Students in the early stages of the educational journey oft do not understand the importance it has on their lives. Abdullah Shahid, an A-level student from Lahore, pens his take on how students can ensure a smooth transition to university.
n education's primary objective is likely to preparing an individual for the real world, but under its guise, individuals seek another objective: the need for earning an employment. Students in 7th grade or below may not give much emphasis to education or its core aims and rather perceive it is as a compulsion imposed onto them by their elders. Students falling under the age group of ten to thirteen, are very likely to develop anti-school sentiments as the prime purpose of education is not known or told to them.Pink Floyd, a British rock band, greatly echoed that anti-school sentiment in their hit song "Another Brick In The Wall - Part Two", by denouncing the authoritarian teachers, unfriendly school environment in the following opening verse:
"We don't need no education
We don't need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teacher leave them kids alone"
Though teenagers are stereotypical perceived to be rebellious, that rebellious attitude largely falls flat against the education system as students enter the 10th grade, otherwise also known as 2nd year of O-Levels or 2nd year of Matriculation in Pakistan. Students at this stage begin to grasp the added responsibilities ahead of them as the purpose of education, from a blurry vision, starts to become clear to them.
The purpose of education itself is of contradicting nature, as some may lay emphasis on the need to prepare for the real world while the syllabus itself in school's curriculum prioritizes the irrelevant subjects, that immensely lacks the pragmatic knowledge needed to prepare a student for the real world.
While some say the purpose of education is to prepare students for the real world, curriculums often prioritize irrelevant subjects that immensely lack the pragmatic knowledge needed to prepare a student for the real world.
For example, schools unnecessarily prioritize Columbus's voyage thousands of years ago in their curriculum but elect to neglect the relevant subjects of taxation, right to vote, mental preparedness, etc. In a country facing an economical balance of payment crises, education is given the least priority, thereby owning the 2nd spot (after Nigeria) for having the most students out of school. From the attempted assassination of Malala Yousaifzai to the tragedy of Army Public School in 2014, education in Pakistan has come under multiple assaults.There are two choices for reviving an education in Pakistan, Matriculation/Intermediate or O/A Levels, students in both groups having the synonymous goal of receiving admissions in various universities.
Countries, especially in the Indian Subcontinent (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka), have seen a surge in O/A Level education as these nations have struggled with their native education system owing primarily to remnants of the botched up decolonization process.In 2016, there were 270,000 entries made by schools in Pakistan for Cambridge International Examination and that figure is likely to rise due to the fact that more and more students are enrolling in it.Although Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood had previously hinted towards completely ending the O/A level education to pave the way for a uniformed educational system, he reversed the decision five months later, citing they did not intend to abolish the system of O/A levels.
A-Levels is perhaps the most daunting education in order to enter an undergraduate program. A combination of both university and O level methodology that goes into great depths to comprehending one single subject.
O-Levels has some degree of freewill in choosing the subjects which splits between business and sciences. However, in A-levels there is complete freedom to choose the minimum three subjects but it has its separate hurdles in Pakistan. Firstly, the cost is high, not affordable without scholarships, unless one owns a Scrooge McDuck like swimming pool filled with gold coins. Secondly, the conversion of A-level grades to Intermediate marks lowers the actual value of the grades earned, hindering university admissions.A-Levels is perhaps the most daunting education in order to enter an undergraduate program. A combination of both university and O level methodology that goes into great depths to comprehending one single subject. Studying A-levels myself, I can write with confidence that I, like others, had initially perceived A-levels to be a smooth sailing. Well, it is not! A-Levels is one daunting experience, even more horrifying for those who have opted for science subjects. Having picked English, Business and History, it is no easy experience for me either as each topic in History has a separate book for it! Just like in the university, the syllabus provided for the A-level curriculum is redundant as many other sources have to be consulted, though it varies from subject to subject. Teaching approach of the teachers largely remains ambiguous, as some innovate, while some adopt traditional approach to teaching.
Here at University College Lahore (UCL) from where I'm currently doing my A-levels, the ambiguous nature of teaching approach came as a shock. Let's take Business, teacher is Mr X and his teaching method is an orthodox one. Give a PowerPoint presentation, explain it a bit and then make the students write it. If anyone fails to implement his commands, he punishes them. For what was my favorite subject -- I even intended majoring in it, one individual's autocratic teaching style has single-handedly turned an interesting subject to a mere bore. On the other hand is Ma'am Amna Shafqat of English Language class. She admitted on the very first day that the syllabus is boring and that she intends to turn it into an innovating one. On occasions she has made every student to teach the entire class, to writing movie reviews, watching language based videos in class, learning to give speeches, holding formal debates, combating stage fright and giving presentations. It deviates significantly from the prescribed syllabus but remains relevant in preparing a student to encountering language based issues in the context of the outside world.
Transitioning to a university from college remains a bittersweet experience as I'm nearing towards the conclusion of A-Levels. A person comes a long way from hating the education system to reach a stage where one realizes its immense importance. A person can either remain grateful or ungrateful for the education he/she is receiving. But one can opt to look at education from the prospect of either learning the world or to merely completing education for employment purposes, the preferred approach makes or breaks an individual's future as one reaches university.
Abdullah Shahid is a freelance writer and a student of A-Levels at UCL. He tweets at @Abdullah_2000_3.