Towards knowledge economy
Prime Minister Imran Khan formally inaugurated the Science and Technology Park at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) main campus in Islamabad. Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister advised the students to remain always steadfast in pursuit of their studies, future carrier building and must not be discouraged by the setbacks that come their way. He allayed the misconception being created that government is indifferent to promotion of science and technological development.
Knowledge economy plays a pivotal role for overcoming the scarcity of natural resources and serves as engine of economic growth, breaks the vicious circle of poverty and brings prosperity to the people. A number of developing countries of South East Asia achieved spectacular economic progress by investing in human resource development after the decade of 80s and onward despite deficiency of natural esources. These countries had started from scratches. Pakistan had a better scientific and technological base in the decade of 60s as compared with them. But successive governments and unfortunately the elected ones did not carry it forward rather adopted policies detrimental to it. The nationalization of industries and neglect of updating the curricula of higher scientific and technological education amply explain it.
It is worth appreciation that after four decades once again the importance of acquiring contemporary scientific and technological knowledge is realised as reflected in the vision of Prime Minister. And hopefully concrete measures will follow as indicated by launching the Science and Technology Park at NUST. More such parks shall be established in public sector universities of engineering sciences and technologies and their functioning shall be properly and regularly monitored. Both the faculty and students complain against the deterioration of course and research works in provincial governments controlled institutions of higher education.
The Prime Minister frequently makes reference to the unprecedented achievement during the decade of 1960s by the application of native ideas and through good governance. It was the recognition of local talent and expertise and its utilization on merit which had done wonders in that decade. That healthy environment was deliberately destroyed during the succeeding decades. Moreover, in that decade Ragnar Nurkse models of economic growth and human capital formation were followed. That is why by virtue of implementing first and second five year plans both agriculture and industry registered the highest growth rate, producing an era of full employment.
The social sector development is still not getting better deal in the allocation of resources. Federal and provincial governments collectively spend 2.5 percent of gross domestic product on elementary and secondary education and almost zero allocations for higher education. It is the youth from poor and middle class families who contributes to nation building and economic development. But for them acquisition of higher education has become unaffordable because of high tuition fee and inefficiencies in the prevalent system of scientific and technological education. There is big gap between the education and research standards of institutions like NUST, GIK, LUMS and government universities which are entirely under the administrative control of provincial government since 2010.
Although the Prime Minister has appreciated the efforts of minster for science and technology yet the fact remains that a lot has to be done to make the organizations of Research and Development which are attached to the ministry of science and technology. At present federal government spends 0.49 percent on research and development which need substantial increase.
The Science and Technology Park will accommodate more than 40 companies including start-up small and medium enterprises. It will facilitate developing strong linkage of this research facility with local industry and pave the way for induction of modern technologies in the manufacturing sector. Hopefully, long term policy shall be formulated for the promotion of science and technology.