Investing in higher education is very important for the economic development of Balochistan. The province needs academicians, research scholars and professionals, as institutional and human development is a prerequisite for the economic development of the country’s most backward and least developed province. Higher education, however, should be the privilege granted only to the competent, diligent and intelligent students, but at the same time commoditization of education must be checked.
Balochistan is the least developed region of the country. Local youth are still deprived of the opportunities and facilities, which are necessary to make development in any field of science and technology. Computer literacy is the high demand of present digital age. In wake of operationalization of the deep-water port at Gwadar, there will be a dire need of qualified and professional port staff for successful marketing of the port management to potential customers, building of export processing zone, trans-shipment and warehousing facilities, fixing of port tariffs for shipping companies in order to be competitive. Those who build up their capacities and develop technical skills would be fit to survive the future technological boom.
Gwadar Port is a key component of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) because the port is likely to become a major outlet for trade between the China, Central Asia and the Gulf region. Gwadar is poised to emerge as a hub port providing facilities of warehousing, trans-shipment, transit and coastal trade and the commercial and industrial openings for international export-import trade. A fully operational Gwadar Port and establishment of port-related communications and links on regional level will bring China and Pakistan in the regional as well as global mainstream of geo-economics in near future. It will not only provide eastern China with cheap and secure sources of energy for its rapid development but also provide a boost to the development of western China and Pakistan.
Investment in higher and professional education will provide Balochistan the required professionals for the development of various sectors of local economy. The better human capital equipped with professional education can be instrumental in increased productivity with modern technology in all economic sectors. This will enhance industrial productivity and increase exportable output of the country. It is essential for the local youth to have some knowledge on business, as the business world is currently developing at a rapid pace. Business education is directed at the study and research in the field of business. The province needs more and more bachelors and masters in business administration. Many industries have been envisaged to be established in and around Gwadar. The professionals would be needed for the operation of the port and the allied industries.
The least developed Balochistan ever remained on the political periphery of the country. On the other hand, being strategically located in the region and having vast untapped natural resources, diversity of climate, simultaneously five ecological zones, fisheries and strategic mineral resources like natural gas, copper, lead, zinc, iron and marble; it has the potential to emerge as Pakistan’s new economic frontier.
The province, however, witnessed a rising trend in higher education in the past one decade and there seems a tough competition among the students for qualifying the preliminary tests for Ph.D program. Higher education has been the focus of government policy under the government of former president General Pervez Musharraf and continuity of policy is essential to benefit from the services of highly educated and qualified professionals, who are receiving or have obtained Ph.D degrees in various disciplines from abroad under the Ph.D program of Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan. HEC played a key role in the promotion of higher education in Balochistan. It initiated programs to facilitate the faculty and students in the university. The campus politics and clashes between student organizations have been disturbing features of higher education which need to be strictly dealt with.
The government must announce house requisitions for the university’s employees in line with the federal government’s employees in Balochistan. The government should encourage private sector but put checks on commoditization of education and ensure educational system free from discriminatory practices for all the citizens of Pakistan. Most of the private educational institutes have commercialized the professional education by charging high fees making it unaffordable for the common people. In other words, professional education has become a privilege of only rich, who can afford costly educational packages offered by the private institutions. These private institutions have developed a symbol of status by offering costly educational packages to aristocratic classes of the society.
The provincial capital Quetta witnessed a mushroom growth of private schools, language and computer institutes over a period of last ten years. The education in private sector was not limited to primary and secondary levels, it extended to higher levels with the opening of many private colleges and universities imparting education in Information Technology (IT), Management and Social Sciences. The establishment of the campuses of Prinston University, Iqra University, Al-Kher University and Pearls’ Institute in Quetta can be cited in this regard. In public sector, Balochistan University of Information Technology and Management Sciences (BUITMS) was established in Quetta in 2002. In July 2002, the former provincial government chartered the BUITMS for the delivery, promotion and dissemination of knowledge and to produce high quality manpower resources in the province. The BUITMS is currently being developed as a premier seat of learning in management sciences. The university also offers bachelors and masters degrees in business administration. It has emerged as a quality business school in the province, whose economic potential has so far been untapped and underdeveloped.
The term ‘human capital’ is used for education, health and other human capacities that can raise productivity when increased. The ground realities call for a rational and long-term planning for development of human resources in Balochistan. Only the educated, skilled and healthy people can make the best use of the enormous natural resources of the province. Therefore in any development strategy for the province, human resource development should be the key factor, as the province has short of professionals and development experts.