Article By Osama:
For a society as diverse as Pakistan’s, universal education is the only solution to hold the social fabric together. The differences in the cultural, ethnic and political aspirations for the nation can be diminished if the popular vision of the nation is similar. It is only possible if the people think alike. Without it, lack of harmony, understanding and uniform desire for national interest will continue to persist.
Uniformity in ideals cannot be practiced unless Pakistan has a universal system of education. As of date, three different systems of education are popular among the masses. The madrasah schools, the public boards, and the GCSE. Then there are around 500 international schools imparting education to both the local and foreign nationals. Thus, the difference in academic pasts of the students leads to a varied national narrative. There is a constant tug-of-war between these groups in order to shape the history and political system of the country.
Without any system of universal education, the national narrative will continue to differ. Even, the establishment of Pakistan presents a different outlook for students of unrelated academic backgrounds. The madrasah educated lot will emphasize on the Islamic heritage of Pakistan. The conventionally educated youth will focus on the colonial past and the political struggle for Pakistan. The Cambridge educated class will concentrate on the secular leanings of the founding fathers of Pakistan.
Indeed, education replaces an empty mind with an open one. But in Pakistan’s case, that mind is being opened to contradicting ideas. As long as the situation remains, the society will only get weaker. Internal struggle and debate will outclass unity and cooperation.
Unfortunately for Pakistan, the country has an embarrassingly low education-to-GDP ratio. At 2.2% of the GDP, Pakistan has the lowest percentage of the education budget in the region. The rate of illiteracy, though diminishing in the world, is increasing in Pakistan. A low budget means inefficiency in the delivery of service. Then, the government policy to promote the school-kids without examination. All impact the initiation of a universal system education in Pakistan.
Unless there is no aspiration towards realizing universal education, the realization of “Unity, Faith and Discipline” will present a daunting task. If Pakistan is to become a laboratory of Islam, where there is freedom to practice and profess all religions, the country must move towards an academic set-up which is uniform and caters to the intellectual needs of all the classes of the society alike.