Renowned scientist and former HEC chairman Dr Attaur Rehman on Wednesday said that peace and development were interlinked with the empowerment of youth and unless the nation tapped the creative talent of its youth, the dream for socio economic development of the country would not be materialised.
Addressing the audience at the HEC headquarters during a seminar entitled ‘Building a Knowledge-based Economy in Pakistan for Socio –economic Development of the Society”, Dr Atta said that in today’s world, nations are not built just by investing in brick and mortar, in roads and bridges, in dams and powerhouses, but in education.
Dr Attaur Rehman said that in order to develop a knowledge economy, a clear road map had to be developed through what is a well understood and documented procedure — a Delphi-type “foresight exercise”. Thorough and careful analysis of each sector must be carried out on a regular basis to highlight and identify the key programmes for future national development, Dr Attaur Rehman said.
He said that more than half of the country’s population directly or indirectly relies on agriculture but through knowledge and innovation the country can transform itself into a knowledge economy.
The former HEC head said that for the promotion of knowledge based economy the three major players that needed to come together were universities, industry and government. He said that it was the universities in developed world which adequately prepared human talent needed in each sector. In the developed world universities also set up technology parks and business incubators to provide opportunities to young entrepreneurs to establish new start-up companies.
He said that for the better future of the country and to promote a knowledge based economy the government needed to make investments to improve universities’ standards of teaching and research, set up centers of excellence in selected fields, provide financial assistance for the establishment of technology parks, provide venture capital towards new high technology industries, offer tax incentives to new technology-based industries and make self reliance the cornerstone of national policies and development plans.
Dr Attaur Rehman said that Higher Education Commission made spectacular progress in promoting knowledge, innovation and technology in the country in the short period of six years, 2002 to 2008. However, that progress was at a standstill during the PPP government when they repeatedly attacked the HEC, and shredded its powers and budget ruthlessly. A notification was issued to hand over the pieces of the HEC to the provinces in order to “teach it a lesson” for not endorsing the forged degrees of hundreds of parliamentarians, he said.
The conference was attended by a large number of the academia, educationists and faculty members from various universities of the country.