The Importance of a Higher Education

Looking back, it’s easy to identify why education was important for me, and it’s easy to explain why it’s important for you. The key question to answer is: can you see why it’s important? Sometimes that’s difficult, especially when you’re facing it or going through it. Years of education can seem like a lifetime of effort. Often school can be tedious, and there are many more entertaining things to do than sit in a classroom. Nevertheless, instead of viewing your school work as a lifetime of effort, think of it as an investment of a lifetime – an investment in you and your lifetime.

Take it from someone who made a good decision to work hard and obtain a high school diploma, then a Bachelor of Science degree from the local university, education is a key to success. More specifically, an education provides opportunities for upward and lateral mobility.

Of course there were distractions to deal with at school, like entering the workforce and earning money, chasing the opposite gender, and hanging out with friends, but thankfully I kept my sights set on graduating, and never veered off course. And, I’ve never regretted my resolve or the effort it took to achieve my educational goals.

Here are six good reasons why you should make the most of the time you spend in school. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but it’s a good start, and should be more than sufficient to convince you to rededicate yourself to a good education as a wise investment in you – an investment that can’t be taken away and goes with you throughout your life.

1. Whether it’s high school or college level classes, your interest and performance will help point you in a general direction of a career path. Your aptitude is uncovered by more than just a few tests. Often it’s shown in your skill and level of participation in various classes. If I followed the interests that my aptitude tests indicated back when I was in high school, I’d be a forest ranger right now, looking forward to another 12 years of work before I retired. Instead, I early retired five years ago after running my own consulting business for just seven years.

2. Education helps you become a more well-rounded individual by exposing you to different ideas and learning how to apply them at least in a limited way. For the most part, education helps you be a generalist in many areas, and a specialist if you study in a particular area of interest. Without a broad education, you might have a very limited life where for most things brought to your attention, your response could very well be, “I don’t know anything about that.” Opportunities in life will come your way much more readily if you at least have sufficient interest in an issue, concept, technology, activity or event to know something about it.

3. One result of a good education is the ability to define a problem and formulate a solution. You’ll be faced with a multitude of decisions and problems in your life, and a good education will arm you with a range of tools for finding solutions. Many textbooks provide examples based in everyday life where concepts and problem solving skills can be applied to help us make decisions and draw conclusions. If we aren’t armed with the ability to problem solve, then we must rely on others to do so. Solving problems ourselves helps make us stronger individuals, whereas relying on others simply makes us a dependent.

4. Participation in higher education shows a “can do” attitude – something that is very important for employment in the “professional” sector. It’s usually not especially challenging to make it through high school, but those who position themselves for college or the university, while in high school, and then press on with bettering themselves through higher education, are usually individuals who have confidence in themselves and are achievement oriented. What employer wouldn’t be interested in someone who is confident and oriented towards achievement?

5. A solid education with favorable results in terms of performance is a way of “getting your ticket punched.” In other words, some employers won’t consider candidates unless they have a certain level of education or a specific course of study. Other employers won’t consider candidates unless they have an acceptable level of performance in their school work. So, you can see that employers often look at education as a type of “proving ground” for their prospective employees.

6. Higher paid careers demand technical training and specialized education, and this can pay rewards over the long haul in the form of a lucrative position in a career field. The old cliche of “marry a doctor or a lawyer” isn’t just something that someone made up because it sounded good. Doctors and lawyers are quite often highly paid and highly respected people in our communities. The same can be said for engineers, architects, scientists and many other professionals who have invested in specialized training and education for themselves. There is no guarantee that you’ll make high income and gain the respect of the world by having a higher education, but it’s certainly helps shift the odds in your favor, and what could be wrong with that?

So, there you have it – six good reasons to make the most out of your educational opportunities. It may be difficult when you’re young to see why education is so important. That’s understandable. There are so many more immediate and competing interests. Nevertheless, it’s too late when you’re passing through the prime of your life to go back for a re-do in terms of education. That’s not to say that it can’t be done, but it’s so much more difficult to do.

Therefore, if you find yourself on a chair in a classroom, make the most of your time while you’re in a good position to do so. Once you start down your career path, you’ll be glad that your formal education is behind you, because you’ll have plenty of challenges with respect to on-the-job training and continuing education as you move through your working years.

