Digital Divide: A Daunting Challenge for Pakistani Society

Today’s increasingly technology driven, complex, globalized, and information-saturated society has redefined the employment standards for young graduates who are looking for jobs. It is commonly observed that these young graduates face serious difficulties in finding appropriate jobs as they lack required knowledge, skills, competencies and attitude. As a result, organizations are facing a serious scarcity of rightly trained manpower and society is saturating with an increasing number of unemployed graduates. Therefore, it is imperative for policy makers to analysis the existing situation and takes appropriated measure to upgrade our education system – including curricula, instruction strategies and teaching-learning provisions – to meet the challenges of 21st century.

To understand the momentous of the existing challenges, first of all we need to comprehend the high pace of the technological advancement because a student entering in school at the age of five in 2011 will be joining his/her professional career, after his/her graduation, in  2027.  Emerging technologies and resulting globalization are unfolding unlimited possibilities for exciting new discoveries and developments such as new forms of energy, advancements in medical, communication, biotechnologies, nanotechnologies and space exploration, etc. Such a high pace of technological advancements has made it difficult to predicate what the world will look in five years, much less than 16 years. In parallel, emerging issues such as global warming, famine, poverty, health issues, a global population explosion and other environmental and social issues put extract responsibility on educated citizens to contribute their share to convert this world into a better place for living. Therefore the young graduates must have the ability to understand these emerging challenges and communicate, function and bring change personally, socially, economically and politically at local, national and global levels. Preparing young students for such a challenging role is a daunting challenge. 

Much literature is available addressing these issues, but a thought provoking lesson could be learnt from Kevin Conlon’s new book “The Global Achievement Gap”. In this book he examines the U.S. education system in the context of 21st century and tries to explore why American students are falling behind their international peers. He identifies an important area called “The global achievement gap” which is the gap between what schools are teaching and testing versus the skills all students will need for careers, college, and citizenship in the 21st century. Explaining the reasons why American students are lagging behind international students, he argues that the curricula or teaching methods in American schools are not developed for teaching all students how to reason, analyze, write well, and so on. Current curriculum is based mainly on memorization which causes students’ boredom; and boredom is the number one cause of high school dropouts. For a positive change, he suggests to transform teaching from an “assembly line” job into a high status “knowledge worker” job.  He further argues that teachers have to teach all students how to think and communicate effectively, and they need to assess these skills and benchmark expectations to what the world will require from high school graduates. If this is done in all of schools, while also stimulating curiosity and imagination, then all students will have the skills they need to get and keep a good job and be a contributing citizen, while America will have a workforce that can continually produce innovations. An economy based on innovation will be more competitive and successful than any other in the 21st century.

Kevin Conlon also pointed out seven important survival skills which could help students to become successful in their professional life. These seven skills include:

  1. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  2. Collaboration across Networks and Leading by Influence
  3. Agility and Adaptability
  4. Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
  5. Effective Oral and Written Communication
  6. Accessing and Analyzing Information
  7. Curiosity and Imagination

Although these skills are very important but, as mentioned above, the challenges of 21st Century demands from us not to restrict our curriculum design to workplace readiness rather we adopt a “whole child” approach which, on the one hand, allows students to learn 21st century skills for highly technology driven complex work places; on the other hand becomes “cyber space enabled citizen” of today’s globalized society ready to contribute their share to bring a positive change personally, socially, economically and politically at local, national and global levels.

Before putting any suggestion to harness these challenges, it is important to understand the strange reality of Pakistani education system which is facing a serious form of digital divide. On the one hand, which may be in a small friction,  teachers are working with ‘digital literate’ students whose entire lives are anchored into the Internet connected multimedia devices like cellular phones, handheld gaming devices, PDAs,  laptops, TVs, game consoles, etc. They are using such devices to perform various tasks ranging from simple to very complex. They are also able to access and utilize these technologies for activities like problem-solving, decision making and educational learning. In parallel, Web 2.0 technologies have given birth to new social communities.  These ‘digital literate’ kids are using these communities for activities ranging from entertainment to educational. In contrast, a majority of students and teachers have no access to these tools and technologies even at home or at school. Therefore, a majority of schools are failed to produce ‘digitally literate’ students. Consequently, a large number of such students are failed to avail the opportunities available in today’s knowledge economies. Therefore, the most important challenge for Pakistani education system is to produce ‘digitally literate’ students who can  use the available tools and technologies in an online collaborative, research-based environment  for researching, analyzing, synthesizing, critiquing, evaluating and creating new knowledge.

