for students.

    So without going on any further on that I just want to raise some other aspects of the said issue.

    We have ruined the past and we are ruining the present, & to our bad luck those who have power to decide our fate in education are as shit as they can be. We have made it our second religion to drag politics in every topic in universe that pleases us, so education is no exception. Why the heck we don’t leave few things to those who are expert in it. Why the heck the politicians, the govt. secretaries, the mullahs & every person on the street do the talk, when it’s not his/her area. You go and ask about hudood ordinance from a paan wala, and jama daar, even he won’t stop giving his fatwaas. We have taken oath to talk and decide on anything that comes our way & manipulate it, for our evil designs. Mushy, Politicians, Mullahs they are doing exactly that. And those who are the one to be asked are not been asked.

    I damn care, for now, about what I am being taught if I don’t have any chair to sit, any cover on my head, any teacher present to teach me. Hell with or Science, Religious studies & any subject if I am not in the class room like a human. These are “the” priorities that should top the list instead of that so called IT boom. Boom ?, my foot. I really respect Dr. Atta-ur- Rehman for his achievements & once wrote a letter to him and from the reply he looked to be a very sincere person but frankly he was either being fooled about real ground situation in govt. schools & colleges or he wanted a cosmetic picture, by encouraging money-throwing opportunities in private sector. We don’t have proper human rooms (call them class rooms if it pleases you) to teach few kids the subjects they are interested in. I can bet, in current educational situation, a student just cannot hope to study after Matric in any private college or university if you have a lower middle or poor class background. Just look at the fees of private colleges & universities. They don’t have a shame to stop their evil business. And why they be ashamed when the students they are teaching come from a special class as you may call it. And that special class has every right to use its money for its benefit, obviously but the government never bothers about govt. schools (fortunately if they exist), colleges & universities. No one is bothering to bring them at par with private ones so that poor parents can confidently send their children to govt. colleges and universities instead of asking children to forget studies or alternatively taking loans etc. all the children of govt. official above grade 19 send their children to private institutes or abroad. And since they seldom have any sincere interest with this unfortunate-land, they never bother to do anything and they never will.

    Once the educational-environment is there, now you can think of what to teach and how to teach, and for that we have very dedicated, but hidden teachers, professors & educationist. But since no govt. , not this one even, has any niyyat (will ) to do any thing real for education, we keep on getting it hijacked by mullah’s, in-sincere teachers and staff, Jamiat APMSO students, politicians, high level educational officials & by every one who feels like playing with it. So once in a while we have this kind of news items coming our way. And then for a longer period it’s all silence again.

  6. Adnan (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2006 @ 10:09 pm

    You also referred to the Aga Khan board with suspicion – what exactly does it prescribe that bothers you?

    AFAIK,remove every instance about Jihad.Banning discuss of Companions of Prophet(SAW) and their performances against Infidels.Result,producing an Impotent ‘muslim’ generation which dont give a tough time to US/Israel like Hezbollah guys gave to them so that some Seymour Harsh in future doesnt comeup with similar article in which a European intelligence officer told him that How do you scare people who love martyrdom?

    @Cy:What all I know that there was no calm before that Law and there would be nothing better after cancelling that so called islamic law.That was all fuss to create a confusion among 99.99% ‘illetrated’ muslim class of this country about Islam nothing else and FOX and other channels are very famous to create such confusion about Islam all the time.

    Intresting thing that those who created Hudood law back in early 80s and people today who created a new anti-Hudood law misinterpeted Chapter 4 of quran about women rights for their own intrest. :-)

  7. mansoor (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2006 @ 10:13 pm

    I believe the major problem with the inter system is, as you so well put it, schooling.

    While going through inter, we are discouraged to think, we are discouraged to show creativism, and are only taught that if we ‘memorize’ we shall exceed.

    This thinking, unfortunately, goes well into the university system since they have the same people there.

    Its not a question of whether to include pak studies and islamiat, or not. The question should be “to think or to repeat?”

  8. Kashif (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2006 @ 10:14 pm

    Keeping the debate on curricula aside, let’s talk about the school themselves. I am sending two kids to schools and my personal observation is that schooling is an industry now, school management as mean as a pro business person. The government has no check and balance over increasing tution fees, lack of academic standards, policies etc.

  9. Adnan (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2006 @ 10:41 pm

    A bit off the topic:

    A great news for all liberals!!

