INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY & EDUCATION

DR. S.M. ALAM
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

Apr
18 - 24, 2011

Information technology creates, stores, exchanges and utilizes information in its various forms including business data, conversations, static images, motion pictures, and multimedia presentations.

Information technology (IT) has assumed great importance in the knowledge-based economy.

Pakistan in recent years has made remarkable progress in IT through introducing reforms.

The government main initiatives include the addition in facilities for computer education and training at affordable rates, enhancement of internet infrastructure, provision of efficient internet services at reasonable rates, establishment of software technology parks and data networks, incentives for software exports and computer hardware manufacturing, arrangements for marketing of software overseas, and provision of a legal cover to the electronic transactions, e-commerce.

The future of IT in Pakistan is very bright. Of over 1,082 active information technology companies in Pakistan, some 110 are certified by International Standards Organization (ISO). ATM (Automatic Teller Machine), transactions in the country are about 50 per cent of the total e-banking transactions.

Rapid development in the field of IT is one of the most important driving agents of worldwide business activities. Information technology is the combination of link to computing and telecommunication to obtain, process, store, transmit message and information in the form of voice, pictures, words, numbers etc. In other words, personal computer and telecommunication technology combined together is presently known as information technology in the scientific communities. The information technology provides a means of gaining competitive advantage. World is changing and along with it, flow of information is changing too. Consider as an example - the internet, it provides us with all latest happenings around the globe. Railways and Airways are connected with the internet. If we want to travel, we can book tickets online and reserve rooms. Sea routes are also connected. IT has become an essential part of our day to day life whether it's field of education, or entertainment, or business. Doctors can also help patients online, prescribing medicines or helping other doctor in dealing with emergency cases.

Buying and selling has become quite easy now. Online shopping through credit cards and debit cards has made purchasing effortless. Moreover, you can do shopping anytime as there is no time constraint; they are open around the clock. Banking is another area, which has been automated. The things that were earlier done manually have been computerized. Managing accounts, transferring of cash, depositing, withdrawing are no more a tedious tasks. In this IT driven corporate world, it is essential to determine new ways to grow in business. It is important to understand that top management cannot alone manage the business. Information technology and business together refers to management resources and using information by computer tools for gathering, processing information, storage of information and distribution of information. Small-scale businesses buy software packages in order to run their business whereas large business firms can appoint engineers to build their own software to support company's tasks. This has resulted in new job opportunities such as computer programmers, analysts, developers (hardware and software), etc. Implementing IT in an effective manner would decrease the cost; cost which is expected at the time of failure.

Opportunities have been increased in business; companies unlike manufacturing or distribution also make use of software either in determining weather conditions, freshness of product, or managing company's centers. Work can be optimized, costs can be reduced, and risks involved can be minimized and thus adds in growth of business. Determination of better strategies for business and solutions for business problems can be solved by IT. Companies may also exchange technology over the network.

The continuous growth in information technology is affecting all workers in the organization working at different levels, from top level executives to central level managing staff to lower level workers.

Information technology is one of the deep-rooted core competencies of professional knowledge and it requires special attention due to its explosive growth and its rapid rate of changes. The information technology has made a visible input on the potentialities of different works of human beings. Information technology has become an essential tool to enable man to have a better control over the environment and to bring about improvement in his day to day living. A nation, which acquires necessary skills and expertise in the information technology, enjoys power, confidence, and ability to lead the world in future. The significance of information technology in the 21st century in software engineering will play a vital role in shaping the future of nations. The 21st century is the century of personalized computer.

Without IT knowledge, it is difficult rather impossible for young folks to get suitable jobs. The IT institutions are growing very fast. Many of the institutes are housed in one or two-room premises offering an array of certificates, diplomas, and degree programs. Presently, Pakistan is producing more than 8000 IT professionals annually. In IT institutes high standards teaching of visual progrmmes, C++, Visual C, Java scripts, Java Beans, Java Developers, Oracle etc. have been introduced.

