Are there any IT companies in Pakistan

Pakistan before the IT education revolution

Pakistan's Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz lectured "Education, Education, Education" on the sidelines of the IT trade fair ITCN Asia when asked by heise online what the key to the economic success of India's western neighbor is. "If almost 50 percent of Pakistanis can neither read nor write, then the situation is unsatisfactory and I will continue to fight for every child in the country to have the chance of an education."

Aziz, a technocrat who switched from Pakistani business to politics, recognized the signs of the times a long time ago. The country's booming IT industry is demanding more and more computer professionals who are good at math, computer science, and English. But the reality in Pakistan's educational landscape is sobering to depressing: Almost 80 percent of women in the country cannot read or write, less than a third could or cannot attend school. In rural areas in particular, many of the country's 220,000 schools have no houses, no electricity, no drinking water, and no toilet. Many do not have the basic equipment that enables successful learning. Pakistan is the most illiterate country in South Asia.

"We are working on giving all schools in the country the opportunity to have Internet access." IT Minister Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari, confronted with the conditions in Pakistan's schools, is optimistic across the board. "For cost reasons, we will not be able to equip all schools with sufficient computers. It will be some time before we can get there." But even UNESCO programs and extensive donations from the USA and Europe cannot remedy the precarious financial situation of the Ministry of Education in the short term.

Pakistan invests only 2.1 percent of its gross domestic product in education. However, the UN is demanding a budget share of 4 percent. India now fulfills this requirement. In Pakistan, such numbers are still a long way off. But if a school finds private sponsors to purchase IT hardware, then it should also be able to go online, Leghari told heise online. There is an enormous quality gap in Pakistan between state schools and the often expensive private schools. The reputation of the state schools is miserable due to a lack of teacher qualifications - and the private schools, which also have computer and IT specialist teachers, are unaffordable for the majority of Pakistanis. A well-equipped private school in the capital, Islamabad, costs 5,000 to 8,000 rupees per month, the equivalent of up to 100 euros. A taxi driver in the capital costs 150 rupees a day, less than two euros.

"It's true, Pakistan's education system is ailing and sick," explains Naeem Zafar. The high-tech specialist knows what he's talking about, was born and raised in Pakistan, attended colleges in Turkey, completed his electrical engineering degree in the USA, was the managing director of various IT companies in Silicon Valley and is now a lecturer at Berkley University of California. He stated categorically: "Pakistan has made enormous strides in the past ten years. Today, the country’s colleges and universities are highly trained computer specialists and software developers. If this trend continues, Pakistan will be able to compete with India in just a few years. "

Zafar's Concordia Ventures is instrumental in developing Pakistan's first virtual university. He invests in teacher training in Pakistan and was enthusiastic about the optimism that was felt in Pakistan's port city of Karachi until yesterday during the seventh ITCN Asia. While the computer industry in India has long since suffered from periods of wear and tear on the levels after the boom, Pakistan is a classic start-up country with the corresponding business opportunities: 200,000 schools need computers for teachers and students, need training in English and IT Hardware and software need broadband cable or satellite-controlled internet access.

"100 million of Pakistan's 160 million citizens are under 25 years of age - and this potential of educable young people is an enormous wealth of the country," estimates Zafar. According to the expert, every rupee invested in IT training and computers for schools will soon pay for itself through growing government revenues. What began under Nawaz Sharif, namely the computerization of society, which was continued under the President, General Pervez Musharraf, on the grounds of Asia's largest IT trade fair, should not fail due to a lack of finances. For him it would be a waste of time and, in the medium term, a waste of money not to invest additional funds in the training of the future generation of computer kids and instead to alienate at least two thirds of the state budget for military purposes. Increased costs for IT specialists in India mean job prospects for the future for many Pakistanis. The key to success is simply, as Prime Minister Aziz says, "Education, Education, Education." (Günther Keiffenheim) / (anw)

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