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Education: The money minting game

Published on 6th Apr, Edition 14, 2015

 

Gone are the days when imparting education was considered an Ibadat, now it is a billion dollar industry in Pakistan. While many complaint about high cost of education, they actually support those who rip them in the name of education. Be it a small school, a chain of schools or private university the sole motive is money minting. It may not be out of context to say many of the leading school chains, prefer to establish their ‘outlets’ in or near Katchi Abadis that they are working for the welfare of poor. However, it is too obvious that these entities cater to the needs of elites and this fact becomes evident if one looks at the fees charged.

The irony is that the owners are fully supported in this endeavor by the government, which allots plots at dirt cheap prices and on top of that also gives those millions of rupees as grant annually. These entities often succeed getting grants from overseas donors, supporting the cause of education in less developed countries, Pakistan is included among those. Those schools which fail in soliciting such grants establish Marriage Gardens on the premises and earn millions of rupees monthly. Despite earning huge amount, the owners of schools charge colossal fees and exploit teachers, as they are paid low remuneration.

Parents of a student going to a famous chain of school following Cambridge System showed the fees voucher. The important points to be noted are: 1) it was for two months, 2) it included Rs1,000 a technology fee and 3) utility charges of around Rs400 (being generator charges). The point to be noted is that in this particular branch the number of students is around 1,500. One completely fails to understand if a fabulous per month fee is charged, why the parents should be made to pay technology and utility charges. When parents were asked, if they had ever noticed such charges earlier the reply was in negative. They confessed that since they want their child to study in this particular school, they have to remain quiet because other parents are not ready to raise their voice.

Parents of another student of a Cambridge, A level student, showed the fees voucher that was for three months that included 1) Lab Fee of Rs6,000 and 2) Sports and co-curricular charges of Rs3,000. Interestingly this girl is a student of Commerce Group which does not require any laboratory for conducting practices and the school is established in a bungalow where hardly exist any facilities for sports.

 

Enhancement of income

Teachers have also found a solution for enhancing their income. Most of them join Tuitions Centres. While they pay least attention to their students in the schools they work hard and are able to earn fabulous amounts. Most of these education centres are owned and financed by those who have money and hire services of these teachers on percentage basis. The teachers get from 25 to 75 percent of the total amount collected from their specific students group depending on their good will. These Centres boast that a large percentage of their students attain A or A plus, which helps in attracting even larger number of entrants. A recent visit to an ‘O’ level class of a famous school indicated that at the most it takes 25 students in a section. As against this the number of students attending class of one of the most popular teachers of a famous Centre was as high as 75.

A further probe indicated that this particular teacher has earned the name because the students like his way of teach and command on the subject. Even bigger revelation was that his services were terminated by the owners of a famous chain of schools, simply because of asking for a ‘corresponding remuneration’. One may say that it is a case out of hundreds but no one can deny the fact that even the highest paid teachers of the best schools join such tuition centres, because students as well as parents of many of the schools are not happy with the quality of education imparted by the respective schools. It may also be said that these teachers have realized that remaining associated with a famous chain is necessary to earn a name that can be encashed later in the life.

Responsibility of a government

In any decent society imparting basic education is the responsibility of governments. First there exist a few schools in Pakistan, mainly because the government spends less than 3% of annual budget on education. Second, there are huge numbers of ghost teachers and above all 3) even huge percentage of the budgeted amounts are pocketed by the staff of ministries and institutions and never spent on improving infrastructure or quality of teachers.

Only the elected representatives and policy makers can be held responsible for the dismal situation. Elected representatives and policy planners are least bothered about the quality of education imparted in the country because they have filthy money to send their children to the most expensive local and foreign educational institutions.

According to an expert and philanthropist rulers don’t wish to promote education/literacy in the country. They still follow the legacy of British Raj, which introduced two separate systems, one for the elites and other for the common people. This was based on the objective of maintaining the class difference. Though, Pakistan attained independence in 1947 the legacy of British Raj is still being followed.

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