Pakistan’s overall economic outlook undergoes various loopholes. Its GDP growth rate is around 5.8 per cent. Its per capita income is $1,600 and about 40pc of the country’s population lives below the poverty line. In this backdrop, fostering knowledge economy is extremely important. Knowledge economy means to value knowledge, ideas and promote innovations, talent and technology and also respect prosperity and diversity.
Despite the fact that education is the backbone of a knowledge-based economy, the state of education though portrays depressing look. Literacy rate is nearly 58pc. About 22 million children are out of school. It’s rare to find quality education in the country. From primary to university level education system is outdated and outlying to compete with global learning teaching standard outcomes. Teaching staff is not fully trained on pedagogy methods. Thesis and research papers produced by universities are of low quality. The education system instead of producing intellectual human capital is creating a mob of illiterates and fundamentalists.
At the time of its creation, Pakistan had only one public institute that is Punjab University, but these days there are about 114 public and 78 private universities and colleges, some of which are recognised by the HEC. It is a matter of fact that institutions of higher learning contribute to prosperity and progress, which further leads to knowledge-based economy. There are not any hotbeds where intellectual arguments need to be refined into concrete realities. An educationist says, “Pakistan does not have even a single public sector university in the country that has an appropriate fully functional ‘Learning Management System’ and ‘University Governance’ aligning with global needs.”
This is the age of information technology, which is incredibly a worthy source of knowledge economy. It consumes and produces on the basis of intellectual capital, where technology and rapid information access play a key role in economic development and growth taking superiority over traditional drivers of growth; for example, low skilled labour and human capital.
The global economy has got various transitions from agricultural economy to industrial economy to post-industrial economy and now to knowledge economy. The latest age has been marked by the upheavals in technological innovations and the globally competitive need for innovation with new products and process that develop from research community. Six modern technologies are considered highly important such as computers, micro-electronics, human-made materials, telecommunications, biotechnology and robotics. These technologies will make paradigm shift in businesses throughout world.
Pakistan is a youthful country. It consists of about 64% of young people below 30. Now the government is advised to build a knowledge-based economy through fostering new information technological universities. Universities and technical institutes need to be connected with hi-tech industries. Knowledge and innovation should be encouraged and rewarded. The government should increase the education budget up to 4pc of GDP and also increase the research and development budget. To build a pool of intellectuals and human capital need to have significant public policies. Brain drain should also be stopped. Pakistan also needs to thrive in socio-political and socio-economic institutions. It is time Pakistan needed an intellectual revolution than anything else to boost the economy and to compete with the changing global economic trends.
Knowledge economy will make Pakistan lead globally and to become 10th economic power in the world in coming three decades. Therefore, knowledge is our intellectual heritage; it needs to be utilised for nation-building.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2019.