The education system in Pakistan at present represents a convoluted mess that comprises a tug-of-war between the haves and have-nots and will take years to put back on rails.
Any planning which is ambiguous about its purpose is bound to fail. Achieving a goal imperatively requires having a well-understood strategy agreed upon by all the stakeholders. Before we start discussing ‘quality education’ as one of the 17 global goals for sustainability, especially in context of Pakistan, we must define what quality education is. And why do we need to educate our masses? To answer the question, two major debates are needed; philosophical and technical.
On the philosophical end, prima facie, it appears that the whole world needs to have the same standards of ‘quality education’ for sustainable development. To further complicate the matter, countries accept both philosophical and technical global logic for using education for sustainability. ‘Education’ is a process with an inbuilt intrinsic value which leads to multiple qualitative aspects of human development. It cannot and should not be limited to means to a specific end, especially ‘sustainability’. Unfortunately, the whole world has transformed slowly into a capitalistic school of thought that impacts all thinking ideologies of human lives. Commercialization of education as a tool to sustainability is actually accepting a much inferior role for this legacy of prophets.
Therefore, instead of giving prime importance to ‘sustainability’ as a driving force of ‘quality education’, holistic human development encompassing spiritual, social, personal and communal development should be at heart. Why is this philosophical debate so important? It is because the current commercial education system considers humans as factors of production and ‘saleable commodities’.
The whole purpose of education in this respect is to train human capital with maximum marginal productivity. This, however, is misleading humans from their true purpose of creation. Contents of the current education system are designed in accordance with the purpose of ‘sustainability’. That is why, in the past two decades, a major deteriorating shift in the Pakistani curriculum has taken place. There was a time when, from a very tender age, poets, intellectuals and philosophers like Iqbal, Hali, Manto, Saadi and many others were taught. There was an obvious effort to build a solid spiritual, philosophical, emotional and humanitarian base of the students.