– By Hashim Khan
More than half our country’s population is below the age of 25. These are encouraging figures for a nation and employs that the power lies with the youth. And so it’s training and up bringing should be the main focus for the bright future of our beloved country. Each election contesting party publishes a manifesto declaring their policy if they come in power and it is very important to be aware of the vision of the party you are going to vote for. The level of belief in the people is so low in these paper documents now that they do not even bother to read the party manifesto. Surely, Pakistan would have been a self-sufficient, educated, and sovereign nation if these party manifestos were followed to the full.
Still, I believe they are fundamental aspects of a political campaign. This article only focuses on education but we would advise you to know, before you cast your vote, what your party stands for. For obvious reasons, the manifestos are highly exaggerated and that means almost all contestants have declared education their number one priority and promised to tackle it on war footing.
All manifestos seem to consider lack of education as a major cause of poverty and corruption in the country and contain drastic measures for a “parha likha Pakistan”. Some basic policies common to all parties include increasing the GDP share to more than the UNESCO-advised-4% by 2018. They all claim to provide financial assistance to needy students and ensure that young children go to school instead of working in farms and industries. Scholarship fund is also planned to be set up for bright students to be offered for higher studies. The education of women seems to be stressed a lot upon, and the construction of schools and colleges is promised. Furthermore, the difference in standard of public and private schools is aimed to be diminished by improving the standard of education, equipment and school buildings.
Another alarming situation is the high drop-out rate in Pakistani schools and is intended to be reduced drastically. Most importantly, all parties are of the view that our syllabus is out of date and needs to be revised to modern standards.
Apart from the basic goals (mentioned above) the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarian mentions nothing special on education. They do seem to have plans for the labour class though, and intend to help them by introducing a series of skill-training sessions. They have also singled out medical education as a department that needs strategic review and reform.
If the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz has it their way, 100% Pakistani children will be enrolled in schools up till Middle level and the education rate would grow drastically to 80%. Their manifestos also focus on conducting teacher training workshops throughout the country, seeing that only 10% of our teachers have received training. Another measure they plan to implement is offering career counseling to students to help them choose their future well. And their all-famous Youth initiative of offering Laptops to bright students is set to be continued.
The Pakistan Muslim League – Quaid have kept their manifesto on education to the point and besides promising most of the basic measures, they have planned to initiate online learning and virtual classrooms. An interesting initiative is to revive the Teachers Day – a tradition they initiated in their previous term in the government.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement has described their education manifesto well and has revealed detailed plans of their policies. Besides offering free transport, uniform and text books to students, the MQM aims to initiate an Adopt-a-School policy. The policy would request NGO’s and Philanthropists to take responsibility of a school each, and help take care and arrange funds for the school to make it a better learning place for children.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has given huge importance to the promotion of local languages in the school’s curriculum. Although English is intended to be taught since grade I, the main mode of communication till grade VIII will either be Urdu or the provincial language. Furthermore, PTI has also mentioned extra-curricular activities as an important part of their curriculum and has planned to arrange Sports and debating competitions to diversify education.
Of course, this is all paper talk: the manifestos are meant to be more pleasing to the eye than to be realistic. This time around, however, things look a little different. Whichever way the wind blows, there would be a decent opposition in the parliament that is for sure and there would be more effort than ever by the government to deliver and that is what makes analyzing manifestos all the more important. Only time will tell who can deliver, but choose your vote well.
– The writer is a member of the NUST Science Society and a Sophomore at NUST School of Chemical and Materials Engineering.