INTERVIEW WITH VICE PRESIDENT ICMAP
WITHOUT GOOD FACULTY, REVOLUTION IN EDUCATION IS NOT POSSIBLE
KHALIL AHMED, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT
Oct 25 - 31, 2010
MOHAMMAD HANIF is a fellow member of Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Pakistan, fellow member of CMA Sri Lanka. He has done M. Phil in supply chain management and he has completed his doctorate thesis on enterprise risk management. In addition to this, he has supervised more than 15 thesis assignments on different subjects. Currently, he is vice president of institute of cost and management accountants of Pakistan. He is also technical advisor on the board of South Asian Federation of Accountants. Being educationist, he is representing various technical committees like examination, education, continuous professional developments, and publication committee. He has the honour of getting many of his articles and technical papers published in Pakistan and abroad. He is a visiting faculty member in most prestigious universities, and professional institutes of Pakistan and abroad. He is also working as director strategic development with Getz Pharma, a leading pharmaceutical company in the regional arena with an international network spread in more than 25 countries. He has over 35 years experience of working with world renowned multinational chemical, pharmaceutical, logistics and cargo division of Airline within Pakistan and abroad. During the employment period, he has an extensive experience of working in different capacities i.e. to look after finance, treasury, supply chain, strategic and project development, business process management on operation and strategic sphere and cadre.
PAGE: WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU NOTICED IN EDUCATION SYSTEM OF PAKISTAN OVER THE PERIOD OF LAST 15 YEARS?
MOHAMMAD HANIF: Education never has been in the list of prime importance and strategic priority in Pakistan since independence. Affordable and sustainable quality education, which should be accessible to the masses, has never been addressed as a vital issue. Unfortunately, neither the government, nor the private sector is doing enough to promote access and provide assistance to the needy to attend schools, especially institutions of higher learning. It is crucial to the survival of a healthy economy and society that everyone becomes aware of the critical role of education in society and participates very actively in bringing about an education revolution in Pakistan. It is time that every teacher, businessman, professional, worker and parent realises that education must be made available to every citizen. Even in developed or emerging education system in many countries on regular basis philanthropist, corporate, deans, academia, teachers, and government meet to work out the challenges and need for developing the education system to meet the requirements of arising challenges and opportunities. In contrast, unfortunately in Pakistan the news headlines are mostly about severe budget cuts for education, especially higher education and the critical situation of the education system that is failing its clients and its purpose.
One can easily imagine what could be the status of affairs in last fifteen years of education canvas in Pakistan. One can say it is wretched and moving without any direction. Some of the worth mentioned discriminations are:
* Affordable and non affordable systems (expensive O/A level regime, and government or NGO based run education system in Pakistan)
* Nurturing nursery of government run primary education system is not producing even an average budding candidate to adjust the requirement of upper stream.
* Worse unemployment situation in the country has no capacity to absorb educated graduates or intermediate students in the country.
* Skill development programs for specific field are almost non-existence in the country.
* Teachers are not properly trained to deliver the basic purpose even their credential are not recognised and one cannot rule out the fake, or substandard degrees or qualification of much more larger magnitude as compared to what is being witnessed in the parliament of Pakistan.
* Education packages, fees, and books right from the primary level to the professional stage are beyond the reach of normal people. A country having a population of 170 millions fails grossly in last 63 years to attract world leading publishing houses to print the books locally as being done and flourishing in India.
* Educational institutes lack properly designed curriculum in line with the requirements of the country and followed by the other regional countries of the world.
* Unprecedented growth of various mushroom universities in the private sectors where profit earning is the prime motto.
PAGE: WHAT ARE YOUR COMMENTS ON CURRICULUM AT GRADUATE LEVEL IN PAKISTAN?
MOHAMMAD HANIF: To elucidate the curriculum at the graduate level, we need to dissect the education according to the stream invoked and offered by various institute in the country. The old ritual of BA, BSC and B.Com, has lost its efficacy and usefulness. I have not noticed any positive change and update in the curriculum for last 10 years or so. Now even these degrees do not classified as an appetizer for masters. Both at the employment level and higher education level this qualification is not recognised even in our country. Standard is so low that even a graduate cannot write a simple application or a letter. Classroom atmosphere is nowhere; just payment of a fee is a gateway to a qualification thanks to the underground mafia working as a connivance tools for breaking the ethics, transparency and authenticity of having a degree. Dismal situation at the graduate level has gone in favour of mushroomed growth in private universities having a charter and unabatedly prospering under the lenient compliances of HEC. The old graduate brand labeled as BBA does not have any material value addition. On top of this, MBA curriculum offered lacks vision, or direction with exorbitant fees. It is just granted to add some degree on the visiting card of the students or employees without having an addition to their respective earning. It is pity that our country with 170 million populations and having completed 63 years of existence is unable to have more top institutes of standards of IBA, LUMS, AKU whose curriculum and degrees are valued not only in Pakistan but also in parallel to the degrees offered by the Indian institutes.
