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It’s morning in Lahore, the capital of Pakistan’s biggest province, and the country’s next generation is headed to school. But what children are finding when they get there is of increasing concern for those who want peace in Pakistan’s future.
For 12-year-old Fatma, school is an abandoned brickyard.
"I study at the Government Primary School in Lahore," she explains. "I study English language, and I like it. There are no chairs. We have to sit on the ground. It's a problem in the winter. When it rains, there is nowhere to sit."
Each day, the kids bring in a few chairs for the teachers, and they set up the school’s one blackboard, which six classrooms share.
“So your students actually have no rooms, no desks?” correspondent David Montero asks the school’s headmaster.
“No furniture. No rooms,” he replies.
This school is not an exception. There are some 20,000 "shelterless" schools throughout Pakistan. And even when there are buildings, 60 percent have no electricity, and 40 percent have no drinking water. Because the schools are so bad, Pakistan has the lowest enrollment rate in all of South Asia.
Ali Hassan is roughly the same age as Fatma, but he’s recently dropped out of the third grade. Instead, he helps out at a local gas station and makes the equivalent of 12 cents a day -- money his mother says the family now can’t live without.
“I hope Ali learns to be a mechanic, that he learns this work,” his mother says. "When only my husband earns, how can we get by?"
“Today, there are 68.4 million children between the ages of five and 19 in this country, and fewer than 30 million of those kids are in any type of school,” says Mosharraf Zaidi, a longtime advocate of reforming Pakistan’s schools. “You look at the consequences of these kids not going to school -- and let's set aside the fearmongering and the scare-mongering of saying, you know, ‘What if all these kids become terrorists?’ Setting that aside, the real problem is that, if you aren't capable of participating in the global economy, you will be very, very poor. And desperate and extreme poverty has some diabolical consequences for societies and for individuals.”
In Pakistan, public education has become a battleground. Members of Fatma’s local school council are outraged, saying the elite only care about themselves and keep the poor illiterate to stay in power.
"Government officials send their own kids to air-conditioned classrooms. Let's see them make their kids sit here and see what it is like," says one council member. "Aren't these the children of God's creation?"
The council takes Montero on a tour of a new construction site, where the government promised a new building that was supposed to house the 300 students from Fatma’s school.
"This is the only room?" Montero asks. "Three hundred students are supposed to sit in this room?"
The government blamed the contractor. The contractor blamed the government. The school council wanted to visit the Education District officer of Lahore to ask what had gone wrong. But he threatened to fire them if they showed up.
When Montero visited, the officer said that the teachers shouldn’t be complaining. According to his paperwork, the school would be big enough.
Across town, another kind of school is functioning quite well. It has plenty of room and even provides free tuition and a hot meal. It is one of the country’s many madrassas, or religious schools, which are becoming an increasingly popular option for poor parents.
“Parents who were educated don’t send their kids to madrassa. They send them to private schools, universities,” says the madrassa headmaster. “Poor people want their children to learn about their religion.”
Although madrassas are often criticized in the West, many local conservatives, like the school’s headmaster, believe that what’s being taught there will make Pakistan a stronger state.
“Why are we Muslims in this mess today?” he asks. “Because we've strayed from the Koran. If you look back at history, non-Muslims used to tremble in front of Muslims. Today, they don't. Today, when they see the situation Muslims are in, they say, ‘Exploit them.’”
It’s a message that is also taught in the country’s public schools, where it can influence far more children. For decades, Pakistani schoolchildren have been learning that their country is in a battle for survival.
“The teachers tell us that India and the British are our enemies,” Fatma says. “They are killing Muslims. They are behind the bomb blasts. I do not know much about America, but generally people do not like America, and they can never be our friends.”
Rabina Saigel is an academic who’s studied public school textbooks for years and found that they have quietly been feeding extremism.
“I feel that a great deal of the ideology that we think madrassas are producing is in fact being produced in state schools,” she says. “And I say that it's the biggest madrassa because it has the widest outreach. It reaches every town, village, and small hamlet. It reaches every nook and cranny of the country.”
At the Ministry of Education’s curriculum wing, the staff has been working on removing the militaristic tone of the curriculum. But the textbooks still include passages like these: “For the past three centuries the Europeans have been working to subjugate the countries of the Muslim world” and “The Christians and Europeans were not happy to see the Muslims flourishing in life. They were always looking for opportunities to take possession of territories under the Muslims.”
