The true nature of learning ‘anything’ in Pakistan is far grim, let alone the modern education standards.
As a matter of fact, the overall learning attitude is nothing short of a horror story. People seem to be in a continual denial of the reality and let their children waste their time in their most prime time of learning in this time and age.
In reality, the bitterness of pessimism might cater to the current dilemma of our education standard which completely lacks learning of any kind of skills to get on with life, and earn a better standard of life in return. As one might put it, “Bitter pessimism is better than toxic optimism.”
However, like dreaming with open eyes, the parents, teachers, students, policymakers and all the other parties involved are living in their own made ‘Kingdom of Narnia’; being overly optimistic about everything that is wrong with the system of learning being practiced in Pakistan.
On the contrary, the developed western countries prioritised the learning process, and worked consciously on their education system to bring the much-needed upgradation of their curricula, giving preference to science and technology.
On the other hand, hundreds of other countries, including Pakistan, are still struggling to come out of their own created ‘bubble’ of a confused education system.
For example, one might observe, like a novice learner in one of the modern fields such as data science, every new learner is in complete awe at every turning corner in their journey of learning. The agony of not knowing about it earlier eats one up, but unfortunately, only a few who are fortunate enough to even have the awareness about the importance of modern skills-based education.
Moreover, even in earlier eras, people used to learn a skill or two for survival and productivity; as most of the people learned and worked through the generational skills-set in family. Hence, the concept of un-employability might have been a very strange phenomenon at times, given their culture of learning and working.
However, as change is the only constant in human life, with time the nature of learning changed and the most current trends of learning were adopted with the development of science and technology. It involved the adoption of an education system that equips its recipients with the skills-set like old times but with a touch of modernity.
One might not be very optimistic about the unfolding of it in Pakistan any time soon. Multiple factors are responsible, some of which include the following:
Firstly, in the current era, the social media along with the mainstream media is plagued with the never-ending political dialogue. As it seems, people binge on it to the level of obsession and that’s how it’s the top rating ‘thing’ in all of these mediums of information.
This is the consequence of being surrounded by a great deal of irrelevant and unnecessary political cacophony, which is greater in some countries than others. As a remedy for all ills, it is presented as the last resort to bring the current and upcoming generation of population from the gallows of doom.
Secondly, does the responsibility really lie on the shoulders of the people alone? As a matter of fact, it is the loudness of such political noise in Pakistan that attracts the attention of any normal human being regardless of how worthless that noise might be.
As a result, the students or those who might have an appetite for learning science, technology, or philosophy among others have been plagued by the powerful whims and puppeteering of those in power. As, ‘Absolute Power Plagues Everything’.
And the kind of power dealt within this realm plagues the rational and most human-like nature of those living currently in Pakistan.
Thirdly, the social media and the mainstream media of Pakistan is engaged so wholly in the cause of the political elite’s interests, as if nothing else is more important for the people than to know which political party is in good books and which is not in the power corridors.
Those who wonder otherwise are either considered too naive or completely oblivious to their surroundings.
The most important factor of highlighting education, particularly the modern education, is nothing but a distant dream in Pakistan. The few sane voices, ‘a ray of hope’ in this regard includes an Islamabad-based startup Atomcamp which is still taking baby steps for a better future for the Pakistani youth.
Despite being in its early stages, the platform even provides scholarship opportunities along with consistent guidance for equipping its participants with market appropriate skills-set.
Undoubtedly, Pakistan is in dire need of hundreds and thousands of such startups. Because, the priority of those in power has been clear enough to apprehend that none of them care about bringing any revolution for the common people.
Some are busy in bringing a ‘tabdeeli’ that claims to benefit the commons but failed miserably, as has been witnessed, while others do not even feel the urge to side with the ‘tabdeeli mafia’.
Therefore, the only revolution that Pakistan needs is in the form of many such startups and initiatives that actually bring meaning to the cause of learning and education. Because, let’s face it, the only person that could do anything for anyone is no one but oneself, as, ‘God helps those who help themselves’, particularly more appropriate to quote this when you live in a country like Pakistan.
Despite being the bitter reality, it is the most essential requirement in current times; to accept the bitter pessimism and stop looking for hideouts and miracles by becoming too optimistic.
After all, regardless of the miserable situation of the masses, all’s well that ends well for the rich and powerful.
In a nutshell, the learning attitude needs a revolution; one which has no political strings attached. Those who are actually responsible for bringing any meaningful change should at least support and encourage startups/ initiatives, which are doing good work in enhancing the essence of education.
This is the utmost need of the time, to break the chain of generational educational gap in the uneducated, partially educated and completely wrongly educated masses of Pakistan.
The writer is an Islamabad-based analyst
Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2023.
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