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Archive for the ‘Modern Education’ Category

I am usually not prone to conspiracy theories but given the article quoted below, I am inclined to believe that there is massive conspiracy against Pakistani state and its poor masses by the ruling elite. It is an axiom of human behavior that when one has identified the source of a major problem, at the very least one tries to counter its effect so as to mitigate the problem. Most people are prepared to go even further; they take specific corrective actions to resolve the problem. Given the raging Taliban insurgency, widespread religiously-inspired suicide bombing, escalating Shia-Sunni violence, and attacks on women and religious minorities…all of which fuel social, economic, and political instability…. shouldn’t the Pak government finally revise its educational curriculum to promote a moderate and enlightened perspective? Yet, the govt only wants to increase Islamization and fuel more chaos in the country!

[Education policy; Dawn Editorial; 11 Sep, 2009; Excerpts; Copy and Paste]

At long last, the National Education Policy (NEP) is out.

But many education NGOs which were part of the reform process are not pleased as a number of their suggestions have not been included. Two aspects that will have profound implications are highlighted: one, the ideological undertones that have been injected into the NEP belatedly; two, the implementation mechanism. A new chapter titled “Islamic Education” has been added to the draft that lauds the “infusion of religious teachings in the curriculum”. Past experience has shown that we can expect the further spread of obscurantism in view of the NEP’s failure to adopt an enlightened approach. For instance, the stress is on memorisation and there is no mention of promoting understanding and debate on what is taught in the name of religion.

Qaris will be training the teachers and there is no assurance that minorities and non-majority sects will be spared what this prescription of ideology imposes on them. The provision for Ethics as a subject for non-Muslim students in lieu of Islamiyat notwithstanding, they will have to submit to the “infusion” of faith in the curricula for all subjects. Another serious cause for concern is that no effective independent monitoring authority has been provided for. In effect the task of monitoring will be left to the education departments in every province. Has that not been done since 1947? Can those who siphon off funds to line their own pockets really check the misappropriation of the amounts involved?

The full article is available at: http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/07-education-policy-ha-03

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I have always believed that part of the reason why Talibanization has found it easy to gain a strong foothold in NWFP (North West Frontier Province) is the relatively low literacy rate and a cultural aversion to modern education in the province. Of course, the Pakistani state – in the form of the Army and intelligence agencies – played a critical role in “brainwashing” Pathans in the name of Islam via a network of Saudi Arabia-financed madrassas to prepare them for “Jihad” in Afghanistan and Kashmir. Still, the fact remains such brainwashing was made easier by high level of ignorance among the local population. It is also no surprise that one of the first targets of Taliban have been institutions of modern education; how else would Taliban perpetuate their influence? And, of course, an antidote to Talibanization also lies (among other things) in modern education. The article below makes these points wonderfully.

[Educating the Frontier; DAWN; Nasser Yousaf; 9 Nov, 2009; Copy and Paste]

The recent spate of suicide attacks that has claimed scores of precious lives once again forced the closure of educational institutions in the NWFP. Earlier, the operation in Swat had necessitated the recent closure of educational institutions. The terrorists seem to have won the day again, albeit temporarily, as one pictures them laughing all the way back to their dens, blanketed irredeemably in ignorance. This, perhaps, is the ugliest facet of the terrorists’ war on the people and land of the Frontier, as revealed by their consistent hostility to centres of learning.

Such perverse behaviour on the part of those claiming to be waging a holy war unflatteringly brings to mind former US president George W. Bush’s words. “They are jealous of our freedom,” was the common refrain of the former president in his speeches. There could be no other motive than the basest degree of jealousy that provokes the terrorists to blow up educational institutions and convert young boys and girls into creatures craving for human blood. The much lampooned Mr Bush hence stands vindicated when seen in the backdrop of the terrorists’ manifest hatred for education. If the NWFP’s malfunctioning education system – vulnerable no less to natural disasters – could incite such frenzied jealousy, one could well imagine the extent of fury directed at the West.

It is no secret that terrorists draw inspiration from their mentors, who act as agent provocateurs by fomenting anger and then wish to be seen as mediators. One such mentor-in-chief turned mediator is presently in Central Jail Peshawar. With his face turned away from the camera, “Maulana” Sufi Mohammad, of the many infamous uprisings of Malakand, revealed his utmost contempt for education to a television interviewer just before the onset of the operation in Malakand. “I detest the idea of education for girls,” the old curmudgeon was heard saying. “And what if women fall sick; is it allowed to take them to a male doctor?” a visibly perturbed interviewer asked him. “Such a situation could be likened to eating pork when Muslims dying of hunger are permitted to eat the meat of the forbidden animal,” Sufi declared while unabashedly rationalising his opposition to girls’ education.

God forbid if Sufi is remembered as the leader of the Pakhtuns in the annals of history; history must do justice by presenting him as the man responsible for leading thousands to their death in the aftermath of the US attack on Afghanistan in 2001. Any self-respecting people will take up the senile mullah’s outpourings as a challenge to their collective sense of shame. The fact that Pakhtuns did not do so does not suggest that they have taken leave of their sense of propriety; it does, however, prove that the rate of literacy in the Frontier is mournfully low to understand and register an effective response to the mullah’s taunts.

