Q: First of all, kindly give a brief account of yourself.
A: I am working as Chief Executive Officer of Roots Millennium School. I am also the founder and CEO of Annan Profit and Development Organization, which works for Change in Education. My area of working is the promotion of quality education, capacity building of teachers and welfare projects in different sectors.
Q: What role science education can play in our life and how it can be improved?
A: Its a wide subject. In fact, the creation of human being is based on science. It is a way of life. It is not a destination rather is a continuous journey. The promotion of science with technology is a challenge in the 21st century especially for the universities. They work in incubations and do research and development activities. Basically, science and technology are integrated subjects. I suggest, it should be included in the syllabus from the day one in order to get the desired results.
Q: How do we explore and highlight the young talent at the national level?
A: In this context, the supreme responsibility lies with the government. After the 18th Amendment, education has been delegated to provincial governments. A lot of work is being done in the field of information technology as well as science and technology. The provincial governments need to integrate and prioritize these subjects. For talent hunt, there should be regular competitions. We see that almost all education institutions hold poster competitions, debate contests, or science and technology competitions, which is a healthy practice. Moreover, there should be a national character and consensus that we, as a nation, need to progress, but regrettably we are still engaged in a debate whether democracy is first or development is first. Other states particularly Saudi Arabia and UAE are spending billions of dollars on SandT research and development. In the development, the debate is focused on science and technology, IT development and the ways to bring revolution in all sectors. Then there come debates of security, infrastructure and public-private partnerships and the government has to set its priorities. But here I would say that all this is not the job of the government alone. Media platforms like your Tech TV and Technology Times and other NGOs can collectively play an important role in sensitizing the general masses, provide guidelines to public sector and highlight the potential of this sector. Multinational organizations, NGOs, philanthropists, associations or societies which are carrying out projects in terms of corporate social responsibility, but I would say that social responsibility can also be done through promoting science and technology. If they go for it, I believe, that there would emerge an environment where every individual would be a skilled and learned hand. This is not a rocket science as many regional states are successfully implementing this approach.
Q: How can we reduce poverty and improve efficiency through science and technology?
A: In fact, science and technology enhance our productivity with quality. Pakistan is the third largest milk producing state of the world but we are still clinging to conventional methods of making butter for export. If technology is installed and our youth are given SandT education, they could be more productive and more efficient. We have rich textiles sector, agriculture, sports goods and many other sectors. If industrial zones equipped with latest science and technology are established especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA areas, it would create job opportunities, local unemployed youth would be engaged, their economic condition would automatically improve and the more importantly, it would discourage militancy among the youth. Similarly, SandT improves efficiency in all sectors and introduces transparency as well as good governance. Presently, the Punjab government is computerizing the whole land system, which is a good initiative as it would be easy to maintain record and lessen dependency on Patwari culture. NADRAs computerized ID Cards and FIAs record, computerized passport are good examples in this regard. So at this stage, we need to fully move to e-governance which is the international demand. Technology is the game changer and science is an innovator, so you can change the game with the support of innovation.
Q: How can we promote technical education at school level?
A: Technical education and school education depends on the social demographics. In England, Germany, Europe much focus has been given to technical education. There are three types of education – primary education, technical education and vocational education. In Pakistan we need to focus specifically on technical education because we have a huge population with 63 per cent youth less than 25 years. There are various technical institutions and skill development centres in public as private sectors which are doing a good job in terms like capacity building of the youth. There is a dire need to establish a skill development centre at district level. But this is not enough; the most important is that after skill development these youth should be given jobs and this is possible only when our agrarian-based economy is transferred to industrial economy.
Q: What is Change in Education initiative and how can we change the government education?
A: I have a passion for this initiative. I give hope to others about educated future generation. It is about creating ideas and resources allocation for education. It is a non-profitable and non-governmental organization which works based on public-private partnership with government schools. Under this initiative, we in collaboration with our donors visit EDOs, sign MoUs and do interventions in schools there to ensure provision of basic needs like washrooms, books, stationery, inks, additional seats in classrooms, computers, conduct teacher training, do community mobilization and rebuilding the schools. Main purpose of all this is to improve students enrolment in schools. Presently, about 72 million children across the world are out of school including two million children from Pakistan alone.
Q: What is the reason that Pakistan could not produce scientists like Dr. Abdus Salam and Dr. Saleem uz Zaman Siddiqui?
A: In fact, there is no fault in the system as it is performing quite well and we have great thinkers and minds, but the problem is that we dont recognize them. You can well imagine that how much we recognize Dr. Abdus Salam, who is the Nobel Peace prize winner and same is the case with Dr. Saleem uz Zaman Siddiqui and Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan as we have ignored their rich contributions and services for the progress of science and technology in the country. In fact we ourselves make controversies with these national leaders and then we dont debate them. We have produced a large number of world renowned personalities like Abdul Sattar Eidhi and Ansar Burney. We must duly celebrate them otherwise we will not be celebrating ourselves. Another related factor is that we have not created the culture of PhDs in the country. We never allow critical thinking at school level in Pakistan. We should encourage critical thinking at the school level and also research and development activities in universities. The more research and development activities at universities, the more innovations would come. There is a wide room for innovations and Pakistan would have to do a lot by 2050.
Q: What kind of hurdles you had to face in introducing your theme to others?
A: That is not the case with me as I always remain optimistic, dedicated and clear in thoughts. If you have firm resolve, then you would be able to resolve the things quite effectively. I do agree that problems are there but these can be removed with the passage of time.
Q: How can we shift the young minds to science and technology?
A: In fact, young mind is always scientific as has been established by the latest research. It is the environment that makes the child unscientific because it imposes bans on its scientific mind. Scientific mind is how to become entrepreneur and explore the skills. It mainly depends only how we nurture our generation. So we should nurture the young minds properly so that they could become scientific minds for future. At the same time we need to ensure equal opportunities to all which is the most important factor in this regard.
Q: Those graduated from government colleges have to face tough criteria. How can this problem be resolved?
A: No, this is not like that. In routine we use to meet graduates of government institutions. I also work with many of them on the platform of Change in Education. They are quite talented, entrepreneur and skilled. Now is the age of practical skills. There is a long list of world renowned personalities like Bill Gates who were not the academically position holders during the student life, but now they have secured envious world positions and are delivering the world very successfully. What we need to focus right now is to produce an educated and skilled nation. Pakistan is being run mostly by public sector graduated bureaucracy and I can say that the public sector is good. I do agree that there was a grey patch when the nationalization was done in Pakistan about four decades back which the education sector had got affected but after denationalization it started improving. At this stage, I would say that the public sector colleges degrees do not enjoy global recognition that is why a student starts taking interest in O-Level and A-Level.
Q: What role our media can play in creating awareness and what would you say about the Tech TV and Technology Times?
A: We agree that media can play an instrumental role in creating awareness especially about science and technology. It should take forward its initiatives; it is public opinion maker and game changer as it has a very effective outreach in our society which is an important factor behind nation building. About the Tech TV, it is a good initiative and our nation really needs it. At the same time I would just say that it should focus more on promoting science and technology as there are many other channels which had come in the name of science and technology but later they changed their focus to other sectors.
Technology Times is a good and healthy addition in our national media, as it is extensively focusing particularly on science and technology, environment, agriculture, information technology and education.