Research and education for all

Where the distinguished faculty members and men of letters from Pakistans academia are rendering their tireless efforts in conducting research in the areas of their choice, it seems that the findings of related research are not enlightening the masses. Here the masses, or the common man are unaware of the developments happening in various sectors. The term common man is quite challenging to define as, today, it has become a victim of class conflicts. The self-glorification of the elites and the powerful has, therefore, buried the common man under a pile of socioeconomic class stratification.

Everyone is a common man if we look at society from a birds eye view. From blue-collar workers to the white-collar employees, from the heads of state to the workers employed on daily wages, from the top executives of organisations to the populations dwelling in slums, the term common man envelopes them all.

It is, therefore, the duty of scholars and the educated class of Pakistan to share their wisdom and insights with society so that awareness and information can trickle their way down to the common man. Universities, the government sector and the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC) must make efforts to publicize these research studies amongst the masses. It might seem difficult to align the thoughts of the common man, including the majority of the population unable to read English, with such in-depth studies where the technical jargon, hypothetical statements, data and findings can confuse any man. However, there is, indeed, a way to narrow this divide – even if Pakistans literacy rate stands at 58 percent (according to the Pakistan Economic Survey 2012-13). The mass media – especially print and radio – will come into play if scholars need to circulate their research findings amongst the masses.

It is obvious that newspapers cannot publish entire research papers; they can accommodate articles that summarise these researches. Scholars can write summaries of their research papers in laymans terms, highlighting the objectives of their study, findings, analysis and important statistics so that the readers can comprehend the nucleus of the research. Moreover, adding colourful graphs and diagrams to explain the findings will make it an interesting read. If scholars get these summaries published in English language newspapers, they will ignore the population capable of reading only Urdu and other regional languages. Therefore, in my opinion, translations of research studies should be published in Urdu language newspapers and dailies belonging to regional languages. Furthermore, to propagate these findings among those who cannot read or write will not be that challenging as radio still remains an evergreen source of information in villages and among Pakistans rural population. Radio programmes discussing the summaries of research papers can impart information among the rural populace. The educated minority and those having access to the internet can read research papers online and can purchase journals carrying these research studies. The print media and radio, therefore, will disseminate the core findings of the research studies among the masses. In addition, universities can make research papers part of their curriculum so that students, during their formative university years, can learn valuable theories to broaden their mental horizons.

However, with having said this, another question arises about the purpose of circulating these research findings. Where education is a basic right, unfortunately in Pakistan, this right is a luxury for many. Therefore, the population of Pakistan, which is unable to attend school or university, can at least gain awareness by these researches as it can add value to the vocational training sector. For instance, research study on crops can help farmers, study on thread and cotton can assist the workers in the textile industry, a study on automobiles and fuel efficiency can prove useful to automobile mechanics, and the list goes on. The findings of any research study can assist in further research, will help in the development the various sectors of a country and will facilitate those pursuing their M Phil and PhD degrees. If the trickledown effect becomes possible, then higher education and research can do wonders for Pakistan by broadening the minds of the entire nation.

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