Quality education for development
PAGES of the history show the year was 1631, when the Mughal Empire in India was at the height of its glory. The period of this reign was considered the golden age of Mughal Architecture. Shah Jahan also erected many monuments. The third wife of Emperor Shah Jahan passed away during the birth of their 14th child. Shah Jahan being grief stricken of death of his wife, to honor the memory of his loving wife, ordered the construction of the Taj Mahal with the strict direction not to spare any expenses in the construction of this masterpiece. Thousands of craftsmen worked day and night for 22 years 1632-1654. With their efforts and deploying heavy money, the Emperor Shah Jahan was able to create one of the seven wonders of the modern world.
The Taj Mahal is well recognized the world over for its beauty and grace, but it is no more than a unique reminder that the Emperor must have indeed loved his third wife very much. Although the Taj Mahal is an excellent reminder of past glory of Mughals, but it is absolutely useless to our present or future. It only attests to the mighty and grandeur of a once powerful dynasty but it is nothing more than a symbol of long lost past.
Around almost the same period when Emperor Shah Jahan ordered to begin the work on Taj Mahal, a college was being set up in 1638 in the newly discovered America and a Godly gentleman and an education lover young minister John Harvard of Charlestown donated half of his estate and his entire library to this proposed college after his death. This small college later became Harvard University.
Today while Taj Mahal is merely a symbol of glory, Harvard University has become the oldest and most prestigious university world over having today more than 20,000 students and producing 500 PhD’s every year. About four centuries after the selfless will of that young minister, this University continues to be the cradle from which new generations of global leaders emerge and it is best known because of its enduring history of innovation in education.
While inaugurating Metro Bus Project, our Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said “People are saying this project looks like we are in another country”. This is not another country. This is Changing Pakistan.” Like Mughals our Federal Government is not at all ready to consider it to be its duty to properly educate the people and provide them healthcare facilities. It has no Minister for Education and is allocating nothing out of the public revenue for the spread of literacy. Education today has become a private affair. Our ten millions children are out of school. University education has made so expensive that it is now out of reach of an average citizen. In spite of this disastrous situation our rulers are proud of reckless spending they are doing on projects like Metro Bus, motorways, flyovers, expensive bridges, Orange Train, Nandipur and so on….. which matches the behavior of Mughal Emperors.
A country’s human resource is shaped through its high quality education system not through Metro Buses, Motorways or roads / flyovers. Education is generally seen as the foundation of society, which brings social prosperity, economic wealth, and political stability simultaneously. Higher education helps in maintaining a healthy society. At present, education system in Pakistan is down in the dumps. Not even a single Pakistani university features in the QS World University top 200 list. If Pakistan has to become economic tiger in the region, it has to take up major educational reforms by deploying maximum funds in education and health sector.
The “academies friendly” changes made in the syllabus during PPP regime beyond the natural human capacity of majority of teenager students needs to be reversed immediately. Government should pay full attention towards education by supporting it economically and morally. It should raise expenditure on education at all levels ensuring that nobody is deprived of university level education merely for lack of financial resources. Take lesson from the history and act like Moon to get big carrot, I would say like majority of people thinks. Constructing Metros, Orange Trains, big building, cannot develop nations but maximum investment in human capital do. — The writer is former banker based in Islamabad.