Top #5 Education Related Essays

What Has Gone Wrong with The System of Education in Pakistan?

By Dr. Quratul Ain Malik (ITG)

OUTLINE
Introduction

  • Quaid’s view on education
  • The concept of education – meaning and definition
  • The significance of education…..a pillar of success
  • Education…..an agent of socioeconomic reforms
  • The spinal cord of the nation
  • Thesis statement leading to the conclusion

Pakistan’s Education System as per 1973 Constitution

  • Educational and economic reforms in backward areas
  • Removing illiteracy
  • Promotion of technical education….. basic concern
  • Education…..access to all
  • Women participation, etc.

Factors Leading to Catastrophe

  • The indecisive medium of education….English? / Urdu?
  • Co-education….a social dilemma
  • Lack of uniform academic syllabus
  • Women education….. concept in the doldrums
  • Lack of creative education methods…… cramming culture
  • Political interference in education institutions….student/ teacher unions
  • Political pressures/ influences
  • Teacher absenteeism
  • Ghost schools
  • Less than 2% GDP, for education
  • Crippled economy, etc.

Education Policy 2009

  • The budget for education….. increased by 7%
  • All primary schools upgraded to middle standard schools
  • Higher education percentage to be increased from 4.7% to 15% by 2015
  • Emphasis on technical education
  • Establishment of residential colonies for the teachers
  • Special incentives for teachers willing to work in remote areas, etc.

Suggestions

  • Decentralised system/ local government
  • At least 7% budget for education sector
  • Accountability and transparency in the education department at all levels
  • Public-private partnership
  • Madrassa reforms
  • Registration of madaris
  • Introduction of English and technical subjects

Education Sector Reforms

  • Primary education for all
  • Making civil society vibrant
  • Female education…. A keystone
  • Promotion of technical education
  • Incentives for the teachers…. Increase in salaries
  • Revised and updated curriculum
  • PTC/CT replaced by a Diploma in Education
  • Enhancing the role of the Higher Education Commission
  • Expansion in universities
  • Virtual universities, etc.

Conclusion

 “Come forward as servants of Islam, organise the people economically, socially, educationally and politically, and I am sure that you will be a power that will be accepted by everybody.” _ Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah

The importance of education cannot be negated. Education paves the way for advancement. It is a primary catalyst for national development and its availability ensures accelerated growth and progress. It is a key factor that distinguishes one nation from another. It’s the education which makes a person live a better life and more importantly contributes to his social well-being. However, it is unfortunate that the education system of Pakistan is fundamentally flawed, thoroughly shattered and exceedingly divisive despite the fact that Quaid-e-Azam was a staunch supporter of educational reforms. He provided the basic guidelines for the future development by emphasizing that education system should suit the genius of our people, consonant with our culture, history and instill the highest sense of honor, integrity and responsibility. He was also of the view that scientific and technical skills are the only way forward. Pakistan today stands at the crossroads where there is a stringent need for educational reforms based upon moral edifice. This is only possible if all creeds of mind sit together and evolve a consensus policy in the light of Islamic ideology.

Before going into the details let’s have a look on the 1973 Constitution which is a much-chanted slogan in Pakistan by almost all political elites. Article 25A of the 1973 Constitution says:

 “The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as may be determined by law.”

The Constitution further goes on to make the state responsible for the education of its citizens in the following way:
Special care will be taken for educational and economic reforms in the backward areas. Illiteracy will be removed and secondary education will be made free and compulsory within the minimum possible period.
People from different areas will be imparted training for agricultural and industrial development. Technical and general education is made generally available and higher education accessible to all on the basis of merit.

Participation of women in all spheres of life will be encouraged. Despite all the pledges and promises made by the constitution, nothing has been done yet on the above-mentioned grounds. The indecisive system of education, outdated curriculum, the medium of instruction, the meager budget allocation for the education sector and many other factors have played havoc with the fate of this unfortunate nation.

It is noteworthy that Pakistan’s national language is Urdu but English has become the major medium of education. English medium schools are enjoying a prestigious status in society and are charging heavy fees from students as well. The English language is nothing but a way of expression but why is it made necessary? Just to spoil the potentialities to learn English? Admittedly, English is an international language but the students should be imparted education in their mother tongue also. Sir Charles Wood sent “Wood’s Despatch” in 1854 regarding the medium of education in India that throws light on the importance of mother tongue in education. Despatch’s fifth point was:

“The Indian natives should be given training in their mother tongue also.”

Another reason for this sorry state of affairs is the outdated curriculum which leads to the failure of the education system to produce professionals in all fields of life. Outdated syllabi do not fulfill the requirements of the ongoing developed world. It is an era of science and technological development while, unfortunately, Pakistan is still entangled in the web of obsolete pedagogical methods.

