DailyTimes | Commoditising education

Commoditising education

Commoditising education

For a country like Pakistan, which is endeavouring for headway, survival without education is inconceivable.A mere degree cannot be a hallmark of education, but it is supplemented by innate self-confidence, sentiments of dignity and admiration towards all.Broadly speaking, attainment of knowledge is the bread and butter of our society,and this must be borne in mind that indulgence in negativities has side-tracked us from our focal objective.

Breaking down further, we, in general, want to be eminent, outstanding, poles apart from the common herd.

Subsequently, our gateway to knowledge should be terrific,and for this, we march towards the private educational institutions, some of which are opened in houses. However, the size of the school is insignificant as long as the student gets admission in that ‘cocoon’.

Once the proud parents get the green signal with a VVIP treatment enhanced by the receptionist’s cosmetic smile ensuring the hefty fee bill might not seize their heart beats,three-quarters of the problem is solved.This reflects the mindset of the majority of parents who consider private schools as the ‘road to successes’ for their children.The feeling of satisfaction comes when they see that the mode of instruction in these schools is English, books are branded, and the schools have a foreign affiliation. Checking the authenticity is not their cup of tea.

So once the child enters the school, his vision towards life is changed. Now he is not an ordinary child but a different species altogether. It’s not his fault because the treatment given to him within those walled building is enough to make him feel so. He knows the teacher dare not check him for anything. He is given the liberty to report against the instructor if something goes against his desire.

The school is his kingdom and classroom his domain. In certain schools, there is a duty doctor and a nurse to provide the student with all comforts even in the case of a simple headache.Human nature and human psychology urges us to be different from the rest.We have a firm and blind faith that the renowned network of private institutions can be a source of enhancing our respect in this society.

As soon as a child is born or in certain cases even before birth, the anxious parents start shortlisting the elite schools of the city, and the moment the innocent child comes into the world, he/she is registered in the top notch schools, which demand aheavy fee. In certain cases, pregnancies are planned in a way that the child gets admission at the right time and the parents can proudly raise their heads amongst others.

But a close look into this commercialisation of educational institutions highlights a harsh and bitter truth. Are we the gainers or the losers? The child is taught the foreign syllabus, not corrected for his grammatical errors, not checked on his mistakes because he is a commodity for the organisation. He is not a student, but a means of financial stability, who has to be given more respect than the teacher in any case. The teacher can be penalised for checking the student for his misdeeds, but the simple rule is…The child is always right. His/her bag is overloaded with unnecessary books and copies because this is one way of satisfying the parents that the school is down pouring the essence of success in the child’s mind.

Extracurricular activities, including the celebrations of foreign festivities,label the school as advanced, whereas the celebration of our religious ceremonies terms the school as backwards. The common notion is that the English language is the slave of the students studying in such schools, but to your horror there are very few schools that lay stress on spellings, writing and other basic grammatical knowledge.

On the other hand, the students ingovernment-run schools, which in certain cases are far better than the ‘branded’ ones,really want to learn.They don’t fear punishments, for them, the teacher is a spiritual figure who is always right.

In the hearts of hearts, we do accept this fact, but its acceptance needs the courage to move in this materialistic society. These schools are not flawless either, but a little attention by the education department can certainly enhance their status. Apart from this, attitude, social and cultural orientation of the parents need to be modified.

The writer is a social activist and educationist by profession. She has done Masters in Mass Communication, MSc. in Film and TV Production and MPhil in Communication Studies