KARACHI - Effective utilisation of human resource through quality education is a proven way to progress and prosperity in modern times, said Dr Atta-ur-Rahman, former Federal Minister and Chairman, Higher Education Commission.

He was speaking at distinguished lecture series entitled: ‘Science, Technology and Innovation: imperatives for socio-economic development’ held in the Social Sciences Auditorium, University of Karachi here Thursday.

Professor Emeritus Dr Atta-ur-Rehman, who is the recipient of various prestigious national and international awards, began his talk by comparing the GDP, economic growth rate of Singapore and China with Pakistan and attributed their development to the effective utilisation of human resource through quality education.

He added that if Singapore's exports were $400 billion, it was unfortunate that the exports of Pakistan were only $22 billion because Pakistan was not exporting technology and value-added goods.

He lamented that the total budget spent on education, science and technology in Pakistan was less than the amount to be spent on the construction of Orange Line train in Lahore.

He emphasised the need to focus on developing creative minds so as to bridge the gap between knowledge, science and technology.

“Universities are measured on the basis of research work, and not on the basis of high enrolment rate or buildings,” he pointed out.  Dr Ata reinforced the importance of developing research culture by providing incentives to the faculty members and students.

He opined that instead of focusing on mushroomed growth of universities, emphasis should be on ensuring quality and standard education.

Dr Atta shared some of the steps that were taken by the HEC under his chairmanship when 11,000 students were sent abroad for higher studies.

He also talked about the rigorous steps that were taken by the HEC in terms of ranking universities to develop a spirit of competition amongst them.

Although he lamented the dramatic decline of HEC in the recent years, he was happy to share the threat Pakistan had posed to India in the field of science and technology. Dr Atta-ur-Rehman talked about some new innovations that are believed to revolutionize the world.

“These include: quantum computing, tailoring of new animal and plant species, 'golden rice' with pro vitamin A to compensate for vitamin A deficiency, growth of crops round the year, identification of obesity genes, reversal of ageing process, re-engineering of polio virus to cure cancer, 3D printing/bio-printing of human organs including kidneys and liver,” he elaborated.

He talked about the availability of devices through which blind people could see and even drive and also about a real-time translation device through which communicating with a speaker of any language was possible even if one did not know that language.

He also introduced the audience to nanotechnology, e-textiles, and ebb textiles.

Not only did Dr Atta-ur-Rahman told the audience about the inventions of other countries, but he also shared his ongoing research on human brain, sharing one interesting discovery that thoughts are not abstract but are actually made up of atoms and molecules.

According to him, even education is being revolutionised in the form of video books, and this facility is available at LEJ Digital Library at the University of Karachi which can be accessed free of cost. Dr Atta further emphasised the need for realising the importance of science and technology for economic empowerment.  He, on the occasion, also encouraged the young scholars to play an active role in their field to promote research culture in Pakistan as he believed that the country was still lagging far behind in the field of science and technology.  

Responding to a question that why scientists had not done much for establishing peace in the world, he argued that technology was a double edged sword, and it needed to be used for the betterment and welfare of human beings and not for their destruction.

“In this regard coordination between social scientists and natural sciences is essential,” he opined.

In his concluding remarks, Dean Faculty of Social Sciences, Professor Dr Moonis Ahmar reinforced the thirst for knowledge that he thought was missing in the people of Pakistan.

He, particularly, advised the youth to focus on education and make efforts to excel in their fields without wasting their time.  Dr Moonis concluded his speech by paying a tribute to Dr Atta-ur-Rahman, who, he said, was a real source of pride for the country and the University of Karachi.  The programme concluded with the Dean presenting a plaque to Dr Atta as a token of thanks. 



Our Staff Reporter