Furthermore, Student wings of various political parties are also ruining the educational environment of colleges and universities. Unions like ATI, MSF, and IJT to name a few have been a source of deep concern for the students. Such activities make them forget their aim of admission and they start to take part in political activities.

The public sector is also confronting the issue of teachers’ absenteeism. Scanty salaries and job insecurity compels them to join private sector institutions that offer them better incentives. The grievances of the teachers are grave but real and they need to be addressed urgently. A very little amount of GDP, about 2% is being allocated for the education sector which should be above 7% for a country like Pakistan (please update it as per current statistics).

It is noteworthy to mention the role of madaris in Pakistan here as they are a part of the traditional system of imparting religious education. The present government is working to register this madaris and there are around 12,000 madaris (please update this no if necessary) that are yet to be registered. There is also a dire need to revise the method, syllabi, and curriculum of these institutions so as to impart the true spirit of religious education without creating misconceptions and confusions and also keeping them in pace with the contemporary world. The conventional style of religious education should be abolished and new methodologies based on science and technology should be adopted. The role of civil society in regarding the reforms is very crucial and equally required.

In the past, there were courses like PTC, CT, etc. which were optional for the students. In the present circumstances, it is strongly recommended to replace such short courses with a diploma in education so that the students after adopting the teaching profession could give their best to the nation. On the other hand, the teaching staff must be provided special training in form of refresher courses to enhance their capacities and capabilities.

Education is the key to the development and advancement of any nation. Pakistan needs highly knowledgeable and skilled professionals equipped with innovative abilities to gain a respectable in the comity of nations. Pakistan is passing through the turbulent phase in terms of social, economic and political turmoil. It stands at the crossroads and the only way forward is the promotion of education. Time is ripe, effective and implementable strategies must be formulated to come out of these crises. Education must be made the top priority. More than 4-7% of GDP must be allocated for the education sector, for teachers’ training, development of infrastructure, the abolition of ghost schools, scholarships, etc. Chief Minister’s laptop scheme is a good omen and an encouraging initiative for bringing educational reforms in the country. Such efforts can be a source of encouragement and inspiration for the young generation. Nations rise by dint of education and education alone. If we want to realize the dream of socioeconomic development in Pakistan, we must follow the message that Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah gave us years ago. He said:

 “My message to you all is of hope, courage and confidence. Let us mobilize all our resources in a systematic and organized way and tackle the grave issues that confront us with grim determination and discipline worthy of a great nation. ”


Education Reforms in Pakistan

By Ameen Jan

OUTLINE

  • Introduction
    • Education Emergency Statistics
  • Problems/Challenges of Education Reform
    • Improving Education Quality
    • Lack of attention on In-Classroom Environment
    • Focus on Facilities and Management
    • The gap in literacy and numeracy
  • Steps to Improve Education Reform
    • Improving Education Quality – a Driver of Economic Growth
    • Delivering Quality Education in STEM
    • Technology Adoption
      • Enhance Teacher Skills and Capabilities
      • Provides Students with Unparalleled High-Quality Instruction
      • Enables independent and unbiased student assessment
      • Technology brings Transformational Changes
      • Technology Implementation Pilot Programmes
      • National Curriculum-aligned Blended Programme
      • Introduction of ‘Smart Schools’
  • Conclusion
    • A Smart Education Approach
Education Reforms in Pakistan - Essayspedia

Pakistan’s education emergency statistics highlight that 25 million children do not attend school. Whilst getting these children into the formal education system must be a priority, an even greater priority is ensuring that those children who do attend school get a worthwhile education.

The central challenge of education reform in Pakistan is to improve education quality — measured by ‘student learning outcomes’, or what students are expected to know or be able to do — rapidly, affordable, and at large scale.

Despite this, education reform efforts in Pakistan pay scant attention to improving what happens inside the classroom. They focus instead on improving school facilities and school management, in part because these are easier and more visible than raising standards of teaching and learning inside classrooms.

Reports on education performance point to the gap in literacy and numeracy in Pakistan’s government schools. Compre­hensive assessments, such as those run by EDeQUAL, of students in adopted government schools and NGO schools demonstrate a huge achievement gap: students in grade 6 typically fail a Pakistan national curriculum-based grade 3 math test.

In other words, a 10-year old child already has a four-year achievement gap in numeracy. Few students from such schools will ever matriculate, let alone join reputable universities or attain professional jobs.

A World Bank study (2007) shows compelling evidence that education quality, rather than simply years of schooling, is a driver of economic growth and increased equity.

