of Pakistan's textbooks
By YesPakistan.com Staff
What is a class without
a textbook? It's a place of learning missing a crucial building block to impart
education to students. Such is the problem of many classrooms in Pakistan.
Textbooks are the means
of teaching a school or class's curriculum and are considered the most important
instructional material at a student's disposal. In a number of studies, children
who received textbooks in the course of their study achieved better academically
than those that did not.
For instance, in neighboring
India, children whose families were able to provide them with textbooks scored
higher in tests of math and reading comprehension in 11 of the 15 largest states.
Generally speaking, many
primary school students in Pakistan either lack textbooks and other learning
materials completely or must, to a large degree, share them with other students.
One solution that has been
proposed and implemented is to produce textbooks of very low quality to reduce
the cost per unit. This, along with cheaper prices for the textbooks and state
subsidies have successfully led to more low-income parents being able to purchase
textbooks. However, these books of course do not last very long, given their
poor quality in terms of binding, etc.
But the quality issue does
not just affect the physical condition of books. Pakistani textbooks for primary
school children are replete with factual errors, inappropriate illustrations
and problems with readability. The country's textbooks are published by the
provincial Text Boards. These bodies, which monopolize the textbook market in
government schools, produce books that feature many, many factual and grammatical
errors, along with major deviations from the specifications set by the Curriculum
An additional problem is
that the Pakistani government does not allocate enough money to develop, produce
and distribute textbooks. In Pakistan, less than one percent of educational
spending is aimed at textbooks and other learning materials. As a result, it
is estimated that over 50 percent of children are without textbooks because
of their high cost.
The language used in textbooks
also creates confusion for students rather than aiding them as textbooks should,
differing greatly from one grade level to another, and even from subject to
subject among books at the same level. Pakistani teachers have reported that
since the children were not fluent in the Naskh script used in the textbooks,
they had to read the textbooks and summarize the lessons for their students.
In order to improve the
quality of textbooks in Pakistan, a number of critical changes must be undertaken.
Firstly, the development
and production of textbooks must take place along with curriculum development.
This will ensure that students receive material that is relevant and will aid
in learning and understanding course material, rather than causing further confusion.
Second, the private sector
should be responsible for the production and distribution of textbooks, along
with government assistance. This will enhance the quality of the currently substandard
In addition, there must
be greater encouragement for local initiatives in producing supplementary learning
materials, since it is individuals involved in these endeavors who better understand
what kind of material area schools need to further students' progress.
Third, teachers must be
trained on how to effectively use the textbooks. This can be made easier if
there are teacher guides which accompany student textbooks and feature not only
the subject matter of the course, but teaching methods as well.
Finally, there must be an
effective textbook distribution system in place to ensure that all schools receive
this material. In fact, if the Pakistani government is serious about getting
textbooks and learning materials to remote areas of the country, it must work
to improve the transport infrastructure in school areas. In the short term,
techniques like distance education can be used as an additional way to provide
children with learning material in these areas.
Date/Time Last Modified: 6/17/2002 3:44:56 PM
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