IT EDUCATION IN PAKISTAN

S.KAMAL HAYDER KAZMI,
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
Research Analyst
, PAGE
Apr
12 - 18, 2010

IT Education plays an important role in human development. It promotes a productive and informed citizenry and creates opportunities for the socially and economically underprivileged sections of the society.

Globalization has made economic life more competitive and demanding, making human expertise development more significant. Only educated workforce equipped with modern skills can compete and benefit from exploiting the opportunities created by globalization.

Pakistan has not remained immune to the ongoing IT revolution in the world. To meet the growing demand of IT professional's in Pakistan new IT universities have been established in the public sector. The buildings have been acquired through donations or by leasing at low rent.

Establishment of new IT universities and departments with improved faculty and resources has been initiated.

PAKISTAN'S IT EXPORTS

State Bank Reported Earnings Estimated Total IT Industry Export Revenue Estimated Total IT Industry Size
US$ 169m US$ 1.4b US$ 2.8b

VIRTUAL UNIVERSITY

This university is based on the concept of distance learning utilizing the latest web technologies and digital television. The most prominent feature of this program is that it provides the top-class faculty from across the country to impart IT education. The broadcast of the lectures over Television are free for viewing. Students enrolled for a degree would have to just register, attend classes and undergo examinations. The classrooms are setup all over the country in a public-private partnership.

INTERNATIONAL FACULTY

Faculty of international calibre is invited to join local universities. The selected faculty member is matched with the most suitable institution based on the requirements of the institution as well as his/her preference. These faculty members are expecting to introduce R&D culture as well as advance learning techniques in our universities. High salaries are offered to competent foreign professionals on contractual appointments.

SCHOLARSHIP SCHEME

Many scholarships have been awarded for Bachelors and Masters courses in IT and computer science. The selection of the students is based on merit. A follow-on project is in the pipeline that will expand this scheme to accommodate a much larger number of students.

IT IN SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES

This project aims at promoting IT education at school and college level through setting of laboratories and training of teachers. Twelve thousand school teachers will be trained within one year in a joint programme with INTEL.

TRAINING PROGRAMS

The IT enabled services sector can be tapped by training the workforce for shorter duration skilled based training. Several projects have been launched to impart this type of training. Projects for training high level IT professionals (Ph.D.s) in the best national universities and abroad are under process. The objective is to create a pool of high level IT manpower to meet the growing needs of the universities and industry.

GOOD GOVERNANCE

IT must be seen as an investment and not an expense. It requires vision and bold leadership to employ IT as a tool, but it must be coupled with sincere commitment to good governance since without that IT can be detrimental to the freedom and well being of the citizens.

Globally, IT and good governance has come to stay and any delay in its adoption can only be at a cost of development of the country, thus the choice must be made sooner rather than later.

IT trends and technology directions have brought in applications and solutions for socio-economic development and have greatly contributed to good governance.

MAJOR CHALLENGES

Education sector development in Pakistan has been hampered by a number of problems including inadequate physical infrastructure and facilities, shortage of trained and motivated teachers, and inadequacies related to quality and relevance of curricula.

Lack of proper and regular supervision and monitoring has led to major breakdowns in quality. Governance related problems manifest itself in lack of transparency, accountability and tracking mechanisms as well as of partnerships between planners and service providers.

In Pakistan, the problems of matching resource mobilization and utilization to targets and outcomes, multiple reporting lines and absence of formal criteria for funds allocation at the school level also constitute major challenges.

The present curriculum reflects an overemphasis on rote learning of unnecessary descriptive details. It has limited relevance to real life problems and hardly promotes creativity and innovation, which are essential for advancement in areas of human endeavours.

CONCLUSION

To compete with the growing economies of the world, Pakistan needs to educate, train and bring its workforce to the international IT educational standards, incorporate new technologies and modern management practices into its industry, and bring intense focus on building an information-based economy by upgrading the technical and managerial skills of its people.