Delivering quality education in science, technology, and mathematics — STEM —must become a central focus of Pakistan’s education reform. Without this, money spent on school infrastructure, recruiting teachers and improving school management will not produce educated students who can think critically, solve problems, read and write well, and work effectively with numbers.

The solution to improving education quality rapidly at scale must involve technology. Technology offers teachers and students access to educational content and assessment tools that are normally out of reach.

Technology adoption in education can enhance teacher skills and capabilities, provide students with unparalleled high-quality instruction that is customized to their needs, and enable independent and unbiased assessment of student learning. While technology won’t replace teachers, teachers who use technology will eventually replace teachers who do not.

Today, technology-enabled learning that delivers results for students is available in Pakistan. Our work with adopted government schools and education management organizations in Sindh demonstrates the benefits of effectively implemented technology solutions in math and science.

In one partner school that has implemented our national curriculum-aligned blended learning programme, delivered in both English and Urdu, most students gained one year of math competency after only four months. These results point to the transformational change that is possible when education technology is thoughtfully implemented.

Once classroom implementation begins, thorough baseline assessments of students, coupled with continuous assessment as they progress through the course are required. The aim must be for students to gain subject mastery.

Technology implementation in the classroom should be piloted before it is rolled out at a large scale. A one-year carefully conducted pilot programme — perhaps involving 30 primary schools with 200 students each — can generate evidence of success and key learnings for implementing reform.

This initial cohort of ‘smart schools’ can be quickly selected in Pakistan’s urban and rural areas, with the aim of rapidly replicating success. The advantage of such a lean startup approach is that it is experimental at very low cost, and can quickly iterate to define a model for successful technology-based learning to be implemented at large scale in Pakistan.

We now need the new government to champion a smart approach to delivering education reform by using technology effectively in the classroom. Without this, the promise of transforming education may remain unfulfilled.

The writer is an education-technology pioneer in Pakistan.
Originally published here.
Image: Yellow Pages of Pakistan


Liberal Education

By Irshad Ali Sodhar (FSP)

OUTLINE

  1. Introduction
  2. Definition
  3. Importance
  4. Sphere of liberal education
  5. Objectives
    • To produce informed citizens.
    • To develop creative thinking
    • To improve skills and competitiveness
    • To inculcate communication skills
  6. The present style of education in Pakistan
  7. Prerequisites for liberal education
  8. Advantages of liberal education
    • Economic development
    • Employment opportunities
    • Interdependent and stable society
    • Peace and harmony in the communities
  9. Conclusion

Education is the most important factor behind the progress man has achieved in this world. It has been the permanent character of human history and evolution of thought. However, in the past, it used to be prerogative of only a few privileged men and the pace of development was quite slow. Since it has been disseminated to common people, there has been rapid growth in every sphere of development: science, technology, sociology, politics, anthropology, etc. Now it is treated as a basic human right of every man. Though it encompasses a wide sphere of knowledge, it has been metamorphosed by man according to his needs. It has been mainly applied as a tool of economic development, which has limited its application. Consequently, people are deprived of the potential education offers for the overall development of the personality and stability of society. The chaos in the modern world is also partly due to this fault. Therefore, in order to meet the multi-dimensional challenges, man faces in the world, it is essential to impart real education i.e. liberal education.

The liberal education has been defined in many ways, though emphasizing the similar essential elements. The best definition is offered by the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

“Liberal education means to empower an individual and prepare him to deal with diversity, complexity, and change”. 

As manifest from the definition, the purpose of education is to enable man to surpass the challenges faced in the world, to know and obtain his rights and to accommodate himself in the constantly changing environment in the present day competitive world.

The importance of liberal education in this contemporary globalized world is greatest than ever before. The world has become so shaped that every economic and social activity requires modern and advanced means of communication and technology. The transformation of technological development is on a very fast track. There is a demand of more interactive and communicative manpower to run this complex system. Moreover, despite the interdependence on each other, the diversity in different areas is in sharp contrast. Hence, the man is required to be quite sufficiently prepared to move forward. And the instrument that can enable him to face these challenges is nothing but liberal education.

This is why the renowned scholar Skarnovey says: “Liberal education: the developing countries must adopt it as it is a necessity”. Nevertheless, it is essential for every nation but the developed countries are already ahead in this sphere. The developing countries, which are still far behind, need to forge efforts to transform their education system in order to catch up with the rest of the world. Not only because it helps in achieving economic development but also because it fulfills the need of society in every sphere of life.

