INTERVIEW WITH MUSHTAQ A. MADRASWALA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR ICMAP
Dec 20 - 26, 2010
Mushtaq A. Madraswala is currently heading the affairs of the ICMAP as its Executive Director. He started the career as typist/office assistant with Pak Aluminum & Industrial Work. He served there for 6 months. At that stage, he decided to upgrade his education and registered for B.Com examination from the Karachi University. Then, he got a chance to join Buxly Paints Ltd. as office assistant and there he was responsible to ensure completion of documents for banking transactions. The joining of Buxly Paints has become an opportunity for him to move forward, and with consistent hard work and dedication, he got a chance to serve the accounts section. The opportunity was very well availed by him and he was given the designation of accounts assistant within a period of one-and-half-year. This elevation from non-cadre employment to line management was an inspiration to opt for business management field. The passion, ignited during the job of Buxly Paints, requires professional education level, and in year 1982 for following avenues were available at middle level:
Accountant and Business Management Executive ICMAP
Corporate Executive - ICSP
Banking Sector - Graduation & Banking Diploma
Academic as Law Graduate - L.L.B.
Keeping in view the above-mentioned avenues, he decided to opt for a career where he can spend day-time for job and evening time for education.
According to him, Almighty Allah heard the prayers of his parents and finally he started his professional career as planned. Within first six months [December 1982 onward], he got an opportunity to join line staff with Habib Bank Limited, on a condition that the confirmation of job is subject to passing of B.Com examination. He was confirmed as soon he was graduated. The journey at Habib Bank Ltd. started in 1982 and ended with voluntary shake-hand scheme in 1994 due to fear of career stagnancy as the promotion at that time was subject to seniority and less on the merit and hard work.
As stated above, during these ten years, the passion for acquiring education was priority and he completed required qualifications on the basis of time, need and priority. The first one was diploma in banking as very much required for banking job. The diploma in banking was essential for him to meritoriously uplift his career and secondly, certification of corporate secretary was important to excel in the business sector. The two qualifications also helped him getting some exemption in related subjects of professional qualification of ICMAP. Then onward, he persuaded for law graduation (LLB) which was completed as addition in the career and to purse for self-employment. In addition of qualification, he amicably got promotions and continue rising in the job career and in this way he completed almost 24 years of which details are as under:
12 years banking with Habib Bank Limited, started as assistant and ended as financial officer of First Habib A. Modaraba;
Then joined professional accountant firm, as consultant, and despite an ACMA, having experience of accounting, human management, business processes, got good opportunities to deliver on projects for business management as outsourced professional. The major were heading the project of PTCL's conversion from government enterprise to public limited company, designing, implementing and running systems of receipt collection and closing accounts of government of Pakistan.
This journey of 24 years ended on June 26, 2008 when he got an opportunity to join his alma mater, ICMAP, on June 27, 2008 leading ICMAP Secretariat as an Executive Director. The ICMAP is an institution where a person can establish his career in the fields of business and accounting with added advantage of decision-making skills.
PAGE: WHAT IN YOUR OPINION WAS THE PROGRESS OF EDUCATION IN OUR COUNTRY IN 2010?
MUSHTAQ MADRASWALA: There is no denying the fact that the education system in Pakistan is among the most deficient and backward in Asia. Assessing the overall educational standard in Pakistan, it would be suffice to say that lack of planning and its rigorous implementation have failed many educational measures in the past. On paper, we have very attractive ideas and strategies to improve education standard, but on implementation side, we have failed miserably. It is easier said than done. Another reason for our backwardness in education is the traditional determination of the feudal ruling elite in our country to preserve their hegemony over the rural population. They never want the masses to get educated. Our education system only offers "degrees" and not' knowledge' to the students. As a result, our colleges and universities are producing a mass of 'half-baked' or 'good-for-nothing' educated persons without any purpose or planning. Till 1980s, our qualified graduate were able to meet the criteria required at managerial positions in the industry, but after that the quality of education, imparted by government colleges and universities, have deteriorated so much that now even a Masters or PhD is not able to meet the required criteria of the corporate sector. The Higher Education Commission needs to accept the present level of educational products, in view of the current state of education affairs instead of comparing them with international standards. It should be realised that the government is only focusing on increasing the number of schools and colleges and it is least interested in improving the worsening standard of education. What a pity that none of the Pakistani universities is seen in the list of top 500 universities of the world. It is now admitted that nationalisation of schools and colleges in 1972 was a blunder, which retarded the progress of education in Pakistan. Even after denationalisation, the education system has not improved to the level it was expected, and still today it has basic shortcomings. The standard of education in government schools are deteriorating day by day. There is a stark difference between the standards of public and private institutions. The government needs to make massive investment in order to improve the education quality. The education budget should be brought at par with the international standard. It is the primary obligation of the government to provide free education at the primary level. In the developed world, education is the onus of the state. In USA, education till the 12th grade is free. These nations are aware of the role a sound education system can play in their overall development and progress. On the contrary, our ruling elite has put the issue on the backburner. As a result, the private sector has stepped in to fill the void created by the government and exploiting the situation by charging exorbitant fee.
