KNOWLEDGE-BASED ECONOMIC GROWTH IS THE NEED OF THE HOUR

Organizations like TCF can make a difference

By AMANULLAH BASHAR
 Oct 24 - 30, 2005

The best investment pays the best returns. It is universally agreed that nothing pays back the handsome returns like investment in human resource development. More often than not, this theory is pleaded and advocated by our leaders and the people at the helm of affairs, yet it remains only a cliché for playing with the gallery. Practically speaking, the ground realities are quite painful and contradictory to the tall claims of the governments and other social and educational organizations that they care for the human capital while the most neglected area remains the human capital in our society.

On one hand, the budgetary allocations for education is too small not even two percent of the total resources because more often the governments have their own priorities and they have to spend major chunk of the available resources in conformity to their political policies.

Depending entirely on the government for the development of social sectors including health and education is again a lame excuse on the part of the resourceful and moneyed people of society because they are equally responsible for discharging their social responsibilities.

The situation is not totally bleak and there are some exceptions as well. There are individuals, organizations and some groups, which really care for the human values and spend their time and money for the cause of education.

Whatever the economic growth we have achieved during last 58 years is based on natural resources like cotton crop, leather, rice and some other agriculture and industrial segments of the economy which are based on the technology borrowed from other nations and countries. The best example of borrowed knowledge and technology is our textile industry.

Over the years, Pakistan has developed a strong textile base, which constitutes over 68 percent of the total exports of the country. However, except producing cotton every value addition including spinning, weaving and designing, accessories, chemicals for processing are borrowed and are imported. Pakistan meets its entire need of textile machinery and accessories through imports. We do not produce even a textile spindle and have to rely on others. Why we are so heavily depended on others? The answer is very simple; we don't have knowledge to produce all these things.

It is the irony of the fate that a vast majority of the intelligent youth is deprived of education due to economic reasons. Their parents cannot afford what they call the luxury of sending their children to schools simply because they don't have resources.

Relying heavily on physical resources for sustainable economic strength is highly risky. We have to take immediate and serious steps towards the growth of education right from primary to the university level.

Although the commercialization of education has made the education a costly affair and has caused a serious damage to the cause of education in Pakistan, however, it has a positive aspect as well. The trend of commercialization has attracted large business houses, big industrialists and other sectors to made investment in education as it has become a lucrative business and gives the best returns.

It is because of the money involved in education business, the educational institutes at all levels are hiring better faculty even from abroad to have an edge over their competitors. This is a good development and ultimately helping out in imparting quality education in our country.

Apart from profit making organizations, there are some genuine educational institutions, which are working honestly for the cause of education without having any consideration for the commercial aspect of the business.

THE CITIZEN FOUNDATION (TCF)

TCF is the chain of over 180 schools imparting knowledge in the provinces of Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan. In fact, the emergence of such organizations gives hope for a better future of the generations to come.

TCF started working for the cause of education as a commitment for a better and enlightened Pakistan some eight years ago. This commitment has evolved into a national movement that is swiftly gaining momentum. From five schools in the first year, TCF has now reached a level of 180 schools all around the country. It also runs 14 evening schools making the total number of units to 194.

Education, which is a fundamental right of every human being, is also a pre-requisite for enjoying other basic rights. Pakistan, with its burgeoning population has millions who continue to live a life of ignorance. Generation after generation remains trapped in a vicious poverty cycle with no means to change their fate. The government's inability to address the issue effectively is a fact we have all learned to live with, however, the private sector has to make its contribution because it is the private sector which is capable to make a difference really. This was precisely the idea behind TCF movement that the responsibility of progress and human development cannot be assigned to a single institution or entity like government. Every one has to contribute in this noble cause which in return gives us better people, better economy and a better government. TCF, in fact, has set an example for others to follow suit for spreading light of knowledge, which in fact is the soul and spirit of a civilized society.