The sphere of liberal education is wide enough to call it real education. Basically, education is aimed to develop the whole being of a person. It is necessary to educate man to learn social ethics, cultural values, religious obligations, and ways and means of a stable society and skills of professional competitiveness. Liberal education, simply, fulfills all these essential needs. It emphasizes the development of a citizen who is professionally capable of living in the society in a civilized way – the way which is not only beneficial to himself alone but also fruitful for other members of his family, community and society.

It is best elaborated in the words of Kurth Kahin; “Liberal education teaches something about everything and everything about something”. His words can be best understood by contrast to the maxim “Jack of all; master of none”.Simultaneously, there are also people who are “Jack of none but master of one”. The people, who acquire general education without proficiency in any specific subject, are explained by the first maxim. While some people who are very skilled and highly qualified in one field like an engineer, scientist or doctor but do not know any other subject or field of life; these are referred to the latter assumption. However, liberal education is a moderate way between both the polar positions. It is aimed at making a person ‘a good professional in any one field’ and also to ‘possess knowledge and skills about other important fields’. More importantly, it makes constructive members of society better described as “Jack of all; master of one”.

In such a way, the objectives of liberal education are multifaceted, which address the requirement of society to a considerable extent. These objectives are briefly discussed here:

Firstly, it is the most important for a man to be an informed citizen. The people who are concerned only with their single professional field of occupation cannot be ideally good citizens. They would only be members and nationals of a community or nation. A good citizen is required to be participatory in the social and political building of community, which is the foundation of any society. As the actions of man are based on information and knowledge, without these none understands the obligation towards community and resultantly remains an inactive member of society. However, but if the students are inculcated the knowledge of their needs and roles, they would be quite prepared to foresee occurrences and would direct their thoughts and actions towards social and political participation. This can be achieved when the system of education is made liberal which does not aspire to produce only technical robots in human shape but informed and good citizens.

Secondly, the philosophy of liberal education envisages the development of creative thinking among the students. Creative thinking has acquired a fundamental place in the education system of advanced countries. The students are encouraged to “think a new”. The creative experiments, creative writings, and creative art lead to frame the development of the thought process. Though it is practiced in western countries, it owes its origin to the most influential scholars and artists of the Greek period and early Muslim era. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Ibn-e-Khaldun, Galileo, Khuwarzmi, Newton, to name a few, all were creative thinkers. In short, whole of the development in the world and education itself is the result of creative thinking. On the contrary, the limited application of education is insufficient to produce brilliant minds. The specific technological development devoid of human values and ethics has failed to form the basis of a viable society. Thus, it is the objective of liberal education to teach the students various subjects like history, sociology, philosophy and psychology besides their professional field, so that creative thought is encouraged to be developed among them. Therefore, we need to introduce liberal education in order to secure our future based on collective ideals.

Thirdly, liberal education improves the skills and competitiveness of students, which is necessary to enable them to get a foothold in the competitive market. For example, a typist may have good efficiency in his field but computers have replaced the typewriter. People like to get their papers typed on a computer in order to save their document and to get good command. Now, the excellent typist is in trouble, he would go jobless in the market unless he learns to operate a computer. Same is the case with every field of employment. The modes of technology are being transformed very rapidly. In order to meet the demands of market one should be quite prepared and skilled. Hence, the knowledge of mathematics, science, computer literacy, and technological acquaintance are necessary to be imparted to the students, which can be achieved through liberal education.

Fourthly, as the world has become a global village, the importance of communication skills has been increased manifold. A person must be proficient in national and at least one international language. He must know how to send e-mail, voice-mail or to carry out visual communication. The social change compels the person to change the job for better opportunities. The talented people feel an urge to move towards other countries as well in order to actualize their talent and to obtain maximum result. This is where the communication skills are mostly required. All the communication techniques, basically, listening, speaking and writing are essential ingredients. Therefore, it is necessary to improve the skills of students through methods of listening comprehension and speaking ability tests. All the examinations of foreign languages comprise these elements and even very talented students from developing countries fail to go abroad due to lack of these communication skills in international languages.

These few objectives of liberal education underline its importance and need in the developing countries, including Pakistan. Unfortunately, it has not been taken seriously.

The system of education in our country is obsolete. It is devoid of the contemporary methodology of teaching and the curriculum is almost from primary to university level. The computer is studied as a field of study only, not as a skill. Even in most of the universities, it is taught only to the students of computer department seeking a degree in that subject, let alone its use at primary and secondary level. In universities, the students of other subjects like sociology, languages, arts and other sciences are not taught the computer skills. This lags them far behind from students of other countries and few quality institutes of the country.

