EDUCATION AND THE ECONOMY
There is still a dearth and rising demand for economic managers and professionals in all areas of business life around the country
By TAJAMMUL HUSSAIN
June 20 - 26, 2005
Pakistan is presently one of the fastest growing global economies according to the latest figures released by the government. Of the intricate factors responsible for this historic growth is the growing public awareness and demand for higher education in vocational studies, especially business administration. Since we have a continuous flow of education seekers that is looking for new careers, the demand for public and private sector education has been on the rise for several decades.
This frenzy has necessitated the establishment of new departments in older centers of learning such as the Karachi University to serve the interests of this new generation of students exclusively. In addition, hundreds of private sector business schools have also sprung up all over the country to serve and exploit countless students seeking higher education.
These business schools are mostly concentrated in urban, industrial centers such as Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore. However, the growing number of children in every nook and corner of the land has resulted in an uncontrolled explosion in the number of schools even in small towns and suburbs.
In this story, we will undertake a study of some of the biggest names in this now well established industry and how they are contributing to the country's present and future manpower requirements.
NUMBER OF BUSINESS SCHOOLS IN PAKISTAN
The mushrooming number of business schools in the country obviously implies that these institutions provide a varying degree of educational quality depending on factors such as the fee structures, location, faculty and alumni, and those managing the day to day affairs of the schools, to name a few.
Among the highest rated are the state-owned Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), and SZABIST. These institutions have stood the test of time and are recognized in Pakistan and the rest of the world for their uncompromising services and educational standards established through their merit-based approach, value addition, intellectual rigor, and character building. They have established credibility over the years in providing executive training of high standard for serving executives.
IBA is the oldest business school outside North America, and was established in 1955, as a joint collaboration with the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce, University of Pennsylvania. Presently, IBA is the country's leading business school and the largest graduate business school in the Third World. It offers business oriented education as well as computer studies (in collaboration with IBM World Trade Corporation).
Its two Karachi campuses (at the Karachi University and the evening campus off M A Jinnah Road) are real centers of excellence spread over 80 acres, and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). IBA's two libraries also hold the single largest collection of books on business and economics and are regularly updated with latest information, books and magazines from across the business world.
The Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) is a pre-eminent Lahore-based academic institution, with the aim to serve as a catalyst for economic growth and social development with a focus on resource management. LUMS, like its successful opposite numbers, is known to develop high quality professionals and scholars with vision, courage, dedication and commitment to excellence. It remains the number one choice for the elite of Punjab for all the right reasons.
Another name worth mentioning is the private sector institution SZABIST, which has been a benchmark for quality business and vocational education in Pakistan since its inception in the early 90s. Other significant players include the College of Business Management (CBM), BIZTEK, Iqra University and Hamdard University.
However, there are hundreds of institutions of varying sizes across the country whose only strength lies in the advertising campaigns they run. Since there are limited checks on the quality of deliverables in the country, many businessmen have exploited this vulnerable section of society to their heart's content.
COMMERCIALIZATION OF EDUCATION
Although most institutions are masters of deception when it comes to advertising and marketing their 'businesses', only the toughest make it to the line after having proved their capability and true dedication to quality education. Over the years, we have witnessed hundreds of new players enter the game with promises of greatness and glory, proudly displaying their affiliation with several international universities. This phenomenon has been partly successful owing to our national craving for all things 'foreign' or 'imported'.
While those that stood the test of time remained truly committed to their cause and have earned their rightful place in education, there have been countless that sprung up overnight and disappeared in the same way. In addition to this, there are the international names from lesser states in the Far East (the Phillipines and Thailand in particular) and parts of Eurasia (especially Cyprus) that exploit disillusioned students who get entangled in their vicious webs. The Mafia also exists within Pakistan and there have been infinite instances of this nature since education turned into a lucrative industry back in the 90s.
Some experts point to the population explosion of the 70s, 80s and 90s (going on unabated as we read) as the most predominant reason for this scenario. Others think that the unfair distribution and concentration of wealth is responsible for the situation. While we may agree with both schools of thought, the fact that the situation prevails, and will prevail for decades to come, is mind boggling; and the threat to developing professionals and new entrants to the workforce is acute.
Although the better institutions generally prevail and prosper in the presence of healthy competition, the competition is not always 'healthy'. Some players have been known to use unethical, cut-throat tactics to lure students and defeat competitors.
