Three years ago, I left the life I loved in Australia and moved to Pakistan in the pursuit of becoming a dentist. Although my experiences here have not been all bad, I do tend to ultimately miss how education worked in Australia. These are some of the reasons to justify my emotional longing for my home country.
Accessibility of resources
One of the reasons that many Pakistani universities are not able to compete with the higher-ranked western universities is due to the sheer stubbornness displayed by the faculty. In western universities, all lectures, PowerPoint presentations, resources, and recordings were displayed instantly for online access. It took a pandemic for universities in Pakistan to finally add a proper online portal and even then, we are not given recordings of the lectures. At times, the PowerPoint files that are used as resource material by the teachers are made inaccessible to the students. Why? Well, it is mostly due to the teacher’s unjustified sense of what is best for “us students”. Arguing with teachers on this matter accomplishes nothing, no matter how logical your argument is. They boast about their pedagogy while the students fail, and then blame the students instead of taking a step back and understanding their own faults and where they could improve as facilitators of providing education.
Unfamiliarity with technology
Pakistan is still a developing nation that has a long way to go, and one of the main reasons it is lagging behind countries such as Australia is their inability to make the most out of technological applications. Now that an online system has finally been implemented, it has exposed the incapacity of both teachers and students alike, to adapt to the modern era interconnected origins of information. When it comes to teachers attempting to start meetings, upload lectures, or even basic online communication, there is almost always a struggle of some sort that the students have to pay for as they lose a lot of valuable time resources. I can only wish that the hurdle can be overcome as soon as possible with an increased exposure to digital methods, but there is a problem. Many students, just like the teachers, are completely unfamiliar and unwilling to reap the benefits of electronic education, owing to a very conventional approach that vilifies any step taken towards embracing the modern methods grasping knowledge. These unjustified and unsound reservations only make it impossible for a receptive teacher to teach a class in which the majority has vowed to rebel, basing their actions on a standard of thinking that is devoid of flexibility and creativity.
The teacher-student interactions in Pakistan brim with a variation of the highest degree. Either they can be too casual or too strict, both with their own sets of issues. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are several knowledgeable teachers here who have mastered their craft, but sadly the competency does not prevail evenly. Inexperienced educators with an inept methodology of delivering their lectures may not be populous in the posh institutes, but they sure occupy several seats in the lesser-known schools and colleges. The worst part is, they tend to have a much stronger impact, marring the child’s approach towards his or her subject, a change that is not always easy to reverse. My own experience of my first day at my new university was far from the best. I had a teacher piercing my nervous veneer with personal insults due to my inability to properly comprehend questions I was never supposed to answer, and that too in front of the class (mind you my university is one of the more respectable institutes of the country). Such lecturers tend to be utterly devoid of remorse. They will name and shame you endlessly as if they were your arch-nemesis and nothing would satisfy them more than seeing you crumble. Unrealistic expectations from students while offering so little in the way of facilitation, bombarding us with work, and expecting excellence whilst not showing us that standard of excellence themselves; these are only some of the fundamental flaws that are epidemic here. This just goes to show a large amount of hypocrisy displayed by some faculty members. Let me give you a personal example. I once committed an act so foul that the teacher ripped into me publicly, in front of my classmates and patients. The crime? I was wearing jeans. To my defense, I was not yet informed what we were supposed to wear and my understanding of Urdu is still only as good as Scott Morrison’s understanding of what an ideal prime minister is. Regardless of my genuine shortcomings, the teacher initiated a manic rant about how “awful” I looked because of it. The irony of this humiliating incident is, the teacher himself was wearing jeans while yelling at me. This just shows the degree of hypocrisy that exists here.
In contrary to what I just mentioned before, in Australia our faults are discussed elaborately in a private setting, and in a markedly more humane fashion.
The organization of the Administration
I was absolutely dumbfounded when I had the displeasure to experience the administration of various institutes, and realized just how unorganized and clustered it is. The planning is so abhorrently defective that if you had to get a few documents printed, you should expect your skin to wrinkle and peel away given the time that will be consumed for a task so mundane. Important decisions regarding the future of students are made in the 25th hour. If you go to the administration to submit or request a form, let’s say a challan form for the university transport, they will likely tell you that this is a task they cannot imagine to complete in their wildest dreams and will tell you to wait for an indefinite period of time. After accepting your fate, you will just stand blankly in the cue, until your bones disintegrate into oblivion. And if by luck you are called towards the desk for completion of your request, they will simply tell you it’s too late now, adorning their empty sentence by the clichéd phrase “were you sleeping before?”. Communication is next to nothing, and our suffering due to these nuisances, that shouldn’t exist in the first place, is incalculable. This largely deviates from education in Australia, where the entire academic year along with every single project is planned ahead of time and the students are given all the necessary information and resources for the year before it even begins (talk about punctuality). Interaction with the staff is as easy as sleeping during a lecture.
Being liked by the teachers in Pakistan can be the difference between passing and failing as your personality can have just as much impact as your score. They are given way too much control over the results of an individual student, showcasing huge amounts of bias which goes against the concept that equal treatment. This especially comes into play during the viva’s where the teachers choose exactly the questions they are going to ask a specific student, unfairly increasing or decreasing the difficulty level, which can prove to be a savior for those resorting to unjust means and shortcuts, or a death warrant for students who bled their guts to attain a respectable score. I have to admit though, this might have helped me as I had generally developed a good interaction with the teachers by constructing a image that glowed with competency, aided by my English accent. I can completely understand that additional marks might have been given to me due to the very aspect that I am so against, undermining my proficiency in the art that I am learning, but that is something I can never be certain of. Back in Australia, the teachers do not generally have that much control over your results and even if they do, they wear a set of impartial spectacles, analyzing you strictly on the degree of proficiency of your exam and your work ethic.
My article may look like an excessive display of hate amplified by unpleasant personal experiences, and you may be right to say there is a hint of subjectivity in the degree of my animosity for the education system here, but it is impossible to deny the fact that the issues mentioned above echo with the opinion of the masses. Despite my lengthy rants, I have actually loved my stay here, for reasons I wish to explain soon in the form of another article. While Pakistan is behind Australia in progressive education methods, the country is displaying an increased probability of a brighter future with the advent of a new breed of young teachers who suffered just like all of us, and now want to change it for good. This place has so much to offer and I can only hope to witness the transformation while I am still here. For now, all I can say is, let’s wish for the best, and stay safe from the virus that prowls the streets of a world swallowed by fear.
Written by Wahib
Hello! I’m a dental student who spends most of his time locked in a book, wading into the depths of medical knowledge, or spending sleepless nights rewatching Tarantino films.