Pak-LIS News
Feb-Apr 2002, Vol. 2, No.2-4

 

Contents

Editorial

The IT Policy: Education, Youth and Libraries

Professional News

TMA Closing Only Library in Faisalabad

Electronic Islamic Media-monitoring and Archiving Network (EIMAN) Project Description and Invitation to Join

Personal Announcements

Congratulations

 

 

Guest Editorial

The IT Policy:Education, Youth and Libraries

Prof. Dr. Nasim Fatima, Chairperson, Department of Library and Information Science, University of Karachi, Karachi 75270, Pakistan

Information seeking is a human right, but information literacy can be achieved only by popularizing Information Technology. The Government of Pakistan (GoP) is trying to increase the computer literacy rate and use of Information Technology in young adults and women in Pakistan. The IT Policy* in this regard is the key action in this dimension.


In the IT Policy, IT education includes degree programs, while IT training comprises short courses that provide focused hands-on-skill in specific IT areas, where manpower is needed urgently. Such training could be provided to fresh graduates as well as underemployed youth. For informal education, libraries and media centers can play a vital role. Libraries are the best source of generating, handling, classifying and disseminating information to end-users. The present information society requires the setup of electronic/virtual libraries for all stages of learning. This is the proper time to switch over to virtual libraries, from traditional libraries, which ensure an equitable access to world information.

Computer assisted learning and other IT tools aid in the teaching process and distance learning. Therefore it seems necessary to include a compulsory modern and up-to-date computer literacy module in the matriculation curriculum. It is proposed in IT policy 'make training in the use of IT applications compulsory for all degree courses within the next three years.' For implementation it further suggests 'attract the best students by establishing scholarships and Qarz-e-Hasna schemes for IT education and training.'

What we need is to build the younger generation for future challenges. The youth has to be familiarized with Information Technology at the graduate level of education. There is a provision for young adults in IT Policy which states "students going to IT profession will study the discipline in detail, the other graduates should be made to study IT as a compulsory subject of 100 marks." In this way they will become advocates of IT usage when they occupy their official seats after completion of their educational career.

To educate and train people with special needs in order to give them equal opportunity in the society is the important aspect of making a healthy and informative society. The Internet is the means by which people communicate and access information. Government is trying to establish a National Educational Extranet (linked to the Internet) to enable sharing among educational institutions of electronic libraries, of teaching and research materials and faculty. By the use of Information Technology the following benefits could be achieved:

  1. Easier sharing of data by networking on different levels
  2. Easier sharing of skills by video-conferencing
  3. Improve quality of information products
  4. Economic usage of resources on national and international level

Standard library services cannot be performed without human resource development in libraries as well as educational institutions. The GoP has planned very carefully to develop human resources in the country. The main allocation of funds has been foreseen for training, retraining and human resource development. Rs.150 million is the total cost estimation for provision of low cost PCs to schools and Rs.600 million will be spent on faculty training projects. 'Short refresher courses (5-10 days) in each of the core areas of the BS-CS and BS-CE curriculum would be arranged. Teacher-training to develop teachers for short courses and PGD programs would be arranged to retrain existing science teachers and fresh graduates'

It is suggested that in other disciplines of Social and Human Sciences the same practice should be made necessary for teachers and youth to become computer literate at all levels of education. Public universities and colleges all over Pakistan should collaborate with private sector for conducting training programs during vacations.

To expand provision and use of Internet in Pakistan it is necessary to provide low cost and reliable access to the international/local bandwidth connectivity, low cost access to networked computers, a base of educated and trained users and providers and support for the national Internet content. To provide protection and enhance confidence of users and providers of information services certain acts have been framed.

  1. Digital Signature Act
  2. Computer Crimes Act
  3. Tele-medicine Development Act
  4. Intellectual Property and Copyright Act

With the enactment of these acts the following would be developed and implemented all over Pakistan:

To create databases, platforms and to access information pathways it is compulsory to promote local software development for local needs as well as export of local information products. The GoP has launched the standardized Urdu Code Plate and has a concerned plan to encourage the development of open source and licensable Urdu software. This would enable plug-ins for popular office and email packages to be made available. This initiative is expected to drive the development of other Urdu and regional software packages for word processing and database applications.

This is the first time that 'a provision is made to facilitate and encourage the training and hiring of women in IT.' It will help to reduce unemployment and utilize this largely untapped human resource. Women can be very productive in large numbers in all sectors of the IT industry. In preparing new databases, new software, preparing training modules, creating information and image banks women can contribute much for the national development with special reference to virtual libraries.

It is hoped that the successful implementation of the IT Policy would result in a very conducive infrastructure for the overall prosperity of Pakistan. Prof. Dr. Nasim Fatima Chairperson [Contents]

Professional News

TMA Closing Only Library in Faisalabad

FAISALABAD, Feb 20: The Tehsil Municipal Administration has decided to close down the only library in the city. The librarian has reportedly been directed to immediately shift all the books and journals from the library to the TMA complex and vacate the building.

 

The books would be stored in an abandoned room of the TMA complex. The Municipal Library was set up in 1953 by the then city administration. It has thousands of books on variety of subjects. Over 200 people visit the library daily which is situated in the heart of the city. More than 1,000 people have the membership.

 

Sources told this correspondent that an 'influential' man wanted to get hold of the library premises and use it for commercial purposes. They said that the offices of the Faisalabad Deaf Association, adjacent to the Municipal Library, would also be got vacated and the entire premises would be leased out to the 'influential' man on nominal rates.

 

When contacted, a spokesman said that it was not the responsibility of the TMA to run the library for the citizens under the new set up. The union councils were responsible for providing such facilities to the people.

"The decision to get the Municipal Library vacated is being taken in the larger interest of the citizens. Details would be made public in the near future."

 

Condemning the decision, a number of students' organizations have demanded that the Punjab governor should order the TMA high-ups to withdraw the decision. [Contents]