Some experts hinted that there are numerous institutions that keep shifting their campuses and changing names owing to legal issues. Complete changes in their managements are also a frequent practice. This is done to portray a new image every now and then, since the initial name, plan and administration may have failed to produce the desired results.
STANDARDS PREVALENT AT INSTITUTIONS
IBA, LUMS and SZABIST are reputed to develop high quality professionals and scholars gifted with vision, courage, and dedication. These students and professionals are committed to the pursuit of excellence. They improve academic and management practices in Pakistan through the generation, assimilation, and dissemination of knowledge.
Over the years, they have made significant and meaningful contributions towards social and economic uplift of Pakistan through human resource development, and serve as an intellectual resource base in the region. Hence, their contribution to the country's economy is unanimously considered indispensable.
On the other hand, smaller institutions serving the tidal wave of low-income groups are managed by unprofessional educationists who are out to make hay while the sun shines. The number of such institutions has never been anticipated or determined. Since most of the students attending these institutions have no prior exposure to quality education, they are easily enticed with promises of a bright future as is apparent from a glance at one of the millions of advertising campaigns around each metropolis.
However, it is tragic to see some of these aspiring and ambitious youth learning the ground realities by experience when they are on the verge of entering the workforce. These youth are made to believe that once they have completed their education, they will be highly sought after by major conglomerates and MNCs.
Resultantly, thousands of under par professional are born every year with little to show for their efforts. Nonetheless, as long as there are students running frantically and willing to go the extra mile for an apparently reliable education and sound career, there will be more top-quality and sub-standard institutions joining the bandwagon in the years to follow.
As an unwritten rule, contemporary schools must be able to provide a vast variety of courses since competition is fierce and the race is heating up to boiling point. As a result, most schools today provide business education along with Computer Science, Economics, Engineering, Technology, E-Commerce, Finance, General Management, Management Information Systems, Marketing, etc.
This leads to additional deterioration in the quality of faculty at institutions that cannot afford good educators at this level. Moreover, many educators and students here are under the impression that the quality of the curriculum is all that matters; the quality of the teacher is secondary in some cases and altogether irrelevant in others.
The government seems to be focused on raising the literacy rate in the country to please donor agencies and the New World Order with its eyes shut. At a conference some years ago, a representative of the federal government's education wing was quoted as saying that the present focus and aim of the government is to increase the number of graduates in the country regardless of the standard and quality of the professionals being churned out in the thousands. Such sentiments can only produce negative trends and encourage unconstructive practices that will jeopardize the economic future of the country as well as its moral fibers.
Probably the most important corner in the education triangle is the teacher who sets standards and makes a definitive impact on the life and psyche of the developing minds from the grass-root levels. Unfortunately, in a society that has little sense of direction and remains severely devoid of values, teachers (especially school and college teachers) are grossly underpaid, insecure and irresolute. Therefore, children brought up by these teachers lack confidence and sense of direction.
Although some colleges and institutions retain an excellent faculty without compromise, faculty in a majority of lesser institutions is usually inducted from among former students who are naturally short of confidence when dealing in matters of importance such as pay scales, insurance, over-time, and other employment benefits with their new employers- their former educators.
Unfortunately, according to a student of one such institution, the enthusiastic new teachers, lecturers and professors are deficient in industry know-how as they have no hands-on experience. Moreover, since they have just replaced their own educators, these educators know fully well how long their employers will need them and their services, and are therefore sometimes compelled to resort to unethical practices to make both ends meet.
Once more this works to the advantage of employers as under-paid fresh grads will do anything for a career, especially one that is as prestigious and lucrative as education in these days. Similar trends have created a vast pool of unemployed professionals and an even greater pool of insecure workers.
However, this exercise is in sharp contradiction with the prevalent practices at world-class schools including the top schools in Pakistan. For instance, IBA, SZABIST and LUMS faculty is highly educated from recognized international institutions. These schools recognize the value of quality education not only as a development tool for the country but also as a reputation enhancer for themselves. Their strength is derived and enhanced thanks to this intellectual approach, the quality of management, the quality and variety of courses offered, and affiliations at the international front.
This does not imply that they have no faculty members educated exclusively in some of the better schools in the country. Although the number of locally groomed educators is small, exceptional professionals are inducted to serve at these institutions in various capacities. Their own qualities are supplemented by fellow faculty members and training and orientation programs that are a regular feature at most noteworthy schools.