    I am not going to discuss her act but question is that is it legal to use name of a country like she did while i think there was no official permission by Pakistan govt for such contest?She was a Pakistani doesnt mean she was permitted by govt?

  10. K.A. (unregistered) on September 3rd, 2006 @ 11:27 pm

    My mother retired last year as principal of a college after having taught regular and advanced English to intermediate and graduation classes for 36 years. Considering the state of affairs its hardly surprising that she has taught the same syllabus for 34 of those 36 years. Only in 2004 did the syllabus get revised for the upcoming year.

  11. handsomedoc (unregistered) on September 4th, 2006 @ 12:20 am

    well actually i dont knw where to post it but Karachi born female is going for space ride

  12. Poo Poo Head (unregistered) on September 4th, 2006 @ 1:05 am

    “average intermediate student isn’t exactly at par with your average a’ level student”

    I went to sadkadi punjabi medium school as well sadkadi high school and oh boy when I met so many A levels in my undergrad speaking and writing fluent english I got impressed but then they were generally poor in Maths and sciences(with no knowledge of streets either) but now all those are working in Pakistan for multi nationals.Only crietria in Pakistan is that how well you could speak english. That’s it. I would not get a job in those companies and even if I get then I would have to work under those stupid guys who could make good presentations , wear branded suits , talk about tennis etc etc. Oh boy I have no future in Pakistan. I better should try politics

  13. khanana (unregistered) on September 4th, 2006 @ 4:33 am

    :) very interesting thread.. It’s true they need to define their educational standards and objectives before they make silly recommendations. It’s not just about creating English speaking class that shouldn’t have any interest in their Islamic values rather it should be aiming towards raising great individuals with strong personalities who could ably lead this nation and its future.

    I really don’t understand reasons of this ignorance? Why can’t we see the real problem of this nation, the real problem is WE ARE IGNORANT. WE NEED SCHOOLS, WE NEED EDUCATION. Here more than half of Pakistan is ignorant and we don’t see it in any government’s priority list? Why not? Why can’t we see it not even 10% of their budgets? What are they working on?
    You go there in Sindh, Bilochistan or Sarhad, anywhere other than big cities there is no sign of education. You will find something you can just read in 18th century books, it looks like you have taken your cars back in the past. You can hardly find any school or universities there and whatever they have is not something that can be considered as any human’s place. I totally agree with MB here.
    And when you talk about what courses they should have, and to remove Islamite and Pakistan studies from the course list… man this is absurd where in the hell they can have good educational standards by removing these two courses? Rather I would say we need to make better Muslims to get better individuals to lead this Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

  14. UnholySaint (unregistered) on September 4th, 2006 @ 8:08 am

    Best ENGINEERING college in Karachi is/was considered to be AdamJee Science. I recall I got admitted into that college without any favor or affiliation. But it only took me a month to realize what a waste of time the curriculum was. I abandoned my admissions and started O and A Levels privately. Although not recognized in the US, but I sincerely believe I had the edge over American students just because of my A levels education.

    Matric and Cambridge/Oxford arent apple & oranges. The comparision is simply dodo and fruits! IMHO

  15. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on September 4th, 2006 @ 9:57 am

    Music brings Tolerance
    -Mufti Gen.Pervez Musharraf.

    As long as we have such ‘muftis’ among us.we can expect any absurd thing in our society.

  16. Adnan (unregistered) on September 4th, 2006 @ 9:59 am

    UnholySaint:Last time I heard that Adamji,St.Joseph and Delhi College have been privitised.Is it true guys?

  17. MB (unregistered) on September 4th, 2006 @ 10:04 am

    @MANSOOR :
    “While going through inter, we are discouraged to think, we are discouraged to show creativism, and are only taught that if we ‘memorize’ we shall exceed. “
    Cannot agree with you more brothers.

    @KA :
    Your mother was really a very patient woman indeed brother. Its also a form of torture, repeating a material again and again.

    “Only crietria in Pakistan is that how well you could speak English. That’s it. I would not get a job in those companies and even if I get then I would have to work under those stupid guys who could make good presentations, wear branded suits, talk about tennis etc etc. Oh boy I have no future in Pakistan. I better should try politics “

    Brother you are absolutely right. It’s very sad but true that we think this special specie comes with some special mind in universe, which is absolutely wrong. Most of the A & O level students get to higher position not because of their abilities but because of the background and the environment they come from, which is obviously not their kaarnama. I have been with all kind of people in my life and, if not authority but at least with confidence I can say that govt. school guy & guls are far more willing to study , far more intelligent, its just that when they woke up in the morning they hear their mom and dad saying : beta paani le aana baraba se, beta bijli nahi hai ja ker daikho, beta ghar ka rashun khatum hogaya hai etc. How they heck they can think bout studies in such circumstances when the things that were supposed to be taken care of by their dad and elders are asked to be done by them and the result ?. Well its obvious they hardly make it to Matric and then become a khoka boy, mechanic, electrician, hotel boy etc.