The problem of digital divide is not limited to our schools rather whole society is facing this problem.The main reasons of exiting digital divide can be categorized as below:   

  1. Awareness: People do not know about ICT and the Internet facility
  2. Economic: People cannot buy ICT tools & the Internet facility.
  3. Usability: People have access to ICT tools & the Internet but do not have the skill to use it.
  4. Empowerment: People have the access to ICT tools & the Internet and have the skill to use it, but cannot use it for their socio-economic improvements.

Being a member of this society, majority of the teachers also fall in one of these categories. In parallel, the latest studies have demonstrated that students learning in not only based on “School”, “Teacher”, “Learner” and “Curriculum” rather the role of local, regional and global communities are equally important. Therefore, before devising a strategy to produce ‘digitally literate’  and to convert our schools into 21st century schools we need to adopt a wholistic approach to address issues related to digital divide. A wholistic approach will not only help Pakistan to produce “digitally literate” students but also reduce the gap of digital divide among various segments of our society.  

Here, I would like to point out that a segmented approach, many be adopted in a good faith, will further widen up this digital divide which will further aggravate the deteriorating situation of our society. For example, as claimed by the government, the Danish School System will produce ‘digitally literate’ students from poor families. I am afraid this will create a digital divide within families of these children. I am not against the Danish School system, but much batter result could be produced adopting a wholistic approach which can ensure a social change within every segment of Pakistani society.

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Aftermaths of HEC Devolution

Many students ask about the aftermaths of HEC devolution. Much debate is underway on this issue, please watch any talk show. Scholars like DR. Atta, Dr. Lagri and many others are trying to convince this nation about HEC current position. In contrast, less knowledgeable people with a doubtful career are trying to prove that they are more intelligent. As HEC is ineffective now-a-days so the incompetent and corrupt mafia has started exploiting the situation. The situation of UE is a living example about the aftermaths of HEC devolution. From the last four months UE is functioning without any vice chancellor. Now-a-days, there is no vice chancellor, no registrar, no controller, no treasurer. Corrupt mafia is taking the full advantage of this situation through making Illegal appointments, purchases, transfers, etc., Ph. D. degrees are distributed like anything. Both offices, Secretary of Higher Education and Governor House, are supporting them. Even in the presence of documentary proof no action is being taken. Who is suffering? You know better than me. The idea of devolution was perceived in 1973 but we are living in 2010 which is altogether a different world with totally different challenges and opportunities. I wish people could understand this simple point. But someone right said “if wishes were horses beggars would ride?”.

Due to HEC efforts Pakistan was making a little progress in higher education. Some people do not appreciate this! Let’s prey for a miracle but my recent experience has created many doubts. Just you imaging a Ph.D. student of the same University who was even not eligible for associate professorship were appointed as a care taker vice chancellor. Not only this, she is facing charges of financial embezzlement of more than Rs. 200 millions. What happened then? You students are facing the consequences; is there anybody who listen you. Just one person sitting on a key position in the Department of Higher Education is making the whole government fool just for his Ph.D .  As our politicians are incompetent, so in future every province will see such practices as a routine matter.   This is just a start of HEC devolution…………… What do you thing about the quality of your education and recognition of your degrees at international level?

Some people makea point that Dr. Lagari and his group is doing all this just to save their jobs. I personally know the professional competency of Dr. Lagari and his team.  It is a blessing for HEC and Pakistan, if they are working here. Much better opportunities are waiting around the globe for them; as is the case with me.