While those in the curriculum wing say that the new curriculum will address these issues, some religious fundamentalists have attacked the new, more tolerant curriculum.
“There is no demand for [secular education] in Pakistan. No demand from any section -- not from students, not from teachers, not from parents,” says Fareed Paracha, the leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan's largest fundamentalist Islamist party. He blasts the West for trying to secularize Pakistan’s curriculum.
“They have started a clash between Western and Islamic civilizations,” he says. “They claim Western secular, democratic civilization now is the fate of humanity.”
Just a few months ago, Paracha led a protest against the latest American aid package, which includes hundreds of millions of dollars earmarked for education reform. The religious parties say the United States. is using the aid to try to hijack Pakistani society.
But ironically, others fear that the money will never reach the schools, anymore than the $100 million in U.S. aid over the past three years has.
Reformers believe the problems that Pakistani children face are so deep that money alone will not be enough to fix them.
“I think it’s generous of the American taxpayer, and I think it’s important that Congress and the president and the administration have made this kind of a long-term commitment. But it is not going to make the difference between a functional and a dysfunctional Pakistan,” says Zaidi. "The choice of whether Pakistan is going to be a functional country is a choice that has to be made by Pakistanis. And Pakistanis haven’t made that choice yet because government after government fails to make the investments that it needs to make."
If you think the Pakistani schools are dysfunctional try visiting the schools in Detroit. At least the kids over there are willing to learn and not creating violence even though they live in extreme poverty. America is blind to their own internal issues.
Harbor City, California
I don't understand why there is all this criticism over Pakistan's school system. Everybody knows that loans from the IMF, economic (monetary) aid, all backed by or from the US; end up in the hands of corporations or corrupt philanthropic organizations and local leaders. US political leaders constantly criticize other countries, even while they know there is a crisis in the US educational system and that this country is under constant attack from fundamentalist Christian Evangelicals.
St. Louis, USA
The bottom line is that public schools are a failure and the government is putting more money into nuclear war heads than education. 60% of the kids go to MADRASSAS in Pakistan. So what do we expect from the teachers, who believe that whole western world is there to destroy them, no matter what.
Unless and until the whole program is revamped, a band aid approach will not work. It is a similar situation in Health Care.
N. Shekhani, MD
"If you aren't capable of participating in the global economy, you will be very, very poor" (zaida) is the wrong way of looking at the problem. Pakistan's inability to grasp its limitations and trying to overreach in the world is what is causing the problem. Trade cannot be a pillar of a nation.
kids in Pakistan sit on floors,they have no buildings, and most kids are not in school. Maddrassa schools are more successful because they are linked to religion. I believe America should spend money on schools in Pakistan to counter this.
I think the whole situation SUCKS!!!. No one who wants an education should have to live without an education. There a lot of kids in the U.S. who don't even appreciate their education & that they have people to teach them something. It is sad and makes you realize how good we have it here.
In every school there is something missing, either electricity, water, or furniture. And some are ghost schools, which benefits no one but the teachers who get paid for doing nothing. The most successful schools are the madrassas where children learn religion and have furniture and other necessary things; their tuition is also paid by the church, which is especially good for poor families. With students that are young and gullible, these schools have the power to prevent or promote terrorism.
Its is unfair that these students don't even have seats to sit on while they're in "school" or even a school to go to in some cases. Instead of teaching religion and that America is the enemy, students should be taught about love and tolerance.
The school system is really messed up. How can people with money just sit back and see this happen. Kids with no class rooms desk not even a school building. Kids should be the ones being treated the best; they are the future of Pakistan.
Bronx, New York
It is crazy there are no classrooms, and teachers hardly even come and teach. Their schools are in deserted areas and right next to sewers. Six classes share 1 black board. 60% no electricity and 40% no water. Those are great differences from our schools here. I think Obama's doing the right thing by giving money to help Pakistan schools. It's important for everyone's future.
If the basis of creation for a state is based on a false construct pinned under the assumption that "Only people of the same religion and same race, and the majority can survive as a nation state" and all minorities are doomed to exploitation and subjugation, then we have Pakistan.
In today's diverse world, majority state is a false construct as each majority group has its own minority. I feel very sad for the new generation of Pakistanis and the common man in Pakistan caught between an elite, who exude of false-vanity, and the religious mullah, who is fighting to position himself as the power-center.
All countries teach some form a bias in their books and history but Pakistan school textbooks are a denial of their own historical roots and a false propaganda of hatred against its arch enemy India.
