Much has been said about the education system in Pakistan and yet, nothing seems to change. Year after year, hundreds of students go through the stressful process of CIE exams which seems to be nothing more than an outdated and obsolete method of testing.
Every year I see students suffering under undue pressure and we all know that pressure hampers learning, right? Although the AS and A2 both, have less subjects as compared to the O-Levels but the curriculum is so extensive that 16 months are simply not enough to cover it all. And as hard as it may seem to swallow, most students do not have the calibre to absorb the entire syllabus. Of course, every year there are students who score all As in their O and A-Level exams and have their high scores broadcasted all over the news, but let’s be frank…how many students giving their CIEs are high achievers?
If truth be told, the number is not very encouraging.
And like every year, many students in Pakistan are appearing for their CIEs in this scorching heat. What’s worse this year is that they are not free for spiritual guidance and enlightenment in the holy month of Ramadan; instead, it is a taxing month for them, with students bending under the weight and stress of cramming and tuitions (another thing to be ‘realistic’ about…ALL kids take tuitions ).
It is not uncommon for CIE stress to cause students to break into tears since their university admissions depend on them. Many of them survive on NO sleep, NO food or at best, caffeine shots and junk food! And while a small percentage of students (or rather, their parents) have the finances and opportunity to fly abroad to pursue higher education, the rest have to fight to get admission into local colleges and universities.
For these students particularly, the AS and A2 exams seem like the end of the world. We all know that Pakistan has a dearth of universities. And getting into the best of them is no easy task, especially considering the number of students being churned out of A-Level and Intermediate schools every year. And while most parents and students dream of getting admission in these universities, they require certain (minimum) grades in the A-Levels and an aptitude test for admission. In most of these universities, a student can only give the aptitude test IF he/she has the required grades. And at times, even having these grades does not guarantee getting admission because there are 200 seats and an estimated 0.1 million applicants!
The future of our youth is dependent on these grim statistics.
All of these factors – the magnitude of the curriculum, the criteria of getting into a good university, the dearth of good universities in the local arena, the dismal seat-to-student ratio – cause too much pressure for students. At this tender age, they are bombarded with the pressure of cramming the curriculum …yes, ONLY the curriculum; NOT actual learning.
Unfortunately, the learning graph stopped growing a long time ago. I often feel sad for our students because I feel like they have zero connection with other (more real) aspects of life. Most of them live in a cocoon – a race between college and tuition centres – leaving them no time to enjoy any other constructive activity.
And this year, I am even more upset because most of them are foregoing the spiritual blessings of this sacred month. But being the mother of a young, stressed out A-Level student, I hope I can make up for some of his lost blessings.
I hope I can pray enough for all the students giving their CIEs this year.
May they all ace their exams.
May Pakistan soon have more (and better) universities to accommodate all of them.
May their learning expand to more than just completing the syllabus and appearing for exams.
Are you the parent of a child giving their A-Level exams this year? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!