Posted by: Administrator | 19 January, 2005

President’s address at the Launching Ceremony of Virtual University

23 March 2002

Minister of Science and Technology Dr. Atta-Ur-Rehman Sahib, Rector Virtual University Dr. Naveed Malik Sahib, Secretary IT Division Ashfaq Mahmood Sahib, Chairman PTCL Bajwa Sahib, Respected guests, ladies and gentlemen

Assalam-o-Alaikum,  Today we have gathered here to celebrate, actually we gathered before in the morning and I addressed the nation, the recorded speech for the nation, which will be televised for the Pakistan Day. But we are utilizing this auspicious occasion of Pakistan Day to launch the Virtual University today for which we have gathered here now.

What Prof Attaur-Rehman has brought out about our government support to him in the form of increasing the allocation from meager I20 million rupees to 6 billion speaks very highly of the persuasive qualities of Prof Atta-ur-Rehman which I must give credit to him that he convinced the Cabinet, that he convinced me. In fact I will go a step further to say that he also undertook to give a presentation on higher education in Pakistan and this was a presentation on creating a linkage between education and industry which was never done before.

There has to be a linkage between education, higher education and our industry and that is what we are trying to create now. That we undertake courses in our universities; teach subjects in our university which have direct linkages with that part of the industrial growth that affects Pakistan and our own capacity in growing. So, therefore, to that extent and since the presentation that he gave us and the presentation he has been giving and convincing us about Science and Technology, as a soldier the easiest course of action that is taken when you hear so much and many of with one many not even understand is to charge a man and, give him the money what they want. That is what we really did. Let us give him the money .

He is man in charge and let him perform and let him take this country forward with the back up of the government and myself, of course’ .

To that let me add that we have decided to create a Higher Education Commission to gradually replace the University Grants Commission which was not really functioning effectively for Pakistan. I am glad to announce that he is going to be the Chairman of the Higher Education Commission. I will make sure, before October. That he gets permanence in the Higher Education Commission. Now, when I talk that reforms cannot be undone, this reform will also not be undone.

So, therefore, I am very proud that Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman is doing so much in the field of Higher Education and in the field of Information Technology. Another comment that he was making economic development through Science and Technology and that our country is left behind in the world because we are left behind in the education Yes, indeed we have to do that but at the same time there is a little bit of dilemma that you need economic development to absorb the capacity that you will develop through Science and Technology and education.

So, therefore, while you need education, Science and Technology especially Information Technology to develop economically you need economic development to absorb all this capacity that you will develop. So obviously one understands this dilemma and the answer certainly lies in the fact that you need, to have a balance, strike a balance in your economic development through a development, well focused development strategy and also concentrate fully on education so that there is an absorption capacity for this youth, the educated youth that will come about.

I have been saying all along that when we talk of poverty, deprivation and joblessness one of prime area is agriculture sector because majority is there. But when we talk of urban educated unemployed youth of Pakistan then Information Technology, which is the core, will give them fastest training and fastest absorption. So, that is why in our economic revival plan which is at the heart of national development strategy we have launched, IT sector is at the heart of the economic revival of Pakistan. In the IT sector may I also add that we have tremendous potential?

Pakistan has tremendous potential in two areas, one is the infrastructure that we already have and now the infrastructure has filly developed Thanks again to Prof Atta-ur- Rehman and his efforts that we have developed such an IT infrastructure in Pakistan which has surpassed many countries of the region. In many areas we are far better than India in the Information Technology infrastructure.

Then our capacity in human resource that we already have and English speaking human resource. Unfortunately our education had gone down, sided so much that this strength of ours had weakened in the past. We need to strengthen it. We must be proud of our own language Urdu and there is no doubt about it. There was a time after partition when Urdu was almost looked down upon. You were supposed to be not progressive unless you spoke English and unless you spoke Urdu in an anglicized manner. That is now no more the case.

