Written by Mehr Parwar Education Advocacy Program Officer Hashoo Foundation
Nelson Mandela says, “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world”. If education is so then why people take it for granted? I mean private education system! Yes, we observe that several people are running their own schools and earning huge amount in the name of education. When I started to write on this topic I recalled Ms. Tabinda (synonym) in my mind who runs her own school. She runs a Primary School in a village in District Rahim Yar Khan. The school is situated in a narrow and dense street in a congested building. All the classrooms are too small to accommodate the children in. There is no play ground to carry hands on activities in the school. Since 2007, Ms. Tabinda is running this school with around 300 children and 6 teachers. During my visit, I found her a very dedicated and enthusiastic head teacher and a leader struggling for the change.
The story did not end up rather it began when I explored about Ms. Tabinda’s education and experience, I was shocked to see that she is only matriculate and has no professional training and experience in teaching. On the other hand, the teachers who serve in her school have more qualification along with some experience in teaching. During the school visit I further explored that as a head Ms. Tabinda faces several difficulties in the school such as; teaching classes and assessing students’ learning, supporting teachers in lesson planning, arranging parent teacher’s meetings and carrying day to day activities in the school.
My teaching experience and field exposure reveals that this is not only one story of Ms. Tabinda but there are several head teachers of street private schools who are running for the sack of income generation and are playing with our future generation. Such people without any vision and mission are carrying the most important responsibility of education and taking education as business. Their focus remains on collecting monthly fee and charges from poor parents rather than bringing quality teaching and producing life learners in their schools.
In our country, such type of schools are typical private schools having mostly untrained and novice teachers. A report on education in Pakistan shows that around 42% of all schools are private schools, median percentage of trained teachers is 33, and 79.3% are self-owned. It is also observed that the owners of low-cost private schools take professional development training and capacity building workshops as an added expense rather than an investment in the quality factors. Similarly, some of the low-cost school owners do not have the financial capacity to pay for these services. Observations reveal that such schools accommodate overcrowded children without providing basic facilities for the students. Furthermore, the owner of the private schools recruit less qualified teachers and accommodate them with low salary margin. Considerably such teachers fail to demonstrate quality teaching in the classrooms. Their lack of content knowledge and pedagogical skills frequently tend to affect their behavior which causes losing temperament during teaching. Consequently, teachers have been observed shouting on their students and punishing them physically and verbally and keeping students busy in memorizing facts through rote learning to pass them with good numbers and grades.
I believe such kind of business is nevertheless a crime rather than a cause. Because such schools waste children’s precious time and money and at the end produce confused and rote learners having no manners at all. Keeping in the view above facts, I urge interested people to equip themselves with basic training and skills of teaching before opening a school. Government should set standards for registering private schools likely; school with a nice building along with all basic requirements of a conducive and favorable environment for learning, well qualified and trained teachers and a visionary head teacher. The fee criteria must be unanimous for all.
I would say that along with all above elements you will not only achieve the desired outcomes in your students learning but you will become a successful educational entrepreneur in your life ahead.