Education and Pakistan's National Progress
Doubtlessly, progress, whether social, economic, education or scientific, has always demanded brains and minds adaptable to change. The proposition has stayed true at developmental projects of all the times. For instance, the marvels like Pharoh’s Pyramids of Egypt, Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal of Agra etc were possible due to genius brains who thought beyond the conventional curtains. For suchlike minds to flourish, the pedagogical approaches must favor innovation and encourage curiosity. Thinking out of box was a desired trait a couple of decades ago; now, in addition, it is demanded to realize the progressive aspirations of a nation and ensure its stability. New challenges are emerging, which demand novel attitude for effective resolution. Progressive thinking is a pre-requisite to survive in today’s competitive environment. Owing to such realities, the demand of inculcating positive change is being acknowledged on both national and global levels. For any nation to sustain progressive strides it must align its education-system with the stipulations of ever-changing world and it is only possible by adopting progressive pedagogical system.
Today's Dynamic World
We are living in an age where innovations are occurring at an unprecedented acceleration. Every single day, the US national patent office receives more than a dozen applications claiming intellectual credit. To ensure survival with new ideas and align the lifestyles as pre requisite standards, the human mind must be ready to compete in such environment. In today’s knowledge-economy, a country’s progress is proportional to the strength of innovativeness in its manpower. According to the famous New York Times columnist Thomas L Friedman, the terms ‘average’, ‘later’ and ‘local’ are over in today’s world. That is, for anything to be recognizable it must be above-average, timely and be globally, not locally, competitive. Here, the invaluable importance of a progressive education system is undeniable.
In today’s world, realities are changing rapidly which, in turn, demands continuous updation of knowledge. The last decade witnessed changes the effect of which is incomparable to the changes witnessed for the last one hundred. For instance, coal-run industrialization was a parameter of progress a century ago. Now, it is inviting contempt due to associated environmental damages. Similarly, smoking was perceived as a symbol of status quo a couple of decades ago. Today, scientific maneuvers have proven it to be a harmful activity; so, the act is despised. An outdated education system cannot cater to such demands. Thus, an education system which continuously incorporates such changes is the need of day and the answer lies in a progressive education system.
Contemporary world is facing challenges of global warming, depletion of resources and unsustainable population overgrowth etc. This was not the case about half a century ago. For instance, textbooks of 1960’s had neither highlighted such issues nor offered solutions. It is said that the minds whose attitude created problems are not capable of solving those issues. To further elaborate, we are witnessing the issues of environmental changes because of the wasteful and incapable attitude of our ancestors. To help nourish smart brains for assuming the tomorrow’s responsibilities, the existence of a progressive education system encouraging novel solutions is an undeniable truth.
Education as a catalyst
Education, social awareness and relevant factors have led to a world where equality is perceived as a birthright. This is advocated by various national and international legislations today. In his book ‘The World is Flat’, Thomas L Friedman has proven it logically that we are living in a world where the playing field is leveled and the competition is open for everybody. Centuries ago, acquiring quality education was limited to the ruling elite. Now, owing to awareness and infrastructural developments, it is accessible to other social segments as well. This has resulted in immense global competition, as resources are limited and the contenders are many. Therefore, the education system must be capable of producing graduates able enough to assume leadership rules and apply their humanly instincts to solve the challenged ahead. Only a pedagogical approach focusing on continuous updation can help realize this.
Fourth Industrial Revolution
While the effects posed by the first-wave of industrialization (steam-engines) are still evident, another version, fourth-wave industrialization, is emerging at a rapid pace. It encompasses novel Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing and big data etc. It took only two decades to jump from first-wave to fourth-wave. Any lag in adopting the relevant technologies can result in intellectual extinction. To prevent such devastation and to help produce future generations accoutered enough, the educational policies must favor novelty and encourage creativity. Pakistan, being a developing country with aspirations to mark strides, must take viable initiatives to ensure its sustained progress.
About 60 percent of the country’s population is below the age of 35 and, according to estimates, a significant portion of them is unemployed. The major reasons are lack of foreign investment and weak economy. One of the solutions lies in equipping the youth with skills highly demanded by the international market. When equipped properly, youth can ideally utilize the latest telecommunication technologies for tapping the international market. This is possible only if innovation and entrepreneurship is promoted on a wider-scale. According to Dr. Umair Saif, Chairman of Information Technology University, Lahore, taping the international freelancing market is the only answer to rising unemployment.
The existing curriculum needs to be aligned as per the demands of contemporary world. For instance, the salient clauses of fourth-wave revolution need to be reflected in the curriculum of all educational levels. The current recruitment system implemented at various public-sector organizations and ministries should be changed so as to encourage innovative approaches for solving contemporary challenges. For instance, the colonial-era civil services structure is still prevalent today despite its limitations, primarily in addressing the issues of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and tribal areas.
Adam Smith International: Education in Pakistan
To sum up, today’s rapidly digitizing globalized world demands an education system which caters to the continuously changing paradigms. For a country to ensure prosperity, it must facilitate adoption of pedagogical approaches which are dynamic rather than static. Pakistan, being a country on way to industrialized progress, needs to be cautious of such realities. Judicious consideration of factors such as youth bulge, rise in literacy rate and increased technological penetration etc can help pave ways for a Pakistan capable enough to stay progressive.