Saturday, 11 March 2017

Uniformity of Education is Socially & Economically viable | LUMS

Although uniform education may be expensive for some people and may not be readily available in remote areas of a country, however, the idea of uniform education is not an exercise in futility because this system ensures eradicating the class differences and promotes equality, merit, and justice. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” (Nelson Mandela). Education plays a pivotal role in our society, it helps in reducing poverty, promoting equality, improving the socio-economic conditions of a society and making the citizens more responsible. Education helps individuals in making informed decisions throughout their life; it grooms people and makes them better individuals.

Our society is divided into various class differences; 

The upper class, middle class, and underclass. This segregation can never result in a flourishing society rather it is the separatist element in a community that creates the feeling of superiority and inferiority. Class difference is undemocratic because it disallows equal opportunity for people and decelerates advancement and improvement. Class distinctions are based on the financial status of people, their family backgrounds, profession and living standards. It impels the persons to adopt the same profession laid down for their class which does not leave enough room for upgrading their social standing and thus there is no upward or downward mobility of labor. Class diversity can distort the mentality of people, they start defining others on the basis of their social standing and not on the content of their character. This clearly shows that people belonging to underclass are at a great social disadvantage. However, as John Dewey says “…Education is the fundamental method of social progress and reform” (“Pedagogic Creed” 77-80). Even the history has proved the turnabout in human mentality because of the attainment of education; the best example of which is the Arab society before and after the advent of Islam. A verse of the Holy Quran reads, “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may recognize each other not that you may despise each other.” In order to achieve equality, there should be uniformity in the education system. The feeling of superiority or inferiority is just psychological; there is no sound physical basis for it. When there will be a symmetrical education system, the individuals studying in such a system from the very beginning of their life will consider themselves equal and similar if at least not the same. The basis of their comparison will not be financial status or social ranking; it will be intelligence, talent, and ability. This system can instill in an individual’s mind this thinking from the very beginning and which can be carried forward throughout their life.

Non-uniform education demotes merit and justice:

It does not provide the sound basis of comparison among individuals. Such a system in a country cannot identify talent, proficiency, and potential of people. When the individuals belong to a non-symmetrical education system, there are high chances of injustice to them in the longer run because there won’t be equal job opportunities for them and they won’t be earning the same wages thus their living standards will be contrasting. In a non-uniform education, there is probability that one type of education is low standard while the other one is high standard, for example, the O/A Levels and Matric/FSc

The system of education in Pakistan:

Most people think that former system is better while the latter one is a low standard of education due to its obsolete teaching methods and age-old textbooks. Both the systems prepare the students to face the world in a different way, O/A Levels encourages good observation, analytical and presentation skills while FSc system aims to equip the students to be more hardworking, disciplined, reliable and have better command over subjects because this system encourages students to practice hard. It can be seen that both the systems because of their different approaches are creating dissimilarities among the students; both are creating students of the different psyche which in the longer run can cause feelings of dominance and insignificance. One practical example of injustice done to A-levels students is the equivalency of straight A’s to 935/1100 marks in FSc whereas many FSc students manage to score 1000+ marks making them more eligible for Medical Colleges; resultantly the ratio of A levels students is much less in Pakistani Medical Colleges. “More than 18,000 students appeared in the entry test for MBBS program last year and only 488 of them were A-Level students. However, only 13 could make it to the medical institutions, making it a mere 2.6 percent of the A-level students and 0.07 percent of all students” (Daily Times). From this it is clear that non-uniform education in a country downgrades people, it’s an unfair system and it degrades talent in students. Whereas a uniform education system creates people of similar mentality thus making them more work compatible in their professional lives, their intelligence is more comparable, the entrance into universities and hiring by institutions is purely merit based without any discrimination. A uniform education system has far reaching consequences and is very beneficial to the country’s well-being in the days ahead.

The opposition might claim that with the uniform system, it will be difficult for poor people to afford that kind of education because the books may be costly or the school administration might be charging more fees for better management of a uniform system. However, this problem can be logically solved taking help from some rules of Economics. As education is made uniform, there will be a centralized system in which all the students will be learning the same basic courses; the textbooks will be same, syllabus analogous and curriculum alike. Thus the demand for the same kind of textbooks will increase means the supply will increase as more demand provides incentives to the publishers to invest in this business. The price will automatically go down enabling poor students to buy textbooks. There is another option and that is second-hand books or hand-me-downs. This can be more manageable through the internet; a site can be made such as ‘’ where students wishing to sell their books can put up an advertisement and students wishing to buy can order them beforehand. The role of government becomes more pronounced under such circumstances as they can announce financial aid programs and provide a subsidy to poor families etc.

The opposition might also assert that remote rural areas of a country are not equipped with facilities to provide a uniform education as this requires highly trained teachers and equipment that is not readily available in those areas. It must be kept in mind that implementation of a uniform education in a country is not an easy task neither it is an overnight operation. It is a mega project requiring arduous work from both the government and the public as well. It is about changing the mindset of people, it is about merging people’s frame of mind, their viewpoint and it requires a lot of years and a tremendous amount of work. There will be a lot of difficulties in the onset but as more and more milestones are reached, going becomes smooth and sooth. The earlier impediment in the far flung areas can be managed by sending teams of highly trained and professional teachers to those areas, incorporate them into the schools there so they can set examples and be the guiding and beacon light. The government can conduct workshops, symposia, and seminars on a regular basis to update the teachers in far-off areas. The government can announce better pay packages in order to attract trained teachers to work there.

Mohammad Ali Jinnah said, “With faith, discipline and selfless devotion to duty, there is nothing worthwhile that you cannot achieve.” There are many challenges in the way but sound planning on the government’s part and cooperation on the public’s part are vital for this system to work because when going gets tough, tough gets going. All great men in history were not born great, they strived hard for the achievement of their goals and they were committed to their aspirations. A person does not wake up in the morning and his ambitions fulfilled but that person can wake up and decide to work on his target.

About the writer:
Hamza Saqib is a senior student of  'Accounting Finance' at LUMS. He is from Lahore, Pakistan

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