We must be proud of this language, but tilting to the other side that we should not be learning English because Urdu is our language, is also wrong. This was our strength. It must continue as our strength. Urdu is our mother tongue. We must learn it. We must be good in that. English is our strength. The whole world is learning English today. China is learning English today. Our strength is English. So, therefore, let us not give up the strength. We must further strengthen this potential that we already have. Because this is the real potential, Information Technology, the infrastructure and this human resource capital, the English speaking human resource capital of ours. We must build on it.

So, therefore ladies and gentlemen it is my pleasure that we are taking another step forward in the area of Information Technology by the launching of this Virtual University to day: It is indeed an auspicious day and I am certainly proud to be here to announce the launching of this Virtual University, a concept which is not only unique to Pakistan but also I am told this whole region, that it’s a unique concept.

Information Technology has become an inalienable part of our daily lives and is expected to assume even greater importance in the future. There is no doubt about that In Pakistan, education in this critical field was being imparted to a much selected few in the past and that too in major urban centres.

The internet, facilities as we know, were only there in 29 cities and now they are there in 550 cities and towns. The bandwidth has increased from 32 megabytes to about 260 megabytes .The bandwidth cost has reduced from 86000 dollars to 6000 dollars. This is the kind of development that has taken place in this one and a half year for which all the credit I again give to Prof Atta-ur-Rehman.

Till now the opportunity of qualifying in I.T education was available at exorbitant prices and he has told you now it is available through this Virtual University at a paltry sum of I440 rupees .The only thing that came to my mind was that why this Bata price of I440? I think he must be having an answer to that. I leave it at this why it could not be I400 and I500? I don’t know. There is no need of over emphasizing that the government has always attached the highest priority to the development of IT in the country and another addition is that in this one and half year we have opened seven universities including the Virtual University.

I always very proudly say that army has contributed by giving them a campus in Abbotabad because that was a campus of Third Pakistan battalion of Pakistan Military Academy. I was all the time thinking what to do with this campus. It was lying vacant and falling apart. It was a beautiful campus.

So when Prof Atta-ur-Rehman and his IT came into the scene I thought this is the best utilization. I gave them the campus. So this is one of the universities. I have been informed that the Virtual University is producing its programmes by using the very best expertise, by utilizing the services of prominent professors and I.T experts and I am very glad that Dr. Naveed Malik has been inducted to lead this as Rector. I am sure under his dynamic leadership and also with his expertise; this Virtual University will certainly progress well in the future.

The delivery of these courses on the PTV network will facilitate wide coverage in the country. Interaction with the students will be carried out through inter net and soon over the Pakistan Academic Intranet. This uniform high quality education experience will be available to every student in the country regardless of his or her location. They are opening centers but any one can undertake this course even sitting at home as long as he appears in the examinations so, therefore, the facility is available to anyone sitting at home. Even those who don’t have the facility at home can join the centres and get educated. This indeed is a profound undertaking. The high cost associated with IT education will no longer have to be borne by the students nor will they have to migrate to the major cities to obtain quality education. The development of this critical human resource will no longer be limited to urban elites but will evenly be distributed in all segments of society, irrespective of geographical location.

It is very important that we tie in the Primary and Secondary Education and improve that in the rural areas especially, that is exactly what we are doing. We are trying to introduce English into the rural areas, improving their standards in accordance with the urban education and that will go a long way in improving the quality and facilitating the students in the rural areas to join this project through the Virtual University. Although the initial focus is on the Information Technology Now this is another interesting point. The Virtual University will soon offer courses in traditional and emerging technologies also. Now, this, I think we need to focus on, when we are talking of Science and Technology other than IT., why not go to other subjects also through the Virtual University?

And also as Prof. Atta-ur-Rehman has said transmit this programme to the other countries of the region and that will be a great advantage to Pakistan, projection of Pakistan also. The Virtual University is commencing its programmes with a limited time slot on the PTV2. However by the end of this year a full fledged television channel dedicated to Science and Technology Education will become available. This will allow a considerable enhancement of the programmes being developed by the Virtual University .