    ” But it only took me a month to realize what a waste of time the curriculum was “
    This reminded me of an unbelievable story. A frind of mine from St. Michael, landed into Islamia College (God knows what come to his dad’s mind) near Gurumundar. The friend was talented and I was shocked at the wisdom of his dad’s decision. Either he had no clue about govt. colleges or God knows what. This fellow of mine went to college and the first day got a slap from the teacher for absolutely nothing. Can you imagine a student with whom a teacher never spoke, even with bad attitude got a slap and this poor fellow ran from college & the subsequent events resulted in wastage of his one year and had to do private A levels.

    Summary: The teachers in govt. schools act more like animals on streets. All my life I use to respect teachers so much but with experience I came to know that the “teacher” we read in our books about does not actually exist in govt. schools and colleges. So how come we can expect animals to make a student a human. It’s obvious he will teach him animalistic characteristic. On the other hand, the teachers in private colleges are, lets say not 100 persons human, but they do behave properly and teach properly. So the govt. should first send some humans to teach before they think of matter related to subjects. I better be illiterate then an animal (both terms in broader perspective).

  18. alybaba (unregistered) on September 4th, 2006 @ 12:07 pm

    Education and knowledge is not about learning at all – its about how you learn. You cannot have that in a system that only reinforces and rewards rote learning – yes the retention of knowledge is important but worthless without understanding the mechanics behind that knowledge.
    What is of real consequence is the thinking process – the use of logic, critical thinking and the ability to construct and deconstruct an argument. Our current matric examination system doesn’t measure anything like that. So the Aga Khan board is asked to try and come up with a way to rectify the situation. And what do we do? We claim they are agents of the west and that they will change the curriculum. Bullsh1t. It has been explicitly stated that they cannot change the curriculum. This is just fear mongering on part of the religious parties. If you disagree, please provide a link or proof that the AKES has been given the mandate to change the curriculum.

    But I advocate the entire removal of Islamiat from our curriculum. Why? Because that is not the purpose of schools. That is the purpose of parents, mosques, maddressahs and the neighborhood Hafiz. Our teachers are barely qualified to teach anything, yet you want these imbeciles to teach something that you hold sacred such as the Quran and Islam in general?

    Thats only the philosophical argument. In practical terms it makes no sense to have an Islamiat curriculum, when you have students that follow different madhabs, whether it be Hanafi, Shafi or Jafri. This is a bureaucratic nightmare, and using a standardized Shia/Sunni Islamiat curriculum across the board is infringing upon the religious freedom of students.

    Religion does not fit all in terms of education. If we want to teach logic and critical thinking skills, religion doesn’t fit. Religion requires faith without empirical evidence, which is the opposite of the scientific method. Education is about questioning, and it should include skepticism, which is anathema to religion. Better to keep the two separate for the sake of both.

  19. MB (unregistered) on September 4th, 2006 @ 12:23 pm

    “Religion requires faith without empirical evidence, which is the opposite of the scientific method.”
    That has some weight. If a student is Hindu/parsi/Budhmat etc there is no way he can learn anything about it in schools here. All he does is study alternate subjects to Islamiat , which is not what he doesnot want. He has absolute right to say he wants a Hindu teacher to teach him his faith. He is paying the same fee afterall.

  20. Xill-e-Ilahi (unregistered) on September 4th, 2006 @ 12:50 pm

    @ Cy:

    i think that maybe i couldn’t get across exactly what i was trying to say. i do not dispute for a second that the hudood ordinance was and is an odious law enforced due to the whims of a fanatic dictator (but you’ve got to remember that musharraf is a dictator too and that his proposed changes are as much an anathema to a certain segment of society that the original law is to me or you). i have nothing against the aga khan board either – i am a product (at least in part) of the aga khan educational system myself.

    what i am trying to say here is that i am opposed to being subjected to the propaganda of a ruler – be it zia or musharraf or anybody else. and i don’t care if the agenda is free speech or narrow thinking.

    we have a right to “regulate” ourselves.

