By Yasir Silat
Richer segments of the society have more opportunities to get better education in Pakistan. So despite all the rhetoric of providing uniform system of education to each and every Pakistani, successive governments have failed to come up with an education system that has enough depth and breadth to meet requirements of every Pakistani. The problem of stratified education in Pakistan is deeply rooted .The class structure in Pakistan is such that it privileges some and deprives many. The system of education in Pakistan is highly compartmentalized. It results in deep cleavages in the society; segregating the society in three factors namely Urdu Medium, English Medium (private schools) and Cambridge system. It will not be wrong to consider Pakistan’s educational system highly socially unequal.
It divides people on the basis of wealth. This is the most unjust system prevalent in Pakistan. I would like to make a distinction here, that knowledge can be acquired by all irrespective of availability of wealth but education is something which is acquired using financial resource. “Education depends upon wealth whereas knowledge does not.”
In our society there are many who died unheard, unnoticed and uncared for. This misery the misery of ignorance befalls those who have nothing and only those escape this who have everything. Commodification of education results in cleavages in society. It is deeply divisive many Einsteins and Newtons have died in obscurity because of poverty. Poverty is a hindrance, an obstacle. Those who despite of hard circumstances acquire education are only exceptions not all manage to rise above the circumstances. 40% people in our society live below poverty line and you consider them not to be sufficiently motivated to be educated. A blind man cannot properly cross the road as he has no eyes similarly poor cannot be blamed for not being educated because we have not provided them the means to be educated. They want opportunities, which they don’t have. “Blindness destroys vision, poverty destroys education”. Don’t blame ignorant people for their ignorance blame the system for the ignorance it perpetuates. When survival is the daily challenge, when life is a daily gamble when it is always like, “to be or not to be”, “to exist or not to exist”. Life is the hardest challenge for them who are fighting daily battles against death and annihilation.
When one doesn’t have money to pay the bus fares, how can one pay the fee? Greatness or littleness of character has nothing to do with the acquisition of knowledge. You have means and you get educated. It is rightly said that in Pakistan, “your wealth determines your education not your zeal”. I would like to awaken you from your slumber that poverty does impede acquisition of education.
Flowery words cannot alter reality. Facts need no language. If poverty is not an impediment in the development of society then why are we not developed. It is poverty that hinders everything, it is poverty that breeds corruption. Poverty is a greatest killer of education. Kill poverty and save education.
(Yasir Silat is a Karachi-based journalist , presently associated with Samaa TV)