LAHORE: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said on Friday that the secret to the success of developed nations lay in the attainment of high literacy rates and quality human resources.
He was addressing the participants at the opening day of Schools of Tomorrow: Freedom to Learn Towards 2035 conference organised by the Beaconhouse School System at a local hotel.
He appreciated the conference’s idea of questioning traditional modes of education. These, he said, were once a requirement of an emerging free-market society but were now impeding the satisfactory growth of cognitive abilities among the young. He said that the purpose of schooling should not be limited to rote-learning of facts. He said that students should have the freedom to learn whatever they choose to. This, he said, would result in making children flexible in their thinking, confident in their abilities and ultimately better decision makers and responsible citizens.
The PM said that in an era of technological and scientific advancements, no nation could aspire to achieve economic development without prioritising the education sector.
He expressed satisfaction that the conference participants were working on ways to re-establish the education infrastructure in the flood-affected areas. “The conference will, thus, give a special message of hope and support to the flood victims,” he said.
He said that the future of the country was in the hands of the youth. He added that the nation needed to provide them with quality education to enable them to deal with the forthcoming challenges.
Gilani hoped that the National Education Policy of 2009 would prove a turning point in the promotion of education. The policy, he said, was formed after consultation with experts from across the public and the private sectors.
He said that the next step in reforming the education sector would be to increase investment in infrastructure, to make quality schooling facilities available to all and not just a small minority and to follow the policies and practices of the best education systems around the world. He said that besides achieving the universal education goals, the policy would lay foundations for an education system that would help children build their critical thinking and analytical abilities.
Gilani said that he was happy that Beaconhouse was conscious of its corporate social responsibility. He applauded the organisation for setting up Pakistan’s first liberal arts university – Beaconhouse National University – on a not-for-profit basis under the Beaconhouse National University Foundation. He mentioned that the group had so far donated around Rs600 million to the BNU.
He also appreciated the Beaconhouse group for its active involvement in relief efforts following the 2005 earthquake, the mass migrations of people from Swat and Tribal Areas in the wake of the military operation and the recent floods. He added that the group was offering thousands of scholarships to deserving students. He said that Beaconhouse was a progressive organisation which had been a pioneer in many initiatives such as student-centred learning, research and development of curricula.
Beaconhouse School System chairperson Nasreen Mehmood Kasuri, former foreign minister Khursheed Mahmood Kasuri and BSS Chief Executive Officer Kasim Kasuri were also present on the occasion.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 6th, 2010.
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