My youthful planning had me graduating high school and attending the university. There was no question in my mind that higher education was a “must,” and I wasn’t going to start my career without it. As it turned out, I chose well, and wouldn’t do anything different if given the opportunity to turn back the hands of time. Choose well and have yourself a happy outcome as well – choose education, for it’s likely to be the wisest investment you’ll ever make in and for yourself.

What’s Wrong – Pakistan’s Higher Education System

Issues in Pakistan’s Education System: A Focus on Higher Education

Scientia Potentia Est, or “For also knowledge itself is power”, is a very popular Latin maxim that all of us will have heard or read quite a few times throughout our school days. In the fast-paced, rapidly growing information age, it could not be any truer.

The concept of knowledge economy hovers around the utilization of knowledge and information as a productive asset. All the sectors, be it services related or manufacturing related all rely on knowledge and information for productivity; be it a groundbreaking piece of code for a software, or the schematics of a new prototype car.

Knowledge is gained through two methods; one is experience, the other is formal education and training. Experience can only come with time; however, we still need to understand our experiences. That is where education comes in.

Education is a building block of life as we know it, without which, we would not have the world we see now. It is widely understood that a country with a good education infrastructure has everything it needs to become a successful, highly developed nation. Over the next few paragraphs, we’ll try to see where Pakistan’s education system stands, what challenges it faces, and what possible solutions we might have.

The Current System:

Pakistan’s education system is split up into five levels. The first level starting from grade one and going up to grade five, is Primary Schooling. This education varies from school to school with some private schools offering exceptional schooling but at a very high price, and public schools often being termed mediocre; we’ll talk about the issues later on through this article.

The second level, Middle Schooling, starts at grade six and continues up to the eighth grade. Again, the curriculum and schooling criteria varies from school to school, but the same conception applies here as well. Public schools are generally considered lackluster as compared to some private schools and the elitist schools offer the best schooling, at exorbitant fee structures.

The third level consists of grades nine and ten, and is called Highschooling. This level is followed by Matriculation or Secondary School Certification (SSC) Exams. These exams are conducted on a provincial or district level. Once again, the quality of schooling varies from school to school with some schools following the Cambridge system of education.

The fourth level consists of the eleventh and twelfth grades, and is called Intermediate Level Schooling. These two years of schooling are offered at several schools and also at several colleges, and are followed by Higher Secondary School Certification (HSSC) or Intermediate Exams. Like the SSC Exams, these are also conducted at the provincial level, as well as the federal level.

Though these two years are the foundation for students as they determine a direction that they take for their career, students often change their career paths after their intermediate education and certification. There seems to be a growing need for student career-path counseling.

The fifth level is composed of Undergraduate and Post-Graduate degree programs. The Undergraduate or Bachelors degree programs range from a Bachelors’ in Arts to Bachelors’ in Law, covering several different programs. The duration of these programs varies according to the nature of the specialization or course, from two to four years. There are several private and public universities spread out across the country that offer such bachelors degree programs.

The Undergraduate or Bachelors’ programs are of two types; Pass and Honors. The Pass system comprises of twelve subjects, ranging from compulsory Language, History, and Religion based courses, to optional courses that cover specific areas with a duration of two years. The Honors system constitutes specialization courses in addition to select compulsory courses over three to four years.

The Post-Graduate degree programs consist of Masters and PhDs in various subjects, ranging from philosophy and education to business administration and engineering subjects. The Masters programs are of around 2 years, and consist of specialization courses in a chosen subject. The PhD programs are a further extension of specialization and are of around three to five years.

With several public and private universities and degree awarding institutes offering these programs, the quality of education varies profoundly, with select institutes given preference over others. The reason for such a vast difference in the quality of education is primarily the curriculum used, and the faculty of that institute. Once again, we’ll talk about the issues in more detail a little later on through the story.

The Issues:

Though Pakistan has a very high number of private and public sector schools, the quality of education leaves a lot to be desired. Some private sector schools do offer excellent quality, but have such a high fee that the lower middle income group can hardly afford them. Additionally, most public sector schools lack enough competent teachers to cater to the high demands of this age group.

The most critical aspect of the earlier stages of formal education is the development of an inquisitive and active mind. If a child is encouraged to think out of the box from such an early age, not only would his learning experience be a lot more productive, he would grow into a prodigious professional.

Additionally, another common complaint of parents of public-sector school students is poor English vocational skill. This once again, falls under the umbrella of ineffective and unskilled teachers.

A very critical issue our intermediate level students face is a feeling of general mayhem and incertitude of their direction in life. Though some students have a fairly good idea of where they want to go, most do not, and this is why they end up changing their career paths during their higher education.

