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lack of relevance of the course content to social or economic needs, gender and class disparities, student discipline, outdated curriculum and course materials, fiscal insolvency, and absence of research.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 Students face an unsatisfactory learning environment, overcrowded classrooms, rote learning, inadequate and outdated teaching materials, and a highly charged political situation.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”.

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Published by: Dr. M. A. Pasha

I have obtained a M. Sc. in Physics (Gold Medal) degree from Islamia University Bahawalpur in 1981 and a Ph. D. degree in Computer Science from University of Southampton, UK in 1996. I have more than 30 years experience in tertiary education, ten of which have been in strategic leadership positions, including as Professor of Computer Science and Dean, Faculty of Computing & Information Sciences, Imperial College of Business Studies, Lahore; Professor of Computer Science and Director, Division of Science & Technology at University of Education, Lahore; Pro-Rector of Dadabhoy Institute of Higher Education, Karachi. Director, Institute of Computer Sciences & Software Engineering, The University of Lahore; Dean, University of Central Punjab, Lahore; Advisor to the Vice Chancellor on Information Technology, University of the Punjab, Lahore; Principal, Punjab University College of Information Technology, University of the Punjab, Lahore; Professor & Pro-Rector, Dadabhoy Institute of Higher Education, Karachi. I also have the honor to work as Vice Chairman, National Computing Education Accreditation Council (Pakistan); Chairman Inter Universities Faculty Board for Policy and Framework Development of Computer Science and Information Technology Degree Programs (Punjab, Pakistan). In addition, I have worked in various academic and administrative committees of public as well as private universities performing diverse nature of assignments. Presently, I am member of the Chief Minister’s Committee to “Develop a Vision for Information Technology in Punjab”. I have delivered various teacher training workshops and taught at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, supervised postgraduate students and published 40 papers in national & international journals & conference proceedings. Knowledge Management, WWW Multimedia Content Management, and Artificial Intelligence are the key areas of my interest. I have attended various national & international professional trainings, conferences and took part in international ICT consultation sessions in Cambodia and Bangladesh in 2005 and 2006 respectively.

Categories General2 Comments

2 thoughts on “Stop Moaning-Let’s Work for a Better Future”

  1. ^Dr. M.A Pasha: You have just mentioned your achievements but it would have been better and beneficial if you also guide us and give suggestions to build a career and acquiring skill sin general.

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