In July, Pakistan saw another reform in education. The govt. of Imran khan decided to conclude its unification of the three systems of education (Urdu medium schools, English medium schools, and the Madrassas).
It announced an Islamic course at the master’s level and allowed raids on printing presses in Punjab province to confiscate hostile publications. Since education is a provincial subject, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are bound to bear the brunt of this reform as they are ruled by Khan’s Tehreek-e-insaaf party.
Teachers labelled liberal and secular are the first to be rendered jobless under the looming reform. Nuclear physicist Parvez hoodbhoy thesis is that the reform will make the madrassa dominate the other two streams and that an already religiously oriented educational system will be further Islamised. Pakistan’s universities are not recognised outside Pakistan because of the heavy ideological content in their syllabi and the daunting presence of religious fundamentalist elements in them.
The problem with education in a Muslim state is its reluctance to impart analytical and critical thinking. When a Pakistani educationist sits down to frame textbook content he is scared of the critical trait of the human mind. His objective is to prevent the student from applying a critical yardstick while analysing ideology.
The recent law allows the Punjab administration to form vigilante groups that could assault publishing houses to cull objectionable content and destroy it and subject the publisher-writer to punishment. Pakistan is not alone among the Muslim state to have an educational system hostile to free knowledge. The Arab world is equally crippled while IRAN and TURKEY have succumbed to Islamism and its anti-knowledge worldview.
The other negative factor in the Muslim world is the frequent incidence of war that upsets the intellectual conditions required for education, replacing it with propaganda. There is also the rise of Islamism that damages the edifice of rational learning. Boko Haram ( an Islamic revival terrorist organisation operating ghastly in Nigeria) attacks rational institutions (English medium) and renamed them as “English medium education is not allowed”.
The other negative factor is the incidence of violence in the shape of war and civil war. In the case of Pakistan, there is little money left after fighting or preparing for wars which are not hidden from anyone, there is no money left for education after meeting the expenditure on the armed forces. In the Arab world too there is frequent war during which no one thinks of education.
Teachers too are problem. Most of the primary school teachers in Pakistan are Madrassa graduates who have acquired knowledge that equips them for no secular profession.
The state sector education mostly relies on brainwash as the teaching methodology. Looking for good teachers is a problem of the Islamic world outstrips the capacity of the state to produce good teachers capable of imparting modern knowledge.
In an article in Arab News, Zaid M Balbagi wrote: Compounded by record levels of teachers reaching retirement age alongside unprecedented numbers of children entering the education system, UNESCO’s Institute for statistics indicated that 1.6million new teaching posts will need to be created in the Arab world if universal education is to be achieved”.