The education sector in the country is full of inequalities when the public and private sector are taken into consideration. The conditions of schools which are run privately and those run by the government are in no way comparable with the former certainly outperforming the latter.
The condition of government-run schools in Sindh in particular can be judged from the fact that almost 22,000 schools are found without having any drinkable water; 24,000 are without any electricity; 22,500 do not have any means of using the toilet while 19,000 of these schools do not have any boundary walls protecting the individuals inside.
While a sum of Rs4,000 million had been allocated in 2014-2015 for the purpose of educational reforms and to bring about better conditions to these government-run schools, the amount has not been utilized in an efficient manner to bring about the changes it was expected to.
A report produced by Alif Ailaan in Pakistan stated that almost 71 per cent of schools within the province have conditions, which are not satisfactory because the buildings are dangerous for the teaching staff as well as the students alike.
Taking literacy into consideration with respect to the state run schools in Sindh, 49 per cent of the students from class 5 are unable to read Urdu; 63 per cent of them cannot read a sentence in English and 58 per cent are unable to perform simple multiplication and division of the table of 2. This highlights in itself just how low the standard of government-run schools with respect to the quality of education provided. Furthermore, with no proper salaries being given to the teaching staff and with most not being hired on merit, a lack of facilities and improper security too do not create a breeding ground for proper education to take place.
Performance not up to the mark
Pakistan unfortunately will not be able to meet one of its MDG goals by the end of the year, which comprises of the nation being able to achieve universal primary education, improving the rate of adult literacy as well as retention in schools. Taking the education for all goals, the nation again is not performing too well. According to the EDI (EFA Development Index) of 2015, the country is ranked 106 out of 113 countries. The state of each province within the nation can be held accountable since each has their role to play.
The state of education in Sindh to begin with is not reflective of positive growth. Karachi is the only district, which ranks above the score of 70 at 43 whereas Hyderabad ranks in at 62. Education in the province with respect to government-run schools has declined quite rapidly since not only the infrastructure but the outputs have also suffered. The conditions of Sindh with regard to education can thus be blamed on the government of the province for its failure in not being able to provide what is necessary for such goals to be met.
Appropriate reforms needed
Dr Ishrat Hussain, the dean and directory of the Institute of Business Administration also stated that the education system of the country is one which is based on conflicts, which occur over policies made by the government, preferences of the society as well as teaching practices, which do not allow talented individuals to develop further who can be found in both the urban as well as rural parts of the country. He too believes that reforms are required for the youth to be nurtured and for these reforms to not only be introduced but implemented appropriately.
He also believes that for reforms to be implemented and for long run change to occur, the education sector needs to be decentralized and de-politicized. Teachers should also be hired on the basis of merit and be paid according to what the market competitive salary is which will further lead to a productive environment to foster causing the standard of teaching to improve at the level of the schools. The same can be applied to schools run privately as well as those run by the government. As long as teachers are well equipped and qualified for the job (based on merit) and are offered the appropriate incentives for their work, positive changes can result. This however is certainly only one of the aspects to be dealt with. Smaller districts in the province already face a lack of teachers and where teachers may be available, lack of infrastructure may be the menace. This is due to the inappropriate budget spending of the government, which needs to allocate funds appropriately keeping in mind the target and outcomes expected of it.
While those schools run by the government certainly have their own issues, those run privately too suffer from issues. For a number of people, the fee structure of most of the privately run schools and universities is quite high to bear. When talking about the well known private schools in Karachi, everyone is seen to refer to only a few names while the rest are considered good but often not mentioned. High fees are certainly an issue due to which private institutions are also becoming difficult to pay for by those belonging to the average income group. With government run schools lacking appropriate quality of education and with private schools having high fees, finding a middle ground becomes quite a challenge.
Furthermore, the political situation of the country is again one which affects private schools as well. Disturbances in the city, political tensions and calls for strikes tend to cause schools and universities to shut down for the safety of the students and teaching staff, which results in mismanagement of studies and the schedule which was meant to be followed.
While most news and reports focus on the problems and issues faced by the government-run schools and institutes in the country, privately run ones have their own share of problems albeit not as great or troublesome as those experienced by the government-run schools. No doubt the private schools in the nation are those which attract a certain income group and are considered as targeting the elite groups more.