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Directionless Higher Education

THE admission season for universities and colleges has started and students are applying to get into degree programmes that will define their professional careers and in turn their whole lives. The problem here is that there is no sense of direction, no guidance, no assessment of interests and abilities of students to steer them to the best path for them. This is not only damaging for students but also detrimental to Pakistan’s economy. The lack of career counseling is a major problem in our education system and it is responsible for churning out graduates who are unaware of job opportunities, industry dynamics and are deficient in skills required by the job market. This has created a void in the academia and economy.

The cycle of creating good professionals both for industry and in academia has been disrupted because of the lack on the very basic part. Students who have successfully passed their matriculation examinations are looking to secure admissions in various disciplines but the lack of direction is a very major hindrance for them. They are told that engineering or medical are lucrative fields. Some will take this advice prevalent in the social psyche and many will regret this decision for the rest of their lives. In truth, social sciences, arts and other discipline are equally rewarding if the student is interested in the subject and willing to learn it. But, unfortunately, social pressures guide this important choice. The absence of a meaningful career counseling apparatus not only stalls the growth of students but also stops the wheels of the economy. It is no secret that most of the graduates produced by Pakistani universities lack the basic skill set needed to succeed in the work environment. Many lack basic knowledge of what is required in the profession. Most just happen to be in a profession thrust there by the decisions made by the society, their parents or they just happen to secure admission in a particular field of study.

If Pakistan wants to progress and push its faltered economy to become productive, then a thought-out and comprehensive career counseling setup is required from the very beginning of the education life-cycle, the school. This should not be just setup for the sake of it, as we can find such experiments in some elite schools, colleges and universities. Rather it should be meaningful and it should gauge the interest of a student and measure his/her abilities.

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