SZABIST, LUMS and IBA have a diverse faculty, a majority of which has been educated in leading universities of the US and UK. Hence, when an institution of such caliber claims to have a curriculum that is designed and executed as per international standards, the declaration is justifiable as there is sufficient emphasis on team projects, project-based learning, case studies, experimental learning, simulations and lectures.
However, similar claims by lesser institutions are questionable to say the least. Since the majority of their faculty is home-grown, and in some cases has been educated under diminutive educators to begin with, their execution and teaching methodology lack the punch that quality education packs. Furthermore, despite popular claims of international affiliation and recognition, their curriculum does not adhere to international standards.
REPUTATION AND RANKING
SZABIST was rated at Number 50 among the top business schools of Asia by Asiaweek while LUMS was placed at Number 23 at the beginning of the present decade. However, both institutions have taken quantum leaps and have managed to display exceptional results since then and are rapidly climbing the ranks. This is mainly due to the stringent rules and regulations enforced by the managements at these institutions and the quality of professionals they have created.
SZABIST has been ranked among the top MBA Schools of South Asia in the Asia Inc. Survey 2004 of Asia's Best MBA Schools for two consecutive years (2003, 2004). Another reputed international business magazine, BusinessWeek, has listed SZABIST among the best business schools of the world for the fourth consecutive year (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004) along side other top international schools including Wharton, Kellogg, Harvard and MIT.
Other centers of educational excellence to feature prominently in such pages include IBA and LUMS. Hamdard University, the College of Business Management, Iqra University and others are doing a reasonable job striving for excellence and giving the leading schools a run for their money. Some experts are optimistic that some of these emerging universities will make their mark internationally in the foreseeable future.
NUMBER OF ECONOMIC MANAGERS CREATED EVERY YEAR
Although our uncountable institutions create innumerable professionals every year, only the best of the best make it through into organizations of high repute. Graduates holding exceptional academic records at leading universities are hand-picked by major business houses well before they complete their courses. This is one of the most striking incentives for students learning at good institutions.
Some of the worthwhile employers include ABN Amro Bank, Citibank, Fauji Foundation, Habib Bank Limited, ICI Pakistan Limited, Unilever Pakistan, Union Bank, NestleŽ Milkpak Pakistan, United Bank Limited, Novartis Pharma, Packages Limited, Pakistan State Oil, Pakistan Tobacco Company, Procter & Gamble Pakistan, Shell Pakistan and Standard Chartered Bank.
These organizations induct raw talent and academicians and polish and equip them to meet the challenges of the times. Some of the success stories emanating from these aspiring professionals are gratifying for the employers as well as the employees. These organizations have also achieved their business targets and are an encouraging example for newly established multinationals.
This illustrates that there is still a dearth and rising demand for economic managers and professionals in all areas of business life around the country. With the economy looking robust and investments coming from in-land and abroad, it is imperative that we establish more quality schools that will provide a home-bred generation of high-tech professionals. Pakistan must create more educated professionals at home if it is to face the challenges that lie ahead, especially following the enforcement of the WTO.
As mentioned earlier, students of reputed business schools are identified and selected by multinational companies as well as major local business houses before they have even completed their courses. The students are further groomed during their internship period and quickly grasp the pros and cons of the business world with their hi-fi skills and superior knowledge base.
However, there are hundreds of thousands of under-cooked professionals also being created at the same time. These students enter the labor market determined to excel but lack the genuine business skills that multinationals and other good employers demand.
Their despair leads them to another set of wolves that feed on fresh flesh and build business empires with low quality products and services that will continue to remain in demand in a cost-conscious society. However, if we are to compete in the global economy with efficient forces such as India and China, we must work out a way to check unethical business practices without delay.
In the late 80s and early 90s, there were hundreds of thousands of unemployed doctors and engineers since those were the only two meaningful professions in the country. Since then, the country has gone through a positive shift from the traditional values and more and more people are giving business education more preference as compared to medical and engineering.
Consequently, there are now hundreds of IT professionals as well as business school graduates who are finding it increasingly difficult to develop a niche for themselves in the demanding state of affairs. The future of these agents of the aging workforce is a matter of serious consequence for the nation.
THE NEW WORKFORCE
Running into some of these aspiring professionals is always a delightful experience since their academic and professional stories are as diverse and versatile as they are. Determined to prove their professional prowess, these young guns are always prepared to go the extra mile in pursuit of recognition and experience, with that 'the boss is always right' mind-set.
