Investment versus expenditure and begging versus success. These are not mere concepts but the background stories behind the marvelous success that some powerful economies of the world have achieved through knowledge and advancement in science and technology, especially Information Technology.
Take, for example, the tremendous economic boost that has come to the American economy. Major contributions have come from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University whose alumni, according to the data released publicly by Punjab’s Information Technology University (ITU) VC, Dr Umar Saif, generated a combined investment cap of more than four trillion dollars which can redeem Pakistan’s total external debt six to seven times over, provided studies in science and technology are pursued aggressively in Pakistan for which the government has taken steps, starting from establishing a new 182-acre campus of ITU in the city of Lahore.
These figures seem to be the inspiration of Punjab Chief Minister, Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, who strengthened his administrative, legal and law-enforcement teams to fight a prolonged legal battle which finally helped the government in retrieving this valuable piece of land on the provincial capital’s Burki Road in the vicinity of Defence society, from hardnosed land-grabbers (Qabza groups/mafias) but instead of utilizing the sizeable amount of Rs. 15 billion from this land’s sale, the Punjab government gifted it to ITU for the new campus whose ground-breaking ceremony has taken place.
Instructions have been given to the people entrusted the task of completing this economy-boosting project to put it on fast track so as to prepare a new generation of IT-empowered youth without payment of exorbitant fees but at the same time, equipping the students with state-of-the-art technology comparable with any university of the modern world.
CM’s vision, as expressed on this occasion and off and on, is that spending on education is not expenditure but investment.
This gives the impression that he is convinced, like all and sundry, that investment is always made with a productive objective in mind and the objective in the instant case is youth empowerment with high-tech IT knowledge that can ultimately take the country out of its worst economic decline and dependency, on the pattern of MIT and Stanford. It was with this conviction, the CM claims, he transferred the 15-billion-rupee land to ITU’s news campus instead of spending this huge amount on any other ongoing or new project.
Another concept elaborated by CM is his self-reliance policy by way of which he is not begging and borrowing from any quarters or sources for the government-launched educational projects. ‘Either go for begging or for success’, a choice has to be made, says the CM.
The idea of investment in education is that no project is more beneficial for the country, economically (and in all other ways) than any other scheme or project than the education of youth in science and technology with the help of affordable fee structure that is also supported by Punjab Education Endowment Fund (PEEF). ITU, according to its VC, awards facilitating scholarships to deserving students whose number is much larger than that of any
other institution of the country.
However, some people have demanded of the government to consider the lower middle class also for helping them in getting their children admitted inhigher education institutions especially ITU where PEEF is facilitating only the lowest rung of society living below the poverty line (while the lower middle class is not included in the category which qualifies for these facilitating scholarships. Because of this reason, the lower middle class students are deprived, in a large number, of making their way into higher education institutions).