It's ironic that Pakistanis and Indians may be frisked and scanned with equal disdain as they resemble so much alike. Two people and land, which have been entwined in relationship of blood, ancestors, roots that go back more centuries than the Romans or Greeks, are locked in perpetual war. I hope the Pakistanis of the new generation will see the futility of the dogma that has been shoved down their throats by successive military government.
Maybe we will become friends one day and the Taliban will cease to exist. But when?
As an Indian whose civilization roots spring around the Indus Valley, which is the source of its name, I really wish the next generation of school goers will challenge the state for a better future.
I wonder at the expectations of this 17-minute documentary, and the reliance on it to understand a richly layered land like Pakistan. It is neither the duty of the filmmaker to cover all aspects of education in Pakistan, nor is it possible for him to do so. It is the responsibility of the viewer of this documentary to educate her/himself further and to explore the ideas presented here.
The problem with such documentaries is that they feed into all sorts of fundamentalisms; if they were to be viewed by well-intentioned open-minded men and women of understanding, they would cause no harm.
I am a Fulbright alum, a graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. I sometimes falter, but mostly I am committed to saying my five daily prayers. I watch live theatre and movies, am part of a book club, go rock climbing here in Islamabad, do yoga, and I pray.
I am asking you to open a window in your mind, to break the stereotype of a Muslim and a Pakistani that you clutch on to like a child clutches on to her security blanket. See us for what we are! Vibrant, resilient, troubled by our myriad problems yet trudging along! For more on that, watch the movie Kashf by a Paksitani director, Ayesha Khan. The movie is in English and Punjabi.
I work for a Pakistani non-profit. I and my colleagues happily travel to far-flung areas to train teachers and to follow-up. We had set up a camp school for the Swat IDPs (Internally Displaced People) in Swabi, where I and my colleague trained the teachers and our organization helped set-up the school. We are not alone in this. Many organizations are doing such work. We have literacy centers for children working as domestic laborers, created to draw these children out from work and to bring them to school where they are paid a stipend for attending. PBS will not cover any of this because it does not make their kind of a story, and that is fine; but now that we all know that, why are we even expecting the media to give a complete picture; that's just not part of their job description.
To cut a long story short, we have problems, and we are doing something about it.
The article above and the reactions to it are conflating two issues:
Let's put the "Terrorism" issue out of the way first. Isn't it a bit simplistic to assume that "Terrorism" simply arises out of "Education" or "Propaganda"?
There is never only one reason for armed conflict. For those of you who have studied history even at High School Level, I am sure you will have studied at least 3 causes per conflict -- no matter what the conflict being considered.
Yes, there is a crying need to re-vamp and improve the education system. But instead of statistics, let me give you the people:
1- I went through the private school system. What is called the "elite" system. I got my O Levels, A Levels and an external degree from the University of London from Islamabad, Pakistan. And I got my Masters from Australia.
2- I am now working for an NGO, Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (www.itacec.org) My brief is to handle the PELI program (www.pelinstitute.org), a teacher training program run by Plymouth State University, USA, for Public School Teachers in Pakistan.
Basically, we get the provincial governments to nominate public school teachers for this program. I have interviewed teachers from the most under-privileged regions of Pakistan and this is what I have discovered:
a- There is no dearth of candidates, both male and female, willing and able to study in the USA.
b- The candidates are uniformly open-minded about the US culture. They consistently state that the US is an advanced country with similarly advanced teaching methodologies and they want to learn these methodologies so they can apply them in their regions.
c-The candidates have sufficient English language skills for communication purposes. Generally, English is their third or fourth language, so this is quite an impressive achievement.
d. We have asked candidates about achievements in their personal lives. Many have pointed at their own struggle to achieve an education. Quite a few have pointed, with pride, at their own efforts to help students attain an education by either tutoring them voluntarily, paying their fees or convincing unwilling parents to allow them to study.
As to the elite, private system, its products attend Harvard, Yale, MIT, Oxford, Cambridge etc. In other words, they are competitive at International levels.
Yes, Pakistan has its educational challenges. But it also has its success stories. Maybe Frontline World should seek them out and highlight the hope they represent for Pakistan.
NYC Metro, USA
This program raises more questions than it answers, but it is clear (from the interviews in this program) that current Islamic education is mere indoctrination. But it's also free, which is better than the near-nothing that the kleptocratic and illegitimate Pakistani government is providing.
