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Private schools for the rich, public schools for the poor: In the land of pure

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Beenish Saleem |

Education is the basic right of every citizen of Pakistan; the Article 25 A of the constitution obligates the state to provide free and compulsory quality education to children of the age group of five to sixteen years. Government is attempting to fulfill its duty by opening public sector schools which is a ray of hope for the poor and uneducated people of Pakistan. The education system of Pakistan is comprised of 260,903 institutions and is currently facilitating 41,018,384 students. The system includes 180,846 public institutions and 80,057 private institutions.

Hence 31% of educational institutes are run by private sector while 69% are run by public sector. These public and private sector institutes have raised the literacy rate of Pakistan up to 250% over the recent years but the goal of a school or an educational institute is not just to raise the literacy rate, but also to provide the students with skillful knowledge and training. The syllabus which is being taught in government schools is quite different and not at par with private sector schools.

Uniform curriculum should be introduced in all sectors of education by the government, semi government and public sector schools. There should be equal teacher’s training sessions for all sector’s schools. New methodologies of teaching should be introduced in government schools.

As a result of this the educational system of Pakistan has created a gap between the students of private and the students of public schools. Moreover this discriminate system of education has indirectly become a reason of social class difference. Pakistan spends 2.4% GDP on education. At national level 89% education expenditures comprises of current expenses such as teachers’ salaries, while only 11% comprises of development expenditure which is not sufficient to raise quality of education.

The students of government schools face challenges and a severe lack of opportunities because with the education and training they are being provided in government schools, they are not apt for the demands and expectations of the job market. Private universities and private companies might also give preference to those applicants that have studied from private schools over public school students.

Read more: Democracy and education: The indivisible duo

The poor quality of public schools is often quoted as the primary cause of growth in the private education sector. Private schools have become a booming business in Pakistan. The growth of low-cost private schools began as an urban trend in large cities. Private schools operate in several rented houses in cities, within residential areas that also diminishes the cost and responsibility of transportation the school administration has to otherwise endure.

In early 1980’s Pakistan witnessed an exponential increase in the role of private sector service providers. The negative experiences of government schools have instigated parents to shift children from government to private schools. However not everyone can afford the hefty sums of tuition fee private schools demand. An ordinary middle class resident of Pakistan cannot afford these type of schools.

These include the socioeconomic status of the household, the degree of a school’s accessibility, the cost of schooling, parents’ perceptions of school quality, and their perceptions of the available employment opportunities in the region.

These schools have been developed as a money-making business to serve the elite class hence only the rich can benefit from quality education. The public sector’s failure to develop and implement quality standards for its own schools diminishes its legitimacy and authority to impose any regulation on private schools. The educational structure of Pakistan has become a source of discrimination in the social structure of Pakistan. The system of education helps us understand why the poor is becoming poorer and rich is becoming richer in Pakistan.

Read more: Pakistan: Education can be a strategic investment

According to a research, by Prof. Dr. Abdul Ghafoor Awan, there are five main factors that emerge as important determinants of private school choice. These include the socioeconomic status of the household, the degree of a school’s accessibility, the cost of schooling, parents’ perceptions of school quality, and their perceptions of the available employment opportunities in the region.

Private schools are haughty for their quality of services when compared to those of public schools. The CEO of Beaconhouse School Systems, Kasim Kasuri, once stated, “It would make me very happy even if some children from our schools have the confidence to migrate to the public sector because it would mean that the future of this country is secure. Parents need to redirect their anger towards the government.”

 The negative experiences of government schools have instigated parents to shift children from government to private schools. However not everyone can afford the hefty sums of tuition fee private schools.

Education which is considered the foundation of any nation, if provided, with such discrimination cannot bear its actual fruit. As this type of discrimination in education can only create deprivation in the society which may leads to social evils .So the need of this hour is to bring equality in education system. There should be equal education for all. Government should introduce such policies which are helpful in prevailing equality.

Read more: Quality reforms to empower public education

Uniform curriculum should be introduced in all sectors of education by the government, semi government and public sector schools. There should be equal teacher’s training sessions for all sector’s schools. New methodologies of teaching should be introduced in government schools. Government teachers should be elected completely on merit basis. Government should monitor and evaluate teams for government schools which can keep a check and balance in government schools.

After 8th amendment education is a, provincial as well as federal, responsibility. However, in the era of booming private school businesses, where private schools are following Oxford and Cambridge syllabus structures and providing an international environment to their students, the services of government schools are as dull as ditchwater.

Beenish Saleem is an educationalist and an activist for education. The views expressed in this article are authors own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space. 

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