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‘Education should be treated as a faculty to produce better humans’

We should consider education as a faculty that produces better human beings and changes behaviour for the better rather than as a tool for getting a lucrative job.

This exhortation was made by noted educationist Khushbakht Shujaat while speaking as a motivational speaker on the third and final day of a seminar titled “Women’s Empowerment”, held at the Global Marquee in town on Monday afternoon. The theme for the day was ‘Women tackling challenges in education’.

The biggest drawback in our education system was the grooming of the individual, she said, and was because our education system did not focus on developing the inner, hidden talents of the child. “All the stress is on marks and academic performance.”

Love for books, she lamented, was declining. Schools were opening up galore, she said, without any attention to quality. Their only aim was reaping the quick buck with least regard to development of a child’s personality, the speaker added.

Love for books, Shujaat lamented, was declining as also for literature. “A child who is not bright in academics may be a very good musician but our system has no provisions for exploiting this important aspect of a child’s inner personality.” This was followed by a panel discussion, titled ‘Women tackling challenges in education’.

Ameena Saiyed, managing director of the Oxford University Press (Pakistan), said that of the 60 million children of school-going age in Pakistan, 20 million were out of school. Of the remaining 40 million, 24 million, she said, were going to government-run schools while 16 million were going to private schools.

She lamented that the standard of those going to public schools was really dismal. “The literacy rate in Balochistan is abysmally low while in Karachi’s Korangi it is around 60 percent.”

Education in Pakistan, she said, faced enormous challenges. One of these, according to her, was the measly governmental spending on education whereby health, education, and social welfare, all three put together, were getting just 1.8 percent of the GDP.

Teachers, she said, were not adequately trained. “We have to create an environment which would develop an interest in learning among children.”  The e best way for a child to learn the correct language, she said, was profuse reading and supplementary reading. For that, she added, there is a dire need for libraries.”

Nargis Alvi, principal of the Habib Public School, said teachers had their individual identity as mothers, wives and daughters. As such, they had essential duties in these roles too. “We need to look at their interests. We must have a flexible attitude in this regard.

“If a teacher has to be at school at a certain time in the morning, she also has to drop an infant daughter at another school far away, the latter being as important as being at school by a certain hour. So we should have an understanding attitude there. You have to have a very humanitarian approach,” she said.

Alvi said in their school they had a policy of giving very little homework to children. “Learning should be made to be fun for children. It should not be regimented.” Ambreena Ahmed of the Teachers’ Resource Centre dwelt on the issue of the curriculum and said that it should be one that helped the child develop a broad mindset, whereby the child developed intellectual magnanimity. She was of the view that the core issues were yet to be addressed.

“In government-run schools, there was inappropriate curriculum. Teachers have a direct impact on the development of children. Teachers’ training is essential and trained teachers will not have a robotic stance towards teaching. “

Shaha Tariq, a teacher at the Cedar College, in reply to a question calling for teaching in the mother tongue, Urdu in this case, said that there had been no attempt at translating major works.

She said there was no way she could read Wuthering Heights in Urdu because no one had ever thought of translating it.  There was teaching in the mother tongue in countries like Japan, Germany, and a couple of others because translation was a regular feature in those countries and works on any subject in English, were quickly translated into the respective local language, the teacher added.

Mahin Sahibzadi moderated the panel. The final session comprised presentation of awards. The award for ‘reducing inequality’ went to Quratul Ain Bakhtiari; for ‘climactic action’ to Sabiha Zaman; for ‘responsible consumption’ to Shireen Hallai; for ‘life below water posthumously’ to Tahira Ali Shah; for ‘art and architecture education’ to Shahnaz Ismail; and for ‘life on land’ to Dr Amena.

Datta, Anil. ‘Education should be treated as a faculty to produce better humans’. The News, August 15, 2017.

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