One major problem presently
facing the Pakistani nation is the disadvantages of the current education
system. Of these, three call for immediate action.
Firstly, the current education system in Pakistan is gradually distancing our
nation from its cultural tradition. A short discussion with the members of the
young generation makes one realize that it will not take more than a couple of
decades before we will have lost our memory as a nation. Our ignorance of and
indifference to the Arabic language has already cost us our memory of fourteen
hundred years. A similar attitude towards the Persian Language has removed from
our minds the record of about twelve hundred years of our history and culture.
The same is now happening with Urdu. Three hundred years of our cultural
tradition are coded in and, therefore, depend upon Urdu for their presence.
Having dissociated ourselves from this language, we will definitely loose each
and everything related to our precious cultural tradition. It is only language
which guarantees continuity of cultural traditions in a nation’s life. It is
only language which works as a most effective vehicle of flow of the cultural
values and traditions to the next generations. Losing protection of such an
unparalleled asset would lead us to a great tragedy. It would mean that our
coming generations would no longer know the names of the major pillars of Muslim
scholarship and literature, not to speak of studying and grasping them. Those
who appreciate the role of cultural tradition and its effects in a nation’s
development can well imagine the magnitude of the threat.
Secondly, twelve years of
basic general education creates in the students the ability to develop their
skills and embark upon specialized studies in all academic disciplines. Whereas,
our education system does not apply this proven role of the twelve year basic
education for specialization in the religious sciences. Consequently, the
education system does not provide any basic and fundamental knowledge to the
students to enable them to specialize in the religious sciences and become
religious scholars. Madrasas are a product of this shortcoming in the national
education system. They will continue to be spawned as long as this shortcoming
in the education system remains. There is no denying the fact that the society
needs erudite religious scholars just as it needs scientists, litterateurs,
doctors and engineers. The society can itself set up private universities to
fulfill this need. These universities will welcome students with basic
qualification in the discipline for different programs. The question, however,
is: where will the pupil get the requisite basic education for this discipline?
They have nowhere to look for it.
Thirdly, the state does not
allow, and rightfully so, any governmental and non-governmental organization to
set up universities of higher education where they can enrol such students as
have not completed general education for twelve years. Therefore, no institute
can try to make doctors, engineers or experts in any other discipline of those
who have not gone through the basic general education for twelve years.
Strangely however, this condition does not apply to those who set up madrasas
and produce religious scholars. In these institutions, students are enrolled
right from the beginning. Their future role as religious scholars is decided
while they have just seen school. Nature may craft a mind to suit to becoming a
doctor, engineer, scientist, poet, litterateur or artist. It does not matter to
the madrasas. They do not have any regard for what nature decides about a child.
They are interested in and intent upon only and only making of him a religious
scholar. This they do without giving a least consideration to his ability,
disposition, aptitude and inclinations. Thus they rob the pupil from an option
to consider these factors after coming of age, think for himself and decide any
alternative future role and trade. Those made into a religious scholar by these
madrasas are so disposed as to behave like aliens in the society in which they
were born and to the environment where they grew up. What else can be expected
from depriving them of twelve years of general education?
This state of affairs is very
grave. It calls for immediate extraordinary measures. To address this, we
propose the following steps, if only those on the helm of authority were to take
this issue seriously.
1. All the parallel education
systems should be abolished or radically reformed. There should be no English or
Urdu schools. Nor should there be two different types of schools one offering
pure religious education, as in madrasas, and the other secular and purely
mundane education, as in most private schools. All social sciences should be
taught in the Urdu language; sciences proper and mathematics should be
instructed in English; religious content, however, should be taught in Arabic.
2. As for the religious
education, in the first five years, the students should be made to memorize the
last two groups of the Qur’ānic sūrahs (51-114), supplications made in the
Prayers and talbiyyah said in the ḥajj. Arabic language should be
taught from class six onwards. After teaching the pupils basic Arabic grammar,
the Holy Qur’ān should be used as a reader. The students should be made to
complete its reading with the completion of class twelve. Islāmiyāt and Pakistan
Studies should no more be taught as compulsory subjects. These should be
replaced by the subject of history. The syllabus of history should include
topics on international history and Muslim history, including, of course, that
Persian is very close to Urdu. Basic grammar of this language can be taught in
three months at most. This language too should be taught as a part of the Urdu
language from class 9 onwards.
4. Like science and arts
group, Islāmiyāt group should be introduced from class nine. In this group,
students should be offered the subjects of the Arabic language and literature,
history, philosophy, international literature, different major approaches to and
interpretations of the religion and the sharī‘ah, at least to the level
of basic introduction. The purpose is to afford those wishing to become
religious scholars an opportunity to equip themselves with the required
qualification for the higher education in the discipline.
5. Madrasas should be
acknowledged as institutes of higher educations like institutions of medical and
engineering sciences. They should, however, not be allowed to enroll pupils who
have not completed twelve years of basic education. The religious madrasas that
provide acknowledged and recognized standard of higher education may be allowed
to award degrees to their graduates for BA, MA, MPhil and PhD programs.