A COUPLE of years back, America’s decline sparked a heated debate among scholars and analysts. To beat the heat, Fareed Zakaria opined that America would continue to stay influential in the world affairs because “the future is being invented here.” His premise was based on a fact; America’s leadership of educational and technological advancement in the world. Today, China has beaten it in economic field, but in the field of education and technological advancement it can only dream of leaving America behind.
America leads the world because it is leading in educational and technological advancement. According to Time Higher Education 2015-2016 ranking, America’s 63 universities made to the top 200 of the universities. The California Institute of technology secured first position, Stanford third, Massachusetts Institute of technology fourth and Harvard University sixth. It will continue to lead as long as it continues to be a hub of innovation and knowledge-based economy. Therefore, the key to success is high quality education.
Where do the Pakistani universities stand? As ill luck would have it, our universities are not in the limelight. But the picture is not completely gloomy. According to the Latest QS World University Ranking in Asia, ten Pakistani universities are ranked among top 300Asian universities. Some of its universities made to the top 500 in the list.It, certainly, can be hailed as a major improvement because, a couple of years back, none of the Pakistani universities was ranked among top 500.
Future belongs to those who excel in the field of science and technology. Does future belong to Pakistan? Danile Runde, in an article in Forbes, writes that Pakistan has undergone a series of positive development which has set the table for the sort of policies and investments needed to move the country on the path travelled by Indonesia or Brazil. Pakistan’s economy has been on a positive trajectory for a couple of years. First time in its seventy-year history, it is going to complete its IMF programme.
By 2050, Pakistan’s Middle class will expand from 40 million people to 100 million people. By 2050, Pakistan’s economy is estimated to surpass $2 trillion and India’s $42 trillion. To catch up with India, Pakistan needs to assign high priority to education rather to mass weapons. Future does belong to Pakistan if the government sets its priorities right. But the present government is high on infrastructural bonanzas; Metro-bus project, Orange line Project in Lahore and Green Line Bus Project in Karachi.
There is no denying the fact that Pakistan should increase budget spent on education and undergo educational reforms. But it is equally important that Pakistan’s friends should foster education partnership with it. Our two friends, China and the US, can help us a great deal in this regard.
Indian Institutes of Technology are making headlines worldwide. Though they were established under Nehru’s vision, USA helped to seize their potential fully. Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur was established with the assistance of a consortium of nine American research institutes, a part of Kanpur Indo-American Programme. If USA can launch such projects with India, why it cannot extend its assistance to Pakistan in this sector too? Pakistan, too, needs to choose gifts of far better implications.
Future seems to be a priority in our leaders’ minds as Vision 2025 is much heard. Education is, again, missing as top priority under this vision. The government must set its objective to make at least one university among top 100 at world level.
— The writer is a Lecturer at NUML, Islamabad.