· Compulsory secondary education within 10 years
· Discourage ‘rote’ learning
· Employ modern education techniques that encourage thinking and creativity
Knowledge is the key. A country cannot be successful unless all of its people are educated. Our first priority is to ensure that there is no illiteracy. The way to do this is to make sure that all children receive at least a primary education. If we can give all of our children, without exception, the ability to read and write we will have taken a giant step forward. At a later stage, we will raise the target to include a secondary education as well.
· Inculcate culture of merit
· Merit to be sole criterion for entrance to all institutions of higher learning
University education is a different ball game. Our aim is to bring excellence to university education. This means that only the best and brightest will have the opportunity to go to university. We cannot have a society in which everyone is a BA or MA. This is what is happening so far. And the upshot is that these degrees are now not worth the paper they are printed on.
Technical education· Recognize that not all school leavers can go to university
· Hence aggressively develop institutions of technical learning as alternative to university education
· Launch media supported campaign to promote social acceptability of technical education and blue collar jobs in our society
In a culture that values education, it will not be an easy sell to convince people that not all their sons and daughters can go on to college. But it has to be done. Alternative technical education in diverse areas must be provided. Society needs trained auto mechanics, ac technicians, electricians, plumbers etc. just as much as it needs engineers, doctors and lawyers. Such a policy will run up against the social stigma associated with blue collar workers in our society. In this age of advertising and mass communication, we will deploy a coordinated media strategy to confront and banish this senseless stigma forever.
We will take as granted that it is the birth right of all Pakistani children to get a primary education. And, as the government, we will do everything in our power to make this a reality. It is Pakistan’s good fortune that there are several very competent NGO’s who have made literacy their mission. These are organizations such as The Citizens Foundation, READ, Ghazzali Trust etc. They are supplemented by countless individual efforts where dedicated people operate primary schools in depressed areas with their own resources.
We will work with these wonderful organizations and people to develop a twin pronged strategy. On the one hand we will give them all the support that they require and deserve. On the other, we will benefit from their knowledge and experience to develop and increase the number of government run schools. The goal is to achieve total geographic coverage of the country so that no child is left behind. We do not underestimate the monumental nature of the task that we face. Building the infrastructure – the bricks and mortar – is perhaps the easy part. The real challenge is to provide the human and technical support in terms of trained teachers, appropriate curricula, and educational materials.
We recognize that the government cannot do this alone. We have to work in close partnership with the NGO’s to bring about the universal coverage that we covet.
While this is the desired goal, we do not envision in the short to medium term, that all primary school children will go onto a secondary education. This is a natural consequence of setting priorities with limited resources. What we will seek to do is to emulate and further develop the models now employed by several NGO’s.
This involves a ‘cluster’ of primary schools which are linked to a single secondary school. In this way the best and brightest coming out of several primary schools in the cluster are accommodated in the single secondary school that is the ‘centre’ of the cluster.
Mustaqbil recognizes that a severe deterioration has taken place in methods used to educate young minds. The world has moved on, but we, here in Pakistan, still rely on rote learning and cramming. No effort is made to instil curiosity and initiative, to stimulate impressionable minds, and to challenge them to do better.
This then is the challenge: not only to school, but to do it in a way that produces creative, discerning educated individuals who love learning and think independently. Do this, and you have secured Pakistan’s future as – in the words of Mohammad Ali Jinnah – “one of the greatest nations in the world”.
Countries cannot survive only on engineers, doctors and accountants. Yet it seems, in Pakistan, almost all young people want to be one of these. Successful countries need trained technicians in a broad array of disciplines: welders, metal workers, electricians, instrument technicians, ac mechanics, masons, auto mechanics, the list goes on ad infinitum. But the senseless social stigma attached to these disciplines means that most educated young people (or their parents) shun them. Never mind that in Pakistan today plumbers earn an order of magnitude more than newly qualified doctors. That is, if the doctors manage to get a job at all.
Our job – as the government – is, on one level, to impugn and refute this malignant social perversity. And, on an another, to develop the institutions to provide this crucial training. Confronting the social stigma is by far the harder task. We propose to recruit the now omnipresent media, and specifically the very creative people of the performing arts, to develop TV dramas that portray blue collar workers as successful, equal and attractive members of our society. This just one example of the sort of broad based approach that we will take to attack this issue. In developing the necessary technical training schools and polytechnics we will develop a public – private partnership. The private sector, represented by its various industry organizations, has to define the type of skill they need. The Government then has to play its role in licensing, setting up and supporting such schools.
This is our policy on Universities: · Universities will be places of merit, learning and research.
· Entrance to all universities will be exclusively on merit.
· ‘Quotas’, ‘reserved seats’, and the like will not be tolerated.
· There will be public and private universities.
· Public universities will be supported by the state so that deserving students, who do not have the financial wherewithal to attend a private college, are not denied an education.
· We will encourage a dialog between industry and academia to ensure that, in addition to ‘pure’ research, universities also participate in the sort of applied research that is relevant to industry. ..