The prime vital issue of the nation's education has from the birth of the country been the last on the lists of priorities of all our governments. The majority of the ministers who have been given the education and science and technology portfolios have not only been unconnected with either the field of education or of science and technology but have largely been uneducated men, the word uneducated' being here used in the profound sense of the word. For instance, in the last two governments, the second for both Benazir and Nawaz, Benazir's federal education minister was one Khurshid Shah, building contractor by profession, and Nawaz's, of all people, the proven corrupt and uncouth Ghous Ali Shah. And this in a land where the world's first university was established in 700 BC at Taxila, the ruins of which still stand at a few miles distance from the capital city.
By comparison, the government of General Pervez Musharraf has chosen an educationist as its education minister and the science and technology portfolio has been handed over to a scientist, Professor Dr Atta-ur-Rahman. Professor Rahman, in a speech delivered at Islamabad last Friday, told his audience that good governance is not possible without there being a merit-based challenging education system." If Pakistan wishes to forge ahead, he rightly said, education must be the main priority. Worthy of remark is the startling fact that the total GDP of all the Islamic countries put together is half that of Germany and a quarter of that of Japan in spite of the fact that the Islamic countries control 74 per cent of the world oil business. This low GDP rating is the result of a low level of education, the only area in which countries such as Germany and Japan have the advantage.
Now for the bad news. Information technology and... [continues]
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