Pakistani Students are Not Good Learners. Why ?

Irfan Khan

Learning is a process of gaining new or existing, knowledge, behaviors, experiences and skills. It is the degree of learning, that set the destiny of any country. Developed countries, invest a huge money to improve the level of learning. However, when it comes to Pakistan, in addition to scarce of budgets, there are various burning dilemmas that adversely affect the learning process of our students—which are of special concerns.

A month ago, a father asked me, whether he would allow his son for “School” or “Madrasa” (religious school). I stunned and did not answer. I imagine, no one could answer this, because responding to this question is hypocrisy. However, Pakistani’s Parliament should answer to a confused parent who wants to educate their kids, the most and the best. Whether madrasa, or school, on one side, in a bit sense, a source of headache and confusion to parent, in a broader sense, is unable to build national’s narrative.

National narrative is what for which Pakistan came in to existence. The root of parent’s confusion is not new, rather linked to pre-partition education culture. The schooling, based on English and science education, first introduced by British in the subcontinent, was voraciously embraced by Hindus, while resisted by Muslims. This is where, Muslims remain inferior to Hindus, and thus enlightened the concept of separate state, the more and the most. In principle, in a newly being independent country, then Parliament, should had decided, what the Pakistani nation should be taught, in the era. But this did not happen so far.

Back in school’s life, being castigated by teachers, I often considered “education” something like obedience, muteness, fear of teacher in classroom. I remember as it’s happening now; from class six to eight, none of the teacher taught even single tense of English, some experts of Mathematics, in Govt. Higher Secondary school (GHSS) in Mansehra, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). Either, teachers didn’t know his subject, they were hired for, or had morally degraded mentality of placing their children in private schools, thus made them reckless upon poor’s family children, as that time I was. Time fled, but the acrimony remained in my mind.

Before uuncovering further, here’s another core issue, I have concern for. Emotional Intelligence (EI), unlike to artificial Intelligence (AI), is moulded by the society around-specially of school environment. A child, suffering form poor domestic circumstances, when further faces neglect of teacher and fear, squelch too, either force him/her off the school or cultivate a bumpy path for future career, which often lead to a remorse later. EI, in one’s life, incur form strong, persistent motivation and counselling. Even don’t think of critical thinking, without EI; and probably not AI without EI. As, commitment, creativity and self-confidence, are downright outcomes of EI. While, commitment, self-confidence and so called “computational creativity”, are prerequisites for making a revolution towards AI. But regrettably, EI is at extreme neglect in our schools.

Whatever, then the situations were, I passed middle school, learnt objective lessons like, “who’re our enemies”, “why didn’t we lived with Hindus” etc. However, as piece of matter, students must be taught subjective lessons. Then conventionally, I lured for secondary school, there at GHSS. We were being taught, a single chapter from Physics book, 3 lessons from English books, one from Biology. I intended to study, the curriculum books by myself. However, I couldn’t, for the books had been so roughly printed and composed so difficultly. I hoped for the situations, would be fine in college. After matriculation, I joined govt. college, for class 11, and learn two chapters form Physics, one form mathematics, and equivocal knowledge of computer science. This is an evidence from a single pupil-me; multiply it with 50 or more number of students; what if, the all classes, all schools, from government sector were like the one unveiled.

Recently, in KPK, Teaching Content Knowledge Assessment Report 2018 revealed that 60% primary schoolteachers can’t teach syllabus. However, the report even didn’t record teacher’s ability to shape students’ EI, but you can guess for yourselves. The technical hurdles are the parochial training, purchased degrees from the Allam Iqbal Open University (AIOU), in the name of distant learning education. Exams held by AIOU, for certified teaching courses, are highly cheated, that reveals how the nation has reached to the bottom of ethics.

Education is not an absolute term, rather a “relative”. It may very decades over decades, century over century. With this line of thinking, it is the sole compulsion of nation’s administer to functionate and conclude, a curriculum, which commensurate and synchronized with time. Developed countries are making a robust revolution towards, Artificial Intelligence, robots, and automated machines. Jobs today, performed by janitors, lawyers, doctors, psychiatrists, managers, bookkeepers, nurses, electricians, accountants, and salesperson are highly susceptible to be replaced by automation. Therefore, underdeveloped, and developing countries should teach, so called the “Curriculum of the Future”.

Computational creativity, problem-solving skills of the future, and digital capability must be taught in elementary school. Many countries including US, UK, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Italy, Malaysia, Sweden, Thailand embrace computer science, as a core part of national curriculum.

It’s not too early but right time to make, reforms in curriculum according to the curriculum of the future. Teachers must be trained so enough; so that they could spur in students, composure, confidence, commitment, control, and coordination—5Cs’.

The writer is a researcher of Natural Sciences at Physics Department, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad. He can be reached at


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