Educating the common people
Pakistan is mainly a land of villages. Most of people live in villages. They work on the fields and feed the nation. But the life these cultivators are a very dismal sight. Often these villages are ravaged by epidemics. In fact, morality is a common thing in the villages. So the deep groans of mothers are constantly blended with the murmur of the leaves and books. For all their hard labour they cannot reap rich harvests. They are always worn out with cares and anxieties. In short, they suffer from all the ills of ignorance and send their plaintive but ineffective supplications to heaven.
Education can, however, bring about a complete change. When they become conversant with rules of hygiene and the value of sanitation, they will cease to die by thousands. If it is brought home to them their method of cultivation is woefully out-moded and that there are improved methods, they will give up their conservative attitude and take to new ones that bear the promise of a better life and happiness. And for all this spread of education is essential.
In the present circumstances, we cannot think of adopting over-ambitious plans, so general education may at present extend over a period of six years. Of these one year may be devoted to making the children acquainted with vernacular and Arabic Alphabets and figures used for different Arithmetical calculations, for the boys and girls of the illiterate parents are believed to come to school without this initial preparation.
This class may be called the infant class, which should be followed five years of studies. Arithmetic, religious teaching, geography and hygiene should be introduced in the mother tongue. As the glorious history of our past achievements has a decision influence in shaping our present and future so interesting lives and incidents may be included in the vernacular texts. After the completion of this course, the boys and girls should be taught different subjects in separate schools.
This is the vocational stage and this may be two years’ duration. At this stage the boys should receive knowledge of the facts of elementary science, such as, why some metal take rust and how to prevent it etc. which has some relation to daily life. The course will include training in modern cultivation, in the use of different fertilizers and manures, preparation of manures from refuse materials, plant protection, cattle breeding and their care, and effective food preservation. But this should include not only theoretical lectures but also practical demonstration.
Girl students should, at this stage, be assigned to the care of women teachers. Their education here should consist of things peculiar to themselves. The course must include sewing, house keeping, prevention against and remedies for female diseases, child-care and sanitation. All these subjects are very important to making the home happy, and much of the efficiency of men-folk depends on the condition that exists at the homes.
The need for adult education is also imperative and facility for much education needs to be available for all. No village should go without its adult education centre where the villagers may receive elementary knowledge of and training in agriculture methods and the use of means to get in good harvest. They should also learn to read and write so that they can gather further knowledge from the books and journals.
Libraries are to be started in every village. These libraries will have to collect all sorts of agricultural literature and some other things and receive information of the latest developments in the field. Popular lecture may also be arranged from time to time, and some eminent specialists may be invited to address the cultivators.
The task that lies ahead is formidable one and asks for immediate attention. No progress seems to be possible unless the cultivators are sufficiently conversant with modern trends of things. A country like ours which is predominantly agricultural, cannot achieve any prosperity until education has spread among them. So an education of the tillers should precede all other development projects.