CPEC – Knowl­edge Cor­ri­dor

The Diplomatic Insight - - Special Supplement on China Pakistan Economic Corr -

It would be an un­der­state­ment to iterate that na­tion re­ally has high hopes from the China Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (CPEC). There are reser­va­tions by some provinces re­gard­ing the align­ment of the routes but it is sin­cerely hoped that in times to come th­ese prob­lems would be am­i­ca­bly re­solved and the CPEC will live upto its promised po­ten­tial. As per avail­able sta­tis­tics the ma­jor por­tion of the 46 bil­lion dol­lars will be spent on in­fra­struc­ture and en­ergy projects. This is all very well. Road and rail net­work is es­sen­tial for na­tional and in­ter­na­tional con­nec­tiv­ity and en­ergy short­age is one prob­lem that needs to be ad­dressed at war foot­ing to cover the widen­ing de­mand and sup­ply the do­mes­tic con­sumer would breathe easy and would be in a bet­ter po­si­tion to in­crease his or her pro­duc­tiv­ity at the work place. But more than that it will kick start the mori­bund in­dus­trial sec­tor. With the pro­duc­tion lines once again op­er­a­tional, the de­pressed sta­tus of econ­omy will hope­fully re­vive. So it is hoped that all in the en­tire sit­u­a­tion will im­prove and would be­come a har­bin­ger for a bet­ter fu­ture for the next gen­er­a­tion Pak­ista­nis. In my opin­ion, more value can be added to the up­com­ing pro­ject, if the CPEC and routes that will form part of it have an in­ter­con­nected net­work of schools, col­leges and univer­si­ties with high cal­iber cur­ricu­lum and qual­ity teach­ers. Pak­istan has a bur­geon­ing pop­u­la­tion. An in­cred­i­bly young pop­u­la­tion, weak or non-ex­is­tent birth con­trol mea­sures and very lit­tle by way of spend­ing on education makes for a dis­mal pic­ture. 25 mil­lion chil­dren are out of school by to join them. Less than 3 per cent of the GDP is cur­rently be­ing al­lo­cated for education is re­ally too small to avert the up­com­ing storm of an il­lit­er­ate teem­ing mil­lions with no skill set worth its name to take on the chal­lenges of mod­ern times. Govern­ment of Pak­istan is al­ready plan­ning to have univer­si­ties in each district. Ac­tu­ally what we need is more schools and the univer­si­ties that we al­ready have need to be up­graded to pro­vide qual­ity education in or­der to pro­duce world class en­gi­neers, sci­en­tists and thinkers. It is re­ally a doable idea to stitch new schools and univer­si­ties into the fab­ric of the CPEC routes. Through a sys­tem­atic plan knowl­edge hubs can be cre­ated at im­por­tant in­ter­sec­tions to lift the na­tion out of the quag­mire of il­lit­er­acy and an­cient and back­ward nar­ra­tives. The na­tional education pol­icy in any case needs to be over­hauled. If the CPEC knowl­edge cor­ri­dor is in­ter­wo­ven into its fab­ric it will be­come more ef­fec­tive. In case this pro­posal is ac­cepted then it would be but nec­es­sary to in­volve the man­agers of CPEC in it, so that they be­come part­ners in spread­ing education for the bet­ter­ment of the na­tion. Education for all can then be­come an in­te­gral part of this sem­i­nal ven­ture. The re­sources promised for the CPEC can be but­tressed with ad­di­tional funds to re­vive education and make it ini­tia­tive. It is im­por­tant to dream and hope for bet­ter things. CPEC is a promis­ing of Pak­istan as a vi­brant and dy­namic na­tion. While it is still on the draw­ing board, its scope can be re-ex­am­ined and ex­panded be­fore the pol­icy im­mutable an un­al­ter­able. I strongly be­lieve that mak­ing education a part of it can help the na­tion to pre­pare for the up­com­ing chal­lenges of a world that will be in­creas­ingly au­to­mated and dig­i­tized and de­pen­dent on cut­ting edge tech­nolo­gies like drones and ro­bots. In­vest­ing in the hu­man re­source is the only way for­ward and mak­ing it part of the CPEC can have unimag­in­able gains. Hun­dreds of schools have been de­stroyed in the Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa prov­ince by ter­ror­ists and there is gen­er­ally a low lit­er­acy in Baluchis­tan. Fe­male education lags con­sid­er­able be­hind in the over­all scheme of things. Re­vival of education in ar­eas where it has been sys­tem­at­i­cally de­stroyed and where it has never ex­isted can be a great game changer for the peo­ple of Pak­istan and there can be no bet­ter plat­form than CPEC to carry this mis­sion for­ward. In or­der to make this dream a re­al­ity this idea would need the sup­port of all the provinces and a uni­form plan of ac­tion. I don’t think this is not an im­pos­si­ble thing that is needed is hon­est re­solve, ded­i­ca­tion and to­tal com­mit­ment to the no­tion that is at once noble, pris­tine and for­ward look­ing. The writer is a re­tired bri­gadier and

is cur­rently the As­so­ciate Dean of Cen­tre for In­ter­na­tional Peace and Sta­bil­ity (CIPS), Na­tional Univer­sity of Sci­ences and Tech­nol­ogy (NUST)

Is­lam­abad.

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