Analysts and critiques argue that the reason for this irresolution lies in the fact that our current education system does not seed curiosity nor does it encourage further research. The reason behind this, they point out, is an ill-planned examination system that is graded according to a student’s ability to memorize selective topics in their curriculum, and to rewrite them onto paper. Our education system is in dire need of rejuvenation, and though it has already started, there is still indeed a long way to go.

Also, another reason for this uncertainty is a lack of guidance and counseling. Due to our social setup, most students need constant feedback and guidance to steer themselves into the right career. This can only be done if all schools set up student counselors who would help students decide a particular field they wish to enter.

At the university level, a major challenge is the lack of skilled and competent teachers. According to Pervez Hoodbhoy, “There are far too few qualified Pakistanis who can teach modern engineering subjects at an international professional level. There may be no more than two to three dozen suitable engineering professors in all of Pakistan’s engineering universities.” He further points out that the current number of engineering professors is minuscule if you look at the number of professors needed by the several international engineering universities being set up throughout the country.

Another very major concern is the development of a suitable curriculum and examination system. Though the Higher Education Commission is currently developing a standardized curriculum for all public and private sector universities and institutes, the development of existing and new faculty will take quite some time.

Possible Solutions:

One possible solution to these problems is already under way. The restructuring of the entire system has already started and it is gradually being reworked into a more coherent and encouraging system for all. The system needs to be transformed so that it cultivates curiosity and research, instead of just going through a selection of notoriously irksome books.

Moreover, we need to train our teachers to be more receptive of their students, instead of just being receptive of the books of their curriculum. With formal training, teachers can improve their language skills, as well as their direction and teaching skills. In simple words, we need to train them to be more open-minded and curious, so they in turn pass on that trait to their students.

As for the lack of qualified Pakistani teachers and professors, one possible solution is to set up mandatory training courses for all teachers, as well as suitable experience and educational qualifications before allowing them to become teachers at higher education institutions. As for the immediate need, we need to hire foreign faculty for all our educational institutes while the currently employed teachers undergo mandatory training.

As said in the beginning of this story, education is a building block of life as we know it and it is the primary thing that makes us human. As a child grows, he learns, and what he learns, he must be given the freedom to practice, and to grow. Without this freedom, he will confine himself to a cocoon, yet he will not transcended beyond that stage, and he will not turn into a butterfly.

A child’s mind is like a blank canvas; use the right combination of colors, and it turns into a Van Gogh or a Michelangelo, use the wrong combination and it turns into muck. The development of a child determines his outlook and standing in life.

I came across a very famous dialogue from a blockbuster Hollywood movie, “Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is”, and it truly is!

What Is a Higher Education?

There exists confusion about the meaning of higher education. To some, it purely meant as an education which can earn a college degree. To others, it’s pursuing an education and attending it voluntarily. Usually, higher education means a post-secondary education.

However, the meaning of education varies from other countries. Countries around the world, but not all, have a mandatory education which is the same with what an individual may obtain from a U.S. high school. Other countries only have few public educations accessible or have none at all. Oftentimes, education has only been offered to the privileged class in lieu to everybody. It has not been mandatory in several countries to study in high school and a number of these countries restrict public school education at a very tender age.

In its true essence, an education could really have an extensive definition. In the U.S. and in most European countries, it has been understood as a post-secondary education which is sustained in a voluntary attendance. It is either studying in a university, or gaining a training program in a vocational or technical school, or obtaining a certification course in a community college. Thus, either an individual pursues earning a licensed or certified degree; one normally undergoes a higher education training program from any of these learning institutions. In fact, completing a secondary education or having a high school diploma is not even necessary for a few vocational and technical schools.

Another education is indeed rarely mandatory. It is not compulsory for everybody to take up college courses or technical training in a vocational school and only a handful of countries enact higher education as compulsory. Nevertheless, a lot of people realize that they are not appropriately educated or trained to become part of the employed sector if they don’t have the added skills and knowledge that a higher education provides. Therefore, this is a motivation and a desirable want for an individual when and where to start.

There is somehow a distinction for several high schools offering an Advanced Placement (AP) program. One is that, the program may be undertaken by the most able of students with a good grasp in studying and learning. And, once they hurdle the necessary tests, they will be eligible to earn credits for college. Actually, these students are undertaking their lower degree of education through obtaining a diploma while they have already been commencing to study and learn in a level of higher education.