Same is true of languages. English though introduced from primary level, is not taught according to the modern techniques of comprehension. Only reading lessons and knowing the meaning of words cannot enable students to master the language. The methodology of English departments in universities is also in question. The national language, Urdu, is also not focused at any level of education. Learning of both these languages is important to produce capable and competitive students at the national and international level.

The fate of the students of other subjects is also not much different. On the one hand, they are deprived of computer and language skills; on the other, they do not become proficient in their field of interest as the proper methodology is not applied. Faculty members are not well qualified, research is not pursued and creative thought is ignored.

These defects of our education system are the main reasons for the chaos, unemployment, poverty and social instability in our society. In order to overcome these shortcomings, we must adopt the liberal education system without any further delay. However, this requires a well thought out and comprehensive policy to improve the existing education system.

Primarily, we should redesign our curriculum at all levels. All the major components/subjects of liberal education: sociology humanism, citizenship, history, philosophy, languages, computer, and sciences must be introduced in every tier of education from primary to university levels in accordance with the capacity of students and the needs of society.

Secondarily, all the institutions should be equipped with computer and science laboratories and libraries. The research and creative thinking should be encouraged through modern techniques of education. In this regard, the accessibility and equality of all sections of our stratified society must be ensured in order to achieve uniform development.

Lastly, the faculty must be energized by providing skilled and experienced teachers. The existing teachers should be trained to equip them with modern techniques of teaching methodology. Fresh and young blood must be encouraged to join the education field as a profession by enhancing the monetary incentives in the education sector.

This policy will yield tremendous benefits for the future of a nation. The liberal education is hailed because it brings concrete advantages. The young generation of Pakistan makes the bulk of the population of the country. According to a report by the State Bank of Pakistan, 65 percent of the educated youth is unemployed due to the irrelevance of their skills with the market. If this portion of the population is properly skilled, it will prove to be a boost to the economy as the manpower is considered a resource in all countries of the world.

Another benefit would be the eradication of poverty. Once our youth are employed, they will naturally add to the income of their families and consequently eradicate their poverty. It will also help in raising the living standard of our common man as it is directly proportional to the income of a family.

The liberal education would create a sense of understanding and cooperation among the people. The contemporary chaos of extremism and isolationism are due to a lack of approach towards collective interests and common goals among people. Once they realize their social obligations and think creatively they will initiate participating positively in the stability of society.

It is quite clearly manifested in the discussion that liberal education, which is the real education, is an essential component of good governance and a stable society. It not only helps an individual to progressively achieve goals but also gives impetus to economic, political and social stability in a state. In short, it forms the basis of human development in this complex global world of diversity and challenges. It offers a way towards a better change.


Pleasures of Reading

By: Prof Muzaffar Bokhari (Retd)

OUTLINE

  1. The common factor in most reading is escapism.
  2. This factor lasts even into later life.
  3. Humorous novels are quite amusing and relaxing.
  4. Most educated people have a balanced reading diet.
  5. People with interest in politics crave for a historical perspective.
  6. The classics provide the best comprehensive source of pleasures.
  7. Poetry – a great source of pleasure.
  8. Fiction – the most entertaining form of reading.
  9. Conclusions.

Reading is a welcome escape from the dullness of daily routine. It is an excellent recreation which rich and poor alike can afford as most books are not very costly. Moreover, in these days a large number of public libraries makes reading cheaper and easier than ever before. A man who has developed a taste for reading asks nothing more of life if, besides the means of physical well-being, he is provided with books and the leisure to read them. Mathematics, scientific theories, doctrines of philosophy and religion are taxing to the brain. But the reading of newspapers, history, biography, accounts of travel and exploration, drama, verse and above all, fiction, is a source of keen delight. Millions of men and women nowadays find a delight in reading.

The quantity and variety of reading material available to us are really enormous. There are books of all kinds books discussing topical matters, books on sex and marriage, books on health and hygiene and books on personalities of the times, as well as purely literary books including drama, poetry and prose fiction. The variety and number of magazines and periodicals are equally amazing. Story magazines, picture magazines, film journals, literary periodicals, magazines on fashions in dress, political magazines – there is no end to them. Each of these types has its admiring readers who would rather miss a meal than their favorite weekly, fortnightly or monthly.

Let us analyze the cause of the pleasure which results from reading the printed matter that we buy from the book-stalls or borrow from the libraries. The common factor in most reading is that one can pick up a book of his choice and escape from the humdrum into a new world of excitement, sometimes identifying with the hero or the heroine. Girls tend to favor school stories with a touch of romanticism and later, magazine romances and romantic novels, taste for the latter often lasting well into adult life.

