Is there a difference between a 5-year old kid, who is just about to get enrolled in a school, and a plant which has just burst open the ground to grow high?
I believe there is no difference. Both are young and they have so much to explore in a new world, whether by opening their eyes or branching out with stems.
My nephew Abdullah is 5-years old. He goes to Montessori every weekday and enjoys it very much. He enjoys learning also and I often see him either spelling a object he is holding in his hand or counting whatever is in front of him. He also loves to teach his sister, Zainab and my son, Uzair, very much as they actively play and learn around the house often.
Since September, Abdullah is preparing up to appear in enterance exams of different schools in Karachi. Every evening, he spend about 2-3 hours in preparation for those entrance exams in home. During the weekend, sometimes he studies in day also. Although he loves learning and studying, just sometimes his mind signals him to stop, which is what I believe whenever he ask his mother to let him play for a while. Reminding you again, he is a 5-year old kid, who will never say no to play all day long without taking a break. His mother allow him to play if he had completed his homework but this doesn’t happen most of the time. Zainab and Uzair play right outside Abdullah’s room as he listens to them having fun. I’m observing this for quite sometime now and it doesn’t feel right to me at all.
I know education is life’s basic need and I agree that every child in the world deserve the right to have proper education. But the way we provide it our kids, especially in Pakistan, is totally not right. Abdullah is just 5-years old for crying out loud and filling up his brain, through tiresome routine is definitely not the right way.
Let me tell you in few steps what a child goes through in Pakistan, if he/she is just about the right age to enter school:
Your kid (maximum age limit: 3) enrolls in an early educational/preparation institutes here. These institutes provide first fundamental education to them. How to read, how to write, how to name things, what color is that, what object you are holding, etc. These institutes are a doing great job in opening up the doors of a young mind. I’m saying this because Uzair can now name the colors perfectly, he can count up to 20 and he is learning how to write alphabets and numbers quickly. This is really big for him and me and Jia (my wife) are focusing hard on him at home too, so that learning the basics remains easy for him.
But these institutions are mainly acting as preparation centers, where children start the learning process of reading and writing on their own. After about 2 years of providing basic education (or in other words, preparing them up for what lies ahead), these institutions then conduct exams to judge how much ready is your kid. Once he/she clears out those exams, then comes that gruesome part of their lives through which me or anyone else I know among my family and friends, had ever gone through in our childhood.
Congratulations! Your child has just passed the exams conducted by those preparation institutes in Karachi and it is time for you, the parents, to find that perfect (or in other words, out-of-this-world) school, where your flesh and blood will continue up with his/her education. But that seems like an easy part of the whole process because after you have found that “perfect” school, it is solely up to your child how much he/she scores in the entrance test for that school.
Yes, that entrance test for which not only the child, but his/her parents also, went through so much for past 3 years or so, will determine whether your combine tireless efforts worth anything or is it next to none.
And this is the thing that bugs me the most as it is just simply wrong on every imaginable level.
Why schools in Karachi are doing this? A school provides education, right? They are the first beacon of light and knowledge for a young mind. They create a mold for a child’s future, on which his/her whole life will depend.
But over here it is now mandatory in almost every major (or should I say branded) school in Karachi that a child must pass an entrance test to enroll. This is really freaking me out as schools in Karachi, and probably across all other major cities of Pakistan, are only opening their doors for children with pre-filled knowledge of the world, instead of providing it to them.
How in the world can this be normal?
No way I say and I really mean it. Our schooling system is just about how much money can be sucked out of parents in the name of branded education, with all the fanciness and lavish extravaganza they can come up with in the name of high-class quality education. Our schooling system is totally wrong and the way they educate young minds seems horrific to me instead of something creative.
First of all, why kids like Abdullah (5 year old he is) had to go through this mental torturing in the name of school entrance tests?
Their minds are young, for crying out loud!
They had just started to use their little brains to explore and learn about the world they just landed in and the very first step we, the adults, tell them to take is to soak in as much “knowledge” and “information” they can about the world they live in. So those big classy schools can open their doors for them and suck the blood out of their parent’s veins (in form of heavy school fees) for the rest of their lives. Does this seems normal?
I’m really not fine with this at all as whenever I see Abdullah’s tired little face, I think about Uzair, who will have to go through the same in coming days. Jia and I are preparing up ourselves for this but deep in my heart, I’m not comfortable with this.
Jia and I strongly thinking about not dragging Uzair over the same path Abdullah is going through. We do want Uzair to learn and understand the world he lives in but this must be done through simplicity and ease of mind, not by torturing the young one.
There are many schools in Karachi which aren’t branding themselves as fancy schools. They also provide good education and their fees is reasonable. So, I may enroll Uzair in such school where he will learn about the world and develop his understanding more firmly.
Jia and I, as his parents, strongly believe home nurturing plays a vital role in child’s development beside school education. A child learns so much from his/her home as well as from school and both these areas plants a seed in that child, which grows into a bright future.
There is no difference between a young mind and a young tree. A tree needs open, wide space to grow and so does a young mind, as this ensure better and brighter future for them.