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Education, knowledge and commitment


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"Need for change in approach and attitude" Wali Durrani

Jun 24 - 30, 2000

"Many Pakistanis complaint about scarcity of resources, the way problems are addressed and apathy of those who are in a position to influence change. We also suffer from national psyche where we have a different set of rules for ourselves and entirely different parameters to evaluate others. This is sheer hypocrisy. The conflict in our mind set also makes us more self-centered. In 1947, before independence, we were a nation without a homeland, in the new millennium we have a lot, including a homeland but certainly we are not a nation. We are a collection of group, each having conflicting aims and objective. Therefore, it has become even greater responsibility of our educational institutions to disseminate education which gives us education, knowledge and commitment — a commitment not to ourselves but to our future generations. We should make efforts to ensure a better future for the next generation," was the outcry of Professor Wali Khan Durrani.

Over the last five decades we, the Pakistanis, have been divided into regional, linguistic and sectarian groups and each group has a strong belief that it has been exploited by the others. To a large extent, it may also be true. The fact is, in Pakistan there are only two groups, the rulers and the being ruled. This class difference has emerged due to different educational system for the two classes. This difference is not only at the higher education level but at the primary education level. The segregation of haves and have nots at the earliest stage of learning decides who is Mahmood and who is Ayaz and subsequently no Ayaz is allowed to become Mahmood. There is a need to change this attitude and eradicate discrimination. Pakistan should spend more on education particularly at primary level, make it compulsory and free of cost as well as improve the quality standards. Is it not true that thousands of primary school going children never get a chance to get acquainted to computer but the children of elite and affluent families have their own computer at school as well as at home. How can the handicaps compete with the privileged? asked Durrani.

"What does Pakistan spend on education? It is on the lowest priority and less than 2 per cent of annual expenditure goes to education. Even if schools are constructed, ghost teachers occupy the buildings and at often become pens. The government has no commitment towards providing quality education to masses. Private schools have become a mint but salary of a school teacher is not enough to allow him to live even at subsistence level. You will be amazed to hear that in Japan a primary school teacher in the category of 3rd highest paid people. What is the status of a teacher in Pakistan? There is a saying, 'have you got a job or still teaching children'. Even at higher educational institutions the philosophy is to churn out the largest possible number of degree holders without bothering about the quality of graduates. What should be done?" was another question by Durrani.

Without stopping for a second he continued, "The dilemma of this nation is, do not know — do not know. This is the worst form of ignorance. We are not aware of a lot many facts. This country does not suffer from scarcity of resources. We do not know what treasures the nature has gifted us. On top of this we do not know how to use/exploit these resources. Over the last five decades our GDP growth has been negative if one takes into account population growth rate. We wish to be an Asian Tiger, Can we become a tiger if most of our people are without food, clothing and shelter? The rich are getting richer and poor are getting poorer. The root-cause of this is inequitable distribution of wealth. Over the last three decades our industrial growth is more or less stagnant. Proliferation of industrial activity results in job creation and higher disposable income, which in turn create demand for more and more goods and services."

Durrani was critical of critics when he said, "Literally every one believes and says that things are not being done in the way they should be, but does any one bother to suggest an alternative strategy? We have to inculcate and develop the habit of 'think and ink'. We have to share our ideas with others. Universities, chambers, trade associations, etc. have their own platform. It is my conviction that if we share our ideas with others, we also learn to share our resources. I understand we do not have the patience to hear criticism, but I also believe that once we indulge in 'brain storming sessions'' we become prudent decision markers. If we learn to think about others and less about oneself, we can once again become a nation. We must learn from disintegration of USSR and unification of Germany."