The attraction of escapism, modified of course by experience, lasts into later life. Most adults enjoy a detective story for relaxation. The murder or crime concerned is rarely dealt with psychologically. It is merely the peg on which to hang the clues leading to the final solution. The best of such stories also develop the character to some extent and reflect the social background of the years in which the novel is set. Thus, the pleasure of reading says Agatha Christie, is partly nostalgia and partly mental exercise. Emotion plays a negligible part.

Another genre of books written for pleasure and relaxation is the humorous novel, represented by P G Wodehouse, Mark Twain, and Stephen Leacock. Here, the amusement lies in the comedy of situation, turn of phrase, and very clever plotting. Again, they are period pieces, in the case of Wodehouse evocative of the idle young rich of the 30s, and entirely without social comment. Humour draws the sting from inequality.

Then books are read for pleasure, relaxation and a good laugh. However, most educated people have a balanced reading diet which develops over the years as a result of specialization in one subject or another. Most of us have developed a general interest in politics and current events, and in democratic countries, these are well covered in the responsible press and in specialized ranging from agriculture to car maintenance. In these contexts, the pleasure of reading is derived from an interest in the subject.

Interest in politics and current events leads to the development of a historical perspective, and hence the interest in the past. This is well catered for in an immense body of historical and biographical literature. Social history is necessary to the understanding of current trends. Historical romances often provide a good read, and the best of them are very informative about the events of past times.

However, the classics provide the best all-around sources of pleasure. It is one thing to have to study texts for one’s A or 0 Levels. That can be hard work. It is quite another to read them for pleasure in later life. They offer a more sophisticated source of interest that can be obtained from any other genre; development of character, social and political comment, action and reflection, humor, pathos, sometimes tragedy. The appeal of poetry should not be ignored. The best of it requires the ultimate in the command of the language.

Poetry can provide the richest satisfaction of all. It is the purest form of literature and its rhythm, melody, and music give it an additional charm. The lyrical flights of Shelley, the sensuousness of Keats, the lavish and colorful imagery of Tennyson, the imaginative intensity of Coleridge, the beautiful description of nature by Wordsworth —– all these enchant the reader. The very diction of poets like Rossetti, Bridges, and Arnold has great appeal. The readers of Urdu poetry are not less fortunate in this respect. There is a great treasure of rich and fascinating poetry in Urdu. Look at Ghalib! Who can match the flight of his imagination! Then there are Iqbal, Faiz, Meer, Akhtar Shirani, Majeed Amjad. Fraz and many others. The beauty of “Ghazal” form is a joy forever.

Most adults enjoy a detective story for relaxation. The murder or crime concerned is rarely dealt with psychologically. It is merely the peg on which to hang the clues leading to the final solution.

The designation ‘novel’ covers a very wide spectrum of literature. It comprises the classic works of fiction of all countries. By definition, a novel is a prose piece of over 60,000 words. Many are much longer. Anything shorter is a ‘novella’; if much shorter, a short story. The genre grew up independently in many countries, particularly those of Europe.

Fiction, of course, is not limited to the classics, which form a relatively small part of it, for at least three centuries the bookshops have always been full of the more ephemeral kinds of prose; the American ‘blockbuster’, the J Arthur Clarke type of space fiction, the ghost story, the detective `who dunnit?, the story, the war story. The list is endless.

It is quite possible to become `hooked’ on novel reading and this has two dangers. To read novels when you should be doing something else, eg study, or practical chores, is indeed a waste of time. And it is never courteous to have one’s nose in a novel when visitors arrive! Secondly, there are some people who find in a novel a means of escape from reality. This has other dangers. Too much relapse into fantasy may destroy one’s ability to face facts.

If reading novels can be a waste of time, reading bad novels is always a waste of time and can be positively harmful. A really bad novel is not easy to define, but for anybody with intellect it has some, or even all of the following features: unreality in characterization and situation, poor construction, concentration on sex and violence for the sake of it, bad sentence construction, a boring approach, expletives and bad language generally a biased attitude to people, situations and issues and stereotyping of characters.

That said, to read anything is arguably better than read nothing, or sinking out the bottom line, mindless television watching. At least the capacity to read demonstrates that one is literate. In Britain today, there is an alarming number of school-leavers from the state system who can neither read nor write.

The case for reading the classics need hardly be made. Their characters live and are of their time. Descriptions of town and country engross the reader. Stories and therefore plots, seem to grow out of the characters. Often, great national events, wars, and revolutions provide the background but are integral at the same time. Characters and great events affect each other. The same process is seen in the good political, maritime or war story. The classical novel provides a window on another world; good contemporary novels offer new insights into our own world. The reader will inevitably gain in knowledge and understanding from this class of literature. Such reading supplies valuable background material for other studies; history, sociology, politics, psychology, and economics.