Stop Moaning-Let’s Work for a Better Future

Stop Moaning-Let’s Make our Future Bright I am starting this article with few paragraphs taken from a report produced by The Boston Group on Higher Education in Pakistan. Regarding the importance of higher education the report says “Higher education has always been an important component of the social agenda, but it has acquired a new importance today. In the emerging ‘knowledge economy’, nations that fail at creating a decent learning environment will lag behind, and may end up becoming virtual colonies of those that do succeed in this regard.” Shedding light on the situation of higher education in Pakistan the report further states,” Pakistan’s situation is particularly grave, and some consider the system to be in a virtual state of collapse….The problems that are identified in the system are legion. These include poor quality of teachers, low student motivation, lack of relevance of the course content to social or economic needs, gender and class disparities, student discipline, outdated curriculum and course materials, fiscal insolvency, and absence of research. Teacher quality is affected adversely by the poor salary and benefits and perverse incentives provided by systems of retention and promotion. Students face an unsatisfactory learning environment, overcrowded classrooms, rote learning, inadequate and outdated teaching materials, and a highly charged political situation. The result is that the vast, rather the overwhelming majority of students emerge from Pakistani universities and colleges with no significant social or technical skills. Notwithstanding the rhetorical commitment to scientific and technical education, the actual quality of technical institutions has deteriorated over the last three decades. In other areas, the situation is even more depressing. There is little emphasis on communication, languages, writing, or the humanities. Built on the tradition of the British system from the 19th century, the educational programs purport to train students for employment in the public services, and therefore do not provide any training in entrepreneurship, marketing, or other skills that would be more relevant. An environment that encourages cheating and corruption mars even the training for public service. More generally, the course content as well as the extra-curricular environment ill-prepares the students for participation in the social and political development of the country. Institutions of higher education have sat on the sidelines as the major currents of globalization, corporate concentration, technological revolution, and fundamentalism swept the globe; students have learned about these areas mainly from other sources, and often by specialized private education centers. The weakness is most glaring in the case of the technological revolution; notwithstanding the high demand, mainstream Pakistani educational institutions still do not have credible course offerings in the area of information technology, and do not have any program to provide such courses on biotechnology and nanotechnology. Arguably, the physical and social infrastructures of universities and colleges lag far behind other national institutions in terms of exposure to the electronic age.” As usual the report has put forwarded many recommendations for improvement. Consequently, HEC took some initiatives but again stuck in the same vicious circle of financial constraints and reformulation of policies. Now-a-days Government is busy in policy making and universities are busy in producing low quality graduates. As a result, the society is over crowded with unemployed or lowly paid frustrated, angry young people. What is the solution of this problem? Should we wait for another reform? No, I do not think this is the right solution. We should not waste time on waiting government policies or reforms as Pakistan has a long history of failed reforms. For example, in constitution domain we have experienced 1948, 1956, 1962, 1973 and 1985 including military dictators’ directives of 1958, 1969, 1977, and 1999. Similarly, agricultural and land reforms of 1953, 1958, 1969, 1972, administrative reforms of 1959, 1973, local government reforms of 1962, 2000, industrial reforms of 1972, financial sector reforms of 1972, and many others. We have also seen the outcome of our education policies of 1970, 1972, 1979, 1992 1998, and 2009. Alongside these policies & reforms, Pakistan Government also produced eight Five-Year Plans. Moreover, every government formulated commissions, panels, committees, or task forces almost in every area of life. There would be some benefits of these reforms but the overall impact has emerged in the shape of socio-economic and political instability; political, ethnic, ideological, and religious extremism; exponentially rising levels of unemployment, intolerance, violence, and economic indifference. Although, the prevailing situation is very gloomy, but I strongly believe that the young students and unemployed graduates can bring a positive change if they realize the dimensions of today’s knowledge revolution, harness the power of ICT and avail the economic opportunities of global knowledge economies. For this they have to change their mindset and concentrate to acquire: (i) latest technical and academic knowledge; (ii) marketable ICT enhanced skills; (iii) valuable competencies; (iv) unique expertise and (v) professional attitude. It is obvious, also reported in The Boston Group’s report, our educational institutions do not address these areas. Nevertheless, individuals can learn these through their own efforts using online resources. Once they get mastery on these areas, a bright future will be waiting for them. Today we are living in Knowledge Revolution which has brought unprecedented opportunities for educated people. We all know that due to the poor planning of previous governments we have missed the opportunities of 1980s’ economic wave. Countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand responded timely and appropriately; as a result industrialist countries moved their manufacturing units to these countries which strengthen their economies. Today Knowledge Revolution has offered us with another opportunity in the shape of globalized knowledge services and knowledge process outsourcing. All over the world, companies in the domain of banking, finance, insurance, healthcare and others are restructuring their organization and re-locating them to countries which offer trained manpower and cost advantages. For example, many US and UK based companies are looking for English-fluent professionals who could link to their homeland through internet and perform tasks like bank loan processing, insurance claims handling, bill processing, accounting, customer service calls handling, etc. The key point to be highlighted here is that we should not discourage ourselves due to the prevailing situation of Pakistan, rather at individual level work seriously and sensibly to grab this unprecedented opportunity so that our coming generation must not put blame on us for missing this opportunity of a bright future. I am 100% sure; our educated young people can garb this opportunity if they concentrate to strengthen their potential in the above mentioned areas. I know they are not very fluent in English. But with little efforts they can overcome this shortcoming as the medium of instruction in colleges and universities are English. With their little effort and commitment they will not only be able to compete the global market but also make Pakistan a leading player in this domain. Here, I will not discuss the Indian potential and their success stories. Though, it is good to learn from others failures and success stories, but making comparison with India is not logical. It is an undeniable fact that at the time of independence India was far ahead of Pakistan in every walk of life; uninterrupted democratic system further strengthened their socio-economic conditions. Contrarily, Pakistan is still dreaming for such kind of stability. This does not mean that we cannot compete India. We can do so if we are very focused and committed. I would conclude this article with some useful suggestions. Improve your English fluency using online tools & tutorial. Use social media extensively but avoid communicating in Urdu. Work in teams using collaborative software, remember in Knowledge Revolution individuals cannot survive. Use Web 2.0 technologies for building social network for knowledge sharing. Use online tutorials, lectures, Webinar and YouTube videos for improving your knowledge and technical skills. Join online forums and must contribute your share. Start your Blog or website for your presence in the global community. There are many other things which could be suggested but the most important to begin with: “Develop a Global Mindset”.

