EDUCATION BUILDS NATIONS

Pakistan has made tremendous progress in terms of literacy rate over the period of particularly last two decades

BY KHALIL AHMED
May 08 - May 14, 2006

Feed a hungry man today and he will be hungry tomorrow. Instead of feeding a man on daily basis, it is prudent to make him learn how to earn for oneself. Kuwait Fund is helping the people find better ways to lead their lives. Unemployment is a phenomenon which no nations in the world can afford. Unemployment leads to all sorts of devastating acts and is the major reason for poverty. And unemployment can be reduced through education and technical skills. So the crux of the matter is that progressive nations concentrate on the reduction of unemployment and poverty through the best method which is nothing but education.

Pakistan has made tremendous progress in terms of literacy rate over the period of particularly last two decades; be it medical, engineering, information technology, technical or business education. According to a report, in 1951 illiterate population was about 22 million out of the total population of 34 million in Pakistan. This indicates that 54 years ago 64% population of our country was illiterate. According to the 1998 data , illiterate population rose to 48 million out of the total population of 132 million. At present, the literacy rate of our country is around 55% against that of India which has 60% literate population. The percentage of the literate population at present is quite satisfactory and the government expects to attain 86% literacy rate in a couple of years through a national action plan. This seems a quite promising step but I think to attain 86% literate population, we might take a decade. Such things cannot be achieved through the wink of an eye. These plans are long term plans for which consistency of policies should be a hall mark. Recently, I came to know that the government has not introduced any education policy of its own and was following the 10-year plan introduced in 1998. It is always good to chalk out five and ten year policies but at the same time, it is wise to make necessary rectifications to keep pace with the ever-changing world. I remember that in 1998, the use of internet was a kind of luxury in our country and hundreds of people were reluctant to use internet, however, today there are millions of Pakistanis who cannot do their job without the internet facility. The education policies should be changed with the speed of the change in the present era with a consistent thought of achieving high level of literacy rate in the world. It has been observed to some extent recently which is a positive sign.

Foundation of education is undoubtedly based on primary education. If a country achieves sound primary level education, there is every reason to believe that there will be better prospects for the secondary and tertiary level education. The recent decision of the government to increase school education budget from 2.7 percent to 04 percent of the GDP is commendable but I am waiting for the day when this might be increased to 20 percent of GDP and this will be a revolutionary decision made by any government in the history or our homeland. Undoubtedly, education alone builds the nations.

I'd like to mention a historical move made by the present government regarding the provision of free textbooks and the abolition of school fees up to the 10th grade. There were thousands of parents who owing to poverty were not able to get their kids educated. For them, this decision is a beacon of hope. When asked, the government students revealed that they got free textbooks and were given up to 1000 rupees to purchase note-books and uniform. And the good thing is that these books cannot be sold in the market. The following words are written on the cover page, 'This book is not for sale. This book is for free distribution and is a gift for students'

I have noticed that there is a growing trend of sending kids to private schools instead of government schools by even very poor families. And this has brought about mushroom growth of private schools in the street of the cities. According to a Harvard Researcher, in Pakistan when 100 kids go to a government school against that 40 kids go to private schools and 01 kid goes to a Madarasah. The number of private schools is also growing in villages. According to the Researcher if 04 private schools open in cities against that one private school opens in villages as well.

Teaching is a prophetic profession. In our society, though the perception has changed to some extent, yet is widely thought that when an educated person fails to get any other job, he/she resorts to teaching and as such talented people do not join teaching as profession. In the western world, the professors are considered valuable asset to the nation and the professors out of sheer pride write Professor Emeritus after their retirement---keeping the title as an honour. We need to display reverence for our professors because they are the actual builders of the nation.

One of the major problems in our education sector is perhaps the lack of qualified teachers. The teachers who lack teaching skills should be trained so that productivity may increase. It is nice to know that the government has allocated $100 million for the teachers' training programme. Along with public and private schools, it is equally imperative to concentrate on technical education. Recently vocational education is being promoted for which technical schools are being set up at tehsil level across Pakistan. Such schools will give us trained tailors, carpenters, mechanics etc who will contribute to the economy and thus unemployment will decline. The government claims that over the period of last couple of years 5.5 million jobs have been created. If vocational education is promoted in earnest, the prospects of employment for the skilled people will be quite bright and the production level of our country will improve.

