Information Technology Solutions
interview with Zaheer A. Kidvai, CEO of BITS
Syed M. Aslam
Aug 14 - 20, 2000
digital divide does not necessarily mean marginalising the large number
of people living in the rural areas of Pakistan. At least not any more
with the launching of an e-learning project last month by the
Beaconhouse School Systems, the premier school education system of the
ninety schools and some 45,000 students across the country Beaconhouse
is not only the largest school system of Pakistan but also of Asia. In
addition, the Beaconhouse Group of companies also owns and operates
Informatics, a prestigious IT institute and solutions provider.
edge puts Beaconhouse in a leading position to promote, and influence,
the education system in the country and last month's launching of Beyond
Information Technology Solutions (BITS) Pvt. Ltd. is the first step to
achieve just that purpose. BITS
aims to become the first interlinked e-learning system for the teachers
and students of Beaconhouse initially and cable-based education channel
for faculty and students of other schools — and school themselves —
in the later phase.
to PAGE the chief executive
officer of BITS, Zaheer A. Kidvai, who is also the joint venture partner
of the project, said that he has been associated with the Beaconhouse
over the years as a consultant. Talking about the beginning of BITS
Zaheer, an IT entrepreneur, said that a number of factors prompted him
make a proposal to the Beaconhouse about the project.
one, during his association with the Beaconhouse he witnessed that the
institution put a premium on teachers training and re-training and was
always eager to spend huge funds on that. It also spends fabulous amount
of time and money to develop an effective curriculum for the school
system whose 90 branches across the country impart education to a large
number of students from Kindergarten to O level (Grade 12). Secondly,
the Beaconhouse is in the process of launching an ISP company —
Beaconet — in Lahore, which presently is under testing.
whose 'Solutions Unlimited', a teachers' training company on how to
incorporate computer use across the curriculum, and 'Enabling
Technologies', an IT company with the 'if you can communicate well you
can teach well,' said that education has always been his passion. BITS
aims to provide the missing link between idea and communication in the
field of education and the catalyst for the development of on-line
distant learning in Pakistan, he added.
said that Beaconhouse has already got a license for cable channel for
establishing its own educational channel. This will allow the people to
subscribe to this particular channel like other entertainment channels
to promote education not only in urban centres but also in the rural
areas. We intend to use this channel not only to train teachers but also
to offer distant learning in the remote areas of the country. We are
willing to share Beaconhouse's experience, expertise, curriculum,
resources and knowledge for the greater national benefit, he added.
would also help Beaconhouse to benefit from its in-house expertise by
linking all its schools across the country to make the best use of the
knowledge of the best of teachers in any given subject no matter where
he is. BITS will also the develop education softwares for students, its
own as well as others, at affordable prices due to the large captive
market available to it.
system will help facilitate on-line learning and education for teacher
training, development of curriculum for not only Beaconhouse but also
other schools, teachers and individuals through the cable channel. I
want to make BITS a centre for e-learning, he said.
will also provide Internet Business Solutions Provider (IBSP) service
for total business solutions for e-commerce including hardware, inhouse
software development and consultancy.
David Siegel, an IT guru specialising in website designing, who has said
that 'Don't change your website. Change your business' Zaheer said that
it implies that businesses who intend to go online should take a long
hard look to see how their current business model needs to be altered to
take advantage of the digital economy.
IBSP will help the corporate sector to identify the changes referred to
by David Siegel and then help them to go online. To help a corporate
client to make the online transition smoothly we will have experienced
web designers/developers, hard and software specialists and finance,
business, and marketing consultants. Some of these professionals will be
hired on full-time basis while others will be provided by the strategic
alliances that BITS will form with these companies.
the availability of a hi-speed and open access as the most important
requisite for the development of IT culture in the country Zaheer warned
that failure to do will restrict the growth be it e-commerce, PC or