Imran Khan and the Federal Education Ministry are all ready to introduce a uniform educational curriculum at the primary level for the upcoming term of April 2021. According to the proposed plan, uniform education for classes, six to eight will be implemented in 2022 and for classes, nine to twelve in 2023. This uniform education curriculum will apply to both the public and private sectors. According to PM Imran Khan, this step is going to end social and economic classism in the country.
However, here at BTN, we think that this step to implement a uniform education in order to combat classism in Pakistan will be quite unsuccessful. It will be a failure because the class-based system in Pakistan is due to discrepancies in income and not the education system. If the PTI Government has identified classism as a problem (Let’s just call it Problem A) and its source is considered to be curriculum differences between the private and public sector (Source A), then the solution they have provided us with is Uniform Education (Solution A). The government is of the view that if all the students get uniform education, the career opportunities would be the same for all of them and the classism will diminish. Although the education system is definitely not the root of this problem, if we do go with this solution and implement a uniform education system, the results would be something like this;
- Students across the country will still be learning the content in their provincial languages.
- The Private sector will still be able to provide better quality education than the public sector even with the same curriculum.
Therefore, by this uniform education formula, the problem, i.e. classism, will still remain. Source A i.e. difference in educational opportunities in the private and public sector, is a completely different issue (Problem B) and although it does need to be solved, it has nothing to do with classism in terms of curriculum.
Problem A (Classism) has much more to do with Income Disparity than the education sector. Therefore, the government has to identify the real source of this issue which is a lack of career options for the Middle and Lower class. The classism in Pakistan and the poor attitude towards blue-collar jobs go hand in hand. People prefer redundant degrees over learning a trade because blue-collared jobs aren’t considered respectable in the country. These redundant degrees result in a higher rate of unemployment increasing the income disparity even more. Therefore, what we really need right now is a change in people’s mentality towards skills and a focus shift towards vocational training. The youth of Pakistan should be given exposure to trade schools and training institutions so that more career paths can open up for them. Through trade schools, students will save time and money, get hands-on industry-specific experience, and be able to get an education.
Classism can only be brought to an end if people are earning sufficient wages and the economy is prospering. And when we talk about people earning sufficiently, we have to talk about the main occupation of Pakistan, Agriculture. Agriculture is considered to be the backbone of Pakistan but this sector has been deteriorating for a long time now due to the negligence of the government. There are no research centers for this sector and no study has been carried out in our country to improve this sector. The wheat that Pakistan used to export for years is now insufficient for the country’s use. To end classism, the government needs to pay attention to developing skilled labor through Trade Schools and promoting the Agricultural Sector of Pakistan so people can get rid of income discrepancies.
With that being said, let’s come back to Problem B (Disparity between the Private and Public Education Sectors) because the education sector of Pakistan does need improvement regardless of the prevalent classism in the country. However, the implementation of a uniform education across the country would not improve the education sector in any way. The curriculum in public schools and colleges does need improvement and it will be very beneficial if the government gets it redesigned in collaboration with the Cambridge education ministry. However, implementing the new curriculum countrywide might not be the right decision. Because even though having a national curriculum where everyone studies the same language and content seems good on paper, it goes against individual freedoms. While monoculture seems impressive, it cannot be achieved through an iron fist and can only exist by individual choice. The idea of drilling national sentiment into the youth through education is quite ridiculous and farfetched.
Another way to educational opportunities are made more available for the lower class is by subsidizing the private sector. However, this has already been done at the university level in Pakistan and failed miserably. The Law, Management, and Marketing Degrees in Pakistan are heavily subsidized thus, we have an abundance of lawyers saturating the market. And there are no job opportunities for the thousands of managerial and marketing degree holders these subsidized universities produce because Pakistan does not have many corporations or companies, to begin with. Moreover, Bachelors of Medicine is also subsidized in Pakistan and a huge number of doctors move to foreign countries for better jobs and specialization programs.
The only feasible and effective solution for Problem B (Disparity between the Private and Public Education Sectors) left for the government is through Charter Schools. Charter Schools are institutions that are publically funded but operated by independent groups. These independently-operated public schools have the freedom to design their classrooms according to the needs of the students and are obliged to participate in state testing and federal accountability programs. According to a survey in 2015, 6700 charter schools are operating in the US providing education to 200,000 students. The public sector is bound to have certain failures and Pakistan cannot shutdown the private schools as the government is in no state to meet the demand in absence of the private sector. However, merging these private schools with the public sector hence creating charter schools is the best way forward for our education sector. Establishing Charter Schools, promoting vocational training and trade schools, and improving the country’s agricultural sector can altogether create a prosperous environment for the youth of the country with multiple career paths and lesser income disparity and classism.