The private universities are growing at full throttle which is a very positive sign. According an educationist there are around 115 public and private universities across the country and this is a very tiny number for such a big population of 160 million. It is good to see private universities grow and serve the nation alongside the public universities. However, at the same time I must tell you that the skyrocketing fees are beyond the affordability of millions of Pakistani citizens. One has to pay between Rs 200,000 to Rs 400,000 to get a four year bachelor's degree. We know that poverty is one of our major problems. According to Pakistan Social Living Standards Measurement Survey 2004-05, the overall poverty in Pakistan had declined from 32.1 percent in 2001 to 25.4 percent in 2005. Imagine the country where a quarter of the population is poor (whatever level!), is it possible for a common parent to afford over Rs 200,000 for a kid's bachelor's degree.

The government has increased the budget of higher education manifolds which is commendable but at the same time it should be made sure that the benefit passes on to the common citizen.

UNIVERSITIES IN PAKSITAN

SINDH

  • Aga Khan University (Karachi)
  • Bahria Institute Of Management And Computer Sciences (Karachi)
  • College of Accounting and Management Sciences
  • College of Business Management (Karachi)
  • Commecs Institute of Business Education (Karachi)
  • Dawood College Of Engineering & Technology (Karachi)
  • Dow Medical College (Karachi)
  • FAST Institute of Computer Science (Karachi)
  • Greenwich University (Karachi)
  • Hamdard University (Karachi)
  • H. E. J. Research Institute Of Chemistry (Karachi)
  • Institute of Business Administration (Karachi)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan Karachi)
  • Institute of Islamic Studies and Research Karachi)
  • Isra University  (Hyderabad)
  • Karachi Medical and Dental College
  • Karachi University
  • Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences(Jamshoro)
  • Mehran University(Jamshoro)
  • Mehran University of Engineering and Technology(Jamshoro)
  • NED University of Engineering and Technology(Karachi)
  • Sindh Agricultural University (Tandojam)
  • Sindh Medical College (Karachi)
  • Sindh University (Jamshoro)
  • Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology(Karachi)
  • S.M.Govt. Law College (Karachi)
  • Textile Institute of Pakistan (Karachi)
  • Usman Institute of Technology(Karachi)

NWFP

  • Ayub Medical College Abbottabad
  • Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Science and Technology
  • Gandhara University Peshawar
  • Gomal University D. I. Khan
  • NWFP University of Engineering and Technology (Peshawar)
  • Pakistan Air Force Academy (Risalpur)
  • University of Peshawar

BALUCHISTAN

  • Cadet College Mastung
  • University of Balochistan Quetta

PUNJAB

  • Agricultural University Faisalabad
  • Islamia University Bahawalpur
  • Aitchison College Lahore
  • Islamic International Engineering College Rawalpindi
  • Allama Iqbal Medical College Lahore
  • Islamic International Medical College Islamabad/Rawalpindi
  • Army Medical College Rawalpindi
  • King Edward Medical College Lahore
  • Askari College of Business Administration and Computer Science Lahore
  • Lahore University of Management Sciences
  • Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan
  • National College of Arts
  • Cadet College Hasan Abdal
  • National University of Science and Technology
  • College of Business Administration Lahore
  • Nishtar Medical College Multan
  • College of Information Technology Rawalpindi
  • Punjab College of Business Administration
  • FAST Institute of Computer Science Lahore
  • Punjab Institute of Computer Sciences
  • Fitama Jinnah Medical College Lahore
  • Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer
  • Hospital and Research Center Lahore
  • The Pak-American Institute of Management Sciences Lahore
  • Rawalpindi Medical College
  • University of Engineering and Technology Lahore
  • Quaid-e-Azam Medical College Bahawalpur
  • Allama Iqbal Open University Islamabad
  • Bahria Institute Of Management And Computer Sciences Islamabad
  • International Islamic University Islamabad
  • Margalla Institute of Health Sciences Islamabad
  • Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad
  • National University of Science and Technology