Money VS Merit – by Abdul Samad

by admin

To say that Pakistan is devoid of talent is to massively underestimate the denizens of this country. The recent example of a student, Ali Moeen getting 22 As serves to exemplify the quality of talent present in this nation. There are countless students who wish to further their careers by pursuing foreign education but financial considerations hamper their progress towards a bright future.

The real strength of any nation lies in its education system. Even if the importance of education is promulgated many times over, it would still not do justice to utility in the modern society. Illiteracy breeds crime and poverty and is the epicenter of multifarious problems that threaten the very integrity of the nation. The major problem with our educational system is dearth of primary schools in the country. Without a proper base, the children are rendered incapable of progressing in their pursuit of self enlightenment. Another area of worry is the bigotry towards higher education in our country. Although HEC does provide some scholarships, they are limited to master students. In line with our population, these scholarships are paltry and when juxtaposed with the Indians, it reveals why this nation is lagging behind in all walks of life.

The quality of public institutions is deplorable to say the least. The children devoid of a quality education are left without any tool to counter the challenges that are awaiting them in the practical world. In stark contrast, graduates of private colleges and universities have a conspicuous edge over their counterparts. This is an irony considering the multitude of talented individuals who cannot prosper due to financial considerations. One of the most blatant demonstrations of the pathetic plight of educational institutes is the existence of ghost schools that are adding to the burden of an already crippled economy. It is so convenient for the teachers to come to school once a month, a formality to collect the monthly wages. What these sanctimonious teachers don’t understand is the amount of damage that their actions cause to our nation. Of the few children who get the luxury of going to school, most belong to affluent families, a fact that adds to the frustrations of the working class. One can only understand poverty if you have received its grinding treatment.

One plausible reason for this discrimination is the mechanisms of the free market system itself. The capitalist obsessive compulsion with profits tends to remove all those qualities that mark us as humans. Individuals start to behave like businessmen even in their personal life and this hurts the social norms that epitomize altruism and magnanimity as the cornerstone of the society.

It is important to have a general overlook of the opportunities that arise for our students in foreign lands. The high tuition fee in foreign universities is accompanied by living expenses that are also adding to the student’s financial burden. With most families in Pakistan not being able to afford the education, the children are left to rely on scholarships that are becoming increasingly competitive. Some students do manage to receive admission offers from top universities in Europe and the United States but their financial plight does not allow them to pursue this path .Something that makes the whole system seem unjust is the advantage rich children have over less privileged ones. If a child asks for financial aid, he limits his chances of admission to a great extent. It would surely become ironic when these children are not able to reach their full potential which limits their future contribution toward their countries.

Institutions in the United Kingdom are notorious for marking the distinction between wealthy and impoverished. The tuition fees are so high that sometimes, the only reaction that a person can come up with is laughter. The United States does mitigate the burden by giving financial aid to international students. This, however, is not to imply, that the admission process is free of bias. Coupled with the visa issues and the indelible mark of a terrorist state, even the United States has not remained the pristine option it once was. Universities in Pakistan are not of an international standard which means that diligent students are trapped in the middle of nowhere.

It is no secret that competition is a stark reality in our century with the rising world population ensuring that matters get worse as time marches on. All this means that jobs and resources, and even scholarships will become daunting to get, as if they were easy at present. That being said, the window of opportunity will always remain open remain for a multitude of people unless bias and discrimination creep into the admission process. It really is a shame that money should get in the way of aspiring individuals, especially when money becomes an irrelevant factor after you graduate and get a job. Just when it matters most, money is lacking and this is where it hurts the most. This, however, does not apply to the affluent children who are able to take tuitions, buy expensive books, and finally, to render the final blow, send their children on the basis of their financial stability when in stark reality; they do not have an iota of intelligence or motivation. The cycle of poverty is a flagrant feature of a capitalist society in which greed and self interest reign supreme.

My argument maybe be castigated by ardent supporters of a certain breed of nationalism, but this does not sway me from my proclivity towards a foreign education. The truth cannot be erased; neither can it be bended to suit your needs, which in turn means that a cogent course of action is to stop denying its existence. Despite the brain drain that is a pervasive feature of foreign education, the benefits outweigh the conspicuous flaws. The amount of benefit that this educated lot can provide is staggering.

The way forward for the establishment is clear. We need to take responsibility for our actions as opposed to stockpiling the blame on other people. The whole point of education is enlightenment which can only be achieved if students develop the capacity to think out of the box. We should strive to be part of the solution as opposed to being the problem itself. The onus thus falls on the government authorities who have to salvage a nation that is destined to greatness. Therefore, a pragmatic solution to this issue should be proposed by the government which allows for the payment of expenses for worthy students who would return to their country after their education. Education is the passport to the future and spending on this vital sector will pay future dividends through the presence of a skilled workforce that is capable of handling the workings of the economy.

The government should seek the assistance of foreign governments in this regard and by direct bonds can allow for a certain number of students to go to a specific country for higher education. This is more effective than the loans that we normally receive from foreign governments which are on a high rate of interest and just help to entangle us further in the debt trap. The problems that the country finds itself in can be alleviated in the long run through this line of action. The government think tank should re-model its policy towards education to cater for future growth.

Abdul Samad
Georgetown University
School of Foreign Service in Qatar

One Comment to “Money VS Merit – by Abdul Samad”

  1. Brilliant piece of work.. The description of the United kingdom institutions is so true..

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