I blog about how mass, coerced schooling is a flawed model and there are many countries that are struggling with the model. The system design is inefficient, culturally alien, and one based on hierarchies and bureaucratic models that are unsustainable and prone to authoritarianism. It doesn't build the social infrastructure that people and communities need for small businesses that are human-centered.
Pakistan is such a country, rich with people but struggling with a school model that is compulsory and segmented. Schools as a service are not a part of the design either there or here. And the mitigating factors that allowed US schools to work well for a short time are not there in many countries.
Education in Pakistan: 64 years of complacency – The Express Tribune:
"Even though it might seem fine in principle, the system is highly anachronistic and has been working like this for the past 64 years, with some minor changes introduced by previous governments in their vain attempts to reform the system.
In reality, though, the Education Department is over-staffed, corrupt, and inefficient; its behemoth bureaucracy prevents imparting quality education in our public schools." ....
"Further still, the head teacher is supervised by a long hierarchy of officials at the education department, beginning with the assistant education officers and ending with the executive district officer. Each of these officials is also assigned a legion of secretarial staff, whose job is to fetch tea, push files and occasionally become a victim of public scolding from their government officials so that they may appear more authoritative in front of visitors."
Badar Alam Interview
An interview with Badar Alam on the problems with "education" (video won't work for me, view at link) with a full transcript :
Let's look at another comment that came in from one of the readers of Dawn. This gentleman mentions Three Cups of Tea [the best-selling book by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver] and what a profound influence it had on him in terms of demonstrating the passion that people can have for education in Pakistan. He also says that he feels people are learning in a system that just teaches by rote. What's your comment on that?
I think he's absolutely right. There's a lot of rote learning in Pakistan that encourages following authority without challenging it. It has a lot to do with the political and the religious system that we have, in which challenging the authority is not seen as something very noble. Unfortunately, our education system, by emphasizing rote learning and not allowing the students to learn with an open mind and ask questions with an open mind, perpetuates that system of authority. So, yes, he is absolutely right.The aspect of the system that contribute most to this dumbing down effect is the compulsory attendance that disempowers families from participation. It formulates bureaucracies that are not oriented toward service but are punitive. A voluntary approach or some way of allowing families real choices would change entirely the system dynamics and orient schools toward the people they should be working with. I'm not talking about vouchers or charters: its the same thing in another hat. I am talking about allowing families to customize what learning services they want and need, like using a public library. That would allow change to grow from the bottom up as families seek services and support for their children. It would be a check on useless schemes of learning and credentialing that serve to make more jobs at the top only.
But on another level, he's also right in the sense that people have a lot of passion and desire to educate their younger generations. But I personally feel that this desire and passion need to be contextualized. If you educate the son of a farmer until the tenth grade, in 99 percent of the cases, he's not going to take up the profession that his father has taken up, because the education system does not educate him in his own context, which is agriculture.
It trains him in something else. It trains him to become a good clerk, for instance. It trains him to become a good teacher, maybe. But it doesn't provide enough learning, enough training to carry on the profession his father has been doing. As a result, there has been a lot of social displacement and a lot of physical displacement of the graduates who come out of the schools and colleges; they leave their ancestral places and their ancestral professions to move out to the cities and to other professions. It definitely leaves the original inhabitants at a disadvantage, because there's a lot of brain drain from the villages and the far-flung areas. It concentrates the entire brainpower and professional power in a few big cities.
The system also centralizes, as the eloquent Badar Alam states above. It is akin to refining food, where compulsory education systems refine and process out the individual talents as well as the local context. Instead, users are processed toward an ever-refined set of skills that are required by other parts of the system itself in a cycle of bureaucracy that has no end. In the US, a country that has used a compulsory model of K-12, we have managed to train doctors, after 20+ years of schooling, who cannot deliver breech babies and whose Caesarean rates are far, far higher than traditional practitioners. The result of all that training within a centralized system has dumbed down the basic skills of doctors even while it has organized a training path across the country. And we are also seeing this in economics, where the peer-reliant standardization within large institutions has created credentialed people who cannot effectively use that knowledge in a way useful to the society. The same structure that helps limit and control access, to ensure jobs, also limits and controls the knowledge within the field itself.