By Fazal Abbas
What is your past time in the evening after school or college? Ask this question to any young student these days and an overwhelming majority will respond: ‘None, I attend academy for tuition’. Over past fifteen years or so our country has developed a unique culture of evening tuition’s which has become a plague to healthy and beneficial culture of regular schooling and college education. Public schools and colleges are now de-facto ‘facilitation centers’ or ‘liaison offices’ of Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education of various divisions. The parents and teachers are obsessed with high grades/marks of the students, using it as the only yard stick for success in their lives.
What’s ironic is that rise in tuition culture has not done much to ameliorate the quality of the education being provided. It should be enlightened to parents and teachers that high marks or grades are not the benchmark to evaluate the quality of education or intelligence of a student. In our education system, teaching and brain storming activities are the least interest of the teachers at academies, schools or colleges. Bookish content and rote learning is preferred and encouraged by teachers. A more perplexing aspect to this issue is the teacher vs student debate on regular school and college education. Students generally claim that teacher at public school and college do not provide quality coaching in classes, however, their teaching improves drastically at academies and tuition centers. Pose this question to teachers; they blame students for not attending the morning schools and colleges and preferring tuition centers.
A significant negative facet of tuition culture is students missing out on various extra-curricular activities and a healthy social life. Ask any youngster, his favourite past time is social media, facebook in particular. The sporting activity has been at the receiving end of the rise of tuition culture. Our country, which had a rich culture of sports in the recent past, is losing its status in all kinds of sports at the international level. We once were the world champions of cricket, hockey, squash, snooker and leading in many other games. Yes, the Government is responsible for not improving and investing in the overall infrastructure of sports, however, the foremost responsibility for this decline falls on parents and teachers who are discouraging students from taking part in extra-curricular activities. This particular unsporting phrase is indoctrinated to children by parents and teachers right from the start of their education:
“Parho ge likho ge bano ge nawaab, khelo ge koodo ge bano ge kharaab.”
(If you read and write, you will become a lord. However if you play and jump, you will be spoilt)
Imran Khan, Rameez Raja, Majid Khan, Waseem Ahmad, Abdul Qadir, Amir Sohail, Aisam-ul-Haq, Rehan Butt are some of the notable sportsmen who are the product of sports at school and college level. Aitchison College, GC University, Islamia College Civil Lines, Divisional Public School, Punjab University, Habib Public School, Karachi Grammar School are some of the best educational institutions which had exceptionally good sports facilities and infrastructure. The sports rivalry, cricket and hockey in particular, between Government College and Islamia College are still revered by many. The sad part is that many leading educational institutes, the government institutes in particular, have now done away with sports quota in the admissions. Sports quota used to attract many young athletes and sportsmen to college and universities.
If you look around the world the situation is completely opposite. For example, throughout Europe physical education and sports is compulsory in schools and colleges. The most common mandatory activities are athletics, dance, games, gymnastics, swimming and ball games. If you look into backgrounds of all the renowned sportsmen around the world they all took their first steps towards sporting career at school and college levels.
Sports and physical activities play a predominant role in the physical and social development of a child and teenagers. It has more than just physical or recreational dimension to it. With involvement in sports come knowledge and insight centered on principles and concepts such as rules of game, fair play and respect, acknowledging merit, tactical and bodily awareness and social awareness linked to personal interaction and team effort. These are the aspects which a student can make use of even in subjects at school or later in life situations.
Many will put forward the argument, as is norm in our society, that the government is responsible for this situation. Yes it is right but the foremost responsibility lie with teachers and parents, who guide child through his early life. Government needs to work on provision of infrastructure whereas parents and teachers need to work on the mentality and outlook of a child. Parents and teachers need to understand that high marks or grades are not the sole contributor to good career in life ahead. This race for grades and reliance on bookish knowledge is producing youngsters with narrow outlook. Extra-curricular activities are equally important for the personality development of a child. History is full of examples of personalities making a successful career in sports, showbiz, games and other fields. Unfortunately, private tuitions are such a lucrative business in Pakistan that teachers encourage students to attend the academies.
Public schools and colleges have the advantage of already being equipped with good sports infrastructure. As a first level step to revive the sports culture, government needs to improve the quality of education at public schools and colleges in order to discourage private tuition. Building sports facilities should be made compulsory for all private education institutes. Sports and games should be made mandatory for every student to take part in. Parhna, likhna, khelna, kodna are all essential for development of youngsters.