However, life is not all self-improvement, or shouldn’t be. Reading for pure relaxation can do the reader nothing but good. The poor, ugly girl may find a therapeutic escape in a romantic novel. Just such a person as she is may be picked up by a dark, handsome, rich, even aristocratic stranger and transported into new worlds of delight. Why not? It will never happen, but there is no harm in dreaming. And there is the comfortable, stately world of the `country house murder’, where death is relatively bloodless, and the culprit turns out to be the colonel, the butler, or a rogue vicar. Pitting one’s wits against the author’s is a good form of relaxation. So, to the English reader, are the novels of PG Wodehouse, which open windows on the life of the idle rich in England I the 20s, contain absolutely no social comment on the rigid class system of the time, are brilliantly constructed, and contain laughs on every page. Therefore, no sane person could say that reading novel is a waste of time.

The worldwide popularity of novels tends to support this view. It is interesting that the spread of television has had little or no effect on the sale of books and that the use of lending libraries is as great as ever. Admittedly most of the books borrowed are novels of one sort or another. In a descending order of popularity, they are love stories, crime thrillers, and spy novels, space fiction, historical novels, biographies and classical literature. Though related to life, and sometimes dealing with its harsh realities, novels feed the human imagination. They allow us to escape from a life which may be humdrum or unpleasant and live for a time in a world of imagination. So novels are escapist, but is escapism necessarily wrong? The novel transports the reader to another world, gives heightened emotion to those who lack excitement, and tranquility to those whose lives are too busy and active.

Good novels of whatever description have a beneficial effect on the reader. After all, because one may live in a dream world for a time it does not follow that this will have an adverse effect on a person’s approach to real life. Quite the opposite may well be the case. Wisdom can be gained in living other people’s lives vicariously through books and mistakes avoided. People read for all kinds of reasons, and all kinds of people are readers. For many, reading the classics is their best form of relaxation. For some, the motive is intellectual stimulation, and for these, the most popular categories are history, biography, philosophy, and theology, sociology, archeology, and anthropology. There is, in addition, a whole range of books special to the interests of the individual, ranging from the professions to every sporting and leisure activity imaginable. These promote interest and increase knowledge, so can hardly be described as “escapist”, though taking the reading public as a whole it has to be said that serious and factual books cater for the minority.

 Poetry can provide the richest satisfaction of all. It is the purest form of literature and its rhythm, melody, and music give it an additional charm. The great variety of reading matter makes it possible for men of all tastes and temperaments to draw pleasure from it. For the serious and reflective types of readers, there is plenty of tragic and sentimental literature. For those of lively temperaments, there is a rich store of comedies, amusing episodes, witty dialogues, humorous skits, and tit*bits. For those more interested in actual life there are countless biographies, autobiographies, histories, and daily newspapers. Indeed, the pleasure of reading should not be missed by any educated person. Everyone ought to cultivate the reading habit. Reading lifts us out of our personal circumstances. We can forget our private worries and anxieties, fears and responsibilities while reading an interesting book. Not only that. Reading adds to our knowledge, and the feeling that our knowledge has increased and our understanding of life becomes deeper affords us a keen pleasure. Whether we are journeying by train, or we are sitting in a park, or we are at home, reading is an excellent recreation.


CSS – The Decline of Bureaucrats

Outline

  1. Introduction to CSS and Bureaucracy
  2. A glance at 2017 CSS Exam Result
  3. A glance at 2016 CSS Exam Result
  4. The Continuous Decline in CSS
  5. The Reasons for The Recent Decline
    • Change in System of Examinations
    • Change in Rules of the Exam
    • The inclusion of Six Different Groups of Subjects
  6. Reason for The Change
    • Past Vs Present System of Exams
    • New System takes time to be Mastered
  7. Pillars of a State and The Bureaucracy
    • Bureaucracy Vs The Judiciary, The Media, and The Politicians
    • New Bureaucrats and The System
    • The Bureaucracy and its due place
    • The Insecurity
  8. Conclusion
CSS - The Decline

The Central Superior Services (denoted as CSS) is a permanent elite bureaucratic authority and the civil service that is responsible for running the civilian bureaucratic operations and government secretariats and directorates of the Cabinet of Pakistan.

The civil service defined itself as “key wheels on which the entire engine of the state has to move.
The bureaucracy consists of 12 directorates that provide vital office and secretariat related duties to the Government of Pakistan. The provincial bureaucracies are headed by the respective Chief Secretaries of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Punjab, and Balochistan. The highest attainable rank for an officer who serves in the country’s bureaucracy is BPS-22 grade.

