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Friday, August 31, 2007

Education In Pakistan

This information was compiled by GEI volunteer, Danielle Hoffman.

• Pakistan gained its independence in 1949 from British rule.
• Its population in 1951 was 34 million. In 2005 it was 154 million.
• Prior to British rule, education was free, highly valued and diverse while embracing Islamic teachings. Teachers were free to teach what they felt relevant, and a great deal of trust was placed in these institutions. Education included, among other things, fine arts, drawing, the arts of defense and tactical training, architecture, calligraphy, sculpture medicine, pharmacy and surgery.
• Under British rule, education was reformed and it became restricted to class. Acquaintance with the English language was synonymous with knowledge; the lack of it was considered ignorance.
• With independence, Hindus and Muslims were divided, the latter occupied India, the former, Pakistan. This left Pakistan’s economy, commerce, and educational system in ruins. Many teachers were Indian Hindus. The population surge did nothing but exacerbate the already overwhelmed education sector. At the end of British rule, two types of schools existed: government run and madrassas. The government spends 1.8% of its GDP on schools today. There is a continuous need to increase the defense budget due relations with India, the Kashmir issue, three wars, and East Pakistan’s transformation to Bangladesh. This has been devastating to Pakistan's education funds.
• A 2005 study done by politician Imran Khan found that 15% of government schools are without proper buildings. This means they may be unsafe, partial or non-existing. 52% are without boundary walls. 40% are without running water. 70% of schools are without electricity. 20% of schools reported do not exist structurally, only on paper. In many cases, these nonexistent schools and teachers are still receiving funds from the government, which are already exhausted.
• Of those schools that do exist structurally, 25% of them are without teachers, 70% of them exist but are closed, and no schools have more than half the teachers they’re suppose to have.
• Only half of the children in Pakistan will ever have access to any formal education. Of those who do have access, half of them will drop out before finishing primary school. Many times, this is due to financial constraints on the family.
• The other types of schools that exist in Pakistan are two types of madrassas (or madrasahas):
1. Maktab: devoted entirely to reading, recitation and learning of the Koran. These schools enable the common man to perform daily religious duties. They are similar to Christian Sunday schools.
2. Madaris: teach strict Islam following as well as Islamic sciences. Once primary school in completed, students learn math and science in secondary school. There is much conflicted information about the threat of madrassas throughout the Islamic world. Claims have been made that madrassas are harboring terrorists and that in some cases, they are terrorists training grounds. There have been valid arguments for both sides.
• The fear is that since Saudi Arabia has invested millions of dollars in madrassas throughout Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other Islamic countries, that they must be teaching fundamentalist Islam. Madrassas currently provide free education, room and board, and in some cases, a stipend for families who are losing money due to lost labor of their children. For many parents, madrassas are the only way their children will see an education.
• Parents who cannot afford to send their children to private school or government run schools must send their children to madrassas, where they are guaranteed an extremely conservative education that is grossly inadequate in terms of being applicable to modern day needs, but an education nonetheless. Figures vary greatly, but there are an estimated 800,000 to 1 million students in madrassas across Pakistan.

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