Islamabad: Full text of speech of Dr. Fehmida Mirza, Speaker, National Assembly on occasion of convocation ceremony of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto institute for Science and Technology
Bismillah Irr Rehman Irr Raheem
Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho, Chancellor of ZABIST!
Mr. Aftab Shaban Mirani, MNA, Vice Chairman, ZABIST!
Dr. Saqib Rizavi, President of ZABIST!
Mr. Amanat Ali Jalbani, the Vice President of the Institute!
Syed Asad Hussain, Director of the Islamabad Campus of ZABIST!
Mr. Jawaid Bhatti, Keynote Speaker!
Members of the Faculty, the graduating students, parents,
Ladies and Gentlemen!
It gives me immense pleasure to join you all at today’s convocation, organized by Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST) Islamabad.
I thank the Organizing Committee, especially the worthy Chancellor Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho MNA for inviting me here, and enabling me to share the joys and excitement of the young graduates, who truly represent our country’s bright future.
My dear Students!
Congratulations! Your hard work and dedication has earned you your well-deserved success. What is more, it is also a moment of pride for your teachers and parents as well. I, therefore, have every reason to believe that as you enter your chosen fields, you will continue to work with the same passion and zeal to bring laurels to your Alma Mater, your family and your country.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
The world around us is changing with tumultuous speed and so are the requirements of society, business and industry. In today’s global interdependent environment, higher educational institutions are under a tremendous pressure to take up more responsible roles for developing the future leaders. By doing so, they are needed to play the most powerful role in knowledge creation and its dissemination for a wider array of stakeholders. Their cumulative contribution has been an ever-evolving source of prosperity and improved standards of living.
The present century is dedicated to knowledge. In the words of Alvin Toffler, the great American futurologist:
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”
It is thus that the world is witnessing a paradigm shift from isolated growth oriented factors of production. Now, the human, intellectual, and psychological capitals are also considered essential for the sustainable increase in a country’s gross domestic product. And this cannot happen without creating the requisite knowledge in organization’s ecologies, embedded with advanced knowledge management system.
This, in turn, has posed a huge challenge. With the emergence of new standards and benchmarks, we are left with no alternatives except to raise the bar and internationalize our education and research on the advanced world’s models.
On this note, I congratulate SZABIST, which is endeavouring to raise the banner of quality education and is pursuing anticipatory approach towards trends in global academic and research developments.
And in this regard, it is heartening to note that SZABIST is giving great importance to newer dimensions of triple helix: that is university-industry and community linkages, hence giving research a meaningful context.
The need for conducting relevant studies, which can contribute to creating jobs and building economies, cannot be over exaggerated. Your university believes in ensuring uninterrupted supply of quality graduates as leaders of the next generation. And therefore making the dream of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto come true to turn SZABIST into the “Howard of Asia”.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
It is my firm belief that we in Pakistan have to be awake to the challenges of creating learning opportunities and application of literacy, education and knowledge through higher education. Literacy has to be redefined to include extended learning.
If we talk of literacy rates of Pakistan, it is highly alarming that Pakistan trails behind many countries. With the given constraints and resource crunch, the country may not be able to achieve the MDGs, targeted at 100 percent by year 2015. It is estimated that with the present growth rate, we may increase the literacy rate, at the most, by 58% by 2015.
Some recent indexes have placed Pakistan at a very low position; for example, HDI 2011 ranks Pakistan 145 out of 187 countries. The Education for All (EFA) Development Index ranks Pakistan at 118 out of 129 countries. Similarly, the Prosperity Index ranks Pakistan at 105 out of 110 countries in the education category. .
Pakistan spends only 1.7 percent of GDP on education, which is quite insufficient to embark on an ambitious academic agenda to be able to survive and thrive in the global business environment. If we take the case of our neighbours, Bangladesh and India, they are spending much more than we do on education and especially on higher education.
So my dear Students!
The wakeup call is loud and clear; if we do not anticipate the imminent change coming to destroy the fine fabric that we built in so many years, we may lose — God forbid — decades and a whole generation. The short, medium and long-term strategies, therefore, are to be worked out to gain a competitive edge over others.
In all these realms, the academic institutions, being the breeding grounds of fresh ideas and thoughts, have to take a lead. The future belongs to you. You must, therefore, take the driving seat. Influence the mindset by your research findings and guide the nation towards a better tomorrow.
As I conclude, I am reminded of the excerpts of the Quaid-e-Awam Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s historic speech, made from the floor of the first popularly elected National Assembly of Pakistan on August 14, 1972. While quoting the Founder of the Nation, Shaheed Bhutto said:
“Don’t forget the Quaid-e-Azam’s words: Failure is a word unknown to me.” Such resolve and determination brought Pakistan into being… So let us together resolve to banish the word failure from the vocabulary of Pakistan. Let us build our own success and Insha’Allah we shall realize the dream of Pakistan.”
With these words, Ladies and Gentlemen! I once again congratulate you all and pray for the continued progress and prosperity of your acclaimed institution.
For more information, contact:
Karamat Hussain Niazi
National Assembly of Pakistan
Parliament House, Islamabad
Tel: +9251 922 1082 -83
Fax: +9251 922 1106