Once again, this attitude has worked to the disadvantage of the working class since the concept of ethical business and working hours is now a thing of the past. The new labor force is also oblivious to the concept of over-time, which employers gladly paid not too long ago. This reflects poorly on our national productivity which is noted to be among the lowest in the region and another sensitive issue that must be addressed on war-footing.
There is no doubt that fresh blood must be pumped into an organization or a unit/team to ensure its sustainability over a period of time. However, the talent being employed must be capable of performing given tasks and be dexterous enough to juggle priorities instantly and flawlessly round the clock.
In the developed world, employees are often further nurtured and trained to excel in their respective areas and kept up-to-date by their employers. Unfortunately, few employers in Pakistan make the effort to do so unless they absolutely have to.
SUMMARY OF PUBLIC SECTOR BUDGETARY ALLOCATION FOR EDUCATION 2003-04 (RS. IN MILLION)
Ministry of Education
Higher Education Commission
Federal Government Education
Institution in Cantonments & Garrisons
Federally Administered Tribal Areas
Federally Administered Northern Areas
Federal Government Special Education Institutions
Cabinet Division 1
Youth Affairs Division
IT & Telecom Division
Ministry of Scientific & Technological
Ministry of Women Development (Nutrition
Support Program for Girls in primary Schools)
Other Federal Ministries/Divisions/Organizations
Government of Punjab
Government of Sindh
Government of NWFP
Government of Balochistan
Government of Azad Jammu & Kashmir
ENROLMENT IN PUBLIC SECTOR UNIVERSITIES (2001-2003)
University of the Punjab,Lahore
University of Engg. & Tech.,Lahore
University of Engg. & Tech., Taxila
University of Agriculture, Faisalabad
University of Arid Agriculture, Rawalpindi
Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan
Islamia University, Bahawalpur
Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi
University of Karachi, Karachi
NED University of Engg & Tech., Karachi
Sindh Agriculture. University, Tandojam
University of Sindh, Jamshoro
Shah Abdul Latif University, Khairpur
Mehran University of Engg. & Tech. Jamshoro
Quaid-i-Awam University of Sciences & Tech., Nawabshah
University of Peshawar, Peshawar
NWFP University of Engg. & Tech., Peshawar
NWFP University of Agriculture, Peshawar
Gomal University, D.I. Khan
University of Balochistan, Quetta
Balochistan University of Engg. & Tech., Khuzdar
Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad
Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad
International Islamic University, Islamabad
National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad
Karakoram International University, Gilgit
Azad Jammu & Kashmir Univ,Muzaffarabad
Source: Higher Education Commission, Government of Pakistan, Islamabad.
TOTAL NUMBER OF ENROLMENT BY PROVINCES 2000 - 01
TOTAL NUMBER OF TEACHERS BY PROVINCES/FEDERAL AREAS (2000-2001) PUBLIC SECTOR ONLY
TOTAL NUMBER OF EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS BY PROVINCES 2000-01
*Islamabad Capital Territory
**Federally Administered Tribal Areas
***Federally Administered Northern Areas
****Azad Jammu and Kashmir
Source: Pakistan School Education Statistics 2000-2001, Academy of Educational Planning and Management, Ministry of Education, Islamabad.
ENROLMENT IN PROFESSIONAL PROGRAMS (2003-04)
Enrolment in all PhD programs
(Public + Private Sector)
Enrolment in all Science, Engineering andTechnology programs
(Public + Private Sector)
Enrolment in all Medical programs
(Public + Private Sector)
Enrolment in all MPhil programs
(Public + Private Sector)
Enrolment in all Agriculture/Veterinary
Science programs (Public + Private Sector)
AUDITED EXPENDITURE ON EDUCATION
(IN MILLION OF 1999-00 RUPEES)
University & College Education
Professional / Technical Education & Teachers Training
Source: Government of Pakistan, Finance Accounts 1997-2001 & Civil Accounts 2001-02, Auditor General of Pakistan.
STATE OF TERTIARY EDUCATION IN PAKISTAN (2003-04)
ALL BA/BSc / BCS PROGRAMS
ALL MA / MSC / MCS PROGRAMS
ALL MPhil PROGRAMS
ALL Ph.D PROGRAMS
ALL DIPLOMA / CERTIFICATE PROGRAMS