KARACHI: Education is undoubtedly the most powerful weapon to combat all sorts of mafia operating in Karachi. Fortunately, the Sindh Board of Investment has prepared a blueprint for an Education City covering an area of 9,000 acres on the main Super Highway that will house over 50 nationally and internationally acclaimed institutions to educate over 150,000 students.
But there seems to be a lack of will to kick-start the project. In fact, it should have been started as swiftly as possible to take the troubled city of Karachi to an era of peace and prosperity.
The institutions all set to establish their campuses in the city include renowned ones such as the Aga Khan University Hospital, Sindh Institute of Urology, Quaid-e-Azam Public School (a project of Sindh Madressa Board), Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology, Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology, Ziauddin University, Habib University Foundation, Newports Institute of Communication and Economics, Dow University of Health Sciences and the Judicial Academy of Sindh.
The Education City will have a unique combination of junior schooling, higher learning, educational and vocational training providers.
The literacy rate in Karachi now stands at almost 80%,according to a survey and as such there is still room for quality institutions to cater to the needs of teeming high-school students passing out every year from Karachi and other parts of Sindh.
At present, there are about 300 colleges and universities in Karachi imparting education in many disciplines. With an estimated 103 million people, or 63% of the population, falling under the age of 25 years, Pakistan is blessed with a great potential of human resource which needs to be equipped with education and training to put the country on the path of prosperity.
It is encouraging that the private sector is taking an active part in the promotion of quality education. If everything goes according to plan, Education City will undoubtedly be a model for other provinces also.
The city will be a model for collaboration between the public and private sectors, and academia to pump substantial investment into the future growth of the country. The project aims to provide a centre of excellence and intellectual interaction for future scholars in the province in particular and the country in general.
The Education City shares four core principles:
*The whole city serves as a learning and education zone for its citizens – from “a school in the city” to “a city as a school.”
*The city takes responsibility for education throughout a citizen’s life.
*The city encourages proactive citizen participation and city-wide collaboration.
*The city helps its citizens understand, take pride in, and leverage their identity on a local, national and global scale.
An Education City that realises these values in each and every sphere of life constitutes a tremendous driving force for personal, social, communal, economic and urban development.
This educational complex is being built on the lines of the Dubai International Academic City (DIAC), which is the world’s only free zone dedicated to higher education. Established in 2007, DIAC aims to develop the region’s talent pool and establish the UAE as a knowledge-based economy.
It is the premier destination for higher education in the region, with a campus spread over 18 million square feet equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. DIAC has 21 of the UAE’s 37 International Branch Campuses from 11 countries, which is the largest number in any one location in the world. DIAC is host to a large student community from 137 nationalities who have access to over 400 higher education programmes.
While a large number of local institutions of high repute are already planning campuses in the Education City, the Sindh Board of Investment will undertake an extensive marketing campaign to attract international educational institutions and will also explore various sources of funding for infrastructure development.
The writer works for the National Industrial Parks Development and Management Company
Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2013.