Educational fraternity – a way forward
Nations set their targets and devise means to achieve them. In Pakistan, we lack such measures in almost all walks of life. We don’t have clear strategies when it comes to global positioning of our country in business, politics, science, and other areas where intellectual input has a role. Though we have our achievements in science and sports but they are mostly individualistic in nature. Our systems are not promoting the culture of reaching to excellence in different fields. Unfortunately, globally, our country’s name is more associated with terrorism, religious intolerance, and incompetence, completely contradicting the purpose and aims for which Pakistan had come into being.
It is the only Islamic country which came into being in the name of Islam. Quaid-e-Azam dreamed Pakistan to be a modern Islamic country leading a positive role on the world arena. But we stand now as one of the countries having the highest level of corruption. Our cities are considered to be the dirtiest ones. In science, we don’t have any significant contribution. In world GDP, our share is less than 1% although we are one of the highly populated countries with the birth rate, one of the highest in the world.
We need to think where we see our country in the next 20 or 40 years and how to take ourselves to that point. For this purpose, a national dialogue is needed in which the country’s intellectuals give their input and strategies are devised for it.
I believe that education system is the mainstream from which all the sub streams like business, science, culture and art etc. take their way. We can expect a better Pakistan close to the one dreamed by our ancestors if we develop a sound targeted education policy which is based on our real interests and culture. Presently, we have a directionless education system which is leading us nowhere. Education systems should promote harmony among people for achieving the national aims set by the intellegentia. Our education system is unfortunately dividing people in different classes and ads to the aimless degree distribution.
Presently, we have several education systems aiming differently and producing minds which normally don’t understand and accommodate each other. We have schools where medium of instruction is English and the course content is indigenous. They are regulated by the local education boards. Another type are the schools connected with foreign school systems and their course content is also foreign in nature. Students of both systems study together at the local universities. Third system is the religious schools or Madaaris where pure religious education is provided. Output of these institutions are the students having quite different mindsets. Their work approach and ethics are different, resulting in further segmentations of society undermining the harmony purpose of education.
These days, the present government is trying to bring reforms in the religious schools. It is good to have reforms in madaaris if religious scholars running these institutions are taken comprehensively on board. Here, it is also suggested that reforms are also needed in others types prevailing of education systems in Pakistan. Moreover, Universities in Pakistan also need reforms because we are producing such graduates who mostly lack moralities and ethics.
We have good examples like Dr Adeeb Rizvi and Ansar Burni, but they seem to be exceptions. Today, a common man is victim of the greedy and corrupt bureaucracy, medical professionals, engineers, teachers, lawyers, managers, journalists and judges etc. These people are the product of our universities and it needs good education aiming for promoting moralities and professional ethics. Islam sets high standards of moralities and ethics, university education is finely blended with religious education focusing moralities, ethics, religious prohibitions like deceit, exploitation, hoarding, interest based transactions etc. We can hope for producing competent people having strong characters and common man will be the beneficiary.
Similarly Madaaris are also producing people who may be good in religious education but they are not able to solve problems of the modern world. We believe that Islam is a complete code of life and has the capacity of solving problems of all times. Solving modern world problems requires Islamic scholars increase their knowledge base about modern systems like banking, commerce, medical like organ donation, law, proficiency in English etc. Their religious educations need to be blended with modern education so that they may provide religious guidance in all spheres of life. Blending education may increase mutual trust of Madaaris and universities.
For meeting the above purposes, it is suggested that after a holistic dialogue with madaaris and universities, fraternity in both types of institutions should be promoted through taking initial steps of the students, faculty exchange and collaborative educational programmes having blend of both education systems. Such programmes will increase cross capacities of madaaris and universities. Once adequate capacities are built, next step can be launching cross education programmes like universities offering degrees of Aalim, Mufti, Sheikh-ul-Hadith etc. and Madaaris issuing degrees of MBA, M.Com, M.A English, MBBS, Engineering and law etc. With such measures, all people getting different degrees will be studying within the same boundary wall, will have better interactions increasing each other understanding, thus bringing harmony among them. Understanding each other may be increasing tolerance level and better contribution towards society.
The writer works as a Lecturer and Industry Chair at the Centre for Excellence in Islamic Finance (CEIF), Institute of Management Sciences (IMSciences), Peshawar. He can be reached at: email@example.com