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Building the Foundation for a  Knowledge Economy! By Kashif Mirza

Byadmin

Oct 17, 2023

The writer is an

economist, anchor,

analyst and the

President of All

 Pakistan Private

Schools’ Federation

president@Pakistan

privateschools.com

In the 21st century, nations are no longer defined by the size of their landmass or the abundance of their natural resources alone. Instead, they are increasingly recognized for their knowledge and innovation capacity—their ability to harness intellectual resources for economic growth and development. Pakistan, with its rich history and potential, stands at a crucial crossroads. The path it chooses for the revitalization of its education system will determine its future as a knowledge economy. A knowledge economy is not merely a buzzword; it is a transformative concept. At its core, it emphasizes the role of intellectual capital, information technology, and education as drivers of economic progress. In a knowledge economy, the traditional factors of production—land, labor, and capital—are complemented and often overshadowed by human capital, innovation, and information. Pakistan, like many developing nations, has recognized the urgency of transitioning to a knowledge economy. It’s a country with a young and growing population, making investment in education and skill development paramount. However, to embark on this transformative journey, it is imperative to evaluate the existing state of education in Pakistan critically. The state of education in Pakistan is a multifaceted issue that requires a comprehensive understanding to initiate effective revitalization efforts. As of the latest available data, the country faces several challenges. Many schools in Pakistan lack basic infrastructure, such as safe and functional classrooms, sanitation facilities, and clean drinking water. These deficiencies create an unfavorable learning environment, particularly in rural and remote areas. One of the most pressing issues in Pakistan’s education system is the stark divide between urban and rural regions. In cities, schools are generally better equipped, teachers are more qualified, and students have greater access to educational resources. Contrastingly, rural areas suffer from a lack of quality schools and teachers, often forcing students to travel long distances to access education. Despite efforts to improve literacy, Pakistan continues to grapple with low literacy rates, especially among women and girls. Gender disparity in education remains a persistent challenge, with cultural and socio-economic factors playing a significant role. The quality of education is a critical concern. Outdated curricula, rote memorization, and a lack of critical thinking skills are pervasive issues. There is a need for a shift from a content-centered education model to a skills-based one that fosters creativity, problem-solving, and innovation. To effectively revitalize Pakistan’s education system, a multifaceted approach is essential. Several strategies can be implemented to bring about meaningful change. The government must play a leading role in education reform. This includes developing comprehensive policies, ensuring adequate budget allocations, and enacting legislation that supports education access, quality, and equity. Strong political will is crucial in this endeavor. Adequate investment is necessary to build and maintain educational infrastructure. This includes constructing safe and well-equipped schools in underserved areas and improving existing facilities. Enhancing the quality of education necessitates investing in teacher training and professional development programs. Teachers are the backbone of the education system, and equipping them with modern teaching methods and skills is pivotal. The knowledge and technology-based economy will provide a platform to sustain a rapid rate of economic growth and enhance international competitiveness so as to achieve the objectives of Vision 2025. Currently, the top 20 countries in the world contribute 75 percent of the global economy. An economy based on knowledge is enduring and secure, devoid of the threats of loss or depletion. 

Currently, artificial intelligence has surpassed human capacities. Given Pakistan’s weak economy, the prevalence of poverty prevents a significant portion of its population from accessing schools and colleges. Therefore, efforts to promote a knowledge economy are the wisest decision of our time. It will also strengthen Pakistan’s capability to innovate, adapt, and create indigenous technology and design, develop, and market new products; thereby providing the foundation for local growth. In addition, the knowledge and technology-based economy will complement and accelerate the change from an input-driven to a productivity-driven growth strategy, which is a major policy thrust initiated under the Plan. This transition is dependent on the performance of the school and higher education and science and technology sectors. Institutions of higher learning will play a leadership role through the production of skilled, innovative, and enterprising knowledge workers. Research organizations will also come up with solution-based and innovative research in collaboration with the industry and academia for fruitful results. The changes in science, technology, innovation, and higher education are creating a multi-disciplinary area in which institutions of many countries act together to achieve desired economic outcomes. In Pakistan, numerous autonomous projects have been initiated within the country, as well as collaborative ventures with friendly nations. It requires the combined determination and efforts of the government and its citizens to fully appreciate and embrace the concept of a knowledge economy in order to thrive in this new world era. The Industrial Revolution brought about a radical change in the history of humanity, leading us through various stages until we arrived at the third wave of industrialization, encompassing information technology, trade, business, and artificial intelligence. The global economy has undergone various transitions from an agricultural economy to an industrial economy to a post-industrial economy and now to a knowledge economy. The latest age has been marked by the upheavals in technological innovations and the globally competitive need for innovation with new products and processes that develop from the research community. Six modern technologies are considered highly important such as computers, micro-electronics, human-made materials, telecommunications, biotechnology, and robotics. These technologies will make a paradigm shift in businesses throughout the world. knowledge economy based on creating, evaluating, and trading knowledge. In a knowledge economy, labor costs become progressively less important and traditional economic concepts such as scarcity of resources and economics of scale cease to apply. The four pillars for the knowledge economy are Economic and Institution management; Education and Skill; Information and Communication Infrastructure; and Innovative System i.e. Research. The knowledge economy focused on the production and management of knowledge in the frame of economic constraints, or to a knowledge-based economy. In another meaning, it refers to the use of knowledge technologies to produce economic benefits. The essential difference is that in a knowledge economy, knowledge is a product, in a knowledge-based economy, knowledge is a tool. In this way, the brain attains a status of resource, ideas, and thoughts are considered the products and the money so earned – knowledge money or economy. Recently, the government of Pakistan has taken commendable initiatives to enhance the country’s knowledge economy. The STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) project has established new schools in the Islamabad Capital Territory, where students are taught basic subjects at a primary level, expanding their career options and fostering specialization among responsible citizens. The Matric Tech Program combines traditional and vocational training with formal education, while the Go School e-project introduces e-learning through Zoom classrooms, making education accessible to a larger number of students who are unable to attend physical schools. Moreover, it facilitates access to international-standard education while residing in Pakistan. The Pakistan Digital Vision Policy 2019 aims to transform numerous public departments from manual to digital working systems. This includes the digitization of the land record system, the implementation of the Pakistan Citizen Portal, the digitalization of the tax system, the incorporation of ride-hailing services like Uber and Careem, telehealth services, virtual education, E-courses, video sessions, the utilization of biometric systems, improvements in the police system, the introduction of e-challan systems, and many other endeavors. The Pakistan Electric Vehicle policy seeks to promote the use of electric vehicles to reduce fuel consumption and combat the adverse effects of climate change. This is achieved through the implementation of low taxes on the import of electric vehicles, encouraging their adoption and usage. The Presidential Initiatives for Artificial Intelligence and Computing is a federally administered program aimed at promoting schemes related to artificial intelligence and computing to enable Pakistan’s growth and excel in this field in competition with the rest of the world. Therefore, efforts to promote a knowledge economy are the wisest decision of our time. 

