By Waleed Tariq:
We are living in an age of globalization;Â an era of knowledge workers and societies whereÂ the world is onÂ anÂ electronic super highway, witnessing new innovations andÂ inventions every day.Â Pakistan’s humanÂ resourcepotential has been neglectedÂ and the key to success is a smart human resource equipped with creativity andÂ entrepreneurial skills.
PunjabÂ (Pakistan)Â the land of five rivers, in it’sÂ commitmentÂ to eradicate illiteracy from the provinceÂ has establishedÂ Literacy and Non Formal Basic EducationÂ DepartmentÂ which isÂ charged with theÂ legalÂ responsibility of enhancing literacy rate, promotionÂ of adult literacy and lifeÂ learning skills.Â Unlike other provincial authorities,Â PakistanÂ Muslim League Nawaz’sÂ (PMLN)Â government in PunjabÂ under the leadership of Mian Shahbaz Sharif; Chief Minister ofÂ PunjabÂ has undertaken a number ofÂ initiativesÂ in this direction,Â inculcatingÂ technicalÂ knowledge, eradicating illiteracy and in-turn,Â promotingÂ goodÂ governance.
All government high schools have beenÂ equippedÂ with state-of-theÂ art computer laboratories to bridge the digital divide in the country.Â The uniqueÂ Punjab IT Lab Project,Â a milestone for the promotion of quality educationwillÂ help improve the school children’s skill and impart quality education through IT Labs.Â Moreover,Â Shahbaz Sharif has already launchedÂ DanishÂ SchoolÂ Project; state of the art schoolsÂ providingÂ high standard education to poor children,Â absolutely free.Â Also,Â laptop distributionÂ forÂ high-achievingÂ graduate andÂ post-graduate students hasÂ alreadyÂ begun.
1. PunjabÂ IT Lab Project
To overcome theÂ prevalent digital divide between the public and private sector schools,Â Chief MinisterÂ Punjab,Â Mian Shahbaz Sharif in 2009, initiatedÂ theÂ Punjab IT lab project in Government schools, throughout the province.Â Completed in a record time of 110 days, this project coversÂ overÂ 4286 schools. ItÂ equipsÂ everyÂ schoolÂ with 3 desktop PCs and 12 virtual desktops with licensed software from Microsoft,Â high speed internet connection and hardware solutions from local companies like Inbox, Siemens andÂ Pakistan Telecommunications Company Limited (PTCL).Â TheÂ entire ventureÂ isÂ executed and monitored under supervision ofÂ Microsoft technologies.
2. LaptopÂ distribution throughoutÂ Punjab
Under its resolve to empower the youngerÂ generation of the province, Punjab GovernmentÂ in late 2011, as a part ofÂ itsÂ ‘Youth Initiative’Â decidedÂ to distributeÂ 100,000 laptopsÂ amongst theÂ top achieversÂ inÂ both graduate and post-graduate degree programs. The distribution is under-way andÂ students ofÂ all publicÂ sectorsÂ colleges and universitiesÂ are beingÂ selected on merit,Â helpingÂ them to copeÂ and overcomeÂ the challengesÂ of learning and professional growth in the modern times.
InformationÂ technology is the need of the hour andÂ merit recognition by providingÂ free laptop computers toÂ capableÂ pupilsÂ will be helpful in creatingÂ IT enabledÂ students,Â boostÂ students’Â morale,Â complement government policy of digitizationÂ andÂ bring aboutÂ anÂ improvement in socio-economic indicators throughÂ theÂ availability of hi-tech devicesÂ toÂ theÂ PunjabÂ student community.
TheÂ planÂ isÂ exemplaryÂ as computers are nowÂ a basicÂ necessityÂ in the landscape of daily use. Mian ShahbazÂ SharifÂ hopes to end poverty this way, and there is no doubt that the era in which our schoolÂ children are to grow up, will beÂ theÂ one in which computers areÂ ever-present.
3. DanishÂ SchoolÂ System
Educational system inÂ PakistanÂ is fast-falling mainly because of the poor quality of education and the non-availabilityÂ of funds.Â In such a backdrop, setting up of Danish SchoolÂ SystemÂ isÂ significant,Â particularlyÂ inÂ PakistanwhereÂ literacy rate is lessÂ thanÂ any other state inÂ South Asia.
After research it was found out that the solution of backwardness and poverty ofÂ SouthernÂ PunjabÂ lies in the promotion of quality education.Â Therefore, theÂ PunjabÂ governmentÂ decided to launchÂ TheÂ Danish School;Â aprojectÂ at firstÂ meant for the poor, nowÂ also catersÂ to the prosperous sectionsÂ of the society. At present; six Danish Schools are functional in twoÂ districtsÂ of Southern Punjab i.e.Â BahawalpurÂ and Rahim Yar Khan.
ShahbazÂ SharifÂ must beÂ complimented for chalking outÂ suchÂ plansÂ thatÂ ensureÂ impartingÂ ofÂ quality education to the students, irrespective of their financial background.Â Rather thanÂ justÂ lip-servicing, otherÂ heavy-liddedfederating unitsÂ should take inspiration fromÂ PMLNÂ and therebyÂ launch such schemesÂ which can benefitÂ future generations.