SPECIALIZED EDUCATION IMPERATIVE FOR DEVELOPMENT OF FATA & NWFP

MUHAMMAD ATIF HANIF
Mar 9 - 15, 2009

Prevailing law and order situation in NWFP and FATA has caused severe damage to the economy of these areas. While efforts are underway by the government to control the situation, it is extremely important to stop the outflow of capital and entrepreneurs. For success of any incentive scheme to encourage investments in these areas it is essential that a conducive security environment is created to restore the investors' confidence.

Long term approach to address militancy, extremism and poverty in NWFP and FATA shall be based on socio-economic development on sustainable basis of both these mutually linked societies.

NWFP and FATA posses' enormous natural resources, sufficient human capital and geographical advantages to develop into a market based progressive economy and play a vital role in economic growth of the country.

The potential includes development of substantial mining sector and chemical industries based on local mineral resources, producing value added wood products for international markets based on locally available wood. Like wise diversification into products of international standards based on local woolen cloth (Chitrali Patti) and hand made shoes (by using skilled work force of centuries old Peshawari chappli based cottage industry). Training for value addition in gems stones which are currently being exported in raw form from Peshawar (known as the trading capital of colored gemstones of Central Asia) will help to add to the list of unconventional items of export. The list goes on and on and the potential is as diverse and rich as hydel power, tourism, fruit processing (pulp making, juices), livestock, medical tourism, agriculture, trade, transport, and so on.

However, to capitalize on these potential areas, international standard marketing expertise and business professionals relating to each sector are essential. To produce the much needed human resource, following specialized educational institutions are required to be set up on top priority in NWFP, preferably at Peshawar, which is ideally located to suit both the peoples of NWFP and FATA.

1) INTERNATIONAL STANDARD BUSINESS SCHOOL: Numerous business universities operate in Peshawar, few of them rank reasonably high on national level. However, an international standard business university should be set up in Peshawar, jointly by the Government and Corporate sector along the lines of LUMS. Its aim shall be to produce international standard business professionals in the fields of management, marketing, finance, economics, accounting, etc. With a high fee tag like LUMS, such an institute shall be able to afford the faculty of much higher pay scales. Precedence of such an academic faculty is available in NWFP in the form of GIK Institute of Technology.

This university shall produce the professionals required to develop the corporate and SME sectors aimed at converting our natural resources and human capital into products and services of highest standards for both local and international markets. Without internationally competitive business professionals we have not been able to develop IT and engineering sectors in NWFP despite producing thousands of graduates in these fields every year.

There is no shortage of investors in NWFP and FATA with financial capacity to undertake small to medium size corporate projects, nevertheless, most of these businessmen are confined to trade, transport, carriage and real estate sectors only. However, some of the most enterprising entrepreneurs have been able to establish an industrial base in NWFP. It still is in evolution phase, considering the enormous industrial potential of this area and has very few listings on stock exchanges. The proposed business school shall not only produce business professionals for the future but also impart international standard business education to the younger generations of business families of NWFP and FATA to bring them into the forefront of SME and Corporate sectors of our national economy.

2) BUSINESS RESEARCH DEPARTMENT AT UNIVERSITY OF PESHAWAR:

Research support, by universities play a vital role in facilitating growth in progressive economies. Hence, a research department shall be established in UOP lead by Economists and Business Managers in collaboration with representatives of local business community, involving all departments of UOP particularly chemistry, Engineering University, geology, agriculture, IT, etc to facilitate the growth of industry in NWFP and FATA by taping indigenous resources and introducing new avenues of investments.

3) INTERNATIONAL STANDARD INSTITUTE OF GEMOLOGY: GGIP established in Peshawar in 2001 is a highly encouraging first step in this direction. It offers short courses for gemstone cutting, polishing and identification. However, the institute needs to be up-graded into a full fledge college of gemology of international standing. Its collaboration with an internationally reputable institute shall be arranged to offer courses of international standards and more importantly Bachelors degree in Jewelry. Similar institutions are operating in all gemstone related countries like Thailand, India, Hong Kong, etc. It is important for Pakistan that expertise in designing, cutting, polishing and jewelry making shall be supported by related business and marketing professionals of this field to make a mark in international market and enhance export value.