But from a civic-development aspect, why are local parents not empowered to make things better? Or self-empowered? Why is there only a top-down subservience to the local (overworked) administrator? Why is there no transparency in the construction funding of the school and the monies appropriated for that purpose? Clearly, Pakistani society needs transparency so that its children and its future will not fail.
(Sidenote: Why are the Saudis ("our friends?") only providing money for Muslim indoctrination madrasssas?)
Is public school free in Pakistan? I was under the impression that it was not. When free, public education for the masses becomes a national mandate, by law,they will do it. In the U.S. you can be arrested for not attending school. It is a different way of seeing education as important. Pakistan is a young country and must be given time to grow as the U.S. was. It used to be illegal for certain parts of the population to read in America, but things change when the people demand it. The people are the government as they elect their reps.
just read the comment by "anonymous" that you deemed appropriate to print. i quote from his or her comment: "America has liberated many nations from all kinds of acts. Now we must liberate your people from your own selfish acts. Europe recalls the sacrifices America has made. Will the Muslim world ever do the same?" A very superficial study of history will make anonymous realize that there are no such debts to be paid by the Muslim world. The analogy with Europe during WWII is preposterous. this is what i meant by the dismal state of public education in the U.S. Much needs to be done there.
For so long Muslim countries have forsaken their youth and women. Their lack of focus on education for both has now shown their ugly face to the world. Blame your own officials for the reasons your nation and people are not able to adjust to the west. You have been left to behind with the rest of the world and your only answer is world wide criminal (terrorist acts) activity. Thanks but no thanks. So go ahead blame it on America. It's what the world does best. America has liberated many nations from all kinds of acts. Now we must liberate your people from your own selfish acts. Europe recalls the sacrifices America has made. Will the Muslim world ever do the same?
Dr. Behjat Syed
I'm deeply surprised Mr. Montero takes a few examples in a vast country such as Pakistan and paints a picture as bleak as he does.
Not that the situation isn't grim--but rather, why not offer solutions and encouragement?
Our family is deeply involved in helping the underprivileged become educated in Pakistan. I can tell you the human spirit of the beneficiaries is nowhere near the image created by Mr. Montero. Please visit nazeer.org for more information.
Also, taking excerpts from certain books to make it look like that is a foregone conclusion that non-Pakistani's are to be hated is plain poor journalism. I'm Western educated and I'll advise you to read about the opinions of authors writing about the crusades.
Funny how in this piece Mr. Montero is doing exactly what he's trying to point towards in Pakistan. Take a narrow opinion and let the masses believe it by giving scant evidence...
Although the state of public education in Pakistan is worrisome, calling it a "ticking time bomb" creates the kind of rhetorical bias and fear-based cultural knee-jerk reaction which have made any sensible dialogue between east and west impossible.
How concerned are we for these kids who sit in the dirt and study useless books? Is our concern focused mainly on a couple of paragraphs which talk about western colonial and post colonial exploitation in vague enough terms that we can interpret them as generic hatemongering? Or are we truly concerned for the future of these kids - for their ability to get jobs, support their families, and eke out a decent existence?
Public education has always been problematic in Pakistan. what strikes you first and foremost, is its duality. Public schools in well-to-do neighborhoods are nothing like those presented in the film. Granted there are fewer good neighborhoods and more urban slums/villages in Pakistan but that is such an important component of how public education could work and does work for some Pakistanis that it is irresponsible not to even mention such schools.
I finished high school in the public education system in Islamabad and even though i was less than impressed with the quality of the curriculum and the whole idea of learning by rote, my experience of public education was completely different from Fatima's, and the same can be said for millions of other Pakistanis.
I do agree with the man who blamed a lot of what is happening on the government where officials are busy lining their own pockets with money and totally indifferent to the plight of the poor. Education is no different than any other public service - the same duality will be apparent if you look at healthcare or housing. it's less about trying to brainwash the next generation, it's more about the lack of investment in people who do not matter to the government or the elite of Pakistan.
it's a bit like the U.S. really except more pronounced. public education is not equal for all Americans, neither is healthcare or housing. if you live in a good school district where you can afford to buy a house and pay hefty taxes, your kids will have a very different education than if you live in the projects.
I think it's time for us to get off our high horse and open up our minds to possibilities - within our own country and within other countries as well. Fear is not going to get us far but a concern for humanity both at home and abroad might actually change things.
Education and justice are two main issues of this country, and once these two are solved then country is on the path of real development and the end of terrorism. Why it has not been implemented for last 62 years is because of the interests of elites and the ruling class of this country. If the west and USA want to have long term success and end the fundamentalism, they should spend money on justice and education in this country and use their good offices to compel all the rulers to follow these two. Thanks.
