The World is a global village; it is only due to the rapid growth of computer and Information Technology. In today's information age the knowledge of computer is a must. We use computers in each and every aspect of our lives. Anybody who wants to succeed in today's world cannot afford to ignore the computer and communication technology. Our society has become so dependent on computers that we cannot survive without them. Also they are great tools for improving the human productivity, provided one knows how to use them.
Each of the past three centuries has been dominated by a single technology. The 18th century is the time for the great mechanical systems accompanying the industrial revolution. The 19th century was the age of steam engine. In the 20th century the key technology is information gathering, processing and then distribution. Among the development we have seen the installation of the worldwide telephone networks, the invention of the radio and the television, the birth of unprecedented growth of computer industry and launching of the information satellite. Due to the rapid technology progress these areas are rapidly converging and the difference between collecting, transporting, storing and perceiving in function are quickly disappearing. Although the computer industry in young as compared to other industries (automobiles, air transportation) computer has spectacular progress in short time.
IT Human Resource Development is the most important area of IT Action plan. A major part of the funding of the IT Action plan is earmarked for Human Resource Development almost 60%; so that this concerted effort is not short lived. Knowledge is a power; but the Knowledge of computer and IT is powerful. It is embarrassing all fields of knowledge. Now every discipline is leaned on computer. Even doctors, engineers, historians and politicians all are compelled to learn the computer.
This paper envisage on the facilities provided by the Ministry of Science & Technology (MOST) Government of Pakistan and Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC), and their impact on IT education and Human Resource Development(HRD) before and after 9/11 in The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, Pakistan.
IT, HRD, Semester System, BS(CS), BS(IT), MCS, MIT, PGD, MOST, HEC
The Islamia University of Bahawalpur attained the level of a University in March 1975, as a general university, whereas it is in the 85th year of its existence as a specialized institution imparting education in the religious sciences i.e. Quran, Hadith, Tafseer, Fiqh, Ussol-a-Fiqh, Seerat and allied fields of Islamic Learning. This institution has passed through different phases of its academic development and now functioning as a general university offering postgraduate courses in Physical Sciences, Social Sciences, Commerce and Management Sciences, IT and Computer Sciences, Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences, Engineering and Religious Sciences. M.Phil. and Ph.D. level courses are also being offered in selected disciplines. The University has made its contribution towards the educational development of the Country by implementing the national policies of teaching, training, exchange of knowledge and research, all the time remaining attentive to meet the education needs of the inhabitants of area accepting the challenges of fast developments in the fields of Science and Technology adopting continually to changing tendencies and to the new problems raised by the educational development around the country.
The Promotion of the high quality of education and development of human resources is a serious concern and the priorities are reflected in the academic and infra-structural development plans of this institution. The intelligentsia, the teaching faculty and administrators are being pressed into the service of these objectives and are made to contribute to the framing of practical strategies to resolve them. The search for a solution is a difficult experience. The only way in which it can be made meaningful is within the conceptual framework and a forward looking vision, which the university management can anticipate. The teaching faculty, administration and the members of the development management have demonstrated positive practical response to these challenges in their action, which is hoped to be continued. The Islamia University of Bahawalpur always remained one of the leading institutions to spread the advanced scientific knowledge with the latest technology. The states of art new laborites are being established with modern tools in almost every discipline of this university.
The Department of Computer Science was started in 1994 to cope up with the future demands of the new technology. Initially 1-year PGD course was offered, which was upgraded to MCS Degree Program in 1996 with a batch of about 40 students. In 1998, BCS three years degree program was offered, the first ever program of its kind in the region. This degree program was then converted into four years BS(CS) program. Currently the Department is being run by faculty strength of 18 members with the MCS, MS and Ph.D. degree in Computer Science and additional industrial experience. Two of the faculty members received higher training from abroad (Japan). The teaching and Lab practices in the Department are being supported by 5 well equipped computerized laborites. 3 of them have recently been developed and equipped by utilizing Ministry of Science and Technology Government of Pakistan (MOST) grant under the HRD project costing Rs. 11.00 million. The Department has 11 offices for the staff, 5 class rooms, one Seminar Hall, one Departmental library and one girls' common room. The Department is using modern academic tools like multimedia for the coaching of the students. It is now conducting PGD, BS(CS), BS(IT) and MCS programs.