  21. anon_again (unregistered) on September 4th, 2006 @ 1:09 pm

    Cy… re: “how one goes about defending laws introduced by a brutal dictator” … that is a logical fallicy in the making… ad hominem is how it is referred to… and i am sure you are aware of it after having ‘read’ law at Oxford.

  22. anon_again (unregistered) on September 4th, 2006 @ 1:09 pm

    Cy… re: “how one goes about defending laws introduced by a brutal dictator” … that is a logical fallacy in the making… ad hominem is how it is referred to… and i am sure you are aware of it after having ‘read’ law at Oxford.

  23. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on September 4th, 2006 @ 3:16 pm

    First of all keep this thing in mind that Islamiat taught by Sind Text Book Board touches merely 10% of Islamic education.I remember that I didnt not learn reciting Quran,neither I was taught hadiths unless i got into high school.Therefore Islamiat text is not as “typical” as its being said by others.

    I can agree with AlyBaba about not teaching Islamiat in public schools due to reason of lack of genuine teachers but same problem exists for other subjects as well.What will you suggest for that?Also keep in mind that not every pakistani go in two different schools(madarassah and non-mardasshah) neither all can afford it.SO this suggestion is not gonna work.

    What actually should be done is exchange of knowledge between madrassah and public schools;that is teachers and students of both sides are allowed to transfer knowledge.A maths/phsysics student of public school can transfer his knowledge and can gain hadiths and quranic tajweed knowledge from madrassah friend because a muslim guy in public school needs an introduction to Islamic studies which is good for his belief while a marassah student needs to learn Science to have a good idea about scientific knowledge given in quran.How on earth a madarassah guy can have a good understanding of verse 51:47 which says:

    We constructed the sky with our hands, and we will continue to expand it

    Which is about expansion of Universe which was proved in 3rd decade of last century by Georges Lemaitre and practically approved by Hubble

    I think exchange of knowledge would create a positive impact on both kind of schools.Banning one kind of ecucation is very fictitious.

  24. saima Nasir (unregistered) on September 4th, 2006 @ 4:24 pm

    Its interesting to see so many young people talking rather passionately about education and the standard of private and govt. educational institutes. Many reasons have been given for the poor level of matric and inter students as compared to that of the O and A levels…..one being the content of the two curriculums….agreed that cambridge university makes the student cover a topic with understanding rather than just memorizing the facts….but when has the local system stopped students from thinking. Just becuase local system doesn’t test you for your understanding does it mean you should give up the most natural activity or is it that we only want to learn for rewards…be it marks or better jobs. Studying in the cambridge system doesn’t gaurantee a command over english language….reading good books does….who has stopped us from that???? About time that an average student takes responsibility for his own learning and yearning for knowledge…….no system can gaurantee the delvery of knowledge to you …may be a better job or a goood salary…..but not necessarily knowledge. And before you reject my point of view as of someones who doesn’t know the hrash realities of the local education system…..let me assure you that i am a product of the govt. institutions when zia was at his peak….yet we never stopped reading discussing and thinking…..never felt any inferiority complex in front of the cambridge students because we knew ourselves and what we wanted out of life….our prorities were clear and we were not scared of working hard or of rejection……..

  25. al khan (unregistered) on September 4th, 2006 @ 4:49 pm

    You’ll learn more usefull life skills from watching TV, the internet and talking to elders, than you will from going to school – so everyone – CHILL OUT, make some tea, put your feet up, put on the TV find some old people to talk to and start surfing………

  26. Adnan (unregistered) on September 4th, 2006 @ 4:53 pm

    AL KHan I agree with you 100%.I would have learnt more about Islamic and political studies from Internet then any other source on earth.Both Madarassah and public school studens should have access to Internet.

    There is always a proxy server to ban prophibited sites so technically its not a big deal at all.

  27. Cy (unregistered) on September 4th, 2006 @ 8:54 pm

    X-e-I: I agree with you – which is why it was a good thing that the changes to the ordinance are being pushed through parliament. Though if you may have noticed, the bill seems to be dying a quiet death in the committee stage.

    Anon-again: I’m not sure what your point was. The one thing I do know is that lawyers prize clarity above all else. Clarify and I’ll try and respond.

  28. Kaash (unregistered) on September 5th, 2006 @ 7:53 pm

    I totally agree with the article. High school students should be given more choices and teaching mathematics/bio simultaneously ain’t a bad idea.

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