Just a little over three percent of all candidates were able to pass the Central Superior Services (CSS) examinations of 2017, while the top three positions were clinched by male candidates. According to results declared by the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC), only 3.3pc students could secure the minimum passing marks.

Statistics show a total of 9,391 candidates appeared in the written examination of the year 2017; out of them, only 312 managed to pass. After viva voce 310 candidates, including 199 males and 111 females, finally qualified.

While in 2016, out of 9,643 applicants only 202 passed the Central Superior Services exam this year has led to headlines like ‘The Decline of CSS’. The 2017 result is a slight improvement over that of the previous year.

The results of the CSS exams have been facing decline for several years (until 2017), as 3.33pc students cleared the exam in 2014, 3.11pc in 2015 and 2.06pc in 2016.

While the reasons for this decline are many, this year’s result does not stem from them. The actual reason is the change in the system of examination introduced by the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC).

In 2016, the FPSC, on the basis of a number of studies, changed the rules of the exam. It had been following trends where engineers would opt for high-scoring maths and score solid marks, which was not possible for even brilliant students of other, less-scoring subjects. This specialized subject approach was adopted in other areas also, putting the majority of students at an unfair disadvantage.
Since the concept of the CSS exam is based on looking for generalists with a proven level of intellect, the FPSC has come up with six different groups of subjects, including economics and accounting, pure sciences/maths, business/public administration, history, environment/earth sciences, and law. It has made it obligatory for applicants to choose practically one subject from each group to ensure a level playing field.

In the good old days of our vintage, there were no multiple choice questions and taking an exam was an art unto itself. Students of English literature and those who had better writing skills had a distinct advantage. Then some decades later, we saw a preponderance of engineers and doctors as entrants. So until the FPSC finds some other aberration, the new rules are meant to fix that flaw.
Any new system takes time to be mastered. Since failing even one subject eliminates a candidate’s chances altogether, the pass percentage has nosedived, as the majority have struggled with elective subjects they have little expertise in.

Some more context is required. Constitutionally, there are three pillars of the state — the executive, judiciary, and parliament. Over the years, three more pillars have cropped up — the military, the media, and the mullah. Each defends its turf jealously. Take the military and the judiciary. There is only internal accountability. The media and the public are generally careful when it comes to criticising them. Beyond a certain point, the institutions step in to defend their respective members.
Similarly, criticism of or allegations against a parliamentarian is refuted promptly through the media to which he/she has ready access. He/she may also use the floor of the house to use the choicest invective for his/her critic. And, you criticise the mullah at your own physical peril.
Meanwhile, criticise a media person and he/she will ensure that all your blunders, imaginary or real, are brought to everyone’s attention and that you are forced to go into full-time media management to save your honor. If that option is not available, his/her union, channel or colleagues come to the rescue.
It is only the bureaucrats who are not defended by anyone, not even by their own colleagues. Going to the media is against the rules and ‘arranging’ a bureaucrat’s defense through the media is difficult as civil servants don’t have informal access. Officer associations are tame, due to years of servile training; they protest through the ‘proper channels’ only.

Bureaucracy-bashing continues to be the favorite pastime of the judiciary, the media, and the politicians. Bureaucrats are used as examples of unbridled power, inefficiency, and corruption, traits which are not exclusive to them.

When earnest young men and women entering the CSS see posts being given on political recommendations rather than on merit, when they understand that loyalty to the politician in power earns a bureaucrat choice assignments, when the corrupt in their ranks prosper, all idealism goes out of the window.

Those who refrain from falling in line or get themselves posted to some affiliate organization, away from the mainstream, or just learn to pass time, becoming negative and obstructionist in the process.
When the bureaucracy is not given due respect by the powers that be and the pillars of the state, the public follows suit and you have a system where everyone takes it for granted. Resultantly, it cannot enforce its writ.

Can you even imagine a Pakistani army chief waiting for hours outside the prime minister’s office to take orders or get the approval of the postings of his corps commanders, or to protest against the posting of a brigadier behind his back? Well, this is what happens all the time when it comes to bureaucrats including senior ones. And civil servants are still expected to be decisive and efficient, and to deliver.

Courtesy:

Image:

  • CSS Competition Zone Pakistan

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Naeem Javid

Naeem Javid Muhammad Hassani is working as Deputy Conservator of Forests in Balochistan Forest & Wildlife Department. He is the found of Tech Urdu Umbrella (forestrypedia.com, majesticpakistan.pk & their YouTube Channels). He is an Environmentalist, Blogger, YouTuber, Developer & Vlogger.

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