By Farman Nawaz (Daily Outlook Afghanistan)
Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to start joint ventures in educational sector. Recently a delegation of Afghan educationists visited Pakistan to explore the opportunities in this sector. At the initial stages, students and faculties will be exchanged. Pakistan having a well-established network of universities and Afghanistan searching for new opportunities in many fields including education, can light the way for our future generations.
However before exploring different aspects of these joint ventures, the current scenario of our educational system must be analyzed. The syllabus of science subjects is universal in the sense that they are not affected by the concept of national interests. The syllabus taught in developed countries is also followed in the developing countries. The only difference is of the practical and research work. However on the other hand the syllabus of social sciences is not only affected by the concept of national interest but our religious and cultural beliefs also play an important role in the compilation of the syllabus of these subjects. Secondly, if progressive concepts are included in the syllabus even then these concepts are simply discarded by declaring them against the religion and culture.
One of the reasons of our downfall is the lack of research and practical work in the field of science and technology. Pakistan and India are nuclear powers but for civil nuclear technology, they are dependent on others. It proves that the technology, which we are having, is not the result of our nuclear research but it is purchased from the members of nuclear club. In field of other natural sciences almost the same situation persists. Similarly, in social sciences we do not pay attention to those aspects, which can change the destiny of a nation on political, social, and economical levels. Sincere efforts in the fields of social sciences can result in peace, patience, progressiveness, forbearance, mercy, open-mindedness, self-control, and tolerance in our societies.
Now Pakistan and Afghanistan before exchanging their students and faculties must set the priorities and concentrate on all those areas of education that can help in bringing change in our societies. For example in the field of exploring minerals and digging mines, we are dependant on foreign firms. We must establish mining departments in our universities on such pattern that in future our own young men can be utilized to exploit these hidden resources. Similarly, Pakistan and Afghanistan are consumer markets but they do not have their own local industrial basis. Our markets are full of foreign goods. We need such industries that can support our dwindling economies by saving foreign exchange. We must establish such departments in our universities, which in future can result in industrialization in our countries.
Pakistan and Afghanistan have common social evils like terrorism, drugs, fundamentalism, prejudices, and non-political cultures. These evils can be eradicated only by introducing new topics and subjects at school, college, and university levels. Still our people are living in the fantasies of middle ages. They are waiting for a hero to change their destinies. There is no political maturity at gross root level.
Once I was helping a psychiatrist from Finland in interviewing a Talib injured in Drone attack in North Waziristan. The last question of psychiatrist was “What is the solution in your (Talib) opinion?” The Talib answered, “Education”. The Talib said that education would solve this problem of terrorism. It shows even the people whom we consider sheer beasts have understood the blessings of education. And it is a fact that education is the most neglected field in our societies. The low literacy rate is its proof. But it is also a fact that only education in the right direction can help us to eliminate evils like terrorism.
In our educational system, research in social and natural sciences is not based on scientific lines. Students of natural sciences mostly complete their research work by downloading previous research thesis from the internet. While in social sciences mostly students instead of giving heed to social evils try to choose such topics whose conclusion has no relation with the practical world. The higher authorities of education sectors of Pakistan and Afghanistan must try to understand that we need such educated young men which on one hand can help in industrialization of this region and on the other hand can turn these extremist cultures into progressive societies. Hoping for peace and prosperity without industrialization and transformation of societies is useless.
As compared to India Pakistan has stronger social, cultural and road connections with Afghanistan. Mostly Afghans have studied in Pakistan too. It is an opportunity for Pakistan to appease annoyed Afghans by opening campuses of Pakistani universities in Afghanistan. And its main aim must be the unity among Afghans and its smooth cultural, political and economical incorporation with the regional countries. Instead of our so-called “strategic assets” only friendly Afghans can get Kabul closer to Islamabad.