EDUCATION IMPERATIVE FOR INDEPENDENCE

FOZIA AROOJ (Fozia.arooj@hotmail.com)
Aug 17 - 23, 2009

Education is vital to the socio economic development of nations. It spins the social fabric of the society and gives rise to economic well being through knowledge, skill, and creative strength of the society. It promotes a productive and informed citizenry and creates opportunities for the socially and economically underprivileged sections of the society. Albeit, it is important to spread elementary and college education amongst masses to enable them to compete in the society up to an adequate level, however, the crucial role of universities and higher education institutions can not be denied.

The level of expertise and excellence that a university imparts in the citizens converts the society into a potentially successful nation. Highly educated individuals have the knack of transforming the vision of the whole lot and disseminate their knowledge to bring positive change.

A flash back 62 years down the lane i.e. the emergence of Pakistan on the globe delineates the contribution of Aligarh University towards the struggle for independence and materializing the dream of a new homeland. Modeled on the University of Cambridge, it was among the first institutions of higher learning set up during the British Raj. Originally, it was Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College, which was founded by our great Muslim social reformer Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. Many prominent Muslim leaders, and Urdu writers and scholars of the subcontinent have graduated from the University. In the backdrop of independence war 1857, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan realized that it was important for Muslims to gain modern education and become involved in the public life and Government Services in India at that time. He foresaw the imperative need for the Muslims to acquire proficiency in the English language and "Western Sciences" if the community were to maintain its social and political power.

Over the years this institutions gave rise to a new educated class of Muslims who were active in the political system of the British Raj, and who would serve as a catalyst for change among not only the Muslim population of India, but of the entire subcontinent.

Pakistan at the moment, is suffering from a host of economic as well as socio-political maladies such as unemployment, low earnings, inflation, corruption, exploitation, rapid population growth and, above all, political instability resulting from lack of highly educated leaders and professionals. As a matter of fact, education is the only effective remedy, which can cure the economy and eradicate social evils. Pakistan is a developing country and its institutions of higher learning need score of reforms for improvement. Since independence, higher education has been grossly and deliberately neglected. Consequently, our universities became hubs of power politics conspiracies, hoarding sites for ammunitions and center of violence and chaos.

Non -availability of qualified teachers is a big hurdle in the way of expanding new degree classes programs. Trained and experienced teachers seek jobs abroad and prefer to benefit from a higher wage package than to live here and educate their own progeny. Inordinately poor planning has also been a major cause of disaster of quality of higher education. Even the highest-level degree holders do not have command over ordinary cadre of knowledge and skill. Policies of the government have blatantly ignored merit and needs of the day. HEC has been completely failed to implement rules, which has caused an explosion of substandard universities, fake degrees, meaningless research publications and a massive wave of unpunished plagiarized academic papers. These factors have played havoc with the already dismal condition of our universities and lowered their ranking on global recognition standards. During last five years, there has been a mushroom growth of universities and expansion of existing institutions, which have created a problem about the quality of education and the credibility of degrees. Higher education institutions are custodians of the careers of the students enrolled in their academic programs. Their image leaves an impact the on the career of their students which in turn has a direct influence on the entry of their students in professional careers. Unrecognized degrees abroad and a bad image have destroyed the future of many students striving to obtain admission in foreign universities.

REMEDIAL ACTIONS

The universities need radical reforms, which are likely to entail various risks and dangers of misuse of resources. Pakistan urgently needs many universities with international standards to teach science and engineering to its rapidly growing young population. At the beginning, the institutions may have problems, but gradually, the snags will be detected and removed. If we look at the history of prestigious universities like Harvard and Oxford, we come to know that these giants of knowledge and prestige started as ordinary institutions and then underwent an evolutionary process through their internal dynamics.

Brain drain phenomenon should be curtailed by offering attractive packages and benefits to the faculty members. There are numerous ways to attract competent engineering, medical and science teachers to Pakistan and every effort in this direction should be made immediately.

There should be a foreign faculty hiring program to enhance the caliber of education fraternity. It will infuse intellectual diversity in our otherwise monotonous campus life. Around the globe, academic exchange programs are supported and pursued for the cross-fertilization of ideas.

We should particularly emphasize on the launching of modern information technology education. IT has globalized the world of science and scholarship. New and innovative learning options and opportunities have been introduced in this field. Developing countries like Pakistan require vigor to explore technological innovations to cut the shackles of poverty.

Developing focused public relations is one of the many core areas, which are still neglected at institutions imparting higher education, specifically the public sector institutions and universities.

In order to become an ultimate success our universities have to perform their multidimensional tasks and improve their rating on the global front. There is a dire need of tailoring curriculum according to the demand of the industry and stakeholders.