There is a famous saying,"The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts." Besides primary education which is considered “basic” right of every child, there are some other elements as well, in whose absence even the primary education would be insufficient to bring any change. World is becoming a global village, being bombarded with new inventions and modern technologies. If one has to keep his identity and integrity intact, he must get his nation equipped with the modern education. Unfortunately in this “Digital Era”, where the rest of world is moving steps further towards modern scientific and technical education, we are still cursing our Primary Education system, which doesn’t let us stand with our heads high on the international platform.
We are in 21st century which is known as “Digital Era”, therefore producing enough IT literates is the need of time .Not having IT skills will soon be as serious as not being able to read. Lord Mitchell, chairman of an international IT service provider put it into words like this, “We live in a very flat and accessible world so we have to ensure that our kids are prepared with the skills they need for 21st century. There are few jobs that don’t require any IT so people without these skills will become increasingly disadvantaged”. Pakistan, on the other hand has failed to produce enough IT literates. BOI (Board of Investment Pakistan) brings about very alarming statistical data. Pakistan is a country consisting of 63% youth of the total population (under 25years) with above 20 million internet users, but posses only 3,125 technical and vocational centers. It is obvious, that government of Pakistan has failed to develop ground for IT education despite of the impressive IT policies. There is a need of creating enough opportunities that could meet the current needs.
It is even more saddening that we could not keep the status of dignity which our forefathers had achieved after struggling hard. Muslims ruled the world over 1000 years by proving their mettle to world. Spain and Baghdad were considered the centre of Education and Literature in the Muslim era. As now, everyone seeks admission in western universities like Oxford and Harvard, there was a time when we were leading the world with our educational institutions. Al-Azher University Cairo, Egypt is an evidence that speaks for itself. This University was built in 970 AD and was the centre of Islamic learning. During the reign of Izz al-Din Aydmer , al-Azher became the highest ranking institution of Islamic learning in the whole world. For over a thousand years Al-Azher has produced thousands of eminent scholars and educationists who worked for preserving Islamic heritage and identity. In the late 19th century some modern obligatory subjects were also introduced in the university.
Not only in the field of religious learning but Muslims also paved the way for the basic concept of engineering. The world’s first robot was also invented by a Muslim in 11th century. That robot could sing songs, play music and beat drums for the audience. This proves that Muslims had a rich religious, educational and modern culture. In every field whether science or arts, it would be Muslims winning the laurels. Muslims were the first to bless the world with the basic concepts in the field of physics, algebra, chemistry etc. On these pillars, foundation of the modern world was laid. Unfortunately, as we started moving away from our pre-destined path, we lost our much- struggled identity.
Contrary to the past, Muslims are the most oppressed class now. If, we have to snatch back our identity then we will have to dress up ourselves with modern tools of education. History proves that unless we make education affordable and in everyone’s reach we cannot achieve our targets. Pakistan’s existence on the map of world is a solid example. When in the sub-continent Muslims were lagging behind due to illiteracy, Sir Syed Ahmed khan stood up and took the responsibility of creating education awareness among the masses of Muslims. Same is to be done now; we have plans but no implications. We form policies but fail to create their followers.
In this challenging world, Pakistan needs to pay most of its attention to IT sector. Government should:
· Launch programs for IT training and IT education across the country, without differentiating in rural and urban areas.
· Ensure the cheap availability of computer sets with internet connection for students.
· Launch schemes and educate youth for the constructive use of ICT.
· Inter connect all the universities, engineering and medical colleges, and other higher educational institutes for improved quality of education.
· Inter connect all the government institutes and departments.
· Establish virtual classrooms that would assist use of audio/visual aids- internet and video facilities to students.
· Establish a computerized system of data collection and processing in hospitals, public care centers, police stations and other government departments.
· Develop computer literacy programs, offering registered and recognized degrees to the students. This would be a step above to the unrecognized small computer centers established in every nook and corner of the country, which are offering excellence only in small courses like MS Word, Excel etc.
· Make Investments in IT training.
· Establish technology parks for both software and hardware industry.
Instead of paying immediate concern to these very severe needs, we find our government spending millions in “Danish School Projects”. Government primary preference should be a focus on the performance of existing schools with an increased attention on IT education. Punjab government has though launched “Punjab IT Labs project” with an estimated amount of Rs.5 billion but this project is also unable to provide expected results as we lack the vision required. Providing labs, only with the infrastructure is not the total solution. These labs must have skilled IT literate personnel, who would deliver lectures, train students and make the most of the given equipments. Contradictorily, these labs have old-fashioned teachers/trainers who themselves need to be trained first. They cannot understand the essence of IT, therefore are unable to deliver purposeful information. Moreover, these teachers are allegedly found in taking Rs 50 to 100 per student as an entry fees in the IT labs.
As Pakistan is unable to produce enough IT literates, Pakistan is losing its strength on the cyber front. There may be a strong cyber army who possess the abilities of attacking and counter-attacking, who can penetrate deep into the system of enemies, but these professionals are too limited to be mentioned. Rather than war in the battle fields with bomb and missiles, we need to educate our population with modern education, giving most of the importance to IT education. In order to hoist our flag on the map of world, we need to win the war of economy which can be achieved only by establishing more and more technology parks, by encouraging the growth of software and hardware products, and by supporting the export of these products. Government should allocate enough IT funds to turn the 63% of our raw youth into a strong cyber force. Otherwise, instead of moving forward we will be taking a reverse gear in near future!