4) UNIVERSITY OF ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGNING: Architecture and designing are important areas which not being offered at University of Peshawar. These professions posses good potential for career opportunities, and also important for long term development of architectural outlook, preservation of heritage and improvement in quality of construction.

National College of Arts (Lahore) has been up-graded to the status of Federal University, which requires opening of its campus in all provinces. Hence, keeping in view the importance of socio-economic development in this area, both federal and provincial governments shall make it a top priority to open its campus in Peshawar at the earliest.

5) INTERNATIONAL STANDARD INSTITUTE OF NURSING & PARAMEDICS: Nurses and paramedics are in high demand world wide. Pakistan's own health sector also needs well trained professionals in these fields. An institute of international standard shall be established in NWFP for nursing and paramedics, which shall open local and overseas employment avenues for the well trained staff. Private hospitals in Peshawar have been growing during last few years. Due to close proximity to Peshawar, patients particularly from Afghanistan have become a big source of foreign exchange earnings for health related service providers. Development of nursing and paramedics sector is extremely important to compete internationally in medical tourism.

6) SCHOOL OF HOSPITALITY AND TOURISM: Tourism sector is a catch 22 scenario in Pakistan, primarily due to unstable security situation, which has marred the growth of this sector for last 60 years. Especially in present situation tourism in NWFP has been hit severely and even mentioning tourism as a potential sector of growth is considered as forbidden.

However, keeping in view its long term potential in economic development, this sector can not be ignored, our policy makers will have to re-define its long term tourism road map and in short and medium term shall focus on local tourist and overseas Pakistanis.

Irrespective of the critical security situation prevailing in the country, restaurants are operating at fairly good levels in all major cities, banquet halls generate huge income from wedding functions and hotels at most of the hill stations run at reasonably good occupancy levels during peek seasons. Overseas Pakistanis remain to be the most steady tourist segment visiting Pakistan but the local hospitality industry has not been able to attract these regular visitors, who remain confined to their families during their stay in Pakistan.

To elevate standards of hospitality industry in Pakistan in general and particularly in northern part of the country, an international standard school of tourism and hospitality shall be set up in NWFP ideally at Peshawar or Abbotabad, which shall offer courses in all areas like hotel management, catering, travel and tours, souvenirs, etc. Collaboration with world renowned universities can help achieve desired objectives. Until the security situation improves in Pakistan, tourism sector is not likely to see any growth. However, highly skilled professions produced by this institute will have the option to work in already existing hospitality sector or seek related career opportunities elsewhere on the footsteps of overseas Pakistani workforce, hence shall open up an avenue for employment.

7) CHINESE LANGUAGE INSTITUTE: Pakistan's growing trade with China has resulted in mushroom growth of offices of Pakistani businesses in China. Considerable number of these offices belongs to businessmen from NWFP and FATA. These offices are mostly staffed with managers and accountants, who are not very highly educated. On the contrary, thousands of MBAs are being produced by government and private universities from every city in Pakistan, including Peshawar, most of them are unable to find jobs to their liking and in related fields.

These MBAs can find excellent job opportunities in Pakistani business houses based in China, provided a Chinese language program is organized specially in coordination with business universities in every city. Hence, a Chinese language institute shall be established in Peshawar to impart lingual education and a complete China orientation course, particularly for business graduates. These China specialized business graduates shall be well versed with all important areas relating to China like its important industrial centers, trading routes, ports, geography, culture, food, major trade and industrial exhibitions, financial sector, economy, etc.

These China specialized business graduates can play a crucial role in elevating Pakistan's commercial ties with China and help transform this trade from a one way trade to a two way mutually beneficial commerce and investment channel. Assistance from Chinese Government shall be vital in establishing such institutes in all major cities, including Peshawar, which shall be given top priority.

Federal and provincial governments shall place above institutions on top priority for socio-economic development of NWFP and FATA. People of FATA are primarily dependent on NWFP for all its civic needs including education. Hence, sufficient quota shall be allocated in all these institutions for students belonging to FATA.

Financing requirement for establishing these institutions may not be possible by government from its fiscal resources alone. Hence, substantial international financial and technical assistance shall be needed to establish these institutions.