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Politics & Policy

Farrukh Nizami got his engineering degree from the USA and also worked there for 16 years. He is the first Microsoft Certified System Engineer and the first Microsoft Trainer. He has been involved in training students for Microsoft and Cisco for last four years and provided training to more than 2000 students in Pakistan. Presently he is an advisor in CEP and also managing CTTC Pakistan.

Aug 27 - Sep 02, 2001

PAGE: What is the Continuous Education Programme?

FARRUKH NIZAMI: Information Technology (IT) is developing at such a fast pace that the knowledge acquired yesterday becomes obsolete tomorrow. Therefore, it is mandatory for the IT professionals to keep abreast with the latest developments. The process of imparting latest knowledge is called Continuous Education Programme (CEP). While people in the developed countries are fully aware of the need for keeping themselves update, it is all the more important for Pakistanis to go for the CEP.

PAGE: You are considered a pioneer of CEP in Pakistan, what have you achieved?

FARRUKH: Having studied in the USA and worked with some of IT companies, I am able to understand the need for the CEP. After coming back to Pakistan I joined Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET), which enjoys the privilege of providing support to the big companies like Microsoft, Cisco and Lucent Technologies. My first priority is to keep the students abreast with the latest developments as well as to develop them to be a contributor in new technologies. My other associates at SSUET teach the prescribed curriculum and my team complements their endeavour by offering these short courses. Initially these short courses were offered to SSUET students. However, lately students enrolled at other universities attend these courses. I am sure SSUET is contributing its share. Today every one is talking about the success of Operation Badar but very few people know that SSUET was the launching pad and still contributes the largest share."

PAGE: Engaging faculty to conduct these courses might have been difficult, how you have overcome the problem?

FARRUKH: These courses are mostly conducted in the USA and fees are also enormous. It is not possible for most of Pakistanis to attend these courses. SSUET is widely supported by Pakistanis living in the USA. A number of these professionals are involved in IT and also visit Pakistan regularly. A large number of these professionals express their wish to short courses at SSUET. I term this, training of trainers. The advantage is the nominal fee charged by the SSUET. The fees for one short course in the USA is around US$ 2,000, whereas SSUET charges only Rs 4,000. SSUET launched this programme in 1997 and over the years have trained thousands of people.

PAGE: What results SSUET has achieved?

FARRUKH: SSUET is blessed with an elaborate infrastructure, dedicated faculty and hard working students. It has been able to produce role-models, graduates joining industry leaders. This inculcates a spirit in other students to surpass the achievements of their predecessors. SSUET's Technology Incubator is involved in developing software for Cisco and Lockheed where a number of students get a chance to prove their talents. Therefore, SSUET graduates are the most sought after people not only in Pakistan but in the USA also. We are not afraid of brain drain and have a commitment to produce graduates in such a large number that Pakistan does not face any scarcity of skilled IT professionals.

PAGE: What distinguished SSUET from other IT schools?

FARRUKH: In IT, Pakistan needs a variety of professionals, the lowest being the computer operator and the highest being the software architect. Being a university, our mandate does not demand producing operators. As I have said earlier that SSUET is associated with world leaders, we aim at producing the architects only. The practice of complementing curriculum with short courses brings our graduates at par in knowledge with overseas counterparts.

PAGE: What are your suggestions for making Pakistan an IT savvy country?

FARRUKH: I have a very strong faith in Pakistan and its people. The nation has not progressed because of non-clarity of objectives and insufficient efforts to achieve the socalled objectives. I believe that educators in Pakistan have the highest responsibility. If we wish to change the existing education system, the job can be done in two phases: 1) producing or bringing in experts in required disciplines to train the trainers and 2) rewrite our curriculum. I also have strong faith in students and do not subscribe to the general impression that they do not devote time to their studies. They only want an education which can ensure a better future. To conclude I will say, "If we can ensure a better future for the upcoming generation, we should contribute by providing better education which can make Pakistan a prosperous country."