This was written a little while ago, and with an eye to comment on a report on Pakistani higher education. I think it suffers a bit, thus decontextualized, but hey. The citation for the 2009 report I mention is (I don’t know why the footnote or hyper-link didn’t make it into the column):
Athar Osama, Adil Najam, Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, Syed Zulfiqar Gilani & Christopher King. “Pakistan’s reform experiment.” Nature 461, 38-39 (3 September 2009). Accessed on 11/01/2010.
Manan Ahmed, “The Rest is History“, Express Tribune, April 25, 2010:
Concomitant critiques from the likes of Pervez Hoodbhoy articulated greater chasms between the goals of reform and their results; the faculty were startlingly being segregated between haves and have-nots, the research was sub-par and the curriculum lacked rigor. Less readily apparent in both the abundance of for-profit universities and in their collective shortcomings is the lack of a liberal education in any of these curriculums. As a historian, I believe, rather fundamentally, that a liberal education, one that foregrounds critical inquiry, investigations into the human condition and a multiplicity of views is the cornerstone of any open, democratic, civic-minded and liberal society.
I believe that the health of any civil society rests upon a perceived consensus on human rights, human dignity, and dialogue and discourse. These are all qualities that are only nourished through placing a cultural and societal emphasis on a broad liberal education. While we have a number of institutions engaged in Fine Arts, there is no bastion of liberal education in Pakistan. There is no space for the Engineering or Medical student to learn how to think, to ask the Big Question, to participate in the life of the mind. But there is no greater need, at this juncture, than the need for critical humanistic scholarship.
Also, my first column in homistan!