No to HEC Devolution

Under 18th amendment Higher Education Commission (HEC) is being devolved to the provinces. HEC is the primary autonomous regulatory body of higher education in Pakistan and its main purpose is to help universities improve their quality of education, research and development. We strongly condemn the transfer of the functions of the HEC to the provinces because it will create devastating consequences on the future of higher education in Pakistan.  We submit a humble request to the concern authorities of the Government of Pakistan to maintain the current status of HEC for a better future of our next generations.

Please sign this online petition and pass the address of following website to as many people as you can. This is a national cause we have to act now otherwise our future generations will curse upon us.

http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/hecdevolution

Much Needed Traits of a Vice Chancellor to Improve Quality of Education in Pakistan

Quality of education is an unending debate in Pakistan. Almost everybody in Pakistan talks about it and show their deep concerns regarding the deteriorating conditions of educational institutions. When such people are asked about the meaning of “Quality of Education”; resources and teaching at LUMS, FAST, NUST, Harvard, Cambridge, and Oxford are being quoted as a yardstick. Nothing about the culture and environment of these institutions are being discussed. It would be a false claim that one could offer same quality of education without appreciating the importance of culture and environment. Because “quality of education” is a vague term which may has different meanings to different people. Nevertheless, it is directly relate to four factors: (i) the vision & leadership style of the head of the institution; (ii) the mindset of students, faculty, and administration; (iii) learning environment and (iv) research culture. These four important factors differentiate an ordinary institution from a world class institution.

