Excerpts from an interview with Project Director, SZABIST

Sep 25 - Oct 01, 2000

We took the lead among educational institutions by launching the website of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science & Technology (SZABIST) five years ago. We are now working to enter into e-education. While some other institutions are also working to achieve this, perhaps we will be the first to offer fully interactive e-education. It will make distant learning possible. Students will be able to register themselves, listen/down load lectures, submit their assignments and even take examinations.

I believe that we should not force students for learning, we have to create an environment whereby a person would like to upgrade his knowledge, skills and performance. However, the ultimate objective remains the same leading a better quality life. Going a step further, we at SZABIST want to make learning a pleasure because when one enjoys doing some thing he/she hardly feels the fatigue or frustration. This improves the overall learning process.

You are aware that SZABIST has a very brief but eventful history. We have been repeatedly classified among the best business schools of Asia by Asiaweek. In Pakistan many business schools have a much longer history but what made us make an impression. It is not a secret, one can go through the appraisal procedure followed by Asiaweek which is very comprehensive.

While some institutions may not appreciate the work of Asiaweek and also go to the extent by saying it is biased. I believe in a very old saying, the proof is in the pudding. Let every one find out about the quality of SZABIST graduates where do they go, where they are placed, what salary do they get and how many graduates get H-1 visa. But I would also suggest that our critics should also look at the admission procedure followed what percentage of total number of applicants get the admission and what is the cut-off point.

I believe that faculty play a very important role in carving the finished product. I would term an entrant as uncut diamond, the facilities/infrastructure is cutting lab and faculty is responsible for cutting and polishing. Therefore, creating the final product is the responsibility of faculty. A faculty member at SZABIST normally spend more than 10 hours at the institute. During these hours he teaches, provides counselling, helps students in undertaking research projects and last but not the least evaluate the students.

Allow me to divulge a little. Every one seems to be talking about information technology (IT) and students are rushing towards the institutes offering IT education. Incidentally, all the success stories are quoted from the USA. But, I believe while looking at IT education, Pakistan should remain the top priority and the use of IT in core industries.

Look at our core industries, i.e. textiles and clothing, sugar, financial services, etc. are we making the best use of information technology? The reply is in negative. The students are lost every one wants to attain knowledge to undertake development work, but tends to forget that applications of available programmes, operating systems in the core industries is the key to success.

I also share the feeling that the country has witnessed mushroom growth of both business and IT schools. The problem has reached a level where students after spending a couple of semesters realize that they had made a wrong choice. Then they try to switch over from one institution to another. While transfer of credit hours from one university/school to another is common in the US or the UK, it is just not possible in Pakistan.

This should have been possible in Pakistan also. The present situation is due to not following the standardized credit hours. According to the US standard, one academic hour per week over a 15-weeks semester is equivalent to one credit hour. Our MBA is 60 credit hours and BCS is 124 credit hours programmes. This was possible because I was associated with an American university as Director of Graduate Studies. I have explained the system followed by SZABIST and students can, themselves, compare what system is followed by other business schools or universities. This indicates how elaborate is our classroom instructions and then also add the research work each student has to do individually and as a group member. All these put together make the difference. To ensure greater exposure of our students to real life problems and issues, we encourage them to participate in various competitions. The performance of SZABIST students in A.Q. Khan Laboratories is on record.