To Grade or Not to Grade?

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Secure first position in the class!

Ever since I was a kid I had just one aim of life, embedded in me by the sacred elders! “Get Great Grades!” “Secure first position in the class!” “Learn something from your cousins they are toppers in their classes.“ And I was a mean green unseen backbencher in the class, never able to complete neither my class work nor my home work, but strangely I used to get marks higher than 70% in the final exams, but low grades (And this is called grade inflation)! I had failed in every half-yearly exam since I got in the secondary section, the reason; I didn’t studied Sindhi Language properly!(By the way now I can read Sindhi as well as Understand it properly too) But in finals I really put a lot of efforts in Rote Learning thus clearing the exams. I was kicked out of tuition centers ran by tyrannical BAJIS who were the “all known species” specializing in torturing kids. They make every kid memorize all the lessons their teachers taught them, want to know the reason of kicking me? I used to paraphrase my lessons! I was banned to use my creative thinking. One of them said and I Quote:

“اپنا دماغ مت استعمال کیا کرو، جو کاپی میں لکھا ہے وہی لکھا کرو!” “Don’t use your brains just write, what is written on the copy!” (By the way this is violation of Human Rights particularly proclaimed for the Children a.k.a CRC’s to be precise my rights protected by Article 2’s Clause no. 2 were violated)

Moving forward I got employed in the developmental sector and recognized something called, Training! In a 3 day training program nothing was like classroom, the trainers were friendly none of the participants were scolded and we all graduated and all of us learned core concepts clearly, no one was graded, I was astonished! I decided that I am done with studying the engineering stuff and I am going to study social sciences from now on! Yes previously I had studied Computer Science and Electronics and was prohibited from knowing the group called General Sciences, a taboo to be studied!

During my professional life as a counselor (and seriously my formal education has nothing to do with my career) I got a chance to become a member of ASSET – Association of Social Studies Educators and Teachers. An awesome organization, working for the empowerment of Teachers and, running under the guidance of AKU- IED Aga Khan University Institute for Education Development and it was there that I had discovered how Education works! Painful reality is that we don’t teach our children, we screw them!

There are three types of education Formal, Non-Formal and Informal. Formal is the structured old styled teaching system, non-formal is something new and is currently getting popular by the names of Trainings, seminars, workshops and informal education is the learning that we absorb from our surroundings, from our peers, newspapers, blogs, etc. The later two types of education aren’t celebrated nor are acknowledged in our country properly and in the name of Formal Education we preach copy pasting and then we forbid them to copy (in universities)! Yes we teach plagiarism to our kids, our teachers sorry to say know nothing or very less about literacy, education and learning and teaching. In fact, every person who clears 1st year of H.S.S.C Higher Secondary School Certificate becomes a tutor and if can’t land a job becomes a teacher.

The thing is our nation is divided in to Federal Board, Provincial Boards, Technical Boards, Madarssah Board, Private Boards i.e. Aga Khan University Educational Services, GCSE / O & A Levels and International Baccalaureate. We cherish youth who secure higher grades make them our national heroes but what about the rest of the lot? Technically speaking they are our human resource but we discard them.

The problem is our educational lack practicality, our educational boards lack life skills based education; a set of skills required to life a happy life, our educational boards lack Human Rights education. We malign our kids, terrorize them if they all aren’t equalized! Which no one can! Everyone is unique! Our exam system is broken, we test retention i.e. memory how much one can memorize, we don’t foster leadership skills, communication skills, creative and critical thinking, coping with stress and emotions or self-awareness. We love the kids who bring in multiple A’s but seriously that isn’t possible in local educational boards because we have limited the scope extremely. 5 subjects for Medical 5 for Engineering General Science already a curse Technical for dumb, Madarassah board sorry to say for the dumbest.

If our educational systems could be merged, then there is a possibility we can be of International standard or to be precise of UNESCO’s standard. Our students will have a wide range of subjects to select and to study from, our curriculum should be based on Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, so do our exams should be meant to aspire them not fail them.

And there should be a concrete self sustained continuous professional development system in our schools to empower our teachers. Thus delivering students who are able not disabled by design!

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