‘We are converting to a knowledge-based economy from an agriculture-based economy’

Published: July 20, 2012
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Dr Attaur Rehman spoke on the ‘willful deterioration of the higher education system at the hands of corrupt politicians.’ PHOTO: FILE

Dr Attaur Rehman spoke on the ‘willful deterioration of the higher education system at the hands of corrupt politicians.’ PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: 

A plan to weaken the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan was alleged to have been conceived by 51 parliamentarians with fake degrees and 250 of their colleagues to escape accountability.

With over 500 young people in attendance, the former federal minister for science and technology, Dr Attaur Rehman, spoke to them on what he termed ‘willful deterioration of the higher education system at the hands of corrupt politicians.’ Dr Rehman, who had remained chairman of the HEC, was invited as the chief guest at the opening ceremony of the leadership conference which was organised by the Youth Parliament at the Pearl Continental hotel on Thursday.

“With the initiatives taken by the HEC, Pakistan was poised to make a major breakthrough and evolve into a knowledge economy from an agricultural economy,” he said. He lamented that an official notification was issued on November 30, 2010 to fragment the HEC and break it into pieces.

Rehman, however, being the Pakistan Academy of Science president intervened and approached the apex court to receive an order which declared the fragmentation of the HEC to be unconstitutional. “The government, however, slashed the commission’s budget by 50 per cent and a number of development programmes in universities have come to a halt,” he said.

Making a reference to an article in The Hindustan Times, he said, “The rapid developments posed a threat to India, but we ourselves are our own worst enemy.” He added we had this aim that Pakistan should not equal India but outdo it in terms of research outpost.

He also highlighted the fact that during his term as minister, he successfully convinced the former president, Pervez Musharraf, to increase the education budget by 2,400 per cent and that of science and technology by 1,600 per cent.

According to Dr Rehman, around 11,000 scholarships were awarded to students to study abroad at mostly European universities.

He said that the world’s largest Fulbright scholarship programme was initiated, with a research grant worth $100,000 dollars and a job arranged for the recipient a year prior of returning to Pakistan.

The HEC also developed the Pakistan Education and Research Network (PERN) through which 60,000 textbooks and 25,000 research journals were made accessible to students at their educational institutions. The students’ enrolment at the universities climbed up to 850,000 from 270,000 in just nine years while the universities produced 3,685 PhDs in such a short span which earlier were 3,200 in total from 1947 till 2000.

As for technological development, Dr Rehman said that fiber-optics lines which were laid in 40 cities in the year 2000, expanded to 400 cities allowing access to internet in nearly 1,000 cities and villages from just 29 cities previously.

After concluding his speech, all those in attendance gave a standing ovation to Dr Rehman, lauding the efforts made by him towards for the education sector of Pakistan. Following the ceremony, the conference had a number of sessions which provided guidance to those who had participated in the event. “All in all we had received around 3,000 registration requests from Tharparkar to Chitral,” said the Youth Parliament’s chairman, Rizwan Jaffar. “Those who have been selected for participation are fortunate and should try to avail this opportunity to the fullest.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (4)

  • eureka
    Jul 20, 2012 - 9:40AM

    For every country not blessed with natural resources like oil,gas and minerals the only way forward is a knowledge-based economy.Even farming when done in a scientific way results in more yield.The corollary of this is Pakistan should invest more in education and realize it is not Saudi Arabia or Iran who have oil wealth.Saudi Arabia and Iran can get away with many things due to this wealth which Pakistan cannot.There are only a limited number of people who can migrate.For the rest to find employment, industries must come up based on niche knowledge.

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  • Uza Syed
    Jul 20, 2012 - 8:21PM

    Sir, “agriculture-based-economy” at least guarantees that most of us don’t go to bed empty stomach, please don’t screw up this only endowment that we have, been blessed with, in the name of “knowledge-based” whatever—-what knowledge and which ‘knowledge-based-economy’—sir, most of us can’t differentiate the letter ‘a’ from the letter ‘d’ —- let’s maintain what we got and wait for the better things for better times. With respects, you tried and know the result of ‘manufacturing’ third class PhD. and all kind of fake product of this ‘higher education’ thingy. With all that money, yes, you could have educated a vast section of our population failing this what we got is a vast section of our population bent upon converting the rest of the world to our way of ignorant life.

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  • Jul 21, 2012 - 9:50PM

    @Syed: “Sir, “agriculture-based-economy” at least guarantees that most of us don’t go to bed empty stomach,…”

    Yes, but a successful agrarian economy in this day and age also depends on knowledge to increase yields and ensure proper storage and efficient distribution. Genomics and biotechnology have great potential to fight diseases and help improve human lives and increase productivity. So far, the benefits of these advances have accrued mostly to the rich countries because they are driven by market incentives. The time has now come for Pakistan to take advantage of such technological advances.

    http://www.riazhaq.com/2012/03/genomics-biotech-advances-in-pakistan.html

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  • Uza Syed
    Jul 22, 2012 - 1:13PM

    @Riaz Haq: I do fully agree with you regarding “knowledge” and its pursuit and eventual benefits. My point was to remind this good professor the kind of financial havoc him & his organization have wreaked here in the name of “knowledge”. Anyone interested can do a bit of basic research on their doing and you’d know what I mean. Just find out the kind of funds alone this man has squandered in the name of traveling during his tenure. Look at the so called universities they created (with no one to teach or study!) in places where we don’t even have the most basic primary schools. It’s all there to look into and investigate and take to task this gang of self-seekers. Just check out the ‘themes’ they approved for research and the academic quality of their candidates selected. Recommend

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