Over a decade, Pakistan companies and business community have spent millions of dollars into IT investments, covering procurement of computer hardware, software, and IT equipments from abroad. Business community in Pakistan is investing in IT departments, presumably in the hope of improving their performance, liquidity, profitability and quality of professional and personal life. The steady adoption of IT is becoming the source of development of software industry.

Pakistan is a country with rich in human resources, which constitute the foundation for any major IT and Telecommunication initiatives. Its population of more than 170 million includes highly talented people, who have made their marks in various fields, including IT and Telecom. The information technology sector remains a major area of focus for the government, as it plays a key role in the growth of the economy. The world is shaping up to be a better place with new opportunities for everyone. Today, Pakistan is credited to be one of the fastest growing regions in telecommunications.

Education: In the Holy Quran, Allah says to Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH), "My Lord! Increase in my knowledge" (Surah TaHa -20, Makki, Verse- 114). We being Muslims must always pray to Al-Mighty Allah for the increase of our knowledge. Knowledge has great power and it is the very first motto of education for everyone. Without education, a man is illiterate and deficient in society. Education is a factor of significant importance and is a basic and prime component of human resource development of a country.

The functions of the college or university are to develop the students physically, mentally and spiritually. It improves and promotes the economic, social, political, and cultural life of the nation. All over the world, universities are guiding and co-operating with the industrial and agricultural development organizations and they are developing their economics in various fields rapidly and meaningfully. In Pakistan, after more than five decades, the developmental indicators are not showing positive results and have drastically affected the colleges and universities education in the country. The participation rate at higher education is less than 3 per cent students of age group (17-24) and this is 16.2 per cent as world average of this age group. Pakistan at this point is in need of some serious steps from the government and the private sectors to revamp its deteriorating educational systems. Our government as per budget of 2009-10 is spending only 2 per cent of its GDP on education. The current expenditure is extremely very low. It will not be enough to tackle the ills of our education system. Onus is now on the private sector to take measures for providing better education to the students of all ages of this country but again we only see the business community coming forward to open institutions with the sole purpose of earning money from the parents of the students.

There are problems of quality of staff, students, library, and laboratory. Relevance with society needs, unique, comprehensive circumspective research facilities, financial crisis, weaknesses of examinations system, ineffective governance and academic results are not at par with international standards.

For the improvement of relevance, quality, finances, effectiveness and access of higher education in Pakistan, it is essential that access to higher education increased, quality of education improves, R&D activities ramp up, and quality of teaching improves.

Considering the gigantic problems of higher education in Pakistan, the researcher determining the present profile of higher education in Pakistan by examining the past efforts done for the improvement of higher education; highlighting the budget provisions for higher education and exploring problems of higher education in Pakistan.

A teacher irrespective of institutions should be soft-spoken, affable, benevolent, dedicated, with good oratory skills, working tirelessly for spreading the working spirit and inculcating intellectual, moral, spiritual, ethical, physical and aesthetic values, honest, punctuality in time, true to his words, zeal and enthusiasm.

Inefficient use of available resources, unequal distribution of faculties among public and private sector, lack of monitoring, lack of standardization of private universities, inadequate attention to research and support, ineffective governance and management structures and practices, inefficient regulatory steps, strong skepticism about the realization of reform, poor recruitment practices, inadequate development of faculty, lack of internship facilities for students of higher education institutions and universities, weak coordination between universities and industrial, agricultural, and other sectors of the economy, inadequate funding, unadjusted fee structure of private universities, no share of foreign direct investment in education sector, no concept of debt financing in education sector, and lack of moral training in higher education institutions are major problems.

In the present educational scenario, Pakistan's essential requirement is to develop a potential educated human-force comprising of resource persons in all segments of social, political economic, scientific, and cultural advancement. Education, if utilized effectively, is the only tool that can help us to compete with the other countries of the world in all affairs of the living systems. Any devoted person having a real honesty, zeal and enthusiasm, devotion to his educational works, true to his promise and obligations, and punctual should be encouraged.