The Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan’s contribution towards educating the future generations of researchers and scientists is a marvelous program. The initiative provides the Pakistani youth with representation both at international & domestic forums. Just on the basis of his/her talent and high educational interest, an ordinary Pakistani could find the most suitable opportunity to serve his quest for knowledge. The scholarships given by the HEC in Pakistan can be classified as one of the most popular professional incentives in South Asia. And if the government of Pakistan continues to fund the young scientists’ talent and give them much required opportunities, it would a direct contribution to match the international standards of scientific development, and thereby proving that serving the educational needs of Pakistani youth is the answer to our future needs, especially in the fields of agriculture, energy, physics, chemistry, Information Technology, Tele communication, software engineering and social sciences.
After learning new and more advanced techniques from foreign universities and organizations, Pakistani scholars will be able to improve their capabilities to create better work environment and ethics in Pakistan. Thus, transforming the relations between current work-ethics into an extremely competitive and better environment for future generations of scientists is the answer to create better conditions. My example perfectly fits to this model because I am amongst one of the fortunate youths of Pakistan who got opportunity to study at University of St-Andrews, Scotland, UK. The GC University Lahore, Pakistan, one of the leading and oldest institutions must also be appreciated for providing an excellent platform to its young & talented scholars to represent them at the world’s most famous and important universities. Therefore, I profoundly appreciate the combined efforts of administration and teaching faculty of this prestigious institute to support its talent. I am a lecturer and doing PhD at GC University Lahore.
I got the scholarship from HEC Pakistan to carry out a part of my research in Scotland’s oldest, and world top ranking university of St. Andrews. The St Andrews is Scotland’s first university and the third oldest in the English-speaking world, founded in 1413, over six centuries it has established a reputation as one of Europe’s leading and most distinctive centers for teaching and research. Under the supervision of Dr. Catherine Botting, Head of the BRSC, I entered at the BSRC Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics facility. The academic environment and the leadership of Dr. Catherine significantly enhanced my comprehension capacity of the subject, and thereby given me a perfect start. I found Dr. Catherine as one of the most cooperative academics, who by the way always not only made me feel at home, but also had shown great interest and consent to collaborate with us in future research projects. The St. Andrews University welcomes openheartedly to everyone. I and other Muslim girls wore scarves with full liberty. There were no religious restrictions upon us of any kind, which was an encouraging sign of relief. We regularly offered our prayers at Chaplaincy of the University, and got together with other Muslim colleagues at Iftar during the month of Ramadan. These gatherings have created a unique environment of academic-friendly environment. All my appreciation go to HEC Pakistan of its support to prepare future scientists. These visits to excellent seats of learning by those who could not have afforded to study abroad, although they have all the proven academic record and talent, shows an ultimate commitment of HEC to serve the future of higher education in Pakistan.
To sum up, GC University Lahore too has the honour of producing two Nobel laureates, Dr Hargobind Khorana and Dr Abdusalam in the past. Until now, Pakistan has produced one Nobel laureate, but if the history to be followed, Pakistan needs to devote more resources in education sector. The imminent progress of Pakistan’s scientists’ community is comprehensively connected to future education strategy of government. The government should award scholarships, in order for the young talent to broaden their vision in research. This policy will directly impact the way we approach the international standards. The history of the United Kingdom for example demonstrates that most of their scientific progress occurred due to the policy of maximum contribution to their higher education sector. Pakistan too can set up such example, although HEC has achieved a tremendous progress.
On the sidelines, I also had the opportunity to attend the Robert burns (the National poet of Scotland) night on January 28, 2012. The main idea behind this celebration was that every student should present poems of their respective national poets. I too had the honour to recite the poem “the Love” of our National poet, Dr Allama Muhammad Iqbal with its English translation. The recitation was very well received by the multiracial audience. I also had the opportunity to attend the 10th East Midlands Proteomics Workshop, Loughborough University, England. I presented my research paper there.
To be concluded, the academic trip to St. Andrews has been a wonderful experience both in terms of learning and conveying traditional Pakistani religious and cultural values. I truly appreciate all the efforts of HEC Pakistan, GC University Lahore and University of St. Andrews for making this academic pilgrimage fruitful.
Khadija Shabbiri, Lecturer & PhD Fellow, Department of Chemistry, GC University Lahore, Pakistan