From Front Page
To support projects for industrial manufacture of high technology goods, the government could itself be a major buyer of these goods so that our industry reaches a state of maturity. For instance we could start a mega-national project on E Governance of all government institutions and outsource the work to only local software houses, with some technical support from international partners.
This could help them to gain experience in this important area, and allow them to compete internationally in projects in other countries in the future. Similarly joint projects could be undertaken with foreign partners with mandatory transfer of technology in such fields as defense equipment, communication satellites, ship building, electronics, engineering goods, industrial automation, cyber security, new materials, waste recycling, mineral extraction and processing, food technologies, fruit and vegetable preservation and exports, horticulture and a host of other such areas.
In this connection Top Chinese universities have already agreed to set up Centers of Excellence in mineral extraction/processing, high speed railways and in food technologies. These will be set up in the Austrian Engineering institution (Fachhochschule) in Haripur, Hazara and help Pakistan in the transfer of the latest technologies. All credit goes to Mr. Imran Khan personally and to his team in KP province for initiating this visionary project.
In order to migrate to a genuine knowledge economy, and to unleash the huge creative potential of over 100 million below the age of 20 in this country we need to give the highest national priority to education, even if it means cutting allocations to other sectors. It is proposed that the allocations for education as a percentage of GDP should be progressively increased by 1% each year till they reach 6% of GDP. A quarter of this allocation should go to the higher education sector so that our universities and research centers can be strengthened in key fields such as engineering sciences, information technology, agricultural sciences, metallurgy, chemical and pharmaceutical sciences, mathematics, physics and other disciplines.
For this it may be necessary to declare a national educational emergency. Under the emergency powers, the government can lay down that all government servants must send their children only the nearest government schools. This one action alone can have a huge positive impact. To meet the acute shortage of qualified teachers at school and college level, a National Education Service (NES) can be launched under which college and university degrees will not be given to students unless they have completed one year of national service in a school or college.
Most schools, colleges and university departments are deserted in the afternoons and evening. Their premises can be utilized by converting them into evening schools so that the 25million out of school children can be educated there. The network of mosques across the country can also be utilized for education.This and other such creative measures can boost the quality of education.
Pakistan stands at a cross-roads. The advent of Imran Khan has now raised new hopes of salvation for this nation after decades of loot and plunder. We need to muster round him at this critical juncture so that Pakistan too can stand with dignity in the comity of nations.
—The writer is the former Federal Minister of Science & Technology & Information Technology, and former Chairman of Higher Education Commission. Currently he is President of the Network of Academies of Science of OIC Countries and Co-Chairman of UN Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation for UNESCAP.