“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened” After going through this quote of Sathaya S.B., I couldn’t help imagining the panorama that thousands of lighting candles would present. Fascinating! And what if it is implemented humanly? Thousand and thousand of literate youngsters (the lighting candles) teaching illiterate ones (the extinguished candles)! In no time the human race would reach the zenith of humanity and development.
In pursuance of this noble dream the vice chancellor of University of Baluchistan took the first revolutionary step by making each student responsible for teaching in a village for six months before getting his/her graduation degree. Upon completion of this dignified task, he/she would be presented with his/her graduation degree. This righteous campaign that is intended towards growth of literacy rate and eventually the progress of the Land of Pure, is being televised in a private cellular company’s advertisement as well.
Literacy that is just the ability to read, write, listen, comprehend and speak a language is dangling in Pakistan at the rate of 55% approx. However, this particular decision, besides enhancing the rate of literacy, may go a step ahead in this regard. In addition to elevation of literacy, if students teaching in rural areas happen to be sharp minded and possessing broader vision, critical thinking capabilities and creativity would also be nurtured among village students. This practice would also assist young graduates in gripping their fresh concepts more firmly and preparing themselves for their practical life. As it is rightly said, “Knowledge that is not put into practice is like food that is not digested”. It would also be exceedingly effectual in development of their communication skills and social interaction parameters.
Motivation and appreciation are the factors that are going to play a significant role in this entire scenario. “Well, no doubt it is an encouraging step to boost up literacy rate but I personally feel the success of this campaign depends upon few other factors as well. After being declared a mandatory part to attain graduation degree, this teaching responsibility might be taken by young minds of students as another burden on their already overloaded shoulders”, comments Ahsan Rauf, 23, a student of Business Administration. Sadiya Akthar, studying management, is of point of view that this problem can be resolved if students are motivated and to keep them stirred up they should be reimbursed for their efforts. It might be in form of money or even in form of chocolates!
Why do students specially want to be reimbursed in form of “Extrinsic-rewards” such as money etcetera? They should be brought up in a way that they themselves love to be ahead in such kind of activities. Basically, in our materialistic society the entire system seems upside down. Today, first priority of almost every one of us is to attain the higher standard of living and that too as soon as possible. Soon as a student is done with his academic career, s/he aims to get a white collar job in order to earn a handsome livelihood and to fulfill his and his family’s material requirements. “What I have observed is the intricate bond between education and economic growth – go to school, pass your exams, attain qualifications, in the hope of securing a comfortable and highly rewarding job”, says 45 years old, Abrar Hassan. This is where the problem actually lays, the race to secure yourself “monetarily” not “scholarly”. Unlike in West, there is no profound keenness among our students for exploration of new ideas, intellectual learning, research and development. And candidly speaking, profound keenness can’t be developed as, inauspiciously, it is a society where people are dieing of starvation. So they need to secure themselves “monetarily” first as they have to satisfy their and children’s hunger, clothing and shelter requirements. That’s why Extrinsic-rewards (i.e. money, high status, security, working environment and conditions etc.) attract them more than Intrinsic rewards (i.e. inner satisfaction, love, kindness).
The religion of peace, Islam represents a system of governance where administration, after apposite arrangements for collection of alms and other Islamic economic modes of finance, works for the welfare of the people. It undertakes the responsibility of providing basic necessities of life i.e. food, shelter and cloth to its state. (During his golden reign, Hazrat Umar (RA) is reported to have said that even if a dog died of hunger and thirst at the bank of the Euphrates, he would be held accountable by Almighty Allah.) And then naturally people like to go ahead for scholarly and cerebral learning. They want to learn, explore, research, invent not just to wear a hollow crown known as “degree” but to do something extraordinary. Now at this stage they love being rewarded intrinsically. (In our society examples like that of Abrar-ul-Haq, Shahzad Roy and Imran Khan etc. are relevant in this context who have reached to a stage where they are not afraid of monetary problems and love working for Intrinsic rewards). These are glorious rules laid by Muslim leaders, today, are being followed by West. That’s why they are far ahead than us. Like people of this part of world, they are not afraid of starvation, economic crisis etcetera as they have pretty sane and well planned administration. It also reminds me a statement of Tim Sebastian, a renowned journalist, who once commented that Pakistan is the land of opportunities, but unfortunately it lacks competent managers.
Child labor is also one of those major dilemmas of our country that hampers in the growth of literacy. And it’s again the outcome of aforementioned mismanagement of governance. Parents whose pocket does not allow them to send their children to school prefer sending them to work so that they could earn them few pennies. “In this regard, the “I-am-paid-to-learn” program of the Zindagi Trust (an NGO) is an innovative step. To start such a project on larger scale (say on the government level supported by well-off of the society) would require a plenty of funds, no doubt, but I think it is high time we start spending our brains and resources on basic sectors like education and health”, says Ali Suleman, 21, student of Telecommunication engineering. In addition to this, pathetic condition of government educational institutions, the very common yet neglected issue, is also another factor that hinders the interest of village children towards education. And if resources are spent for this purpose they usually are done in settled localities.
Among the darkest problems of educational system of Pakistan, Rote learning is the one that getting in the way of producing creative, practical and internationally competing literates, since inception of Pakistan. “The most major of the problems that I have experienced throughout my education has been of rote learning. Our teachers are, unfortunately bound to teach according to the exam”, says Ali. “The ability of a teacher (and hence an institution) is judged by the grades the students achieve in an exam, and not by what the students actually gain”, he adds. “The sole criterion in most universities tends to make education solely a mark-scoring game which, naturally, produces mere degree-holders each year and very few actual professionals”, states Salman Latif, student of software engineering. The most effective way of examination is to examine the creative and intuitive aptitude of a student towards a particular discipline; just as it is done in professional studies i.e. CA and ACCA studies.
No doubt there are countless rewards of such campaigns (i.e. teaching for six months) and they ought to be encouraged. Nevertheless, just as before smoothening any road the constructor mends and levels the road first, similarly we need to take some major steps to mend our education and economic system before implementing such movements. Only then we would be able to get the best of them.