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Excerpts from an interview with CEO, City Campus, Hamdard University

Aug 13 - 19, 2001

This is the age of materialism and every one seeking to accumulate as much wealth as possible in the least possible time, most of the time usurping the rights of others. This is the reason now students, dominated by the thinking of their parents and society, also aim to acquire only that type of education which can enable them to earn the maximum. A recap of the changing preference, for the type of education, also proves this and exhibits the herd mentality of the upcoming generation to join information technology bonanza.

Whereas the direction and type of education to be imparted should have been govern by our national objectives and priorities. National objectives must include faster development of economy, narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor and better standard of living improvement for all and not for a small group or few groups. This can only be achieved by following a goal oriented technology. There are no short-cuts in life. Therefore, first we have to plan what we wish to achieve and then develop and implement policies to achieve these objectives.

Two of the worst weaknesses of this nation are myopic vision adhocism. The decision makers also suffer from selective perception and make decisions in isolation and also assume that all other factors will remain constant. For example when we wish to increase export of textile products, we only seek incentives and protection. We hardly pay any attention to changing rules of the game, preference of buyers and never take into account what our traditional competitors are doing. And worst of all make no effort to optimize cost, I am not referring to cost cutting approach, I am talking about making the best use of each rupee spent.

I will also say that policy planners do not take holistic approach in education. Though, there are education ministries at federal and provincial levels, we are still following the rule of colonialism a different education for the rulers and the being ruled. Most of us hesitate to accept this fact, but is it not a reality that syllabi of private schools for elites and 'yellow schools, are different? We are bent upon continuing the 'class system'. This class system is also followed by the corporates who love to induct youngsters from elite class only to maintain close liaison with those who are part of pressure groups.

Therefore, there is an urgent need to abolish this dual system of education. If we believe that syllabi taught at yellow schools is of no consequence, we must follow the syllabi followed by the elites. There should be one and only one system of education for in Pakistan. There can be pros and cons of following the policy, but the sooner we implement this the better it will be for the larger interest of the nation.

For the poor standard of education both students and teachers are responsible. Students are not able to pay attention because they do not see any future and teachers have all the complaints low remuneration at the top. If we follow a holistic approach, plan to produce only required number of graduates and skilled youths, we can overcome the problem of unemployment to a large extent. This is not an outrageous idea. The data about various industries is available. Based on this making a forecast of future requirement for educated and skilled workforce should not pose any problem. At least two elaborate documents: five year development programme of the GoP and the World Bank's development report.

I may sound cynical when I say that Pakistan is blessed with tremendous resources and has the potential to become enormously strong economic power. This is not wishful thinking because at one time Pakistan has much robust economy as compared to those countries which now make newly industrialized countries. While those countries worked hard Pakistan fall pray to the luxury of aid, grant and soft term loans. Pakistan became a testing laboratory for experimenting various development theories of the West. Most of the aid, grant and soft term loans were not aimed at generating revenue, today we have a huge burden of external debt.

There is no fun and time in crying on spilt milk. If we are serious in bringing prosperity, for all, we have to think and work like Japan and Germany rebuilding after devastation at the end of second world war. We must be thankful to God because we are not sitting on debris. The country has an elaborate infrastructure. The only thing we have to do is improving the education system. Each of us must work hard, strengthen institutions, improve governance level and reject those who are not willing to become part of the nation building programme.