On top of this, the private universities are offering M.Phil and doctorates without having the support of research and trained faculty for that. It is shameful that copy and cut paste in thesis are prospering and destroying the image of this noble profession. On medical, other literatures, and technical education graduates and master qualifications are contaminated with the pouring in from the sub-standards private education and chartered institutes in the country. As a result, our degrees are not recognised even in SAFA countries so what to say about Europe and USA. Now, degrees from sub-standard chartered institutes are no more an advantage or formality for visa for advancing to the foreign countries. Many students who have managed to go abroad with those degrees are unable to even qualify the entry standard examinations of those universities. In the field of professional education in finance, both institute of chartered accountants of Pakistan, and the institute of cost and management accountants of Pakistan through their respective national councils are maintaining the sanctity of this noble profession and have increased the capacity building to meet the requirements of compliances and regulatory restrictions being imposed by the various international bodies. Pakistan being the active members of SAFA is playing the leading role in directing the vision, values, and curriculum in line with the international professional financial bodies like IFAC, SAFA, CAPA, and regulatory bodies in the respective countries.
Qualified students of both the institutes are in high demand not only in Pakistan but also in GCC countries. This is because both institutes have maintained respective ethics, transparency, trust, and stringent control in each and every process of the business. However, more than friendly and free cross bordering has allowed free gateway to ACCA, CIMA UK, CFA, and other institutes in the country. With exorbitant fees, they are freely allowed to have netting of expensive foreign exchange in millions without having any worthwhile value addition to the profession. Seeing the need of the time, Pakistan needs specialised professionals in the field of supply chain, business process reengineering, business modeling, enterprise risk management, business sustainability, ERP, BSC, and enterprise management professional. Unfortunately, barring few none of the professional institutes has even considered the needs of this development. So we tend to be lagging behind with the pace of developments immensely needed at the corporate level in Pakistan to save the remaining infrastructure struggling to survive.
PAGE: WHAT CHANGES DO YOU THINK ARE GOING TO TAKE PLACE IN EDUCATION SYSTEM OF PAKISTAN IN 10 YEARS DOWN THE ROAD?
MOHAMMAD HANIF: Unfortunately, looking at the prevailing conditions coupled with lack of charismatic leadership, will, desire, and conviction, on the part of key decision and policy makers both in government and private sectors including the individuals any radical or systematic change is not in offing in near future. However, the immediate future with the paucity of resources and liquidity crunch have made government cut the down the approved financial allocation of the public sector and government universities to less than 50 per cent. If this situation persists, there will be lot of curb in maintenance of quality institutes. However, I can imagine this may open a door for a privatisation of many higher education institutes where one can expect manifold increase in tuition fee due to commercialisation motto on the part of new investors which will hit the affordability of young stream to education. On the other side, unabated growth of mushroom institute will find easy place without any hurdle in the market offering substandard education at the exorbitant cost.
PAGE: WHAT COULD BE DONE TO BUILD A PROGRESSIVE NATION THROUGH EDUCATION?
MOHAMMAD HANIF: There is a need for educational institutions to work hand in hand with the community: they can secure a better future for themselves and for the newly empowered community. Easy access to schools, affordable tuition fees, available scholarships, and relevant training courses translate in to future employment of the students who are the current children, the future parents and the future professionals that local communities are made of. An education revolution would be incomplete if no changes are made to prepare the best faculty member to educate young people. Initiating now with the training and skill development of faculty, through an effective method, technology, exchanging across the border with the knowledge hub in respective countries will bring new energy, knowledge of effective teaching methods and improvement in the curricula-changing the way education is delivered. Thus, it is crucial that the next generations of faculty members be equipped with the most updated methods of teaching and critical thinking skills. Bringing about an education revolution requires drastic changes in the attitude towards education management, financing, curricula reform, academic flexibility, research collaboration, delegation of authority, training of young people in the fields that are needed in the community and much more. An effective reform of the education system in Pakistan requires a bottom up approach. Pressure and support from everyone in the community can initiate much needed changes and become a powerful tool for progressive reforms.
PAGE: HOW WOULD YOU COMPARE EDUCATION SYSTEM OF PAKISTAN WITH THE NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES?
MOHAMMAD HANIF: Being actively engaged across the border in employment matters and on top of being associated with SAFA bodies, I can comment with authority that there is no comparison of Pakistani education standard with India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and even with minnow Nepal. Right from top to the bottom their primary education, secondary education, graduation/master level and professional and higher-level education are systematically and logically sequenced completing the upper steam in education value chain. One obvious thing which I have noticed is that their education stream is excellent in communication. Hence, they can market themselves much better than the one qualified and groomed in our stream. This archetype status is also supported by the respective economic growth in these countries. For instance, at the moment India is finding it difficult to produce the required professionals and educationist from the present status as compared to the needs of the country. Its GDP growth of 8.8 per cent has put a lot of pressure in the market to keep the pace of producing highly educated and quality professionals to put them in the global arena. For instance, an average university graduate in India is having a CTC (cost to the company) annually in the range of 0.5 million to 0.750 million whereas the higher professional cause five to six million rupees annually CTC to the companies. As a result most of Indian expatriate professionals are returning back home to find a suitable place in the country.
Education and literacy rate in Sri Lanka has always been high and as a result most of the Sri Lankan professionals find good place in the global employment market. The sustainable growth in the range of 6 per cent brings tremendous opportunities for qualified and quality Bangladeshi professionals. Even at the time of united Pakistan, education system in part of Bangladesh was much better than that in the western part.