By AMANULLAH BASHAR
Apr 10 - 16, 2000
Omer Manya, Director, The Fourth R franchise in Pakistan is committed
to spreading computer literacy amongst the people of the country. His schooling was from
Karachi Grammar School, and then at the University of Illinois in Chicago where he
graduated with a bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering in Computer Science. Fresh out
of college in 1985, Omer was hired by Motorola at their Headquarters in Schaumburg as a
Software Engineer. In 1996 Omer was transferred to Singapore as Director, Engineering and
was responsible for the entire Asia-Pacific region. His work experience has given him the
insight into the technical industry that makes him an ideal candidate to head The Fourth R
franchise in Pakistan.
Currently, he is working towards increasing computer literacy amongst
not only children but also ladies be they house-makers or career women. His mission
is to raise Pakistan's IT capabilities by training people according to international
computer training standards with an emphasis on continuously updating the curriculum. He
plans on opening several "The Fourth R" franchises in various parts of the city
which will impart quality computer training within the next few years.
PAGE: What in your opinion is the reason for US
companies coming into Pakistan with their franchise offices?
Omer Manya: I think in general the buying potential in
Karachi itself and in the major cities like Lahore and Islamabad is there. For most of
these American companies, the economics is the big thing, they're coming in here because
they believe the people have purchasing power. Pakistan has a lot of buying potential and
slowly and surely franchises are coming up. Now people have the opportunity to buy foreign
products from here and American companies are realizing that market potential and are
building on those opportunities.
PAGE: What is The Fourth R? Tell us something about
this company and why you chose to bring this franchise to Pakistan.
OM: The Fourth R is based in Seattle and established
in 1991. It is now a world leader in providing computer training for "every age at
every stage". The name The Fourth R is an American name and terminology. In American
education the teachers and all the academic people always use the "3 Rs" of
education Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. Computers have become the fourth 'R'
although the 'R' is at the end. The message is that computers are really absolutely
essential for future success. You can read, you can write, you can do arithmetic but if
you don't know computers you will have a major handicap when you get into the outside
I wanted to start something that was going along my expertise area,
which was computer education. The Fourth R's emphasis was on computer education for
children which is what I really wanted to get into because I feel that just like any other
art or skill, computer education must be started early to become a second part of your
PAGE: What has been the response?
OM: The response has been great they like the
environment here, they like the teachers that I have selected. With each new person that
comes in I take the time and let them view the course material, I explain what the
children are going through and they feel comfortable knowing what their children will be
learning. In fact, they liked the curriculum so much that I expanded the portfolio and
started Adult Classes in the morning. People have actually been looking for places where
the parents feel comfortable about leaving the children in the right environment.
PAGE: How is The Fourth R different from other
computer training institutes?
OM: I believe we are quite different first
reason being we have the foreign affiliation not just for the namesake but for the sake of
keeping up to the standards. Computer technology is something that is changing overnight;
what we had five years ago is just obsolete and what happened in the last ten years is
going to happen in the next two years. Computer institutions that are here, which are
up-to-date today will not be up-to-date tomorrow unless they invest in major research
abroad. And I have that because The Fourth R is established in over 30 countries and it is
financially feasible for them to have a research team in the US and which is continuously
updating the curriculum. You are sure to get the latest technology which is where I
believe we are different. Secondly, I have invested in the environment. Most of the
institutions don't invest so heavily in the environment, which I believe is just as
conducive to the learning as the technical matter.