Expensive Education in Pakistan

By Mahjabeen Malik

 It is really un-understandable that why the government of education in Pakistan had failed to provide quality of education at public schools? The impact of its failure of providing quality of education to its nation, the stakeholders had succeed to spread a chain of overpriced private schools far and wide in the country. Heartless owners and stakeholders of the private education sector are collecting money day and night with both hands, it would not wrong to say they are looting parents of the enrolled children in the schools.

I consider that it is the liability of the elite class in Pakistan for creating such high-level private schools where an average Pakistani cannot imagine being enrolled for the study. The chauvinism in education is unjust. It never allows the students who study at elite schools to mingle with other students who come from the government schools. A mindset keeps them away from a commoner. I think instead of establishing the separate private schools and colleges for their children the elite and upper middle class must demand the government to provide quality education at public schools. If they do so, they won’t have to face trouble today and the situation would surely be different. Now, it seems ridiculous the parents of children enrolled in private schools are protesting against the hike of the schools’ fee. Even these were the people who encouraged the factory of private schools in the country. And thus the education transformed into a profitable business. Schools are just like a factory for the owners where they produce money by selling education.

Ultimately parents and individuals have started a protest against private school mafia in various parts of the country. In Karachi, parents protested against the expensive education in front of Karachi Press Club on September 17, 2015, and they had pointed out the issue of illegal fee hike by the elite schools.

On Human Rights Day, the Parents Action Committee (PAC) and Civil Society Network also demonstrated a sit-in and chanted slogan that against private schools. They said, ‘’Education is a basic human right and private schools are depriving many citizens of their basic right by increasing fee. The private schools have no sympathetic heart for parents or children and even violate the law of the land. The protesters demanded the government take strict action against the owners of private schools for the implementation of Court’s order. They added that they would not pay the enormous fee to private schools and raised the slogan “No fee till low fee”.

The primary objective of the protesters was to highlight the issue of the expensive and unaffordable fee of private school.  Abdullah Malik, President of Civil Society said on the occasion, ‘’we strongly condemned the fee hike by private school management. We are the voice of every Pakistani parent. As per the Constitution of Pakistan, free and quality education is the basic and constitutional right of every child’’.

Poor parents had no other option but to send their children to these ‘unreasonably expensive’ private schools due to the unavailability of quality educational institutes.

Dear readers, now let’s see a bird’s eye view of the education system of our Capital city of Pakistan. People of Islamabad are facing same problems for getting a quality education. Government institutions are not providing high-quality education in Islamabad as well, parents have no other choice than sending their children to private schools. Half of the children population is enrolled in private schools. Parents of the students in Islamabad also protested against the sudden illegal hike in fee, raised by private schools. Private schools raise their fee every year up to 10 to 20pc. Not only they raise the school fee but also bind parents to purchase uniform, books, notebooks and stationery from specific shops recommended by the school management.

If elite schools are providing quality education to our children who born with a golden spoon in their mouths, they are destroying the rest of Pakistani children by sowing a seed of an inferiority complex in their soul.

The leaders of our country send their children abroad for studies so they don’t bother to make any betterment in the education system. The education sector has been ignored for several decades since the emergence of the country on the world’s map.

The government sector and some private organizations and foundations, NGO’s are awarding scholarships to the students with greater grades or distinction in Matric exams for continuing their education. The students from nursery to tertiary level are deprived of that facility. Many of the scholars have to skip their education just after matriculation or intermediate because they cannot afford college fees.

The government of Pakistan Ministry of Education must take a constructive initiative to improve the quality of education in government schools so that private schools could be used as a substitute by parents.

While the government has established the Private Educational Institute Regulatory Authority (Piera) to monitor and regulate such institutions, but it proved to be completely ineffective.

How else to explain the continuation of this discriminatory education system in Pakistan that is only benefitting the elite since past several decades? How possibly difficult it is to develop a uniform educational system of Pakistan? It isn’t. The will to do it, however, missing, and not out of ignorance but a well-crafted idea that equal education will only risk the status quo of the leading power brokers of Pakistan.

Pakistan cannot grow, or overcome its current crisis without a concentrated effort on bringing uniformity to the education system of the country. Else, the rich will always get richer, and the rest will decline down below the poverty line.

Over 65% of Pakistan’s population consists of youth, The Higher Education Commission and other stakeholders of private education sectors should take some proper measures for free or low-cost quality education to educate  precious youth.

My house-maid ever keeps on complaining against the high fee and expensive books and notebooks of her children’s school. One day I asked her, why you don’t send your children to a government school where school fee and uniform is free for needy students. She replied to me, Baji I can’t compromise for my kids learning. Government teachers do not teach properly, they mostly remain absent. If they are present they waste their time in gossip ignoring the students. I want my children to get a better education even though I have to work day and night as a maid at more than two or three homes. I was surprised to see her love for her children and awareness about quality education. She further said to me that her husband cannot afford children’s school fee, he only provides us with basic necessities of life. And it is only my desire to send my children to a good educational institute therefore only I have to become a house-maid.

In our dear homeland higher education is also expensive both in government and private sectors. Only privileged students can afford, many genius and competent would have to leave continuing with higher studies. They cannot get admission in MPhil or PhDs degree programmes due to lack of resources.

Education is a universal right. It must be affordable for every citizen to enrolled and continue higher education. Higher Education Commission needs to take steps to make it accessible and affordable for all without any gender, race or social race bias.

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