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‘It is education that makes a nation great’

What makes a nation great is education. Education is the vital cog in the chain of a country’s progress. Success of countries depends entirely on the attention they accord education.

This exhortation was made by Shahrukh Hasan, Group Managing Director, Jang Group, while speaking as chief guest at the annual day of the Jinnah Foundation School at the school premises on Thursday morning.

He asked, “What makes cultures, societies and nations and cultures great?” He answered his own question by saying, “Education.”

There was a time when the Muslim ummah was the greatest civilisation on the face of the earth, which is a far cry from the dismal affairs today. “Compare the state of the Muslims of yore and those of today,” he said. The primary difference is that we have neglected the quest of knowledge.

“If we want to be successful in industry or any other field of endeavour, we need to excel in that particular field,” he said.

Pakistan grew excellent cotton so our textiles were among the finest in the world; countries that invested in medical and allied science were the leaders in that field, he said, adding that those investing in space sciences and space technology had landed man on the moon and would perhaps land on Mars very soon.

Mr Hasan repeated most emphatically, “The factor responsible for the advancement or failure of most nations and societies hinges around education — or the lack of it.”

Countries that invested in the manufacture or consumption of knowledge became great, he said.

There was a time, he said, when the Muslims ruled Spain, part of what is now France, Hungary, Cyprus, Serbia, Sardinia, Bosnia, Albania, Persia, North Africa and the Middle East.

However, things began to go awry when we stopped giving education the importance it deserved.

He lamented that in 57 Muslim majority countries, there were only 600 universities, one for every 2.5 million, but in the US there were 6,000 universities and 8,500 in India.

Speaking of Pakistan, he said that 57 percent of the children in the 3-4 age group were not enrolled in school, the second worst rating in the world, and seven million children were out of school. Pakistan, he said, was spending a measly two percent of its GDP on education as against a regional average of four percent.

“If we want to be as great as we once were, we shall have to rediscover, reinvent ourselves. Hate, anger and rebellion will not turn us into winners. Schools and universities will,” he said.

Mr Hasan acknowledged the yeoman’s service the Jinnah Foundation and Liaquat Merchant, chairman of the Jinnah Foundation, were doing society. He lauded Liaquat Merchant, the Board of Trustees of the Foundation, and everyone associated with the setting up and running of the school.

Earlier, Liaquat Merchant, addressing the gathering, outlined the programme and activities of the school and the foundation at large. He informed the gathering that 50 percent of the teaching faculty were old students of the school.

Noted brokerage house owner and stock exchange personality Arif Habib said he hoped that the partnership of the Arif Habib group and the Jinnah Foundation would grow with the passage of each day.  He promised that his corporation would finance the repairs of the approach road to the school.

Later, the speakers and the guests witnessed a science exhibition set up by the children. The effort of the children was highly commendable. There stalls displaying issues like conservation of water, conservation of the environment, electric call bells, deforestation and a whole lot of others were highly commendable.

The children of the school are all those who belong to the working class background inhabiting the locality. The fees are a fraction of those charged by other schools. According to Mrs Mussarat Taher, the principal, around 30 percent of the children are paying nothing in light of their very pressing financial condition.

Talking to journalists, Mr Merchant said, “Heaven was never my target. I am doing this service to society to visualise my dream of an enlightened Pakistan, and to perpetuate the name of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.”

Datta, Anil. ‘It is education that makes a nation great’. The News, January 20, 2017.

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