Education is the Passport to the Future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. Malcolm X

(Salma, Islamabad)

Every student that attends an educational institution, or any other field, requires a wide range of skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, reflective thinking, self-evaluation, self-corrections, teamwork, cooperation, collaboration, and social skills. These are the prime characteristics of a leader and 21st-century skills. To inculcate the shared characteristics, and prepare the young generation for the future, countries around the globe foresee the challenges and opportunities. Based on they apply research-based practices in their classrooms that not only ignite the children’s curiosity to learn, discover and explore, but attract them towards schools as well.
Pakistan since its inception with its educational policies and action plans, endeavors to improve the education system. However, the capitalist system and education as a business avenue have badly affected our education sector with different types of education institutes thus, people admit their children in schools according to their income. The essence and crux of education have been interpreted negatively that led the people’s focus astray from contribution to money-making, from humanity to selfishness, and as a result comparison and competition is at the peak. Pakistan, one of a signatory of Suitable Development Goals is still unable to achieve the desired goal and is ranked with world second highest country with 22.8 million children out of school. Pakistan Government and National & International NGOs are struggling to improve the access and quality of education to enroll the out-of-school children, provide access to quality education and achieve sustainable development goals within the set timeline.
COVID-19 pandemic affected 1.6 million children learning all over the world. This pandemic has provided us with opportunities to reflect on the gaps and prepare the ground for 2021. The government in support of International organizations could have worked on the structure and culture of the schools and stepped-in in 2021. However, this was not focused rather more emphasis was given to policy and curriculum.

Education is the backbone of the country's economy without which survival and progress are not possible. To improve the children learning process and provide them with indoor learning opportunities, different online programs were introduced and initiated by Government and school management. Though it was a great initiative and in accordance with the need of the time, however, it was observed that the majority of the children failed to avail this opportunity due to the non-availability of internet access, TV, and other online modes of communication. Besides that, deficiencies in the usage of IT tools among teachers and parents were observed. All this shows our ignorance and lack of future preparation that hindered the progress and engagement of children with doorstep learning opportunities.

My personal observations and research highlighted many drawbacks and deficiencies in the education system out of which management/school owners, teacher’s selection, missing facilities in government schools, lack of teachers’ capacity & knowledge of modern tools, teacher’s absenteeism, and no check & balance are some of the pertinent issues that need to be addressed.

Teaching is a sacred profession, that needs to be taken seriously. It is a profession that transforms the faith &destiny of any nation. Therefore, the professional development of teachers goes beyond a merely informative stage; it implies adaptation to change with a view to changing teaching and learning activities, altering teacher attitudes and improving the academic results of the students. The professional development of teachers is concerned with individual, professional, and organizational needs” (Heideman, 1990, p. 4). Proper capacity-building workshops and programs need to be arranged for the teachers and school management and knowledge and skills of contemporary gadgets/tools and software should be given. We need to find out different ways and solutions that can help the teachers teach less and learners learn more.

The teachers should be given opportunities to interact with international educationists through e-community groups. Merit-based scholarship opportunities should be given to competent and visionary teachers and young women with a spark for contribution.

The Government in collaboration with telecommunication should provide and ensure access and availability of internet in unreached areas. Local and international organizations should be asked to design courses and on-air on TV, radio for children, parents, and school management in local languages.

To cut the story short, it is the prime responsibility of the state to provide access to quality education in the country. Thus, instead of focusing on the educational policies and curriculum more efforts should be placed on the implementation part. To implement the set vision with its essence, the government should develop different groups such as Capacity Building, Maintenance & Construction, Mobilization & Enrollment groups along with proper Monitoring and Evaluation mechanism to work on previously identified problems and issues within set timeline otherwise the issues will retain as it were in the past.

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