The Virtual University has set up virtual campuses throughout the country in a public sector, public private sector partnership. This will go a long way towards further widening the scope of the university. The involvement of the private sector partners will definitely ensure the availability of the best possible facilities for our budding scientists. I am happy to learn that the cost has been maintained at the affordable level. The fact that the private sector has agreed to a very reasonable return on investments is a strong indicator of the determination of the people to participate in this vital nation building exercise. I commend the private sector partners of the Virtual University and hope that they will continue to work with the same commitment and devotion that they have shown during the initial critical phases.

I would also like to say when we have had recent OIC or the COMSTECH Conference, there again, I had appealed to the Islamic World through them, through all their Ministers who had come, that on this very issue that Prof Atta-ur-Rehman has highlighted, that the Islamic world has been left behind. We are far behind in the world and if you want to take the whole Islamic world forward up we need to do a lot in Science and Technology .

We appealed to them to contribute money/funds so that we can develop a very strong infrastructure. I think Pakistan will, Inshallah, and needs to provide the leadership to the Islamic World in this field and we can do it. We have the capacity and I have assured Prof Atta- ur-Rehman that I would like him to visit certain Islamic countries with a letter from my side and I would back him up and support him to project to the Islamic world so that they contribute and we open Centres of Excellence all over the Islamic world and Pakistan may contribute its bit to take the Islamic Ummah forward towards development through education and especially Science and Technology which is very, very important.

I have also been informed that a large number of new institutions will also become partners of the Virtual University by September 2002 .I would certainly like to welcome and encourage all those students who have taken admission in the V’ BCS programme. I would like to tell them that they must work hard to attain the highest standards. I.T is the future of the country and distant education provides you facilities at your doorsteps. I hope that these young students will rise to the challenge and produce best possible results for the nations In the end, I would like to express my deep appreciation to Prof. Atta-ur-Rehman Minister for Science and Technology and his dedicated team who made the .

launching of this vital project possible within a short span of time and I commend this effort of Dr. Naveed Malik for having taken only four months to have launched this Virtual University. I am delighted to have this opportunity to formally inaugurate the Virtual University, a project of Ministry of Science and Technology.

Ladies and gentle men I thank you very much. I again commend the effort of Prof Atta-ur-Rehman, Dr. Naveed Malik and all those involved to make this idea a reality. All that I would like to assure this audience, that this government will not be found wanting in emphasizing on the essential, on the pre-requisite of education for progress in Pakistan In the long term this is our salvation and we must move forward

.We must allocate much more funds on education and I can very gladly say that this is one field where there is a tremendous amount of international support which people of all countries are prepared to give us. I am sure we will get lot of debt to education swap. We are trying for debt education swap, to move forward and allocating funds for education and we are meeting a lot of success. A lot of funds are coming in and we have also entered into the private sector which is through the human development task force that we have created, to undertake education at the grass-roots levels so that we can divert funds elsewhere.

There is a lot being done in the area of education in its entire complexity. Starting from literacy, then primary and secondary education, the higher education, Science and Technology and also the Madrassah education .This is the complexity of education in Pakistan.

Let me assure this audience we have undertaken a study of each one of these and we are in the process of executing a strategy on each one of these. So this is what we have done. The only thing that I would like to emphasize is people in Pakistan seem to be extremely pessimistic about every thing. They seem to be thinking that things are not moving. Things move when you are bringing about strategic changes. I have been telling every one, when you are addressing the core issues, when you want to restructure every thing, when you have evolved new strategies and implementing strategies it takes time. It cannot be done in a few days. Nothing can be done in a few days.

When every thing over the last fifty years especially in the last twelve years has been degenerated you need time to address, understand the core issues, go into the depth of issues right from the foundation and raise a new foundations. It takes time. It cannot be done in a few days. The nation has to be patient to understand what is happening. I am not one of those who believe in pushing my way through by announcing some kinds of cosmetic and peripheral issues, addressing them and trying to bluff my way through. I don’t believe in that. We are addressing core issues and those core issues to be addressed to be executed, to be implemented and its effects being felt right down the chain takes time So that is what we are doing The nation has to be patient The nation has to trust us.

Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen!

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