It’s a routine many of us are familiar with. Waking up begrudgingly at the sound of the alarm early in the morning, viciously cursing our current state of existence as we try to move faster than a sloth does. We all take our separate paths, and ultimately congregate at a school or a university — an educational institution, to be specific. And the next couple of hours are set aside for learning.
Monotonous, dreary learning. That’s how I remember most of my childhood and early teen days in school. Excluding the time set aside for break and sports activities, I hardly remember being excited for anything remotely associated with education. Heavy books, stationary cases full of unused items and one class after another where the only item commanding the utmost attention was a clock on the wall. Time actually did use to come to a standstill.
And so, years went by. I got older and the surroundings changed. Schools were replaced by universities. Classrooms became bigger. Backpacks were rendered useful only for the purpose of keeping a laptop, and stationary was reduced to one solitary pen. Nevertheless, the only item commanding the utmost attention was still a clock on the wall.
Right off the bat, it’s not news how far behind our country is in terms of providing education to the masses. As a developing country it’s just one of the many critical issues our nation currently faces. But while the depressing low literacy rate of Pakistan always centres round a similar argument about the lack of infrastructure and resources — another troubling issue that has seemingly been brushed aside for quite some time is the lack of accountability of the institutions that are present and have been for decades. For those of us who have had the luxury of affording education in this ridiculous economy, there seems to be an almost nonchalant attitude towards that period of time we have invested or continue to invest in learning. That which we hope could one day translate to our career and more or less, monetary success.
But what about inspiration, creativity, and out-of-the-box thinking, which exist only in the mottos of our educational institutions; the atmosphere inside is quite contrary to these ideals.
What’s more, the youngsters are enrolled in numbers that precede the maximum capacity which an educational institution can cater to. Seeking financial gains, the quality is then compromised which sets in place a sad cycle. Classrooms are filled up to the point of suffocation and left to the mercy of one individual standing in the middle of the room — the professor.
This conductor (the professor) then goes about creating the most haphazard and out-of- tune composition he or she can create — wildly flailing their arms around, and trying their best to get everyone to focus and follow their lead. It is hard to imagine that the students will follow one tempo when they themselves are so out of sync with one another. And this is a direct consequence of universities granting admission to individuals who have failed to meet the set requirements for enrollment.
This also becomes a huge setback for students who are actively seeking inspiration from their peers. With the existence of such huge discrepancies in terms of the level of understanding amongst students, a professor is unable to create a curriculum that adequately fulfils the learning requirement of that said course or subject. In such cases, due dates, assignments, projects — all hardly matter because the bar is already set low so as to ensure the majority of a class is able to progress to the next level, not in terms of learning but only because that is how the system will continue to function. Otherwise, an 80 percent fail rate of a course would lead to serious questions arising over the faculty members’ capabilities and, eventually, the institution itself.
The most incredulous — and, in a way, a silver lining — out of such mismanagement is that our nation still continues to produce brilliant minds, very much capable of transforming the future of our country. But the clock is ticking for those that end up losing faith in the institution of education. And the time may run out for those who will be unable to inspire or be inspired owing to the workings of a crooked system.