India and Pakistan were both poor countries in 1947; both were countries divided by colonial opportunism, and religious bigotry. Both had similar problems, India just had more of them because of its diverse population and scale.
But India prioritized its focus on higher education and people were conscious enough to keep their elected leaders honest. One can arrive at the conclusion that democracy is what Pakistan should learn from India’s somewhat success in education.
There is hardly any difference between the two countries, statistically speaking, in their educational development, or lack thereof. But where India scores much higher is in a few of its select academic institutions. These institutions raise the educational quotient of the country to a high, world class level, and by their very presence, they tend to pull up other institutes of learning simply by peer pressure.
Pakistani Education System, Statistics and Demographics
The Pakistani education system is divided into the primary, secondary, and high school levels. Following High School, plenty of private and government-sponsored colleges/universities operate with the charter of Higher Education Commission (HEC). Generally speaking the provincial governments are responsible for the day-to-day management of education; while the federal government have the onus-ensuring budget and quality.
If one was to believe government released statistics, literacy rate in Pakistan increases by 10% with every passing generation, with male literacy rate of only 68%, and the female rate of 48% percent.
Literacy rate alone is not a strong indicator of education.
A better indicator is enrollment in higher education; about 5% of Pakistani men and 3% of Pakistani women have a college education. To further complicate this situation most of the colleges and universities are not of international standard.
Between 1947 and 2003, Pakistan did not have a single university that could be ranked as world class. But in last seven years, Times Higher Education Rankings have ranked the National University of Science and Technology at No 376, while 3 universities have been ranked in the top 300 in the field of natural sciences.
This progress, one might suggest is significant keeping in mind that Pakistan spends only about 3% of its GDP on Education. Tremendous gender disparity further skews any quantitative analysis. The disparity has not been helped by the enforcement of a ban on female education by the Taliban, notably in the scenic Swat valley.
Indian Education System, A Chronicle of Moderate Progress
According to latest figures, the literacy rate of India stands at 64.84%; male literacy is 75.26% and female literacy stands at 53.63%. About one-third of the population, 300 million Indians, is absolute non-literates.
The government spends about 3.5% of the nation’s GDP on education. There are about 400 universities and 16000 colleges in the country, with a system of academic institutions covering technology, management, and medical sciences.
As for higher education, about 9% of Indians have a college education. The figure is about 4 times higher for urban areas. This is about 4% higher than in Pakistan; still not a huge difference.
Statistical and Other Metric Comparison | Centers of Excellence
There is hardly any difference between the two countries, statistically speaking, in their educational development, or lack thereof.
Admittedly, the literacy rate is higher in India by about 8 percentage points; the female literacy rate is about 7% higher as well. Enrolment in higher education is about 4% more overall, in India. It is still nothing compared to, say the US, which has 29% of its people with a college degree.
But where India scores much higher is in a few of its select academic institutions. These institutions raise the educational quotient of the country to a high, world class level, and by their very presence, they tend to pull up other institutes of learning simply by peer pressure.
In science and technology, there were a few institutions like the various IITs (Indian Institute of Technology) and the IISc (Indian Institute of Science) that had made a name for themselves in the world academic arena even 30 years ago. At a time when the economy was closed and the present day “economic stability” was unimaginable, these few institutions still used to bring out world-class talent.
Most of this talent had to go out of the country to establish themselves; and it was their overseas presence, that gave their alma maters global reputation.
Over time several other institutions become ‘world class’ in science and technology. IITs of India has raised the bar for various RECs (Regional College of Engineering) and the BITS Pilani institute, the Tata Institutes of Education (TIFR), and even a few state-run universities are slowly making a name for themselves in technological fields.
In the management and finance domain, the ISB is ranked number 12 among world MBA schools by the Financial Times of London. Besides, the various IIMs and a few other b-schools also rank very high. Similarly, in the medical field, the AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) has been at the forefront in the development of medical treatment in India, and has spawned, by sheer peer pressure, a number of best of breed medical institutions.
The Situation in Pakistan
When it comes to higher education, Pakistan has not been able to make its mark. Although a few institutions (I am thinking HEJ, IBA and LUMS) can be recognized as emerging leaders – because of highly educated faculty, intelligent management, and above all an intellectually stimulating, liberal environment. But, these institutions also acquiesced to the religious zealots and allowed conservatism to slowly creep-in.
HEC has also failed – it has failed to establish centers of excellence: standards without monitoring and compliance cannot yield results. There is nothing comparable to the IITs, there is nothing comparable to the IIMs and other b-schools.
Although the statistics put Pakistan and India in very close affinity when it comes to literacy rates, Pakistani students do not have the opportunity to attend top-notch colleges/ universities
Democracy in India has provided opportunities to some who were neither generals nor feudal lords, and these middle class and lower-middle class public servants had the foresight to nurture the few higher institutes of learning.
Religious extremism has destroyed whatever institutions Pakistan had pre-Zia-ul-Haq. And, things have gotten even worse with Talibanization – a large population not willing (or afraid) to send its women to go to schools. I know it sounds cliché but it is absolutely true: when you teach a woman you teach a village.
What Pakistan Can Learn From Indian Education
Paulo Freire, a Brazilian philosopher of education, contended that given the history of European imperialism, an emancipatory education of the oppressed involves a dismantling of colonial structures and ideologies.
Independence of nation states, such as Pakistan and India, from the clutches of colonial master was not the end of the colonial culture that supported foreign, non-representative, and repressive rule of colonial power.
Independence from colonial rule was only the beginning of the process of nation building and decolonization. Pakistan, after independence, failed to establish representative and participatory governance and became a non-representative and repressive government. The dictatorial regimes in Pakistan banked on the pre-existing colonial culture and political support of colonial masters to maintain their autocratic rules.
Colonial culture is built and maintained on master-slave relationship between the ruler and the subjects. The dictatorial regime survives as long as this relationship of ordering and obeying is practiced. Master uses coercion as a tool to discipline the slaves. A slave must obey or gets whipped, this has been the law since time immemorial and it still prevails in Pakistan.
Frantz Fanon in his book “The Wretched of the Earth” demands anti-colonial and modern education for native populations. Humanistic society alone can truly be an anti-colonial society.
One can arrive at the conclusion that democracy is what Pakistan should learn from India’s somewhat success in education.