I think we need to analyze the effectiveness of our education. However flawed and substandard it is, does it actually help the poor raise their living standards? Surely that is the objective? I am working with a school and experimented with a skill center situated within the school. The regular school could not cross a 65% average attendance but the skill center has a 100% attendance. This simple fact tells a story. What the children found useful, they did not miss out on. Our education of learning by rote, outdated methodology, substandard teachers will not solve our problems.
Let's move to giving young students skills to help them while we upgrade the education system, which might take up to two generations.
The video is a true picture of public sector schools and the situation is worse in other provinces of Pakistan. I visited some rural areas of Sindh and found the Girls Elementary School being used as a cattle shed and boys school almost remains closed and the Head Teacher visits off and on and drives a van instead of coming to school.
The situation of ECE needs to be taken as most important. If the situation of ECE is better then we may hope for something better.
Friends of education in Pakistan, what is essential is to track down the origins of Shelterless Schools. A scheme was officially launched during the early 80s actually backed by donors during Zia's period under some romantic notion that education can be extended without any need for shelter and school buildings. What is also worth asking is why dual standards of education have been pushed for quantity at all cost over quality, which leave us in a quandary of 1000s of shelterless schools in the 21st century, with the largest numbers in the province of Sindh (over 6000 ) !
So where David Montero begins his story is indeed a very interesting one. Shelterless schools not be default but by design -- a collusion of the sinister interests nationally and globally and a citizenry exhausted by institutional breakdown in the 80s: the country's break up in 1971; nationalization causing irresponsible havoc to satisfy hubris of rulers; Islamization and closing of minds; the war in Afghanistan. It is enough to make a polity dizzy with challenges and to rise to multiple fronts of the closing of options for gender, human rights, human development.
So let us get the context right for shelterless schools as a formal scheme in the education landscape ...by donors and government alike... courting a mindless phrase education only needs teachers not facilities! Education can take place under trees and lamposts.. sorry for rambling but let us speak from informed perspectives as to why little 12 year old Fatima is studying in an abandoned brickyard.. this is no coincidence or accident!
A tormented educator and activist baela raza jamil
Houston, TX, USA
All of you who feel for the plight of the poor children of Pakistan and would like to find a way to help can do so by donating to some of the very credible, genuine organizations who are doing excellent work in improving the education system in Pakistan. Developments in Literacy(www.dil.org)is one such organization that is providing quality education to underprivileged children in Pakistan. Their teacher training institute is the first of its kind in Pakistan to cater to the needs of the rural teacher.
Brooklyn, New York
The old guy at 5:00 said it best...and the Madrassa's Imaam should get slapped for what he said at 8:15! What happened to spreading peace and love throughout the world? It's people like him that spread the gap between Muslims and non-Muslims! But he is right in saying that madrassas are the only option for the poverty stricken communities of Pakistan.
Friends of Pakistan interested in stories of teachers' empowerment kindly do read these 100 stories in English and Urdu initiated by UNESCO and Idara e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) Centre for Education & Consciounsess in the following link:
We do belong to a global community of practitioners united by a common professional and human ethos ... beyond religion and beyond its narrow interpretations. THIS IS OUR PAKISTAN!
Why it is not working when the money for education is pouring in from various donors? The question is quite simple but the answer may need days to explain. Being an educator for the last 27 years and, in parallel, working with Non Government Organizations who are striving hard to improve the quality of education in Pakistan, I have conceived the following factors that do not allow the visible impacts of all these efforts.
1. Most local NGOs (my rough estimate is over 80%) do not emphasize impact-oriented implementation, rather they are involved in action oriented implementation.
2. Most of the funding provided by the donors are either consumed in
management expenses, under the table deals with the local distributors, or
with the government authorities through which the funds are floated to the
3. The culture of consuming the money inappropriately has made its way to the lowest receiving end where the visible impacts could be seen.
4. The local tradition of less inclination towards literacy has also played a vital role in hindering the process and modern concepts of education (which of course shall need more energy, time and innovative thinking). This extends to teachers, who are not even discouraged by the local administration.
5. The vague curriculum, non-activity-based instruction and the traditional rote memory teaching has deep roots in the educational system of Pakistan.
