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Capitalism and our education system

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Shahzad Karim
It is said that economy affects and influences every aspect of life which is an acknowledged fact. Sometimes, it affects directly and sometimes indirectly. Its direct effect is usually quick and apparent, whereas the indirect effect is slow but profound andmore acute. The capitalistic economic system prevailing in the worldtoady has left its impressions on every aspect of life, and same is the case with education as well round the globe. However, in this article, my focus of attention is the system of education in Pakistan. Capitalism has cast its morbid shadow on all levels of our education from primary to higher education and schools to universities. It hasnot left any stream of education unaffected. Let us discuss the effects and traces of capitalistic doctrine on different levels of our educational setup i.e. schools, colleges, and universities one by one.During the last two decades, we have witnessed a rapid decline in our education system, especially in government sector schools. This decline is mainly because of the ineffective policies of our governments and their lack of interest in the educational affairs of the state.However, it is not only the fault of our governments; we are also equally responsible for this downfall because instead of forcing our governments to realise their responsibilities towards educating our younger generation, we found refuge in private so-called English medium schools which took advantage of the situation and strengthened their roots. The governments also got relaxed since they found the people themselves taking the responsibility of educating their children. So, the governments gradually withdrew their patronage and responsibilityand let the people solve their educational affairs themselves. As a result of it, with the passage of time, the private schools grew stronger and developed as an industry. Hence, like other industries of the modern era, they also cultivated a capitalistic culture, and now it has grown so stronger that it has become a highly profitable business that follows all the norms of the business world. The teachers teaching in these institutions are just like factory workers who are paid for their services, and the students are like a factory product. The major focus of these schools is massive production without caring for the quality of the product they are producing. The status of a teacher has been snatched, and they have been transformed into a commodity whose primary concern is just to satisfy the needs of their owner and follow their instructions blindly. In this regard, both the school administration and parents are equally responsible because they think they pay the teachers for the services they offer to their children and, therefore, they have got every right to exploit the teacher. This process, which emerged in schools almost two decades ago, gradually moved towards the institutions of higher education i.e. colleges and now the government colleges are being replaced by private colleges and academies which are spreading all around like a maze. The situation has worsened to such an extent that the government itself has tried many times and is still thinking of privatisingthe colleges as well. So now the government’s support might be withdrawn from the colleges also. Its ultimate end is that after some years, the government-ownedcolleges will also show a similarly deserted picture as is the case with the government run schools all over the country. The universities also are not far behind in this race, and the situation is not much different with them. The universities, which are considered to be the seats of higher education promoting intellect, wisdom, creativity and innovation, unfortunately, have also fallen prey to the existing capitalistic philosophy which has made education business.Nowadays, a major concern of the universities is to earn maximum capital. To fulfil this purpose along with their regular programs they launch multiple evening, weekend, and distance education programs without bringing into consideration their limited resources in terms ofwell-qualified faculty, space, equipment, physical infrastructure, and other educational resources. Similarly, the universities, which are considered to be the place for research and higher education, have opened their doors for multiple graduation level programs like BA/BS (Hons.) which are also being run in various colleges simultaneously. We also find a bulk of private universities which even do not have proper campuses and resources to cater to the needs of the students. Most of them are established in small buildingswithout proper facilities but are still getting thousands in the form of fees. They are taking advantage of the situation by offering various market-based programs. Students especially those with lower grades have no other option except getting admission in such institutions,making education a thriving business. The bleak outcome of this situation is neither infavour oflearners, nor teachersand not even the society as a whole. The only one who is getting maximum benefit out of it is the owner of the institution for whom education is nothing except a profitable business. The teachers are paid not only very low salaries but are also exploited by appointing them on acontract basis without offering any other benefits. The fear of unemployment further adds insult to the injuryand increases the possibility of teachers’ exploitation. Moreover, novice, inexperienced teachers with lower salaries are preferred over the well qualified and trained teachers. Such prevailing practices are severely affecting the quality of education in our country. A clear evidence of this deteriorating condition of the quality of education in Pakistan is that none of the Pakistani universities falls on the list of top 500 world universities. The need of the hour is that all stakeholders i.e. the ministry of education, HEC, experienced educationists, institutional owners/heads, teachersorganizations and the students should realize the seriousness of the issue and try to develop such a mechanism as can help all of us in promoting better educational setup having minimal capitalistic traces in it.This is the only way which can lead to the promotion of a better educational culture in our country.

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