The wise say that you can bring a nation up (or down) depending on how you equip their schools. Reflecting on that adage, a look at Pakistan tells us that we are not exactly doing a great job at improving education and empowering those who are assigned to impart it. On Thursday, the Punjab Teachers Union announced a two-day boycott of duties after negotiations with authorities did not produce an agreement. The union insisted on a more empathetic revision of new policies that help teachers in educating students, which makes sense. The government’s policy to rationalize teachers as per their need in different schools is understandable at a surface level but it gets complicated when you look closer: Sending teachers off to far flung areas is only pragmatic when you financially equip teachers to reach those distances. Considering the paltry pay government teachers receive, a demand such as this one – no matter how urgent – simply cannot yield good results.
On the other side, the government’s contention with teachers in failing to ensure a high student attendance in the classrooms is based in reality: Our teachers must show more diligence and sincerity to bring forth pupils to schools. Obviously, there is no point in teaching an empty classroom. Teachers are equally culpable when they choose to generate revenue in private tuition while neglecting their public education responsibilities. The most frequently occurring fault in our analysis of Pakistan’s faltering educational system is the lack of observance we make when we try to solve our problems. Our issues are intricately related to one another; they do not exist in a vacuum. For a stable pedagogy, we need a reformed curriculum. For the efficiency of a reformed curriculum, we need dedicated teachers who are willing to make sacrifices. For present and invested teachers, we need authorities to provide them with the monetary sustenance they deserve. It is all linked together.
The good news? It is not as destitute as it may seem. We’re making – albeit turtle-paced – progress and that counts. At this moment, our national literacy rate is 57%, which shows promise to grow. This can only happen when our authorities stop mulling, reach common ground with protesting teachers and get into action. The need of the hour is to understand that our lack of sound policy and cooperation occurs at the expense of young pupils who deserve a lot better.