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Bungalow Private Schools: Money-Making Businesses, Not Educational Institutions

Education in Pakistan has surely come a long way. From having a single university at the time of independence to having more than 150 recognized Universities/Degree Awarding Institutes is no doubt a step forward. The Constitution of Pakistan obligates to provide free quality education to children ages 5 to 16.

"The State shall provide free and compulsory education to children age five to sixteen years in such a manner as may be determined by law

The failed public schooling system of Pakistan is no big secret. This has lead to an influx of private schools all over the country. Opening a school is being seen as a lucrative business idea by the entrepreneurs. The elite Private Schools are not a major problem here. It’s the small private schools opened by businessmen that are a serious cause of concern.

First and foremost, the rapidly growing number of Small Private schools seem to be doing more damage than any good. Many bungalows are continuously being rented out by the entrepreneurs for opening a new private school. The area of these bungalows usually range from 10 marlas to 1 kanal. These bungalows generally have 5 to 6 classrooms with no playground, no library, no cafeteria and poorly designed science labs with little to no equipment. The students studying in such schools are not prepared for the practical world. They are just treated as robots and are forced to cram the Board's prescribed syllabus to pass the final exams. Due to the strong competition, every year I see big hoardings of these schools proudly advertising the high marks achieved by their students in the Board exams, little to their knowledge that they have done nothing for the true development of their students. Majority of their students fail to score high in the International University entrance exams like SATs which base their questions on analytical reasoning.

The real purpose of gaining knowledge is to broaden one's vision and mindset and to get a perspective of real life. Alas! these Small Private Schools (SPS) do little to nothing about it. They run, in fact, they open the schools with a business mind. The Student development is far from their list of objectives. Lack of playgrounds in such schools make students to spend 6 hours in one classroom without getting a chance to properly stretch their legs. Students of ages 6 to 16 are at the prime of their growing. One negative habit or lifestyle can affect their whole life. Due to security reason, our children can't play at open parks or playgrounds like we used to. And, having no playground facility at school as well leads students towards computer games and internet. According to a recent study, such games do sharpen the mind of children but can have immense side effects as well. No physical education or lack of sports in children can cause laziness, pain and weakness of bones.

The government doesn't seem to be interested in the education sector at all. If we look at the eligibility criteria for affiliation set by the Educational boards, there appears to be wide variety of conditions that a school must meet before starting its operations. A library, playground, clean washrooms, proper science and IT labs are general requirements. Yet, hundreds of private schools get away with lack of facilities through bribery. Many parents, unfortunately, feel proud that their kids are studying in a private school. What they don't know is that they have sent their kids to money hungry wolves who are only interested in making higher profits every year.

It is my humble request to the young parents to properly visit the school campuses before admitting their kids there. They should not just meet the principal and faculty but also review the school curriculum and facilities themselves. The secondary years of children in schools are the most important learning years. A sound combination of academic and physical education can build up a better, superior and a sharp character of children instead of simple cramming of academic syllabus in small private schools. It's about a better future of your kids. Choose their schools wisely.

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