Pakistan’s journey toward a knowledge economy through educational revitalization is a complex but necessary one. The steps taken today in revitalizing education for building the foundation for a Knowledge economy will determine the path Pakistan treads tomorrow. 

The government is advised to build a knowledge-based economy by fostering new information technological universities. Universities and technical institutes need to be connected with hi-tech industries. Knowledge and innovation should be encouraged and rewarded. The government should increase the education budget up to 4pc of GDP and also increase the research and development budget. To build a pool of intellectuals and human capital need to have significant public policies. Brain drain should also be stopped. Pakistan also needs to thrive in socio-political and socio-economic institutions. It is time Pakistan needed an intellectual revolution than anything else to boost the economy and to compete with the changing global economic trends. Knowledge economy will make Pakistan lead globally and become the 10th economic power in the world in the coming three decades. Therefore, knowledge is our intellectual heritage; it needs to be utilized for nation-building. Developing countries, where the majority of the world’s population resides, need to redesign educational policies to promote productivity in different sectors of the economy by developing highly skilled manpower and addressing their development needs for rapid industrialization. The government is making earnest efforts to improve the quantity and quality of education by enhancing educational facilities within the minimum possible time. To achieve sustainable growth and development in Pakistan, it is imperative to continue assistance in poverty reduction and develop social and economic infrastructure more importantly education. For many years unsustainable economic growth is worrisome in Pakistan. The factors responsible for this situation were unfavorable economic growth, political instability, negligence in the education sector, worse law and order situation, and poor attraction for foreign investors. Primarily, the links between education and economic growth, income distribution and poverty reduction were well established. Education equipped people with the knowledge and skills they needed to increase their income and expand opportunities for employment. Increasing global economic interdependence and the growing importance of knowledge-based processes in economic growth have raised both the premium on education and the cost associated with education deficits. Investment in education is a long-term commitment with far-reaching implications for Pakistan’s future. Adequate funding must be allocated to the education sector to ensure the availability of necessary resources, such as textbooks, teaching aids, and infrastructure maintenance. The government should prioritize education in its budgetary considerations. In addition to financial investment, effective resource allocation is vital. Resources should be distributed equitably to address disparities between urban and rural areas and ensure that all schools have access to quality educational materials. Quality, not just quantity, should be the goal. A focus on teacher development, curriculum revision, and the integration of technology can elevate the standard of education in Pakistan. The establishment of quality assurance mechanisms is also necessary. Ensuring universal access to education, particularly for girls and marginalized communities, is a moral and economic imperative. Removing barriers that prevent students from attending school is crucial. Vocational and technical education programs can play a pivotal role in preparing the workforce for a knowledge economy. These programs should be designed to meet industry needs and offer pathways to gainful employment. The challenges facing Pakistan’s education system are vast, including resource constraints, societal barriers, and curriculum shortcomings. However, solutions exist, such as public-private partnerships, community engagement, and an unwavering commitment to reform. Revitalizing education in Pakistan is not the responsibility of the government alone. It requires a collaborative effort, involving civil society, private sector organizations, educators, and the international community. Their collective contributions are integral to success. Pakistan’s journey toward a knowledge economy through educational revitalization is a complex but necessary one. The vision is clear to empower its people with the tools of knowledge and innovation, thereby securing a prosperous and sustainable future. The steps taken today in revitalizing education for building the foundation for a Knowledge economy will determine the path Pakistan treads tomorrow.

By admin

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