Today, during my routine browsing of online newspapers, I came across KP Public Service Commission’s (KP PSC) report published in Dawn.com dated 25 July 2023 on the outdated education system followed in educational institutions of KP and the incompetent students they are producing.
The report is an eye opener for all those who are associated with education in one way or the other. It paints a dismal picture of the poor quality of education imparted in our educational institutions, particularly higher educational institutions.
The report is suggestive of the poor quality of teaching and evaluation displayed by colleges and universities and low standard of postgraduates being produced who are ill equipped with even basic knowledge, comprehension and analytical ability. The report is so comprehensive and all-embracing that I don’t feel any need to add any point.
According to the report, majority of the candidates failed to answer basic questions in their respective subjects at the screening test conducted for different slots. As per the report, they possess only superficial knowledge and understanding of the related subject. The report says that due to poor grasp over the specific discipline, candidates with even MPhil degrees are found unable to answer elementary level simple questions. It reflects very poorly on the competency of the candidates produced by the universities as well as the competency of the teaching faculty they have.
The Commission’s report pinpoints that the candidates were unable to solve simple Mathematical questions without the help of a calculator. It also observes even worse scenario in languages, literature and social sciences. Grammar, syntaxes and pronunciation in Urdu and English and explanation of poetry of great poets were all found to be of the ground level.
The Commission has also noticed during the screening tests and interviews of the candidates that they don’t even read/scan national level newspapers. Majority of the candidates, according to Commission’s report, were found unaware of major happenings at national and international levels. It also paints a dismal picture of the government servants’ knowledge evinced during in-service examination under ‘fast track promotion quota’.
The report further indicates that officers with five to fifteen years of service and having served on important positions, were found deficient in basic professional knowledge of the related field. This can be judged from their performance on the ground that 61 out of 212 candidates could qualify the bare minimum threshold of the passing marks.
The Commission further observes that poor performance of the candidates is reflective of the existing educational standards and inhospitable environment prevailing in the educational institutions.
I would like to quote an excerpt from Commission’s report verbatim as reported by Dawn.com
“The overall academic evaluation system of the educational institutions doesn’t focus on the personality development and leadership qualities. Resultantly, candidates are shaky and lack confidence to put across their arguments convincingly during the interviews”.
The report further says that the quality and extent of knowledge of the candidates, having postgraduate qualification, is superficial and much below the required standard. It says that the performance of the candidates reflects on the institution they attend and the teaching faculty the institutions have. It observes that candidates have a trend of reliance on substandard guidebooks rather than original material.
The Commission suggests to the government to introduce reforms in the education system which is compatible with the modern needs, otherwise it would be hard to find suitable and qualified people to shoulder the responsibility of government affairs. It further suggests that a mechanism must be developed to link the performance of the students in tests and interviews with the career progression/promotion of the faculty. The report is suggestive of the fact that the responsibility here lies with the teaching institutions.
The Commission raises question as to the teaching faculty and the enabling academic environment. It asks the crucial question: “Are the teaching institutions properly equipped with competent and qualified faculty, and do they provide scholarly environment to their students?”
The report says that there is no system of teacher evaluation. Now, it is time for the higher educational institutions to seriously focus on teacher evaluation to ensure quality teaching and effective learning to produce competent and knowledgeable students.
Last but not the least, the report emphasizes the critical role of Higher Education Commission (HEC) in setting internationally recognized standard of teaching/learning methods.