Apart from the above, it is also a matter of satisfaction for us that the education indicators during last year have shown some improvement, albeit at a slow rate. Literacy rate has improved to 57 per cent in 2009-10 as against 56 per cent in 2008-09, especially there is improvement in female literacy rate. The Net Enrollment rate (NER) has also shown overall improvement to 57 per cent from 55 per cent during the same period. I think a lot of effort is required on the part of government to achieve goal of universal primary education.
PAGE: WHAT ARE YOUR COMMENTS ON EDUCATION STANDARDS IN PAKISTAN AND INDIA?
MUSHTAQ MADRASWALA: I think that India has a slight edge over Pakistan in education standards but in reality the end product (i.e. qualified students) coming out from the education system in Pakistan, are comparatively at par in capability and skills than their contemporaries in India. Had there been the much desired support from the successive governments in Pakistan in providing the basic education infrastructure facilities, our qualified students would have been much ahead in numbers and quality in the region.
According to State Bank of Pakistan Annual Report 2009-2010, "Pakistan lags behind as compared to other regional countries with comparatively low literacy rate and low public spending on education". The official figures tell us that the literacy rate in Pakistan is 53.7 per cent as compared to 62.8 per cent in India. Public spending on education in Pakistan is 2.9 per cent as against 3.2 per cent by India. In the SAARC region, literacy rate is much higher; in Maldives 98.4 per cent and Sri Lanka 90.6 per cent. Maldives being a very small island in South Asia spends about 8.1 per cent on education, followed by 5.1 per cent of Bhutan. According to UNDP 2009 report, Pakistan stands at 163rd position in literacy rate ranking of countries, with India at 149th position, Maldives 61th rank and Sri Lanka 94th rank.
PAGE: WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ABOUT FEES IN PAKISTAN?
MUSHTAQ MADRASWALA: The fee structure in in schools vary considerably, with government schools charging minimal fee from, mostly poor and lower-middle class students, whereas on the other hand, the private schools, catering to the middle income and elite class of the society, are charging much higher fees. Honestly speaking, education should be same for all, irrespective of different strata of society, and the government should focus on bringing the education standard at par throughout the country. In fact, the education should be free at the primary level and the quality of "peela" schools be brought at a reasonable standard so that their qualified students could take admission in higher educational institutes and compete fairly with the students coming out from the private schools. On the other hand, the private universities are also charging exorbitant fees. A study of the fee structure of major universities in the private sector indicates that the fee for BBA degree ranges from 948,000 to 344,800. The virtual university has the lowest fee structure for BBA degree at 62,400. There should be uniformity in the fee structure to cater to the middle class of our society as right of better education is for everyone and not for elites.
PAGE: HOW CAN WE PRODUCE MORE SKILLED WORKFORCE?
MUSHTAQ MADRASWALA: Skilled workforce can be produced by establishing a chain of higher excellence technical education institutes in the country, imparting those skills which are required by industry. The government should allocate maximum funds in the budget for investments in education and training. That is a need of the hour if we want to enhance global competitiveness of Pakistan and achieve rapid economic growth through participation of an educated and skilled labour workforce.
PAGE: WHERE DO YOU SEE PAKISTAN'S EDUCATION STANDARDS IN THE DAYS TO COME?
MUSHTAQ MADRASWALA: The education sector of Pakistan still faces key issues and challenges including low literacy level among females, particularly in rural areas, low primary completion rate, high pupil teacher ratio, and inefficient budgetary allocation for education, in addition to limited physical infrastructure and lack of trained teachers. All these factors have hampered progress of education sector in the country. Accomplishing these goals need strong political will and commitment from all the stakeholders i.e. the government, private sector, philanthropists and business community.
PAGE: WHAT ABOUT MALE AND FEMALE EDUCATION RATIO?.
MUSHTAQ MADRASWALA: Gender disparity in literacy and enrollment is one of our key concerns. Pakistan's overall record in promoting and delivering gender equality has been weak. According to figures, primary completion rate of females in Pakistan is 53.4 per cent as compared to 66.9 per cent of males. This figure is quite dismal and one of the lowest, as compared to the primary completion rate of other SAARC countries i.e. 109 per cent in Maldives, 105 per cent in Sri Lanka, 92 per cent in India and Bhutan and 71 per cent in Nepal. In order to improve female education, it is absolutely necessary that concerted efforts be made to change or improve the attitude of the people towards social and educational status of female by emphasizing Islamic teachings. In this connection, public and private sector as well as media should play their positive role.