Even the highest evaluation agency, the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, is based on the written Answer books, with anonymous identity of those examining. The result is considered as a criteria for acquiring admission to the next phase of education, i.e., college (higher secondary stage). The so-called practical examination is taken by less qualified, incompetent and less interested teachers, who are unable to evaluate the students inclination, aptitude or attitude toward further education.
This system has encouraged those elements who want to impose their own agenda with comparatively no expenses on the part of parents, less formalities and with a promise of making those taught good human beings. Some of the institutions are striving hard to impart quality education but are far away from the reaching the largest chunk of society.
What makes one fundamentally upset about debates regarding Pakistan's education system is overlooking of:
On the one hand, an undeniable huge country wide public interest and need for quality education which has concrete manifestation in the ever expanding enterprise of education; today we have over 270,000 institutions of learning, of which private sector is expanding annually by almost 25% since 1999/2000, when the first survey on private education institutions was done in Pakistan by the Federal Bureau of Statistics
On the other hand, is a phenomenon of mushrooming partnerships with the public sector with two key strands:
1. Helping public sector to improve its quality of supply
2. Seeking public sector financial assistance for low cost quality private schools to expand choices for quality eduction
So as the society rises to the challenge, conversations are 'fashionably' only about doom and gloom - as is the nature of the current conversation in this bold VIRTUAL initiative.
What we need to do is sift through the debris and speak about all those elements that make the glass half full with plenty of evidence, if we want to be a part of the RESCUE TEAM For education in Pakistan.
We have a tremendous opportunity in the people of Pakistan like us and all those teachers/educators that Plymouth representative speaks about (and many others), who are totally passionate about making this system turn around.
Those who believe that in education lies Pakistan's transformation; there are plenty like us, believe me. We must find believers in the public sector who are equally committed towards this enterprise of education in its most comprehensive sense. Sector wide, all the way and, system wide, all the way as there is a crying need to be part of the REDESIGN of the Education system which is all wrong. Not because of its colonial legacies but because of the unhealthy and unthinking continuation of these beyond the time and scale that it was intended to be. (we will come to this later with good evidence).
Moving away from the madrassah stories, I would like to introduce for this discussion three issues affecting the entire population in Pakistan: National Education Policy 2009 Status; GDP Education Allocations, and Governance. And if there is interest, I can expand to the next four critical areas: public private partnerships; teacher education, ECE and the recent decision to shift age bands for calculating indicators of Net Enrollment Levels (NERs) Primary from 5-9 to 6-10...
If there is an interest, I would like to elaborate with evidence on the issues, their scale, and what can be done practically.
Recently, the initiative of the Pakistan Education Task Force (PETF) was formed to make good decisions on how best to make use of the UK 225 million pounds being given by the British govt to implement the National Education Policy 2009. It is co-chaired by Michael Barber and Shahnaz Wazir Ali and also has USAID as a member. PETF mandate has an echo of the Rs 1 lac in 1823 or so, allocated for education under the Company Raj, which was debated well over a decade until the famous Macaulay Minute in 1835 was pitched at the orientalists vs. anglicists. The latter won the day. But what are we debating about today? Let us be clear ... speak about substance and not sensationalize for media attention only, but for serious public and global action.
Baela Raza Jamil, Director Programs ITA and Institute for Professional Learning Pakistan
Failure over the past 62 years to correct the public school system in Pakistan has led to ignorance and a high rate of population growth. Today, Pakistan has schools for the rich and schools for the poor - a polarisation and segmentation of society which is engulfing the nation in a war on terror.
The system needs to be re-vamped with a rights based, citizen based curriculum, bright, cheerful classrooms, interesting textbooks and trained teachers who have some standard of education needed to be a teacher.
The system of 145,000 public schools can now only be uplifted by rectifying all the ills that plague it across the board. A piecemeal approach will only waste time, effort and money.
Too much time has already been wasted by tinkering here and there.
The backwardness is related to religious faith,If a nation chooses to recite religious scripture 5 times a day,how can they grow.West should stop military aid to Pakistan, IMMEDIATELY.
A Khalaf of Houston Texas, TX said, "As long as Muslims will cling to Islam which is a hateful violent cult they will be poor and backward. The few well off Muslim countries are either secularly influenced or oil rich."
Apparently you are ignorant of both Islam and history for making such a ridiculous statement. Islam is NOT a "hateful violent cult" and if you study history you will see that the Muslims were most affluent when they most closely followed their religion which advocates that they gain knowledge and benefit humanity.
