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Сообщение sonyaany » 11 окт 2016 11:52

Focus on the growing educational divide

Imagine a world of teenagers wearing Levi's jeans and Ray Ban sunglasses, and partying every weekend on the hip hop rhythms of the Spice Girls and Madonna; of young boys and girls studying and mingling freely, exchanging cards on Valentine's day and chatting by E mail.

Now imagine a group of young zealots who think this is a sin, and that martyrdom for the sake of Islam is true salvation; of young men pushing women indoors and abhorring any form of joy and festiveness as evil.

Both groups are Pakistanis, but products of an education system which educationists say has collapsed, creating a divide in society, and which is Ray Ban Outlet Online raising serious concerns over the future of Pakistan's 140 million people.

The first group of youth the product of Western style English medium education is set to rule the country by virtue of its wealth, social status and educational advantage. The second group the product of an archaic Islamic religious madrasah (seminary) education is set to fill the ranks of preachers and jihadis, or holy warriors, with very little economic clout and decision making powers.

"Pakistan's education system has created a divide in the society," Pervez Hoodbhoy, a professor of physics at the prestigious Quaid e Azam University in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, told IRIN.

Many academics and intellectuals say the educational divide in Pakistan is fostering a clash between those who have studied at very expensive private schools and those who have studied in the free board and lodging madrasahs a difference now all the more apparent following the 11 September events.

"The clash has been going on for the last 20 years. The difference now is that it has become progressively more dangerous and sharper," Hoodbhoy warned.

Pakistan's military led government of President Pervez Musharraf has promised to rein in on religious seminaries which were advocating jihad (holy war), and were at the forefront of agitation against Pakistan's support for the US led coalition fighting terrorism, and the Taliban for protecting Osama bin Laden. Religious leaders have vowed to resist any interference by the government in their system of education.

"Today it [education] has brought Pakistan to a virtual state of collapse. We saw what happened in Afghanistan, and what happened in Afghanistan was in large measure the consequences of the rot that has set in within Pakistan," Hoodbhoy said. "After all, those Taliban were a creation of Pakistan," he added.

Many of the hardline Islamic Taliban, routed from Afghanistan by the military campaign by the US led coalition forces, had studied in Pakistani madrasahs numbering anywhere between 8,000 and 12,000 across the country. In 1947, when the country gained independence from Britain, there were hardly more than a few hundred of such seminaries.

The madrasah as an organised system of education was formulated in 11th century Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, under the patronage of an Islamic ruler, Nizam al Mulk Tusi. Progressive for their time, besides providing purely religious education, madrasahs also taught logic, astronomy, mathematics and state affairs, producing preachers, prayer leaders, judges, teachers and legal experts who can issue edicts (muftis). However, over the centuries the curriculum did not keep pace with the changing times.

"Madrasah education is extremely archaic. Some of the books taught there, including mathematics, date back hundreds of years," Abdul Hameed Nayyar, research fellow at a private think tank, the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, told IRIN.

"Therefore, the graduates of madrasahs cannot compete against the others. They do not have any social class theory, so they want destruction. They would wish to bring the society on their level, and the only thing they can identify with is the religion," Nayyar said, explaining why the divide in the country was becoming sharper.

Madrasahs have existed in India and Pakistan for centuries, but they proliferated during the military government of the late Gen Muhammad Ziaul Haq's rule in 1980s in the context of his push to Islamise the country.

"In the madrasah, a student comes from a very low economic level of society. He has been essentially abandoned by his family, by his father, and because of free food and free lodging, and also because of religious enticements offered, becomes part of this system," Hoodbhoy said. "He grows up with intellectual blindfolds put up on him, is reared in the spirit of jihad and martyrdom."

Former Pakistani Finance Minister Shahid Javed Burki explained in a paper he wrote in 1998 that these two extremes of youth being produced in the country were a result of the failure of the state to provide free, universal and good quality education. He maintained that because the government was unable to provide education, private education took over.

Those who could afford it went in for the expensive English medium schools teaching Ordinary and Advanced Cambridge School Certificate levels to their students. Those who were poor ended up sending their children to free of cost madrasahs, where the standard of education was very different and inadequate for preparing graduates to assume the social and economic responsibilities of modern life.

"So, it is a system that has collapsed. It has gradually been settling down, and it will keep going on in this direction unless something major happens," Hoodbhoy said.

According to official figures, the literacy rate in Pakistan is estimated at 49 percent (male 61.3 percent and female 36.8 percent), significantly low as compared to other developing countries. Primary school gross enrolment is 71 percent, in which the net enrolment in private schools has been increasing, but declining in the government schools.

"Pakistan's record on the education front has not been impressive," the government said in the 2001 Economic Survey of Pakistan, an official document released annually in June.

"No doubt Ray Ban Outlet some progress has been made, but it has been rather slow. Besides governance issues, one of the factors for slow improvement in the education indicators has been the low level of public expenditure on education, which was around 2.3 percent of GNP [Gross National Product] during the 1990s. This was significantly short of the minimum of four percent of GNP recommended by UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation] for developing countries," the document said.

It admitted that access to school education was inadequate, and also that there were gender and rural urban imbalances. "Education remains inequitably distributed among the various regions and income groups in the country."

Nayyar, Hoodbhoy and other educationists have repeatedly stressed in their publications that the government must dramatically enhance the education budget so as to rectify the problem. Otherwise, they say, madrasah education cannot be closed down. "You cannot shut these madrasahs down, because there is no viable alternative. Furthermore, these madrasahs are an important social net. They give free food, lodging and so forth," said Hoodbhoy.

Hoodbhoy maintained that a solution to madrasahs had to be found soon. "And it can only be found by diverting resources away from defence. The cure, then, lies in creating a safety net and a social net which can take up these poor children; we cannot throw them on the streets," he added.

About 29 percent of Pakistan's total budgetary revenues are allocated to defence, primarily because of hostile relations with its neighbour India, with which Islamabad has fought three wars since 1947. The servicing of Pakistan's burgeoning external debt estimated at US $38 billion takes away another 57.3 percent of total annual revenue, leaving about 14 percent for general administration, health, development and, of course, education.

Annual GDP has been hovering around the 3.5 percent mark for the last three years, in contrast to a 2.6 to 2.8 percent population growth rate, leaving very little for real investment in education a sector which government officials say is also suffering due to corruption.

Ghost schools, or schools only existing in files with no real teachers and students, are estimated to number in thousands, on which the state is incurring regular expenditure. An army led campaign in 1998 discovered and closed thousands of such schools across the country, but many still exist, eating away precious financial resources.

Besides lack of resources and corruption, education experts also complain about the curriculum of the state run schools being of poor quality, and at times promoting xenophobia.

"The ideological content given to education has also hurt education badly," Nayyar said. "Even if we start fixing education now, it will take 20 years to start to grow positively," he added.

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