Nazia Jamshed Khan has been working as a teacher since 1996 and later as an Administrator from 2003-2020. She did her masters in Zoology with majors in Fisheries from the University of Peshawar. She worked as a wildlife biologist with WWF- Pakistan in Peshawar and conducted field-based surveys in Chitral & Skardu. She was part of the Snow Leopard Project team in the year 2001-2003. She is also a student Counsellor & a Teacher Trainer and has worked on students Personality Development & Grooming.
I grew up in the 70,s when conventional schools were still the “In” thing. Private schooling was a big NO & kids studying there considered unfit to compete and climb the merit list. It was a golden time for everyone associated with the profession because by and large parents still respected the teachers and it ultimately translated into respect by students. Tuition s were very few and almost a taboo, Grades/marks obtained were mainly due to students personal hard work and effort.
Fast forward the clock: comes the 21st century and voila….. Education suddenly emerges as a “New” business. From an idea of enlightening young minds & inflaming their intellect, a “Short cut “ approach was born. Wherein end of term/exam student’s grades turned into a “commodity” hence marketable.
School: a simple enough concept of kids (aged 3-15) getting an education alongside the social experience in a safe environment, got categorized as well. The government sector school, Public school, elite class private school, and then the personalized educational institutions or the “Ivy league of schools” so to speak.
A school is supposed to act as an “out of home” cocoon that helps in character building of children as well as wholesome personality grooming.
In Pakistan, the whole idea of school & schooling has shifted from the one mentioned above to buying & selling of grades Only. We have reached a stage where parents & management both suffer from “Grades Craze”. It is the new “IN” thing because the whole society demands it. When we were, we were always told that grades matter & getting grades are important but learning is more important. And not just learning of textual material mind it.
The focus was more on what we learned and the pace was also set according to the ability of every student instead of syllabus coverage. Conceptual study and the ability of a student to write by themselves were considered equally important. We were supposed to learn and exhibit moral values, mannerism, etiquette, and social grooming alongside good grades as a direct outcome of 12 years of schooling. All of this simply feels like an old maids tale. Its only grades, grades & grades.
I am by no means an advocate of forgetting the emerging needs of today’s society or what it would be like in say 50-100 years. But the kids will always be kids, they will always take time to grow at their own sweet pace unless the world is planning on growing clones.
This grades mania or grades craze will have to stop and since its a grown-ups disease, a serious intervention will have to be made.
Ah, and let’s not forget another equally menacing trend that silently grew up side by side with the grades mania. Its the pseudo placebo offered at a price of course; the infamous academies 7 tutors selling the happy medicine: the soothing ointment to get grades quick service available at exorbitant prices for a “limited period” only. The special short cut service offered by “Experienced academics” at such & such Academy. You are more than welcome to fill in the names with Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, or whatever. They have it ALL covered. The holy grail of answers to the puzzle called examination.
Such is the state of affairs that parents who are supposed to be guardians of their child’s mental, physical, moral, and spiritual well being are falling like flies on such superfluous, shallow marketing gimmick. Academies have become the short cut to schools & their examination system. What once was a healthy end of year/term examination practice designed by the school itself has now transformed into a formula or a secret code to be cracked by the erstwhile “academies”.
Instead of integrating the societies and developing good citizens, the trend is to develop a moneyed burger class that can afford and pay for A-List academies and stays at the top. Then some scrambles and pool their meager resources to afford for one of the brighter amongst siblings. The leftover children- the poor ones can only dream and drool over such opportunities.
Such a trend will ultimately create social unrest based on hate. Going to school and getting an education is every child’s right. People also have the right to exercise choices. But children’s right to education and schooling is non-negotiable and no one should be allowed to put a price tag on it. No one, not even parents must be allowed to push their kids on a back burner to appease their social egos and show-off mentality.
Beware please; Education is still every child’s right no matter which century you exist in.