The growing commercialized trends in health and education sectors have enhanced profitability at the expense of welfare of the people in Pakistan. Schools and hospitals have now turned somewhat into firms and companies, which all the time remain engaged in improving their financial profile. What is actually missing is the ‘welfare’ from these welfare institutions.
Commoditization of education
Friendly and peaceful environment, standard educational facilities, high-tech computing services, institutional infrastructure and the necessary paraphernalia are considered the requisites for establishing a quality professional education institution today. These requisites can be met at high costs in terms of investment capital. These are the tangible elements for a quality educational institution. But there are intangible factors, which are even more important for achieving the desiderata vis-à-vis quality education.
The intangible factors include discipline, communication skills, professionalism, educational ethics, standard teaching methodology and meritocracy. It is a hard fact that if tangible criteria for the quality education are met only, ignoring the intangible factors, the education becomes a ‘commodity’ on sale. This leads to commercialization of education – greater the investment, higher the price for ‘commodity’.
Education from a moral obligation gradually metamorphosed to commercial venture in Pakistan. Today education is considered a highly profitable business attracting high profile business tycoons for investment in this sector. Education, particularly the professional education, has become a commodity on sale, to say the least. These commercialized trends have perished the social values and educational ethics in Pakistan. It promoted class-consciousness setting a rational paradigm for the private investors in education sector making education a profitable business for them. The product came out from these educational cum commercial institution was the rational, materialist class lacking moral attributes. Naturally, they will sell what they bought – education.
A common man cannot afford to pay even the fee for a semester being charged by the quality institutions offering professional degrees. In fact, getting a professional degree is becoming not only difficult but impossible for the middle class. It is beyond the reach of the lower middle class and the poor cannot even think of getting a professional degree in the given circumstances.
A cursory look at the campus building complex of a high-profile institution of professional education in private sector reveals a heavy investment in the project. But is the heavy investment can ensure the standard of quality education? Can the facilities and high tech computing services meet the real parameters of quality education? Do the heavy investment capital, liberal environment, standard educational facilities and westernized paradigm of imparting education provide for the yardsticks to judge the standards of education?
Not all, but most of the private educational institutes traumatized the moral sanctity of educational phenomenon commercializing the education for all. Educational standards were raised by charging high fees making the education an expensive commodity. These private institutions fixed the yardstick of high charges as the set parameters of quality education. They developed a symbol of status through offering costly educational packages to aristocratic and rich classes of the society. This promoted class conciseness and deepened sense of deprivation and frustration among the poor and lower sections of society.
Education got commercialized by the passage of time. The businessmen took interest and invested heavily in education sector turning education into a commodity on sale in lieu of high charges in terms of fee. Private schools, colleges and institutions witnessed a mushroom growth all over the country as the major business groups and tycoons made substantial investment in education sector.
On the other hand, the government schools, colleges and universities remained stuck to their obsolete syllabi, old teaching methodology and worn out system of examination to judge the knowledge and ability of the students. Universities in public sectors have so far produced an army of jobless graduates and post graduates, most of them are incapable to compete in practical fields. They have only one distinction of having a bachelor or master degrees in various disciplines to accomplish the formality of required job. Truly speaking, their degrees are worthless in practical scheme of the things.
Commercialism in health
The business of establishing private hospitals has become highly profitable where the patients are treated as customers like in high profile hotels. There are many doctors who have opened their private hospitals where the patients are treated as scapegoats in accordance with their financial positions.
The patients are looted through high room-charges at these hospitals. It has been observed that doctors unnecessarily recommend the patients to be admitted at the hospital for earning a healthy amount in the form of room charges and other services.
The private hospitals, clinics and laboratories have witnessed a mushroom growth in major cities of Pakistan in the last one decade. Similarly thousands of laboratories are engaged in flourishing their businesses. Most of these laboratories lack the professional staff and essential diagnostic instrumentation. There always remains somewhat of a symbiotic alliance between the doctors of the private clinics and laboratory managers. The doctors send patients to their allied clinics for different medical test reports and they only believe and recognize the reports tested from their recommended laboratories. The lab owners give a due share to the doctors for sending the customers for them.
The medical raps offer attractive packages like foreign visits and other financial benefits to the doctors in lieu of their prescription for their company’s medicines. There is a pitched competition among the pharmaceutical companies in regard to offering packages to the doctors for sale of their product.
The multinational, national and local companies are all the hard competitors in this field. Now sale of medicine does not depend upon quality, standard or goodwill of the companies but it is now entirely dependent upon the greater demand of the drugs. The demand is enhanced by the doctors through massive prescription of medicines of their client pharmaceutical companies.