THE international scientific community is dismayed at the unfair criticism in some newspapers against the chairman of the Higher Education Commission, Prof (Dr) Attaur Rahman, for spending billions of rupees without any visible impact on quality and performance of universities and their graduates.
Those who have closely watched the development of higher education in Pakistan from outside and have been involved in the numerous programmes established by Prof Rahman in the past eight years can testify to the contrary: the progress made was breath-taking and has put Pakistan ahead of comparable countries in numerous aspects.
To name just a few, the establishment of a free access to scientific literature by high-speed Internet for all universities, the thousands of promising young scientists who were granted PhD studies at top universities abroad, the upgrade of research equipment accessible across the country and the programme of establishing new universities of science and technology, including technology parks attracting foreign investors, prove the efficiency and the long-term benefits for the country enabled by the HEC’s chairman.
His efforts have made Pakistan a respected partner for cooperation for many countries leading in research and development, and it has to be feared that without Prof Rahman this status will be lost.
The United Nations Commission on Science and Technology has closely monitored the development in Pakistan in the past years, coming to the unanimous conclusion that Prof Rahman’s policy and programme is a `best-practice’ example for developing countries aiming at building their human resources and establishing an innovative, technology-based economy.
Moreover, to poorly qualify the graduates of Pakistan universities is another unjustified blame: almost all of the thousands of young Pakistani university staff sent for doctorate studies to Europe’s and Asia’s top universities in the past five years have performed well at these foreign institutions, thus causing their academic supervisors to ask for further supply of PhD candidates from Pakistan.
Those who have completed their PhD and returned to Pakistan to share their knowledge with students at their home institutions are keeping close contacts to their former supervisors, creating valuable international research networks.
The impact of this programme, installed by Prof Rahman, will only be seen after some more years, and is expected to bring progress to the country, not only in terms of science and technology, but also in terms of economy.
DR BERND MICHAEL RODE
Chairman/European Coordinator of