One must appreciate the way Punjab ridiculed the suggestions of possible Taliban training camps on its soil. Unfortunately, the Frontier is not educated enough to react in the same fashion: the few who are and have access to the media would rather own the Taliban by calling them Pakhtuns who do not surrender. But the facts speak for themselves. With a population of 17.7 million, the 1998 census reported a mere 28 per cent literacy rate in the Frontier. The literacy rate among females was an abysmal 13 per cent, dropping down further to 10 per cent in the rural areas. The survey indicated that nearly 75 per cent of the people spoke Pushto. Eleven years after the data was published, the state of education in the province substantiates that those vital statistics were made little use of.

True, the prevalent grievous situation could not be wholly attributed to the neglect of education. In fact it looks quite a paradox pleading a case for more and quality education to rid the Frontier of the curse of militancy. The hardcore militants fast emerging hi-tech face presents him as a force tutored in war games and equipped with diabolical gadgets. The militants appear to have the services of computer geeks, doctors and communication gurus at their disposal. The tactics employed and the level of resistance thus far witnessed reveals the strength of the ideologically-motivated combatants.

The sad saga of the last 10 years or so reveals that Pakhtuns have allowed themselves to be used as cannon fodder. They now need to be tutored to stop responding to the call to arms and listen to the voice of reason. And reason must be explained in the language of science. The apologetic criteria used to determine the rate of literacy must now be discarded to see the real picture, which is even more gruesome. Those who can only read and write their names can, in reality, read and write nothing. The present provincial government, with its avowed secular credentials, must take the bull by the horns, removing distortions from the history books to lessen the burden both on the shoulders and on minds. Pakhtuns need space to accommodate science.

And the place that needs science more than any other is the seminary. With cellphones buzzing on silent mode in their pockets, students in the seminaries have already voted in favour of science. They must learn now how to earn their livelihood and raise and support their families by producing the gadgets that they are fascinated by.

The original article is available at: http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/11-educating-the-frontier—il–03

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What a difference modern education and humanistic values can make to an individual’s life, national prosperity, and national prestige! India and Indians are making a name for themselves in US (and elsewhere) with their stellar accomplishments rooted in modern education, globalized mindset, and universal values.

Recently  Nitin Nohria was appointed as the Dean of the uber-prestigious Harvard Business School. According to the Times of India, not only is his appointment to Deanship of HBS unprecedented, he joins the ranks of other Indians leading business schools in the US. And I don’t even need to talk about US-based Indian Fortune 500 CEOs, Nobel Laureates, state governors, Presidential advisers, etc.

[Indian Professor Named Harvard Business School Dean; TOI; May 5, 2010; Excerpts; Copy and Paste]

An India-born professor and IIT alumnus who has long championed a pledge for organizational leaders and managers on the lines of the Hippocratic Oath for doctors to enhance accountability in the corporate world has been named Dean of the prestigious Harvard Business School. Nitin Nohria, who is currently the Richard P. Chapman Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School (HBS), will become the School’s 10th dean, Harvard President Drew Faust announced on Tuesday.

Nohria is the latest of nearly half dozen dons of Indian-origins who have gone on to lead prestigious business schools, a list that includes Dipak Jain, who became Dean of Kellogg School of Business in 2001; Mahendra Gupta who was Dean of the Olin School of Business at Washington University in St.Louis; and Yash Gupta, who was the Dean at University of Southern Californias Marshall School of Business. At HBS itself, Nohria is among some 25 teachers of Indian-origin in a faculty of just over 200.

The full article is available at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/indians-abroad/Harvard-B-school-gets-first-Indian-origin-dean/articleshow/5891963.cms

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The article below is a revealing account of a Muslim man in (as Pakistanis like to call it) “Hindu India” of overcoming family tragedy and humble roots to create a name for himself by topping the ultra competitive Indian Civil Services exam. It is also a story of a broken and conservative Muslim woman encouraging her children to pursue education despite limited resources and loss of a husband. It is high time that Pak government put a leash on Mullahism and encourage secular and modern education.

[Dad killed by ultras, doctor from Kashmir tops IAS; Times of India; May 7, 2010; Excerpts; Copy and Paste]

He comes from a remote village in Kupwara district of strife-torn Kashmir and studied in a village school. Eight years ago, his father was gunned down by militants. But Dr Shah Faisal, a 26-year-old MBBS, has fought the odds and won. On Thursday, Faisal became the first Kashmiri ever to top the civil services exam.

In Srinagar, his mother Mubeena Begum, thrilled beyond words, says, “Faisal has made every Kashmiri proud with his hard work and dedication.” Her husband, she says, was killed because he refused shelter to militants. Ironically, it was the tragedy that opened a window to the wider world for the family. “After the killing, I shifted from village Sheikh Nar in Lolab Sogam area of Kupwara to Srinagar with my children, two sons and a daughter. My elder son Shah Faisal had done his class X from Sogam high school while my two other children were in middle school there. I was a broken woman but never gave up and fought against all odds to bring up my children,” says Mubeena, a teacher, like her husband.

The full article is available at the link:
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Dad-killed-by-ultras-doctor-from-Kashmir-tops-IAS/articleshow/5900410.cms

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