IT Human Resource Development is the most important area of IT Action plan. A major part of the funding of the IT Action plan is earmarked for Human Resource development almost 60%; so that this concerted effort is not short lived. This will upgrade the existing facilities of the Department of Computer Science and IT by providing 150 P-IV computers for establishing 3 laboratories, increase student intake for BS(CS), BS(IT) and MCS from 50 to 100 annually, establish network facility for the students and faculty, provide Internet Connectivity for the 3 Labs., establish 1 computer Lab. for non-IT students of The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, offer PGD Diploma and other short course for intake of 50 students and provide training facilities for Provincial/District Govt. employees for IT diploma and short term courses.
The University is located at a remote location from urbanized center and provides learning opportunities for rural society of both Punjab and Sindh Provinces. More than 4 million populations will directly benefit from these expanded facilities. No other institution is providing such educational and learning opportunities to such a huge population. The Government of Pakistan is giving more emphasis on IT education and its implementation in all walks of life. Keeping in view the current and future requirements Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC) are planning to produce IT-expertise from lower level to high-level skills of more than 10,000 per year. The IT professionals produced through this program will find ample opportunities to serve public and private organizations. The intake in the BS(CS) and MCS programs of this department during year 1996 to year 2000 is given in the Table - 1.
Result and Discussion
Information Technology is essential for the growth and development of a country. Government of Pakistan has launched its IT policy to keep pace with technologically developed countries. The present policies of the Government of Pakistan lay emphasis that it is the right time for newly established facilities at the University to penetrate into IT and e-government Plans of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC) in their initiative in encouraging IT and benefiting the university faculty, research scholars, students and the administration by the proliferation of its services. The followings are the major results:
- Trying to enter into the information age at a much higher pace, there is substantial evidence that Pakistan would definitely have trouble with keeping up the demand for new IT Professionals.
- The attractive salaries offered to the IT Professionals in developed world are making the worst ever brain drain. Creating Demand-Supply gap with the current growth trends in the local industry, it is expected that demand of academically skilled IT Professionals in the immediate future would be highest than ever.
- Most of the fast growing companies in Pakistan are already reporting the non-availability of IT Professionals to staff their operations. It is therefore imperative to build a highly talented pool of IT Professionals to meet the demand of local industry.
- This will benefit about 1140 students annually belonging to the lower income group population of the remote areas of the Southern Punjab and the Northern Sindh Provinces. This will provide equal opportunity of higher education to all citizen of Pakistan regardless of their social status or income level.
- Economic benefits are not much difficult to ascertain. Total expenditure of 30 month project activity (4 batches of BS(CS) and MCS programs) would be Rs.36.91 million whereas direct benefit from services of only 25% of successful IT graduates can generate more income assuming average earning of each professional @US$ 20,000 annually.
Education is not a development but can prepare individuals to enhance their chances of exploring ways and means for development. The relationship between education and development is a two-way process, that is, quality education leads to the development and the development can pave the way for quality education. In recent times, the term 'knowledge economy' has become a currency concept. In most developing countries, the state of education in quantitative and qualitative terms is questionable. Recognizing the significant role education can play, rulers in developing countries should invest more in education as this investment may ensure a bright future for them. Pakistan was at the lowest rung of the ladder as its allocation for education was only 2.2 per cent of GDP. This amount was less than the amount allocated by the Maldives (8.1), Iran (5.4), Malaysia (5.1), South Korea (4.2), Thailand (4.0), India (3.7), Sri Lanka (3.1), Nepal (2.9), Afghanistan (2.3) and Bangladesh (2.3). There will be direct and indirect job opportunities. The graduates will get jobs in IT- related industry. Many graduates will open their own Institute for training groups. The number could be in thousands. The focus of Human Resource Development is on developing the most superior workforce so that the organization focuses to design and implement institutional strengthening and capacity building training for its new employees within the department.
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