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May 27, 2017

Extremism can only be defeated with education, says Bilawal


May 27, 2017

Never before in Pakistan’s history has the role of an educator been as significant as it is today. As we fight an extremist mindset, both within and outside our borders, it is up to our teachers to imbue in their students the true ideals of tolerance.

This was stated by chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, at the Sindh Madressatul Islam University (SMIU) on Friday.

Addressing the varsity’s faculty and students at the Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto Auditorium, Bilawal remarked that extremists wanted to divide the country along the fault lines of religion and culture. 

Quoting Nelson Mandela, he said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

“We must, therefore, ensure that our children stand undeterred in their quest for peaceful coexistence of all religions in Pakistan, for it is our diversity that gives us strength. The strength to survive! The strength to progress! The strength to prosper!” the PPP chairman asserted.

Citing historic political movements, Bilawal stated that history was witness to the pivotal role played by the youth in nation building.

“From Germany to Africa, to China to Cuba, young people strived to achieve their rights, be they political, earning religious freedom or fighting against tyranny. Our very own independence is in fact largely attributed to the irrepressible agitations of young people fighting for liberty. From the twelve disciples of Mandela to Aligarh’s students, relentless struggle of the youth has changed the face of history.”

He urged the country’s youth to take the lead in times when the entire world and Pakistan in particular is going through a difficult time in battling extremism. “It is up to our youth to stand up to these forces and reclaim Pakistan as a progressive and peaceful nation.” We must not confuse extremist ideology with religious beliefs, Bilawal added.

Speaking of the PPP-led government’s endeavours taken to propagate education in the province, he said the Sindh government in addition to considerably increasing its education budget in 2017, is now operating on a three-pronged strategy: improvement of public sector schools through improvements in the existing system; outsourcing of public sector schools to reputable private organisations under the public-private partnership model through a fair and competitive process; and supporting private sector schools through the Sindh Education Foundation, especially in remote areas - since the existing number of public sector schools is insufficient compared to Sindh’s population.

“Inequalities in the education sector exist because of a dearth of motivated teachers. We need teachers who wake up every morning imbued with a sense of purpose and knowledge that they are a part of the process of building this nation’s future,” he said. 

As per Bilawal, inadequacy of resources will always be a part of all social sectors, and it is used as an excuse for differences in teaching and learning opportunities in the public and private sectors.

He further said that students of this country cannot falter in their mission to take their nation to new heights of glory. “We should be a nation of participants, not simply observers. To make Pakistan a sustainable democracy; to make the world recognise us as a force to reckon with socially, economically, and technologically, that should be the goal you all leave this prestigious institution with.”

Also speaking at the event, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said the government is committed to improving quality, accessibility, equality and governance in the education sector in line with Sindh Compulsory and Free Education Act.

Lauding SMIU’s contributions, Murad said the varsity is no stranger to prodigious achievers having educated the likes of the Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto and Sir Abdullah Haroon to name a few.

“With a history as rich as this and having embraced provision of quality education along with imparting practical knowledge to its students, the SMIU is all geared up for producing new legends.”

Earlier, the SMIU VC Dr Muhammad Ali Shaikh talked also spoke of the varsity’s rich history. 


Senate Hall inauguration

The PPP chairman later inaugurated the varsity’s Senate Hall and presided over a meeting of vice chancellors of various universities of Sindh. The CM Sindh, members of his cabinet, SMIU statuary bodies and senior faculty and officials of the varsity also attended the meeting.

Murad assured the heads of the universities that the problems of their respective varsities and their employees will be resolved on a priority basis. 

Bilawal also visited the Jinnah museum and took keen interest in the relics of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Hassanally Effendi and other noted alumni of the SMIU.

Among the vice chancellors who attended the meeting were University of Karachi VC Dr Professor Muhammad Ajmal Khan, NED VC Dr Sarosh Hashmat Lodhi, IBA Sukkur Director Prof Nisar Ahmed Siddiqui, IBA Karachi Dean and Director Dr Farrukh Iqbal.