INTERVIEW WITH JALAL AHMED KHAN, A RENOWNED EDUCATIONIST

KHALIL AHMED
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
June 20 - 26, 20
11

PAGE: TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF.?

JALAL KHAN: My father was an army officer who was later posted to Quetta till 1955. I started my education in army cantonment school at Quetta, then Nowshera, thereafter Malir Cantt. from 1956 to 1960 and then at Peshawar from where I did my matriculation in 1964 with distinction obtaining the board scholarship. I did my I.Com and B.Com from Government Commerce College Karachi and MBA from I.B.A Karachi in 1970. I obtained further qualification from Institute of Cost and Management Accountants Pakistan in 1980 and I am now a fellow member in practice. Education as I remember in my school days was a very serious affair with both teachers and students applying themselves seriously. Even government schools most of them Urdu medium had a very high standard of education and teachers had high regards in the society. Teachers and college professors were a part of a distinguished community where parents considered that they were the real mentors of their next generation. We were not only taught various subjects in class but had to learn number of Quranic Ayats with meanings. I still remember the poetic Urdu translation of Surah Fathia and also a few Hadith these were imbedded in our memories.

The initial years of Pakistan were hard and struggling where the country had no money and institutions were being newly built. In 1960s, we saw a number of private schools and few colleges coming up in Karachi. The sprit was purely social endeavor where students of relatively less means were also studying. The concept of education being money-making machine was yet to be born. Nationalization of this sector broke this spirit of social service; such people were looked down upon by the all powerful government that took over all education institutions. The nationalized educational institutions, school, college, universities had undefined objectives away from excellence in student education and development of core values for educated youth that was to lead the nation tomorrow. Government schools and colleges were no longer institutions of serious learning, teachers were not taking classes, students were no longer eager to learn, and cheating in exams became a well organized business fully backed by mafia. However, this government act left no other option for the social workers, but to spend their wealth on Mosques, Orphan houses and madarasah that sprang all over the country. Due to nationalization of education, we could not build organization like. From 1970 to 1996 I remained very actively involved in my career. Starting as a management trainee in 1970, working in multinational companies and later setting up my own considerably large business. In 1997, I joined IBA as its visiting faculty and later as also a short stint as Executive Director at the Institute of Cost and Management Accountant of Pakistan. I felt that both these institutions have a vast opportunity to serve the society in their own peculiar fields. IBA can initiate a process whereby business persons-small and big, rich and poor, in cities and villages-can be created to exploit business opportunities and to give impetus to economic prosperity and well being of our people. ICMAP on the other hand can start a relatively inexpensive program for students that would create various kinds of Accountants/Finance persons with low and high qualification that are much needed not only in smaller towns of Pakistan but also to better manage the ill managed financial matters of our economy.

PAGE: HOW WOULD YOU COMMENT ON THE EXISTING SITUATION OF HIGHER EDUCATION IN PAKISTAN?

JALAL KHAN: Higher education in specific provides the much needed specialists in the country like doctors, engineers, business managers, accountants, lawyers and educators and many others. The formation of Higher Education Commission developing standards and criteria for evaluating various educational institutions the credit hours and standard teaching staff specially the higher salaries of PhD, and sending students abroad for PhD and are commendable measures taken to improve higher education in Pakistan.

In the last ten years, we have made some efforts to arrest the slide downward, tried to introduce some standards, and to an extent improved our teaching standards. The students interest and seriousness in acquisition of knowledge in these institutes of higher learning has also improved.

However, putting things on a comparative scale PhDs produced in Pakistan are far less than other countries such as India, China, UK, Germany, and South Korea This shows a pathetic position of Pakistan, considering that in 1947 we were very poorly placed in terms of intuitions of higher learning.

Our medical institutions and their research capabilities have yet to establish their names in discovery and development of new medicine for various diseases as Indian, Chinese, and Germans have developed their own medicines based on their unique thought process. Similarly, except for Gujranwala and Gujarat no meaning full engineering activity, processes, machines have been developed by our engineering institutes. Motorcycles, cars and many other mechanical items if developed locally will cost us much less and bring considerable saving in foreign exchange. Similarly, the Institute of Charted Accountant and Cost and Management Accountants have not fully realized their responsibilities in terms of financial management of our national economy. The necessary research, suggestions, and trained manpower for handling this task still need to be provided by them. The Institute of Business Administration Karachi and similar other institutes providing this education have amply produced managers to work for others in Pakistan and abroad but have not yet realized their responsibility to produce numerous entrepreneurs at all levels who could bring economic prosperity to our country

PAGE: WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ABOUT VALUE OF DEGREES IN BANKING AND FINANCE?

JALAL KHAN: Any degree of higher education has two components.

One that should deal with solving the local problems of that particular discipline, practically it means that finance and banking that is being taught in our local intuitions' can solve problems being faced by the industry / banking sector and the economy as a whole. The universities, ICAP, ICMAP are meeting these criteria to the extent that their graduates are adequately qualified for the jobs that they are required to perform. However, the macro problems of research, suggestions required to meet the challenges of financial management of our economy remain unattended. The second component in this field specifies that since world economy and its finances has taken the shape of a global village where information technology has interconnected all Banking/Capital market structures it has become imperative that we at our end teach the latest knowledge required to keep us financially connected with the rest of the world. Some intuitions are meeting these criteria and some still need to catch up.

PAGE: WHAT SHOULD BE DONE TO PROVIDE QUALITY EDUCATION?

JALAL KHAN: This leads us to the question as to how other societies have understood the meaning of education. It is now generally understood that there is direct correlation between education and economic progress of a country. Education brings a better understanding of the challenges being faced and the population in general is better equipped in terms of technical capabilities and attitudes to meet them.

COUNTRY LITERACY (%) GDP (GROWTH RATE %)
China 95.9 10.3
Malaysia 91.9 7.2
Iran 82.3 7.0
Turkey 88.7 8.2
India 74.04 8.5
Pakistan 58.2 2.5

Education not only means mastery over certain books or syllabuses but also the ability to meet certain performance levels required for problem solving and for positive attitudes to progress in life . China, India, Malaysia, Turkey and Iran have all understood this key to social and economic progress. If we want to develop both socially and economically than we have to revamp our basic concepts of education and remodel it on lines the above nations have already done. This would also entail developing useful syllabuses and modern teaching techniques that could alter student capabilities and attitudes towards work performance

Are we socially responsible enough to carry this load of human resource development in the private sector the way The Citizen Foundation is doing. A social cause without minting money. A collective responsibility seriously understood by the society. If this valor is available in our society education can be nourished in the private sector. The educated should come forward to shoulder this load and teach voluntarily.

PAGE: WHAT KIND OF EFFORTS ARE REQUIRED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF PAKISTAN TO ACHIEVE THE TARGETED MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS OF EDUCATION?

JALAL KHAN: The government should realize that among the factors of production that bring economic and social development in the society are land, labor, capital, and entrepreneurship. Human resource is the real factor which utilizes other factors for economic development. Our human resource and intellectual capital is far below that of fast developing nations. Per hector productivity of our crops is far less than other nations. It is time we take things seriously and allocate at least 10 per cent of our GDP to education and up gradation of our human resource.