Pakistan looks like a problem from the top down. Just like they don't know who to befriend; the Taliban who hangs people on hooks with their head between their legs, or successful, civil countries who are willing to help them.
Pakistan needs to sit down and chart a coarse, and eliminate all the greed, and corruption, and write a central value system.
I salute the whole team, specially David Montero, for providing the world with a partial insight into Pakistan's education system. Highlighting the problems is one thing, offering a solution is an entirely different one.
Was there any concrete solution or suggestion offered by any of the participants for a change and improvement?
The predominance of private schools offering the same curriculum as British and American hasn't even been alluded to. The schools offering all sort of amenities and luxuries from pools, baseball, concerts, excursion trips to foreign lands. The schools which do help students to qualify for the British,American and European universities goes back to the same old masters, who then return to rule the people whose very language they aren't able to speak.
David should have asked the authorities he was interviewing about the schools of their kids.The owners of such schools are either brutal business people impervious to any educational sense or the people from the political and governmental hierarchy, forces, and bureaucracy, who are in cahoots with one of the most vicious,veiled, covert and plaguing feudal systems.
An episode on another kind of generation, though equally lost, might strike the balance by evoking feelings of covetousness and jealousy instead of pity, compassion and awe in the audience about this land full of dumbfounding oddities.
Houston Texas, TX
As long as Muslims will cling to islam which is a hateful violent cult they will be poor and backward.The few well off Muslim countries are either secularly influenced or oil rich.
Plymouth=20, New Hampshire
Congratulations to Frontline on addressing the complexities of public education in Pakistan. However, there are success stories due to dedicated Pakistani educators, administrators, and NGO's who are working at the grassroots level. Since 2003, the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs has been funding a professional development project for Pakistani educators. Hosted by Plymouth State University and facilitated by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi, it includes U.S. and Pakistan components. The 120 alumni of the project are remarkable - change agents in their own country. How can the work of Pakistanis like them be supported and sustained effectively?
Very superficial coverage of an acknowledged problem. For example, the story does not mention several charity organizations doing excellent work in this area and their outreach is expanding. I hope your correspondent would look at the work of organizations like TCF, DILL and so on. A balanced report on the situation and constructive criticism would have been helpful
martinez, California, USA
I've always wanted to be a teacher in history and english. I was unable to finish because my father pulled me out of college because teachers in California couldn't get jobs in l972. He sent me to secretarial school and then I went back to school in 81-84 for business and computers. I was a senior when my mother got cancer and I had to stop my last two quarters before I finished. I then got married, disabled, abandoned by my husband and now I'm trying to get back to finish my interest in teaching again in history/english.
Since I've always been interested in other peoples religions and customs and do not have any family, I'm trying to get to Afghanistan or Pakistan to teach. I have no set religion because I value all religions and learned through self education that everyone is to be respected and valued as a child of God. I guess after studying all major religions I've taken all of the most important parts of each one as a value to the human race.
Compassion is my #1 commandment that I always try to follow. As well as "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". It will be through education and teaching the children how to read and thinking for themselves instead of following what others tell them is right will all children learn to value one another. When the children read all different kinds of philosophies and ideas and learn how to think critically will things begin to possibly change.
Hopefully I'll be able to get in touch with someone or an agency that will help me reach my goal of teaching in Afghanistan or Pakistan.
If anyone has any ideas or a person I should contact I would be very grateful for any help you could give me to reach this goal.
Thanks, Kerry Pay, 59, female
I've never missed a Frontline show because this is the best that T.V has since it began!
Los Angeles, CA
85% of U.S. aid to Pakistan comes right back to buy arms from us. It's one military industrial complex supporting another. The other 15% lines the pockets of corrupt politicians. Pakistan is a failed state being exploited by the US. Nothing noble is happening.
Collinsville, Oklahoma, USA
The one guy said it best. They keep us poor and uneducated so they can stay in power.
What is clearly happening is that an entire generation of under educated Pakistani children is being steered toward carrying on the holy war against the west, while an entire generation of under educated children in the United States is being prepared to keep going into the middle east and 'spreading democracy'. The children of our future are being prepared from birth to carry on the campaign of hatred and ignorance that their fore-bearers have started before our very eyes. For these poor children, both here and in Pakistan, their birth certificate amount to little more than death sentences, and most of them will never know the reality into which they have been brought. It is one of the great tragedies of human kind, and it has not even begun to unfold itself.
