Feb 16 - 22, 2009

Educational institutions play an important and crucial role in building of human resources of a country. From primary to higher level, they are bestowed with the vital task of societal development. By personality building, they produce human being important for society's transition to civilization and cultural promotion. As long as the process of personality building enters into advanced stage, not only intuitional responsibility increases but also impact of outputs appears to be forceful on the society. Higher learning is such an advanced stage that preludes progression or digression of a society according to its efficacy and capability. This also determines the pace of an economy. Unfortunately, Pakistan's education system demarcated in to two parts on the bases of money spent caters differently to two different segments of the society. Normally, wonders of education lay open for those who can pay price. Rest remains either deprived or partly served.

While talking to PAGE, Dr. Akhlaq Ahmed Pro-Vice Chancellor University of Karachi said academics build individual as well as group personalities. In general, human resource development is evidently beneficial when people keep abreast with ongoing developments, he said adding, it is necessary to upgrade skills of workforce. If products filtering out of higher learning centers are capable then economy has bright chance to prosper. Conversely, it will become vulnerable to pressures or collapse.

However, does that mean advanced academic centers are springboard of mechanical boosters whose prime objective is to obsessively work out materialistic benefits right from the beginning? Alternatively, these centers are brazenly selling commercial commodities out in market that smacks of condescension to those with unequal educational background. If education shrinks its ramifications alongside wealth accumulation, then its other primary aim of wisdom pursuits is pushed to side. It is like insult of knowledge at the max.

"We are not selling commercial commodities," remarked Dr. Ahmed with reference to pass-outs. Obviously, market value of graduates from the university is determined according to their skills and abilities. 'Yet, the purpose of education is to produce knowledgeable persons effective for the society.' Not all but numbers of higher leaning institutes are manifesting these practices. In Pakistan, it is also for sure, as giving education has turned up a commercial and lucrative profession. When one pays exorbitant fees for getting educated, in return he or she seeks such a market to get paid back parallel value. Due to propped allocation in education budget, public sector universities have marked distinction in terms of fee structure over private higher education institutes. Unfortunately, this distinction is frittering away because of the reduction in funds to public sector universities.

Cutback in funds damages development projects of universities, get them near to grinding halt, and above all research works suffer a lot, mused Dr. Ahmed who has 44 years experience of teaching, research, and educational administration in Pakistani and foreign universities and research and development centers. 'Partly release of last quarter fund has already made it difficult for us to meet expenditures.' Recent meeting of VCs in Islamabad emphasizing about need and importance of education budget unanimously resolved that situation would lead to worsening law and order in universities. He also consented with the idea, saying deduction in funds or cut in recurring grant might pave a way for unrest as disturbance and uncertainty casts doubts over the fate of staff members and research projects. Reportedly, government withheld Rs. 300 million funds to be released to three public sector universities located in Karachi: UoK, Federal Urdu University, and NED.

Appointed Pro-VC for performing and executing hardcore jobs that include quality enhancement in the University of Karachi, Dr. Ahmed also emphasized on skill and capacity development of employees in the university. Without upgraded skills, they cannot become instrumental in facilitating and delivering quality education. He said that time-to-time university undertakes quality enhancement programmes for staff. Computer training is an essential module under these programmes.

While students grooming and training programmes are fundamental to establish well-built base of human resources, nationalism is as indispensable, said Dr. Ahmed who has contributed several articles on educational standard in local dailies. He expressed his dismay over the lack of unity in people, who, he maintained, are confining their loyalties to a close knitted group or devoting to its goals. 'It is good to think as a nation.' As being presentable is necessary for students, it is also a basic ingredient of career success.

Strength of an economy and its sustainability is judged from the standard of its human resources. Skilled labour force trained to perform a particular function indicates adequate standard of workers. In case of lack in numbers of skilled workers standard becomes deplorable. This is teamwork of higher learning institutes and technical and vocational training centers to bring out workforce required for different occupations. Higher education centers become more responsible in proportion as they set in intensifier to consciousness.            

Is our educational system producing people with wisdom? Is it imposing obligations on educated class to think over multifaceted advantages of subject comprehension (knowledge) rather than sticking to occupational advancement? This is a time to leave all concerns on the backburner and ponder at whether our higher learning institutes both private and public are producing talents needed for the economy. Since high learning center is final commanding stage of theoretical upbringing of students before they step in real life laboratories, development at this level is relatively long lasting.