Improving Pak’s education

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Rizwan Ghani

Our new government wants to standardize education in Pakistan. Education has been devolved and it is now a provincial subject in Pakistan and medium of instruction (English, Urdu or local languages) is also a sensitive subject. The central government should therefore leave all levels of education, vocational and technical training at the discretion of provinces. And it should use successful models in America, Europe and China at centre’s level to help standardize, test and accredit education, technical and vocational skills of provinces. With changes in the region, our planners should also formulate and adopt education policies that support trade, economy and job creation. By successfully competing in these areas with Europe and America, China has become world’s second largest economy. We can learn from China, Europe and America in important areas to improve our education.
In terms of education, Beijing participated in PISA (Program for International Student Assessment which is being used by 72 countries including 44 developed nations to help standardize its education. Its higher education institutions are open to foreign students and teachers. China is narrowing the gap in rural and urban education. India has based higher educational institutions ranking on innovation. Education is part of bigger picture in advanced world. China is successfully using combination of strategies in nation building and education is linked to its industry, creation of jobs and improving the economy. For example, robot hub in Ningbo, China has been co-founded with the Swedish government, four private companies and two local universities. It is considered the “heart” of Europe’s robotics industry. In terms of funding, the parties will build and operate it with help of a joint-stock company. The strategy includes complete industrial chain centring on innovation and interconnection in purpose based cities. Eight platforms for R&D, incubation, industrialization, services, finance, high-calibre professionals, education and display centres will be built in it. Similarly, China and Singapore have formed an alliance to create knowledge clusters as a model and catalyst for the economic transformation and industrial upgrading of cities as part of country’s five-year development plan.
Economy is education. West’s education standards are (usually) better than our standards but it is often seen that they hold competitions mostly to hire talented people for their countries. Jules Chappell, former UK ambassador and MD, the Mayor of London’s economic development agency is trying for post-study work visas to attract Indian talent and businesses as part of mutual benefit. UK is the largest investor in India. Our policy makers should hold competitions to help our youth build (S&M) businesses in Pakistan. A private company is building two Rs 720 crore IT parks in India to export software instead of allowing Indian talent to go abroad.
Trade and Investment Expos are important part of improving country’s education. China is using this approach successfully to attract local and foreign investment. In 2017, China received $135 bn with increase investment in high-tech and services industry. FDI has also helped China become a leading economy of the world. These investments create demand for labour, industry and infrastructure in important areas like science, technology and services sectors which is fulfilled by locally educated people.
The job projections for 2026 show 16 percent annual growth in renewable sector. By encouraging adoption of renewable energy at grassroots (32 million family units) Imran government can help achieve its objective of creating one crore jobs, permanently control circular debt (standing at Rs800bn), improve power generation, free water for agriculture, improve water and food security, under buyback schemes turn electricity generation into a cottage industry, reduce per unit price (prices equal to coal in China and India), cut load shedding, reduce budget deficit by cutting oil imports, support expansion of industrial growth, improve economy and adopt independent foreign policy. By making higher education free, Pakistan can boost its economy. Higher education is free in Germany. Students have to pay nominal fee. It has helped Germany post record exports of $1.57 trillion in 2017. Pakistan should educate and train more people so that they can fulfil local and overseas demand and in turn strengthen our economy. Remove merit for overseas students in professional colleges so that they can send money from abroad. By protecting rights of its educated and skilled workers, and supporting overseas students, government can improve our education system, work force and economy.
Women should be protected in higher education setups and workplaces to improve science, research and work places. Funding, appointments and promotions should be linked to clearance certificate in Pakistan like UK, India (Toxic silence, the Hindu) and America (the Chronicle) to help end sexual harassment. Women constitute more than 51% of our population and without making laws including long prison sentences for administration, collaborators and perpetrators we should not expect improvement in our education, economy and poverty alleviation. Finally, Imran should adopt zero tolerance against terrorism by state and non-state actors to improve education. Pakistan should improve its relations with India to improve its economy. India is headed to become world’s 3rd largest economy. Pakistan will have to end terrorism if wants to survive trade competition in the region. Our armed forces have helped restore peace in the country. It is now job of our political and civil establishment to improve our education system, create jobs and improve economy. Our media should also help public to build educated, strong and corruption free Pakistan.
—The writer is senior political analyst based in Islamabad.

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