This report was really lacking, especially in contrast to the "Behind Taliban Lines" program after which it was broadcast. If "For the past three centuries the Europeans have been working to subjugate the countries of the Muslim world" is met with incredulity, it only illustrates that Pakistan is not the only nation with a failed education system. True, it is poorly worded and is clearly being used for propaganda value, but it is -not- factually incorrect. How many American students, or adults, for that matter, understand the role the British Empire played in the creation of Pakistan and the present cultural standoff between that nation and India? How many know of the brutal Dutch war with the Sultanate of Aceh? Public Education and propaganda go hand in hand, in the "West" and elsewhere.
DURANT, OK USA
I watch you program last night in awe.It is a shame that the Pakistan government doesn't use the money that is allocated for education in the proper way. it seem like they really don't care about the future of the country or the children that have to live in it. Too bad.
I found this segment as well as the one on Afghanistan highly informational. There was no mention of Greg Mortenson and his selfless dedication to building schools without the aid of the US government's money. I read his first book "Three Cups of Tea" and came away with a strong sense of hope for Pakistan's children. I look forward to reading his new book "Stones for Schools" about his attempts in Afghanistan. How could such important work not be mentioned in the program?! Are his schools being destroyed and abandoned as well?
Thank you. This story was a great eye opener. It helps me to understand how bad it is there, and to understand a little more on why the US is trying to help. My family just suffered the ultimate sacrifice as one of the American solders that were killed on Feb 3rd in Lower Dir was from our family. But not only was my family member killed, but 3 young girls were killed and many more were injured, and their school is no longer there, so sad...
I think Pakistani people need to change their mind about education but it is a difficult target when they are grown under religious discourse and never are able to have another point of view. Brazilian people have a distorted idea of education, similar to that of Pakistan: school must produce people to serve power.
Thanks for the great documentaries! One day we will all ask questions like: Why are some so much better off than others and why the rest so oblivious? Are we to be judged by how we treat the least amongst us? If so, how are we doing?
This is bad. A pilot program should be set up immediately, with broadband and cloud computers placed in the hands of some 10,000 kids, and internet access provided for education. This is a cheap solution all things considered. The Gates foundation would likely be interested.
To not address the issue is contrary to our long term interests and very expensive ultimately.
USAID money did not reach schools. Where did it go? Why did Montero not investigate this issue? Left the impression Pakistani corruption was responsible.
Let me tell you the money was not wasted in Pakistan. It never left DC. It was mainly taken by a USAID Contractor.
I think education system in Pakistan needs a complete overhaul.
The major issues it has under trained or untrained teachers at all levels.
A curriculum which may be suitable to create a generation of office clerks but not more than that.
A variety of madrassas are creating a generation of closed brain religious sects.
A class system in institutes, only results in further segregation within society.
Overall, corruption in society results in broken labs to ghost schools.
This creates a culture of getting marks instead of learning. A culture of degrees instead of skills. A culture of shortcuts to pass exams instead of reading. A culture of avoiding books. All this results only in a mediocre class of degrees holders who do not know how to question or how to comprehend.
The culture of knowing the W's is totally missing in lower levels of education.
Why is it so hard for people to see that sometimes they blame others for exactly what they do. Such as that of imposing their belief, morals, norms on others! The Taliban accuses the Western world for imposing democracy on Pakistan and Afghanistan; yet they impose their hatred, to die while killing non-Muslims, blessing idolatry on the minds of young, innocent children! I think any idolatry of killing others is NO BETTER!
Is it so easy to forget 9/11? know the first time the Trade Towers were bombed in 1993, it became so easily forgotten that we couldn't (wouldn't) prepare ourselves for another attack. Or think that it was a possibility. Now, please tell me if I am wrong, but every man or woman who has blown themselves up to kill non-Muslims had a lot of hatred for the Western world, and on top of that, a belief that they were doing the right thing, that they were living out the Will of God. This idolitary can only come from a misguided education. Propaganda. I think NOT!
I ache all over when I watch a documentary like this. I am huge fan of Greg Mortenson and his approach to gaining support of Afghani and Pakistani people. He makes sure that he has the support of local elders, shows respect for their ways and has done an amazing job of providing schools for girls. Would that Americans and NATO allies have similar way of doing operations there. The present military effort will only end in disaster.
This is pure Radio free USA propaganda.
My congratulations to Zaidi, at least he's trying to change the system from within.
In Western countries, education is taken for granted...as it should be! When will people be able to see that the future is about the now, and that means the children! I hope that there is a change in thinking of the Eastern governments soon! Otherwise they won't even need war to perish.