In Pakistan many vice chancellor always talked about shortage of funding. Shortage of funding as a major hurdle in imparting quality education is a lame excuse of those vice chancellors who never accepted their incompetency. Shortage of funding is a global issue. Universities of developed nation are devising strategies regarding their sustainability. Particularly in today’s knowledge revolution, where education sector has emerged as a potential business industry, finances should never be considered as an issue. This issue can be resolved through optimum utilization of available resources, introducing the concept of branding in higher education and adopting latest practices of internationalization of higher education. In addition, establishing effective linkage with industry and research organizations are some other valuable sources.  I strongly believe that it should be one of the key responsibilities of the vice chancellor to explore new ventures to meet the expenses of the institutions. Personally, I have never faced any such problem. I always overcome this problem through devising effective financial management strategies and starting new income generation activities.

The quality of education also depends on the smooth functioning and progress of the university. In this regard the vision, mindset and role of the vice chancellor is very important. His/her leadership style and the way he/she brings culture change without disturbing the legacy of the organization are equally important. These aspects have to be considered in the selection of a vice chancellor. Unfortunately, in my recent experience, no such aspects were discussed by the members of the selection committee during the interview of candidates for vice chancellorship. 

I strongly believe that a good vice chancellor should be a role model for his/her ‘community’. He/she must be focused, flexible, agile and able to manage equality & diversity. His/her vision must be in line with the goals & objectives of the organization and must be shared at all level. He/she has to be a visionary leader, caring manager, unbiased facilitator and a strong believer of good governance. He/she has to be a source of inspiration, energy and motivation for his/her colleagues and positively work for their professional development. He/ she should be able to connect strategic vision with day-to-day affairs and promote collaborations/partnerships culture within the organization. He/she must be aware of internal and external pressures and have the capacity to handle such pressure without disturbing the performance of the organization. He/she must be aware of his/her university’s market position and devise strategies to get better position in the market. In this regard he/she should adopt a futuristic approach and make appropriate plans regarding the expansion of the university; nevertheless, strategic goals must be in line with the operational capacity of the organization.

It is very important for a thriving vice chancellor to build a strong management team of right persons who should be well aware of organizational processes. These persons must also be equipped with innovative ideas and have the capacity to improve the existing processes for organizational improvement.  It is commonly observed that many of university employees, including faculty and staff, are unaware of university’s rules & regulation, organizational processes; even they are unaware of their job description. In parallel, no induction training or induction pack is available for them. Every new employee has to learn through his/her own experience; causing many complications which badly affects the quality of services and productivity of the organization. Every new employee must be given an induction training encompassing topics like vision, objectives and goals of the organization, culture of the organization, expectations of the organization; his/her job description, organizational processes and university rules and regulations, etc. It is equally important to devise an appropriate strategy to gain maximum output form a new employee after conducting his/her SWOT analysis.

Although it is a wearying task, but a successful vice chancellor has to be aware of organization politics and has the aptitude to resolve conflict among different segments of the organization. His decision should be transparent and based on merit.  He should also make strategic decision timely, keeping in view the Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats to his/her university. Once a decision is being made it should be communicated across the board. It is commonly observed that in case of any change it is not communicated properly which cause unnecessary problems. This could be avoided through establishing an ICT based transparent communication system.

Unavailability of competent faculty & professionals is the most commonly quoted problem. Being a head of the institution, first and the most important task for a vice chancellor is to produce a critical mass of highly competent faculty & professionals who could impart high quality education through establishing a congenial learning environment for teaching, learning and research. They should also be able to build strong intellectual/research networks with national & international agencies. Many vice chancellors made excuse they are unable to find competent faculty. I totally disagree with their point of view. There is no shortage of talent in Pakistan. The problem is with such vice chancellors who are unable to appreciate available talent. Majority of such talented people are either unemployed or working on jobs which are not relevant to their competency. Normally, faculty and staff in universities are hired through a selection board in which five or ten questions are being asked; political pressure, personal interests and inner jealousy towards competent people make the whole selection process faulty. The selection of an incompetent employee badly affects the performance of the whole organization and promotes a culture of dirty politics. To make the selection process more transparent, a due consideration has to be given to the candidates’ knowledge, skills, competency, expertise, and their performance and the evaluation of students, faculty and staff.    

