Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dilemma of education in Sindh - I-II

By: Veengas.
Education is the soul of every society and those societies, which pay no attention to
it, in fact, unconsciously sign their death warrants. A lot has been written on the
importance of education but those at the helm of affairs, whether rulers or local
feudal lords, have never given any importance to it or any direction or spelled out
objectives to be achieved through education while framing education policies in
which we have been very rich. Only those nations can differentiate between their
past, present and future that are educated. The illiterate cannot distinguish or
differentiate between his achievements he secured during his past and present and
what to say of ones future. Members of a society who are not able to comprehend
and negotiate their present and some understanding of the direction of their future
do not make history; they vanish from the map of the world. In education sector
our country is faced with a lot of problems, which cannot be discussed in one go
here but only a few could be highlighted. The education sector has suffered
throughout Pakistan but the province of Sindh, perhaps, has been facing more
problems in education sector than other provinces. One of the reasons might be
more feudal lords are found in this province than other provinces who would never
like that people under their domain should get education which may help them to
lead a respectable life. For the past many years Sindhis have been labelled as
illiterate. There should be a difference between illiterate and literate. It is true that
ratio of education in Sindh is low but it is not fair that they should be labelled as
illiterate. They can differentiate between the right and wrong. It is very pathetic
and unfortunate that they have been kept ignorant of the importance of education.
The literacy rate in the province can be judged through the following table depicting
the ratio of education in Sindh during the past about 40 years: The table shows the
ratio of education in Sindh from 1972 to 2008. Sindh has 23 districts, 160 towns
and 1,064 union councils. During Musharraf era it was claimed that the ratio of
education ‘climbed’ up to 57.7 per cent in 2008. It means that majority of the
society had been educated. Actually it was an effort to mislead the system and to
maintain his dictatorship. Now we should look into another data of students’
enrolment ratio in Sindh in 1998. According to both these data tables, no one can
say that we have any problem concerning education. The tables show that we are
able to achieve highest literacy targets, but ground realities are bitter and totally
different. These literacy ratios look like a charade. I had a chance to visit
Jacobabad district in 2004. There I saw a lady who was weeping. She told me:
“Adhi I cannot allow my children to get education. We don’t have money for food
and if they do not work then who will support us financially? And for whom he
should go to school, there is no teacher, only lonely classrooms. It will be a sheer
wastage of time.” Further a small and desperate child said: “Baaji, I want to read
but how can I read? No one takes care of us.” Next day I went to a remote village
school. There were more than 35 students studying in the school. The school
atmosphere was very interesting and it impressed me very much. But my
happiness proved very short-lived and dreams shattered in no time when I asked a
child to read his lesson. The child refused to repeat his lesson saying he didn’t
know how to read. When further questioned he told me that he was playing in the
street when a man came up there and told him to come to school for which he
dozens of colleges and universities in Rawalpindi. Sindh has poverty and jobless
ratio is high, people are ready for the job but government has closed their eyes
from the ground realities. The Govt. is fighting terrorism but no war is being waged
against illiteracy. Who is marring the future of the innocent kids? Our political
leaders always blame military rulers for sufferings of the country, people and
backwardness but they forget that they are always part and parcel of the military
rulers. The education sector has remained a neglected sector throughout history of
Pakistan and still no clear policy has been formulated because the game has been
and still is in the hands of the feudal lords.

Dilemma of education in Sindh-II
History of education is replete with incidents of political involvement. When
personal interests are considered supreme; ideal results cannot be achieved.
Private educational institutions are mostly run by people disguised as
philanthropists but whose real aim is to mint money; those run by the government
are controlled mostly by the politicians who are not interested in educating the
masses but rather in diverting public funds to their private projects and to practise
nepotism or to receive illegal gratification when appointing teachers and other staff.
Indeed, the upper class of our society, which mainly consists of landlords,
industrialists and businessmen, is composed of selfish people. It would be futile to
hope that they would act for the common good of the community. These greed
motivated individuals consider our education sector as another source of minting
money. Surely, they don’t care about our children’s education. Who will work as
slaves at their homes, fields or be their shoeshine boys if our children get education
is the question that bothers them the most. Politicians only favour education for our
children which is enough for them to chant slogans at party meetings or act as
handymen and women for the preparation of political gatherings; distributing party
posters, hoisting flags, holding banners, making seating arrangements, and
preparing stage for the speakers are the chores expected of these semi-educated
poor party workers. Rule number of our politicians in the power game is that the
majority should be kept uneducated, because it is easy to rule the needy and the
ignorant than to rule a majority comprising affluent people. Education has been
made very costly which automatically limits higher studies to the rich. The rich not
only kept wealth among themselves but also had made sure that individuals with
higher education stem only from amongst them. They know fully well that besides
ownership of land, factories and business houses, high professional education is the
only sources left to the poor to get financially comfortable. By taking away the
option of higher education from the poor, the poor will be poor and ignorant for
perpetuity. It is more than six decades since the creation of Pakistan. Every
Pakistani wants to be educated. The government feigns to be very much interested
in meaningfully educating the common people. The politicians who belong to the
rich class say they want to devise a system which would help the poor get
educated. For more than 60 years the people are hearing these good intentions of
our rich politicians paying lip service towards educating the poor; we may, it
seems, hear the same concern for educating the poor from our rich politicians, but
it has now become apparent that the poor are not going to get a system which
educates the poor for the next 60 years. Our politicians who are mostly feudal
lords, business barons, and industrial tycoons and who sit in our Senate, National
and provincial assemblies and even in our district and tehsil level government
organisations, and who usually own vast stretches of land in villages, nay own not
just whole villages but the villagers as well as slaves; the business tycoons have
tangled their poor workers into economic slaves; the mill owners also their
labourers as economic slaves. They will not allow even high schools let alone higher
education institutions in their villages and labour colonies. For the time being, our
elected officials are talking about enabling us to achieve higher education, we might
be happy hearing them talk this way, but we have been hearing such talk for the education then how do we think, this country will be run without educated people.
Unfortunately, we are looking towards those at the helm of affairs and realise they
have neither the ability nor the will to do anything worthwhile except to maintain
their pomp and show. The common, innocent people who passed the government’s
test for the post of teachers cannot do anything except wait for their appointment
letters which might never be issued. Every politician promises change through
government’s authority but when they are elected and thus inducted into corridors
of power, their promises becomes the vows and oaths are more than the vows and
oaths of charlatan. This is the dilemma of education, or rather the lack thereof, in
Sindh. Change will come if those in authority start thinking that real power can be
achieved only by making the common people happy. They are mistaken that
uneducated people will remain slaves for ever? One day even the uneducated
masses will understand that they are being tricked; they will come out and demand
good education facilities for their children. No one can stop the march of history;
history itself tells us so.
God preserve us from our friends,
We will sort out our enemies ourselves.