Losing the plot
THE problem is not that Pakistan gets it wrong; it is that the country goes astray even when headed in the right direction. Proper planning, realistic projections of the future, oversight — these factors are generally missing from any given endeavour. Consider, for example, two reports published yesterday. The debate on large dams aside, there has been general agreement for years that small dams can prove very useful. Accordingly, over the first decade of the new millennium, 20 small dams were constructed at the cost of some Rs2.62bn in the Potohar area to provide water to 30,000 acres of farmland. But, according to a recently released Punjab Irrigation and Power Department report, in actual fact they are irrigating a mere 7.45 per cent of the target area.One of them, Sawal Dam in Jhelum Division, is irrigating just three acres against a 930-acre target. Why? Because of insufficient geological investigations, flaws in design and execution, mismanagement in supervision and substandard construction materials.
On the other side, it has been recognised for some years that school curricula use pedagogical methodology that promotes rote learning and fails to interest or challenge the students. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, to its credit, made an intervention. A revamped curriculum which, for example, teaches science through experiment, was introduced two years ago. But since only a fraction of the schoolteachers were actually trained to use it — 22,000 of roughly 87,000 primary and middle school teachers — students are still learning by rote. Disparate though irrigation and education may appear, the problem is the same in both stories: the administration intervened, but didn’t think it through long enough. The result? Wastage of time, effort and funds, to the benefit of none. Until Pakistan learns to stop losing the plot halfway, its ‘progress’ will be characterised by half-baked initiatives.