Pakistani institutions are in dire need of an effective learning environment and encouraging research culture. In parallel, the rapidly changing canvas of the employment market demands for special skills which could not be inculcated through conventional degree programs. Universities need to offer flexible degrees programs which allow students to choose courses of their own interest keeping in view the trends of the employment market. For establishing an effective learning environment, a culture of regular seminars, workshops and discussion forums must be promoted. Faculty & students should be provided ample opportunities for such activities. Similarly, special training sessions must be conducted to promote research activities. Students and faculty must be forced to join international research forums so that their communication skills could improve.  They should also be forced to attend online lectures, workshops and conferences so that they should know about the current trends in research. Attendance of such activities should be made compulsory and be a part of their curricular activities.

The idea of internship is not new. In many institutions it is an integral part of their degree programs. Unfortunately the outcome of such programs is not what is expected. During internship period students just spend time in organization or produce fake certificates. The universities can devise fool proof procedures to monitor the internship programs to make it more productive through the use of ICT and establishing a good liaison with corporate sector with a clear line of action. Each internship program should have a clearly defined targets and every internee has to meet those targets. These targets could be set with a mutual understanding of the organizations and the university. Daily and final evaluation reports could be maintained through an online system. This way students and organizations will be forced to achieve the targets of the internship program. The organizations who fail to provide effective opportunities should be blacklisted from the program and the students who fail to achieve required targets should be penalized through putting adverse remarks on their transcripts. Such measures will make the internship program more valuable and effective.

An effective ICT infrastructure is an essential requirement of 21st century University. A good vice chancellor has to concentrate on this aspect and arranges appropriate resources and training for staff, faculty and students to utilize ICT infrastructure for the improvement of teaching-learning process, research activities and quality of university services.  E-Learning and the use of educational technology in teaching learning process are important opportunities to improve quality of education and to reduce expenses. However, proper planning and training is required to achieve required results.   Audit & Accountability are two other important aspects which may portray a negative image of a vice chancellor. The use of ICT could help to overcome such negativity. Providing details of financial aspects on university website can make the whole financial management process transparent.

Alumni are the best ambassadors of any educational institution. For a world class institution it is very important to utilize the invaluable experience of their Alumni.  Through offering special lifelong learning opportunities and professional development opportunities the confidence of Alumina could be gained. They should also be invited in future planning sessions. Such activities will get the word of mouth market of the corporate sector which will bring good name to the university.

Future planning should not be done in isolation. Every member of the organization should be taken on board and their suggestion should be consider seriously irrespective of their job positions.

There are many other aspects which I will discuss in another post. However, I finish this article with these words which were concluded in International Leadership Development programme that excellence in leadership in higher education attracting the same esteem as excellence in research, teaching and learning.

HEC: The only Hope of a Bright Future

Recently, under 18th amendment Higher Education Commission (HEC) is being devolved to the provinces. I must appreciate government’s approach of strengthening provincial governments which will certainly bring multifold benefits. But the matter of HEC is totally different.  Many people have shown their concerns regarding the verification of degrees, distribution of foreign grants and government funding. Although these aspects are importent but the issue of HEC is more than that. To me, the role of HEC towards the prosperity and compatibility of Pakistan is more crucial than any other institution. Particularly, in today’s Knowledge Revolution, this role has become more decisive. Pakistan needs a centralized body responsible of devising & executing national educational strategies so that knowledge workers of international standards could be produced. The production of such knowledge workers will be the guarantee of Pakistan’s prosperity in forthcoming knowledge economies.  

Since its inception, HEC has been playing very pivotal role towards the promotion of educational standards.  Promotion of research culture, introduction of educational standards for quality assurance, foreign scholarships for human resource development, making higher education more accessible through opening new educational institutions are some of HEC initiatives which have revolutionized Pakistani higher education.  Few people may have their apprehension about the role of HEC, but Rome never built in one day.  The whole credit goes to Dr. Lagari, Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman, Dr. Sohail Naqvee and their dedicated & competent team who worked day-n-night for the promotion of higher education and research in Pakistan. I pay my special tributes from the core of my heart to these three dignitaries whose visionary approach and competency brought higher education up to this level.

