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Unification of education!

By Jazib Khan

Egypt was once an educational hub for all students mainly Muslims. It had such a unified system of education that rational studies and religious studies were taught under a same roof and an equal weightage was given to both of them. That was one of the main reasons of the Muslims’ success in middle and late medieval ages. But as the time passed, our educational system got tarnished and under the colonial rule of British, it almost got a death-blow.

For the reformation of Muslims in India, Sir Sayyed Ahmad Khan, being a provident person introduced a parallel system of academia which was based on English educational system as it was the need of the hour. Since then, we never had a unified system of education till now; in fact, the gap between the stratification of the students is increasing gradually day by day a very alarming situation.

Initially at the inception of Pakistan, there were mainly two types of students i.e. madrassa going students and government school going students. At that time there were about 300 madrassas and 10,000 schools. But after the continuous lack of patronization of government schools by the state, the stratification further increased.

Therefore, now there are number of madrassas, government schools, middle-class private schools, elite-class private schools and so forth; same is the case with higher studies educational institutes in Pakistan. A more menacing situation is that other than academic institutes, we have number of educational systems as well which are being used analogously.

In these 71 years, the state has created a giant vacuum in the field of education, which ultimately filled by the parallel systems of education and private educational facilities. Despite having this diversity in educational system of Pakistan, 25 million children are out-of-school according to a report of Alif Ailaan.

Thus, our educational system needs long overdue surveillance by state; otherwise it will be too late. According to another report of Alif Ailaan there are almost 2,27,136 government schools and 68,848 private schools in Pakistan. Even though only one third of total schools are owned by private sector, still it spends more money in their academic institutes and students than the government. Someone has rightly said,

If you want to destroy the future of any nation, no need to wage war with them; defunct their education, they will remain no more live on the map of the world

The situation in madrassas is much more vulnerable and appalling. There are more than 35,000 madrassas with 3.5 million enrolled students. Further, there are five sect-based boards of madrassas representing different schools of thought of Islam in Pakistan. Each of the boards has its own syllabus and policies according to its beliefs and interpretation of Islam.

Almost 60% of madrassas are representing Deoband school of thought. One cannot imagine the imperceptible divergence between an ordinary madrassa going student and a student studying in some elite private school. A large chunk of madrassahs is unregistered which is promoting culture of sectarianism and jihadism in Pakistan.

According to a report, among all students, madrassa going students are rigid towards the religious, ethnic and other minorities living in Pakistan. There is tendency in such students to get involved in riots and extremism activities which may led to terrorism. In other states, education is just an educational subject but unfortunately, in Pakistan, it also falls under the domain of national security. The government really needs to regulate the curriculum of all the madrassahs and put them under strict surveillance; and promote the culture of tolerance in them.

Madrassa reforms should be the foremost priority of the state. One may see a beacon of hope as it seems like that current government is sincere and enthusiastic about unification of education, since, it is an integral part of their manifesto.

Recently the federal government launched National Educational Policy 2018 which caters to unification of education thoroughly

Although after the 18th Amendment, education is a provincial subject but still the federal government can bring positive reforms by building a consensus with provincial governments and all stakeholders. To overcome one of the most vulnerable issue of Pakistan – national integration, we really need to unify our educational system.

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