A Pakistani academician and former Vice-Chancellor of Information Technology University (ITU), Lahore, has expressed his dismay regarding the plight of the country’s education system. According to Dr. Umar Saif, who also serves as an advisor to the United Nations Development Programme in Pakistan, a planned college campus has been turned into a Bakra Mandi (Goat Market). The project was intended to be a campus for the Information Technology University, which is comparable to MIT in Pakistan. However, it has turned into a parking lot and goat market, shattering the project’s dreams.
Saif tweeted, “We set out to build a small MIT for Pakistan in 2013. It is the equivalent of IIT in India.” The campus site has now been converted into a Bakra Mandi. A piece that he wrote for The Express Tribune in 2016 also explained how Saif aimed to establish a technology research university in Pakistan. This would follow MIT’s academic structure. With sincere affection, he explained that MIT for Pakistan was his dream.
Saif, who is also a former MIT lecturer, stated that he tried to convince Pakistan’s ruling elite about the importance of such a university, but to no avail. While Pakistan has no university ranked in the global top 700 universities, he was surprised to see everyone was quite pretentious about its higher education system. My enthusiasm was returned with snide remarks from ‘Pakistan doesn’t need more PhDs‘, ‘MIT hamari jooti, Pakistan is great‘, to ‘what do you know about Pakistan’s academic system?‘,” he stated.
This small “MIT for Pakistan” was propelled by a culture of research and entrepreneurship that he described as vital to advancing science, technology, and engineering research. He had stated in his article to the Pakistani daily that he hoped “MIT for Pakistan” would become a platform for scientific research, innovation, and entrepreneurship in Pakistan. Due to the government’s cut in recurring grants, many higher education universities in the country are also at risk of closing.