Now-a-days, Pakistan is facing the most crucial challenge of it survival. It is globally accepted that quality education, stat-of-the-art technology and cheap energy are the most important pillars of today’s knowledge economy.  Pakistan has already failed to grasp the benefits of Information Revolution. Today’s political instability & cultural alienation that is fostering political, ethnic, ideological, and religious extremism is the result of this failure. The challenges of 21st century’s knowledge revolution demands Pakistan to make its human resource base as one of its core competency. For this we need to give right education to our youth and place them in intellectually challenging environments so that they can excel themselves in all areas of today’s knowledge Economy. From the day first, HEC is working in this direction and producing encouraging results which have brought a positive change in Pakistan. Therefore, the existing role of HEC is very crucial for Pakistan.

I have no doubt regarding the positive efforts of the current government towards the progress of Pakistan. Politicians are just like us and they are trying their level best to make Pakistan prosperous. Unfortunately, they cannot foresee the challenges of 21st century’s knowledge revolution as this is not their area of expertise.  They need to realize that the country is already facing a sever scarcity of visionary & competent educationist.  The very few available are working at HEC day and night. They are not only devising strategies to raise the standards of higher education but also promoting research activities in universities all over Pakistan.  Due to their untiring efforts Pakistan has started gaining its credibility among the international academic community. Devolving HEC to the provinces will essentially sabotage the whole process. Dr. Qadeer Khan rightly said that the destruction of HEC through its fragmentation will have devastating consequences for Pakistan. I wish the government could realize the importance of HEC and maintain its current status which is not only crucial but very essential for Pakistan. I am sure there are many people in this country who can convince President or Prime Minister that the issue of HEC is not only related to degree verification or distribution of foreign grants and government funding rather it is more important for the future of this nation.  I am sure; their timely effort could save this country from a disaster.

Need to Revisit Pakistani Education System

According to UNDP’s report Worldwide Trends in the Human Development Index 1980-2010 Pakistan is ranked on 125th position with HDI of 0.490. This is a worrying indicator for national economy.  In parallel, the high pace of technological advancements and exponential rate of information explosion have made the issue of sustainability more competitive and challenging. This alarming situation demands academia, professionals and policy makers to analyze the situation seriously and devise national strategies to meet the unprecedented challenges of 2st century.

It is a globally accepted that education plays a vital role in the development of a civilized society. It is equally true education helps oneself to improve every aspect of his/her life, but today’s knowledge revolution has radically changed the concept of education. Generally, education is defined as acquiring knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that will be part of students’ life. Education also involves caring for the development of students’ intellect, emotional, social and physical growth. But, knowledge revolution demands for a broader understanding of John Dewey’s views of education that is ’re-orientation, re-organization and re-construction of experience’. By experience he meant knowledge, skills and values, attitudes and actions.

The point to consider here is to understand what does mean “re-orientation”, “re-organization” and “re-construction”. Particularly, these aspects become more important when education is classify in different band starting from pre-primary to higher education. We need to explore the meaning of these concepts in the light of different learning theories; particularly, Behaviorism, Cognitivism and Constructivism. It is equally important to understand these concepts in the light of today’s technological advancements and easy access to information. We have to accept that 21st century students are more informative and demanding. In contrast, the academia is treating them as conventional students. Time has come to rethink about the whole concept of education in Pakistan otherwise we will fail to produce knowledge mangers for today’s knowledge economy.

Though it is very much worrying that Pakistan is ranked on 125th position with HDI of 0.490, but the issue of unemployment is more serious as our graduates are unable to meet the challenges of today’s technology oriented knowledge driven work places. The issue of unemployment is not more alarming as, on the one hand, it is promoting frustration among the graduates; making them easy prey for terrorist and criminals. On the other hand, it is the wastage of all that investment which the nation has made on them. More than that, the nation is unable to utilize their services towards the socio-economic growth of the country.  The existing dilemma of unemployment is only due to the mismatch of our education system with the needs of the 21st century.  If we understand the dimensions of the knowledge economy, stream line our education system and trained our youth accordingly, then the trained human resource will become the biggest strength of this nation.