EDUCATION SYSTEM FAILS IN NATION BUILDING EFFORTS
INTERVIEW: DR ISHRAT HUSAIN, DEAN AND DIRECTOR IBA
Oct 11 - 17, 2010
Dr Ishrat Husain is the Dean and Director of the Institute of Business administration (IBA), Karachi. Earlier he held the office of Chairman National Commission for Government Reforms (NCGR) in the Prime Minister Secretarial at Islamabad, with the status of the federal minister. In that capacity, he completed a comprehensive report on the re-organisation of the government's structure, processes, and human resource management policies.
Dr. Ishrat Husain became the governor of State Bank of Pakistan in December 1999. During the next six years, he implemented major program of restructuring of the central bank and steered the reforms of the banking sector in the country, which are now recognised by the World Bank and IMF to be among the best in the developing countries. In recognition of his meritorious services, he was conferred the prestigious award of "Hilal-e-Imtiaz" by the President of Pakistan in 2003. The Banker magazine of London declared him as the Central Bank Governor of the year for Asia in 2005. He received the Asian Banker Lifetime achievement award in 2006.
For over two decades, 1979-1999, he served in various capacities at the World Bank in Washington DC. Among the positions he occupied at the bank were Country Director for Central Asian Republics; Director Poverty and Social Policy Department; Chief Economist East Asia and Pacific Region; Chief Economist Africa Region; and Division Chief Debt and International Finance and Resident Representative, Nigeria.
Dr. Ishrat Husain was selected to the elite Civil Service of Pakistan in 1964 and served in the field and also held mid-level policy making positions in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) and in the finance, planning and developing departments in the government of Sindh until 1979.
Dr Husain has maintained an active scholarly interest in development and globalisation issues. He is the author of a dozen books, contributor of 15 chapters in edited books and more than 25 referred journal articles. Two of his books "Pakistan: The Economy of An Elitist State" and "Economic Management in Pakistan 1999-2002" published by Oxford University Press are widely read in and outside Pakistan. He is regularly invited as a speaker, resource person, discussant, panelist, or chairperson at international conferences/seminars/workshops in different parts of the world held under the auspices of the World Bank, IMF, UN agencies, research institutions, think tanks. He has so far attended 100 such events. Dr Husain is Higher Education Commission's (HEC) Distinguished National Professor of Economics and Public Policy. He is currently serving the board of governors National School of Public Policy and Mahbub-ul-Haq Centre for Human development. He was a member of the Steering Committee on Higher Education appointed by the President of Pakistan in 2003.
Dr Husain did his MA in Development Economics from Williams College and was at the top of his class and Ph.D in Economics from Boston University receiving International Student Award for outstanding academic achievement. He is a graduate of the Executive Development Program jointly sponsored by Harvard, Stanford Universities and INSEAD.
Dr. Ishrat Husain on a question about the role of education in nation building was of the firm opinion that unfortunately education system in the country has failed to meet the objective of nation building. Explaining his point of view in an interview, he attributed this to various factors such as preoccupation of parents and students with how to get good grades or good marks at the examinations. This discouraged the process of learning, acquisition of knowledge, assimilation of knowledge and application of knowledge to career work problems and that is the reason why we have such a high incidence of unemployment among educated youth. They are coming out of the colleges and universities but they do not have skills, which are required by the country. We have shortages of paramedical staff, mechanics in air-conditioning, mechanics of tractor operators, and other professions while we have lot of MAs, and BAs who cannot even write one single sentence of English correctly.
On the other hand, we have shortages for the economy of skilled work force. We have young men and women who are quite angry because they have spent four years or six years, their parents have spent money on their education, and when they come out of colleges and universities they don't have jobs.
Dr Ishrat having a deep insight in the socioeconomic issues was quite confident that compared to the elder generation today's youths have great potential and would certainly provide a leadership required for nation building.
TEACHERS NO MORE A ROLE MODEL FOR THE STUDENTS
What is the role of teacher when students and parents are being made responsible behind failure? Dr Ishrat without a pause conceded that even teachers have lost all their respect because teachers today are not appointed on the basis of their competence, or on the basis of their abilities but it is all based on nepotism, "Sifarish" and connections. So they are not interested in teaching, they are actually interested in just getting a salary at the end of the day. College teachers teach hardly for two three hours a week but look at their salaries they get and the vacations they get…three to four months during the summer and they are paid for that. So this is a problem that the teachers are not committed to doing their job as they are ought to be, hence the teachers are no more a role model for the students.
ALL POLITICAL PARTIES SHOULD KEEP THEIR HANDS OFF THE EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
Dr Ishrat while strongly recommending the ways to weed out the irresponsible elements from education system asserted that we should start recruiting people in teaching profession on pure merit and no other consideration. You give them promotions on the basis of their performances. How many students actually learn what they are being taught? Increments and promotions should be based on the performance of the teachers, Dr Ishrat recommended in a firm tone. There should be no political interference; all political parties should keep their hands off the educational institutions. There should be no political parties in the universities which distract the attention of the students from learning towards other activities as this was the reason why the students are not devoting themselves to the pursuit of knowledge.
FAKE DEGREES OF THE POLITICIANS
When his comment was sought on the cases of fake degrees of a large number of parliamentarians, Dr Ishrat who is known for his straightforwardness and courage to speak truth was of the view "any person holding a fake degree needs to be completely removed from the scene and fake degree should be disbanded and if the culprit is interested in education he should go and appear in an examination and get a real degree." There is a difference between misdeclaration or wrong declaration. If there is no legal binding, then those who are disqualified can re-contest the election. There is no bar on that because the law does not require degree. If the electorates condone the offence then we have a moral problem not a legal problem.
Unfortunately this sort of problems occur more in the rural areas rather than urban areas because of various influences like feudalism. Feudal lords want to grab the power through any means. In democracy, anybody can be elected. You cannot debar any body from being elected. But, morally it is bad, he remarked.