Houses and bungalows are mostly converted into schools in unplanned urban settlements with lack of basic facilities
I recently had to visit a private school in the area to enroll my nephew. Little pupils in uniform brought back memories of my school days as I entered the building. But, sadly, things have changed dramatically. Schools have become highly nonprofessional as a result of unplanned urbanization. Houses and bungalows are mostly converted into schools in unplanned urban settlements with lack of basic facilities such as clean washrooms, adequate playgrounds, practical labs, and ventilated classrooms. These schools do not have even enough space for morning assemblies.
The private schools do not intend to educate children but to confine them like lambs in small cages
Pakistan has 78,560 registered private schools with a total enrollment of 18,414,000 students, according to the Pakistan Education Statistics 2020–21 report. The private sector employs 37.9% of all educational institutions and 44.3% of all students nationwide. Private elite school systems, such as Beacon House, Educator, and City School, have a monopoly in Pakistan’s educational business empire. In a separate article, I will go over their business model. Let us discuss here the local private schools, which you will most likely find on the corner streets. In Sindh, these private local schools are registered with the Directorate of Inspection and Registration of Private Institutions, Government of Sindh. The fee for new registration is 7000 rupees, and the fee for renewal after three years is 3000 rupees. So it is very simple to open a new school with three or four rooms with no other complications; all you have to do is pay the registration fee, and no government officials will bother you for anything. So far, these schools are not intended to educate children but rather confine them like lambs in small cages.
The point I would like to elaborate here is that due to the bad governance of the state, these people are damaging not only the credibility of the school as an institute in the country but also the future of children. All these schools claim that they have classes from KG (kindergarten) to matriculation, but during my discussion with some school owners, they didn’t even know about the abbreviation of this word. Therefore, this is a very sad moment for the entire spirit of education.
These schools are making us fools by just labeling KG on their advertisements and promotion boards
Let’s educate ourselves with this fantastic concept of kindergarten by discussing a little about this concept. In the 18th century, a German educator, Friedrich Fröbel (1782-1852) was often credited with inventing the concept of the kindergarten, a term that means “children’s garden” in German. His ideas and practices laid the foundation for modern early childhood education. Here are the key ideas and principles associated with Friedrich Fröbel’s concept of kindergarten.
Play as Learning: Fröbel believed that play was the primary means through which young children learn and develop. He saw the play as a serious and purposeful activity, and he designed educational materials and activities that encouraged children to engage in creative and imaginative play.
The Kindergarten Gifts and Occupations: Fröbel developed a series of educational materials known as “gifts” and “occupations.” The gifts were objects such as wooden blocks and geometric shapes that were designed to stimulate children’s senses and spatial reasoning. The occupations included activities like drawing, weaving, and clay modeling, which allowed children to explore various art and craft forms.
The Unity of Education: Fröbel believed in the unity of education, where different aspects of a child’s development—physical, intellectual, moral, and emotional—were interconnected. He designed activities and materials that addressed these various aspects of a child’s growth.
Teacher as Facilitator: In kindergarten, the role of the teacher was not to dictate or control the children’s play but to observe, guide, and facilitate their activities. Fröbel believed in a nurturing and supportive environment where the teacher acted as a “gardener” helping children grow and develop naturally.
Symbolic Play: Fröbel believed that symbolic play, where children used objects and materials to represent abstract concepts, was crucial for cognitive development. For example, he saw the use of blocks in building structures as a way for children to understand mathematical and architectural principles.
Social Development: Fröbel recognized the importance of social interaction in a child’s development. Kindergarten settings provided opportunities for children to interact with their peers, learn social skills, and develop a sense of community.
Self-Activity and Self-Expression: Fröbel emphasized the importance of allowing children to express themselves and develop their individual creativity. He believed that this would lead to a sense of self-confidence and self-worth.
Parental Involvement: Fröbel encouraged parental involvement in the education of their children. He believed that parents should understand and support their children’s educational experiences, and he provided resources and guidance to help parents do so.
If you have never heard of these ideas before, you might be shocked, as these schools are making us fools by just labeling KG on their advertisements and promotion boards. Here, even in the twenty-first century, in our education system, we can’t even imagine a teacher as a facilitator. Here the teacher is the master in everything and students are like empty vessels, so they have to fill the brains having no right to question it.
Margaret Mead says “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.” Our whole education system is messed up, and we have to clean and modify it, but first, we have to think outside the box. I’m wondering how our intellectuals and media are concerned about climate change and peacemaking, but we don’t have to forget that all these things are possible with education. As Yuval Noah Harari says, “Children are the weakest link to society.” He means by this that working on children is more efficient, not just because they are the next after us but because they are more adaptable, critical, and unbiased. This is also a secret of successful nations: they invest in their children.
Waqar Abbasi is a researcher and anthropologist based in Larkana, Pakistan. He holds a Master’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Sindh Jamshoro, where he specialized in Educational Anthropology. Currently, he is engaged in an ethnographic research study focusing on “Schooling in the time of Disaster,” specifically analyzing the impact of the devastating Pakistan super flood of 2022. This thesis research project aims to shed light on the challenges faced by the education system during such crises.