What we must learn and then teach
Who can deny the importance of professionalism and professional training in the modern age? Professional training enables a person to perform well in the profession and fully participate into the socio-economic life of a country. It flames hidden potential and sharpens raw intellect. The best output of a human body and brain can be associated with physical and mental training of an individual. The 21st century’s miracles have been possible only due to the investment in human resource development. The technological advancement in Japan, the computer soft ware invention in the United States, mastery in the social sciences in the United Kingdom, the medical research in Germany, and the industry revolution in China depends on mega investment in professional training. The spirit of professionalism from sports to arts and business to literature has produced healthy competition amongst countries. In this regard, our country has also shown progress in some fields and lagging behind in others.
Some professionals (naming a few) have made significant contribution in their fields. For example, Muhammad Ali Jinnah set high standards of personal and professional integrity in the legal profession. AK.Brohi, Khalid M Ishaq , Aamer Raza A.Khan, Qazi Faiz Isa, Hamid Khan, Ahsan Rizvi, Mansur Ali Shah, and Ayesha A Malik are eminent jurists. Dr Muhammad Munir, Hamyoun Ihsan, and Dr Shahbaz Ahmad Cheema are dedicated professors of law. Iqbal, Faiz, Mian Muhammad Baksh, Sultan Bahu, Bulleh Shah, Waris Shah and Sharif Kunjahi are great poets. Ashfaq Ahmad and Wasif Ali Wasif are wise sufi saints. Fatima Jinnah, Parveen Shakir, Noor Jehan, and Benazir Bhutto will be remembered for their struggle, humanity, and melodious voice. And, who can forget Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, a great musician? Dr Safdar Mahmood, Eqbal Ahmad, and Tariq Ali are acknowledged historians, political scientists, and writers. Major Aziz Bhatti, Shabbir Sharif (nishan e haider), and Raheel Shareef set a history of sacrifice and courage. Hameed Nizami, Arif Nizami, and Mir Khalil ur Rehman are stalwarts of journalism in Pakistan. Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan is a great scientist. Abdul Sattar Edhi is a prominent philanthropist, social activist, ascetic, and humanitarian. Imran Khan was a good sportsman. Azhar Hassan Nadeem, Tariq Khosa and Zulfiqar Cheema are known for their integrity and impeachable character in the police service of Pakistan.
At the same time, we are facing dearth of professionals in our country. Pakistan is still an underdeveloped or a developing country. It is facing unprecedented challenges of terrorism, poverty, illiteracy or poor literacy, law and order, corruption, nepotism, political and administrative chaos, etc. This is also a stark fact that we lack in coordinated, coherent, and consistent national policies. We seem to rely on persons than on institutions. Our institutions need a structural overhauling to meet the above challenges. We need trained human resource in every field. Here I may share some personal observations regarding our institutions of professional training having delivered lectures at National Defence University, National Police Academy, Intelligence Bureau Academy, Foreign Service Academy, International Islamic University (Islamabad), and National Prison Staff Academy/CJSTI, Management of Professional Development Department/MPDD (previously Punjab Civil Service Academy), Punjab Judicial Academy , and University Law College, University of the Punjab (Lahore). I was also invited at SOAS, University of London as a visiting scholar. I visited Cambridge, Oxford, Royal College of Defense Studies, and Law Society of England.
I compare my experience with the professional training institutions in Pakistan with the institutions abroad and notice that our institutions are working without learning much from the training institutions in other parts of the world. We have good infrastructure but lack in management and training part. We emphasise more on lecturing and less on discussion. Our lectures mostly rely on out-dated knowledge missing the latest research in the field. The course participants are hardly compelled to read and encouraged to question. Our institutions further lack access to on-line data bases which are available in the institutions of training and renowned seats of learning. Our libraries lack in subscribing cutting-edge research journals and books on the subject. Now, some suggestions for improvement.
We need to focus on creativity and discussion. We need to encourage the participants to apply similar concepts in different contexts and see how the same concept produces a different result while interacting with different set of facts. I mean learning must be made a practical activity (case study) and not merely a prolonged listening exercise. The participants should be allowed to challenge the course commander, course coordinator,and guest speaker (notwithstanding the title). In fact, the teacher/trainer is merely a facilitator and nothing more. Let’s be open and frank in our discussions while maintaining appreciation and respect for the opinion of each other. In the world of wisdom stature/titles do not matter but ‘the knowledge’. So, the trainees must be encouraged to challenge the existing theories, norms, codes, and to review their ideas in the light of latest philosophical, political, historical, technological, scientific, theological, and psychological knowledge. This will help them thinking beyond the boundaries to find viable solutions for the present day issues facing Pakistan. The fresh stream of knowledge will thus provide required motivation for action in the right direction. In the end, we will have to confront authoritarian and extremist narratives promoting intellectual pluralism in our society while maintaining an appreciation for order in collaboration with the institutions of the state.