Introduction to Sociology SOC101
ISSUES IN EDUCATION
Pakistan has yet to cover a long way on the road to one hundred percent literacy of its population. From
around 40 percent literacy in 1998 it has moved to an estimated 54 percent in 2004. There are gaps between
the literacy levels of males and females as well as between rural and urban populations. The Government of
Pakistan is pursuing the policy of Education for All (EFA) and expects that by 2015 all children will
complete primary education. Another claim is to eliminate gender disparity in education by 2005. These may
be tall claims but not something, which is unachievable.
Despite the Government efforts to increase the number of Primary schools, the number of teachers, and
the school enrollment, the absolute number of non-literates is swelling. It has increased from 22 million in
1961 to 69 million in 2004. The private -sector, public-private partnerships, and the non-governmental
organizations are making their efforts to combat illiteracy but the achievements are clouded by a variety of
factors like the increasing population, the availability of resources, and the politics of education. In the
pursuit of the policy of Education for All there are a number of issues that have to be considered.
It is estimated that out of the total school-going age children around 50 percent are not in school. There
could be number of reasons for children not being in school. Poverty may be one of the most important
reasons. Primary schooling may be free, still there are many other indirect costs related to sending the child
to school uniform, stationery, food, contributions to some other school funds, etc. But of all these costs,
the most important cost appears to be the "opportunity cost" that the parents have to forego for sending
their child to school. The child might be working or could work at some place and could bring some
income to the family. By sending the child to school the parents shall have to forego that income, which
may be necessary for their survival. This is a big issue and the parents have strong rationale for it.
Of the children entering the school at grade one, 50 percent of them dropout prior to their completion of
primary stage of schooling. There could be number of reasons no fun at school, no class stimulation,
corporal punishment, teacher discrimination, poor health, lack of schooling's vocational usefulness, parental
demand for child's employment. Many of these factors appear to be relevant to the school environment,
which seem to be devoid of any attraction for the child from the lower class. Consequently, there is high
dropout rate of children.
Gender disparity in the estimated literacy rates shows that of males 66 percent were literate whereas of
females 42 percent were literate in 2004. This disparity is expected to be wider in the rural areas. One of the
reasons could be the lack of facilities for the female education and other, perhaps the most important,
discouraging societal attitude towards the schooling of girls.
Inequalities in Education
Inequalities can be looked at from different angles gender inequalities, rural-urban inequalities, public-
private school inequalities, and inequality due to the medium of instruction. This is where the followers of
conflict school of thought are very critical of the inequalities built into the structure of the society, which are
recreated, reinforced, and perpetuated by the schooling system.
Low budgetary Allocations
Educational institutions are often under resourced which may be reflective of the priority being given to
education thereby low financial allocations. Even the use of whatever is allocated has administrative
difficulties. Delayed release of funds, and misuse of funds (ghost schools) have negative impact on the
quantity as well as quality of schooling.
Introduction to Sociology SOC101
Within the education sector, higher education levels at college and university get bigger chunk of budget
than at the lower level. Poor section of the population is expected to be minimal at the higher level, which
implies that the system is supportive of the `better of', thereby perpetuating the inequalities.
Standard of Pedagogy
Quality of teaching depends upon the quality of teachers. In Pakistani schools, at the foundation level the
teachers have been having very low qualifications, and, in turn are also low paid. The focus has been more
on rote learning rather than on the development of the whole child. The authoritarian approach has been
often accompanied by corporal punishment, which terrorizes the students, particularly from the poor
families, and drives them away. Recently there has been some policy change with the up gradation of the
qualifications of Primacy School Teacher, which may have some positive impacts on the classroom
Poor School Environment
A substantial number of schools have been found to be poorly organized and devoid of facilities. Facilities
may refer to the availability of the teachers as well as the infrastructure facilities reflecting the level of school
enrichment. At places schools are without an appropriate building [A government survey's revelation that
14000 schools in Sindh did not have any building. Eighty percent had no electricity, 60 percent had no
boundary wall or drinking water facility, and 57 percent had no toilets. (Reported in the Dawn, editorial, May 21,
2005)], and the necessary classroom equipment. The students have to beat the severities of weather with the
only choice of dropping out of the school, and that is not a good choice. Although the local community
may partly contribute in improving the physical facilities, but the ultimate responsibility, particularly with
respect to the provision of staff, rests with the government.
Quality of Textbooks
Provision of education is one thing and what are the contents of education being provided is another. At
the school level all books being taught are prescribed by the government and produced by the Provincial
Textbook Boards. What is being imparted through these books and what is their quality are the issues to be
discussed. A recent evaluation of the textbooks by Sustainable Development and Policy Institute generated
a lot of debate about the kind of indoctrination we want to live with. On the whole the books appear to be
least child friendly.
Quality of Curricula
In order to meet the changing demands of time the curricula has to be continuously updated. Since the
experts are often critical of the out-dated curricula being followed in our system of education, therefore it
The examination system is fast loosing it credibility.
Table of Contents: