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April 2, 2015

‘Full knowledge of history essential for society’s future’


April 2, 2015

We must never relegate the indispensable importance of history and must realise that history gives us the relation between the past and the present with reference to the future. A study of history is imperative to the well-being of our future.
These views were expressed by Dr Syed Jaffer Ahmed, director of the Pakistan Study Centre, University of Karachi, while speaking at a memorial meeting for author, researcher and historian Pir Hisamuddin Rashdi on the occasion of his 33rd death anniversary.
He bitterly lamented the “step-motherly treatment” that was being accorded to history in our academic set-up. He said that this could be gauged from the fact that today, of the
200-odd colleges in Karachi, only three were teaching history.
History, Ahmed said, was a window on the past and served as a guideline for the future. Nations that didn’t learn from history had a bleak future.
For this, he said, it was imperative that we revise our national priorities to which, as a corollary, it could be said that the national budget on education be raised from two percent of the GDP to at least four percent.
He was of the view that the rapid proliferation of universities, mostly of doubtful quality, was no solution to the education dilemma. What the country needed was a multitude of primary schools, he said.
“Islamabad today has 26 universities but what purpose is it serving when the required intensity of education which is imparted at the primary level is missing?” Ahmed exclaimed.
“Comprehensive primary education will lay the basis of a viable standard of education in colleges, which in turn will lay the basis of worthwhile education in our universities.”
Ahmed said he had not had the privilege of meeting Pir Hisamuddin Rashdi in person but that he had heard so much about his qualities of head and heart from three intellectual giants for whom he had tremendous respect. They were the late Marxist leader Sibte Hasan, Dr Riazul

Islam and Dr Wafa Rashdi.
Syed Deedar Hussain Shah, former chief justice of the Sindh High Court, outlining the imperative need for the teaching of history, said: “The modern generation would not only have to thoroughly study history but would have to interact with people who can acquaint us with the its implications. For this, we must continuously intermingle with our elders.”
Another scholar Khizar Naushahi, who had come all the way from Mandi Bahauddin, while referring to Pir Hisamuddin Rashdi, said it was very seldom that such towering personalities were born.
Rashdi, he said, discovered the plethora of issues of Sindh and suggested their remedies. “We owe him a mighty debt of gratitude for this.”
Arts Council Secretary Ahmed Shah, while paying tributes to the late Rashdi, decried the class-based system of education and the proliferation of “fake English-medium” schools which, according to him, were just a money-spinning proposition for the capitalist owners, with no regard to the quality of education.
He decried the relegation of history in our academic scheme of things. No wonder, the young generation was not aware of towering intellectuals like Pir Hisamuddin Rashdi, he said.

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