If you drive from Lahore to Peshawar on GT road, every city will welcome you with huge big bill boards and many of those boards carry advertisements with greeting and congratulating the students who appeared in board exams. These bill boards are made attractive by highlighting the high scorers. Did you ever think where in education we are heading to?

If you have studied educational search and cognitive development, it suggests that no human can remember information like a computer but always distorts, gives meaning and reassembles to makes sense according to previous experiences. In the last two decades, with the emergence of private sector, the competition among the schools went on another insane level. One major reason is that most of the private school owners are not educationists but had good capital to invest in the lucrative business of schooling. They didn’t know what schooling means and on what grounds the competition must have done. They created a hype and pretended that only high scores are key to success. I am not against high scores but the matter of concern is; students scoring 1087/1100 which is against the cognitive development and thinking skills. Such high scores cannot be pickled as indication of being genius but a severe mental disorder. An attempt to turn a human into computer which has no meaning and sense of the learned stuff by building a pressure vessel of cramming lead this education model to the peak of abnormality. There was huge responsibility of teachers and educators to advocate quality learning but instead of educating parents they started acting ‘Romans’

This led to a situation where marks and score got inflated and increased mental stress for students and parents and today we are dangerously heading towards high suicide rates and mental disorders. No board exams in Pakistan check anything except reproduction of information and verbal vomit of the content in three hours.

The KPK government for the first time brought a change rather tried to bring a change (obviously advised by the foreign consultants) to start grade five and eight standardised exams according to national curriculum. This could bring a good change because in any sophisticated education model only cramming of bookish content is never appreciated but everything is taught with certain objectives. The dilemma is that the big private school chains claiming quality education and guaranteeing success everyday stood up against this decision and challenged in the court; because they knew that this change will expose their claims and will expose the untrained teachers hired at very low wages, in fact the whole business empire could shake. The tradition of getting stay order was maintained and the decision of taking exams based on rubrics and critical thinking now is found in the junkyard of high court. What else you can expect from a society where biometric attendance is introduced to make sure that teachers would come to teach as well?

Being a training consultant, I have met many teachers and interact with them almost every day. This was really shocking to know that very few teachers in public and private sector know about our national curriculum which is a state of the art document that provides all guidelines about what, why and how to teach any specific content. The situation has gone so shoddier that if you ask them to teach conceptually they ask, “Won’t this result in low scores and grades?”

You simply go speechless on such questions.

An education model without any purpose and objectives is more noxious than any rampant. Over the years due to no legislation in education sector, we allowed shadow education to grow like mushrooms. In the name of ECAT and MCAT entry tests we allowed a mafia to invade that charges around 45000/- , gives a book comprising of hundreds of past years questions with 150 students in a class and providing guess papers because they have links in entry tests committee. If you ask them about the worth of money paid, they have vague statements and many students lose their money every year. Government needs to bring vital changes in boards exams and make them more credible instead of this malpractice of MCAT and ECAT. This change will bring more legitimacy to board exams and will discourage this mafia that is minting money based on a fake hype.

If we can have food quality control authorities going and checking the quality of food on spot, fining and banning the restaurants, why we can’t have such monitoring system for these academies. There is also a dire need to bring such academies in tax net and registration like any other corporate company to monitor and regulate.

Today due to this mad race of scores and grades, dishonesty is taught by introducing shortcuts, bribing, cheating and leaking of papers and we all are responsible for this tragedy. Only strong legislation and implementation of national curriculum can make the situation better. If your education model can not turn your generations into thoughtful humans with high morality, better to abandon such system without any fear before it contaminates more souls.

About the Author: Umair Qureshi is a teacher, educationist, TEdx Speaker, motivational and International conference’s Keynote Speaker, CEO of Leaders in Education & Academic Development (pvt) Limited, founder and Executive director of non-profit educator’s forum Pakistan ASCD. He can be reached via Twitter handler : @ UmairSQureshi and email: umair.qureshi@leadpk.com