Counter-narrative: Education emergency or revolution at hand?

Published: March 12, 2011

Laghari claimed that Pakistan is now strategising to ensure that higher education will be geared towards industry and creating jobs.

HONG KONG: 

In stark contrast to the recent alarming reports about the ‘education emergency’ in Pakistan, Going Global 2011, the British Council’s international education conference, saw Pakistan pitched as a success story in higher education.

“How has Pakistan, which is the frontline state in the War on Terror, faced internal and external [educational] challenges and has overcome them successfully? We have undergone a revolutionary growth in higher education in the last seven years … the number of universities have increased by 35 per cent, student enrolment by 300 per cent, gender gap narrowed from 36 per cent females to 46 per cent,” was the unexpected positive note upon which Dr Javaid Laghari, chairperson Higher Education Commission Pakistan (HECP) built his talk at the conference.

“On our part, the British Council hopes to build sustainable systems for education in Pakistan,” says Nadia Akram, Head of Education UK, British Council. “We want to enable universities and schools to take our training, adopt such initiatives as their own and grow, possibly with our assistance in building their relationships with international institutions in education and R&D.”

Hosted in Hong Kong, the conference brought together 1,000 delegates shaping the future of education worldwide, to identify, debate and build upon global trends in schools, universities and policies. The Pakistan delegation was represented by Laghari and director-general research & development HECP Dr Muhammad Latif, along with deans, rectors and British Council representatives.

Hong Kong is now spending 25 per cent of their total budget on education, said Sir Donald Tsang Yam-Kuen, Chief Executive and President of the Executive Council of the Government of Hong Kong, at the conference. In contrast, Pakistan spends a mere 2.5 per cent of its budget on education.

Laghari’s claim that Pakistan is now strategising to ensure that higher education will be geared towards industry and creating jobs, fell flat in the face of UNESCO citing the “30 per cent of Pakistanis live in extreme educational poverty – having received less than two years of education,” as highlighted by the Pakistan Education Task Force (PETF).

“There is certain disconnect between the reality of education in Pakistan and what officials at the top would like to believe,” said one Pakistani delegate at the conference.

“Even the claim of producing a massive number of higher education degree holders begs the question, what quality and standards do those degrees meet, and are they relevant to Pakistan’s diverse needs?” the delegate added.

Ideas, hope aplenty

The most encouraging aspect of Going Global was definitely the exchange of ideas and uncovering stories of the much-needed ‘hope’ upon which Pakistan continues to float. Aside from sending over 10,000 students for higher education to the UK, The British Council is doing its part by working on a number of initiatives including career guidance qualification to ensure the availability of good counselors for students; holding annual virtual exhibitions for study aboard programs;  helping in collaborative initiatives via the International Strategic Partnerships in Research and Education (INSPIRE) project between Pakistan and the UK, and even the very basic teacher training in the English language.

In addition, as Dr Laghari adds mid-session, “Science Watch, a prestigious magazine in the UK, has called Pakistan a ‘rising star’ in 2011, citing its research growth, in which we are ranked first in microbiology and plant/animal sciences.”

Published in The Express Tribune March 12th, 2011.

Reader Comments (6)

  • danish salim
    Mar 12, 2011 - 11:23AM

    our children need to be taught from the first day of school that Athiests,agnostics,hindus,christians,parsis & ahmadis have as much right to live & work in pakistan as the muslims do.They are just as much pakistanis as muslims are.Recommend

  • ghulam-e-mustafa
    Mar 12, 2011 - 11:24AM

    shut down the dens of bigotry & misogyny:madrassas.

    The children coming out of these madrassas are like a cancer spreading through the country killing of any sane,rational cells to be found in the country.

    These children are fed a steady diet of homophobia,the suppression of women,hate of anyone nonmuslim.

    They are not taught how to think,only to rattafy religious texts in arabic( a foreign language).Recommend

  • Mar 12, 2011 - 1:51PM

    It is shameful that Javaid Laghari pretends everything is hunky dory and rosy when it is the exact opposite! Just my two cents on the Education Emergency in Pakistan and what Mr Laghari ought to know being the head of HECP.

    http://www.thetrueperspective.com/2011/03/education-emergency.htmlRecommend

  • Fareed Mohamad
    Mar 12, 2011 - 3:23PM

    What crap! We need bigger missiles and more military spending, have we forgotten what Bhutto taught us!

    All this education and all is Zionist agenda.

    Pakistan Zindabad!Recommend

  • muhammad usman
    Mar 12, 2011 - 4:46PM

    the madrassas are factories of hatefilled suicide bombers & fidayeen attackers.

    The children in madrassas don’t know critical or rational thinking ,they only rattafy like animals religious texts in a language which they don’t understand.someone should tell these kids that their next 7 generations won’t be blessed just becaue they are good at rattafication.

    These rabid ,religious savages then try to impose their intolerant,hatefilled ideology on the rest of the society.Recommend

  • Talat Haque
    Mar 12, 2011 - 6:42PM

    You’ve held up the mirror to the facts and fiction of education in Pakistan ! ……… great job !Recommend

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