Haroon-ur-Rasheed, one of the most powerful caliphs of Abbasid dynasty, once saw his young son holding the shoes of his teacher while they both were entering a mosque. The caliph was extremely fearful to the young prince. The teacher too got very afraid and feared the ruler’s wrath. However, the caliph enquired from his son, why was he not helping his teacher in walking since the prince was holding the teacher’s shoes only in one hand and the other hand was free. From this incident we can imagine how great the respect of a teacher was in those days.
Since the days of yore, teacher has been a professional who has enjoyed respect more than anyone else. However, the teachers in those times were also selfless – a fact which contradicts the behavior of teachers today. Today, the profession of teaching has lost its due respect and the reason is that the corporate culture has taken over this noble profession, and turned it into a profitable business.
In this country hardly any field can be found which is making real progress. Education too is not much different from other walks of life. This department is deprived off the state patronage. Since there was a lot of vacuum in education sector, right from primary level to university level the private sector jumped in the field of education to fill the vacuum. Public schools with good repute deteriorated in their standards and middle class of the country was left with no option but to send their children to private schools.
Education has become a business today. These private schools which also include networks of grammar schools charge such enormous amounts of fee which a common man cannot even think of. A guess can be made by a fact which I came to know a few days ago that a renowned private school in Lahore charges a student of primary section twenty six thousand rupees a month! Whereas, in government universities the fee of one semester is usually lesser, especially in arts subjects. In private colleges and universities too, gigantic fee-structures are in place which students, mostly from middle class and lower middle class have to pay in order to secure their future.
This is an unfortunate fact that only 2% of the total national budget is allocated for education sector. The results are very obvious that only 54% of the total population of Pakistan is literate. Sometimes even the standards of this literacy come under criticism. We can well understand that even after seventy years of independence why are we in so pathetic a situation. Only 1.6 % of the total population of Pakistan, according to a research, seeks university education. Those who are in control of the reins of this field, exploit it to the best of their own interests. The reason is that in the absence of government’s umbrella only a very few can seek higher education.
Owners of private universities, colleges and schools treat education as business not as a service to the nation; although, some exceptions are also there.
Among these there are also tuition centers or academies which are another form of education-cum-business. All such tuition centers are privately owned and all attract enough number of students in their institutions which are enough to be called a handsome business.
The state of Pakistan, which was established in the name of Islam, should prioritize education as its foremost goal. It is because the first revelation to our Noble Prophet (PBUH) was ‘iqra’ that is ‘read!’ our religion emphasizes on education more than any single thing. Therefore, Islamic Republic of Pakistan ought to strive to make the population of Pakistan an educated populace not mere a herd of cattle!