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I am statistically “Educated” November 5, 2009

Posted by ippg in Uncategorized.

This summer while I was teaching at a government school in Pakistan, I asked a tenth grade student, “Which is your favorite country in the world besides Pakistan?” He answered “Karachi”. Karachi is the most populous city of Pakistan. In the 11 years of this students’ education, his teachers had forgot to tell him the difference between a city and a country.

In another encounter, while a student was talking with me about religion, another student said, “Sir! he will not go to paradise because he is a Shia.” I asked that student, “Who is a Shia?”. He had no answer but he remained adamant that his colleague being a Shia won’t be going to paradise anytime soon.

As Policy analysts, we are “designed” to worship statistics. We often forget, how little these statistics mean in the developing world. The students I was talking with were not the exceptions but the rule in the developing world. They were a part of 56% Pakistanis who are statistically “educated”. Policy analysts will feel good about themselves when they realize that this 56% is a rise from ten years ago when this figure was about 40%. But what does this number really mean? May I dare say, NOTHING!!

It is happening all over the developing world. Teaching quality everywhere is abysmal. For those of you who are interested in International education do watch this video on quality of education at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOImnAOkjWs and think how do we approach the question of literacy in the developing world.

Muhammad Azfar Nisar – MPP/MIAS 2010

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