Karachi – Mumbai Educational Forum: A Research Essay by M. Shaikh
One of the most important problems being faced by the South Asian nations at present relates to education and literacy. It is irony that the largest mass of illiterate and uneducated people in the entire world lives in the South Asian region, which was center of the world’s greatest civilization once upon a time. Lack of education has rendered the region to host of evils from poverty to honor killing and from child-labour to feudalism.
Karachi and Mumbai, being the regional hubs of economy, trade, commerce, culture, journalism, arts and crafts, can also provide intellectual leadership to the region in the realm of education. This could be facilitated by establishment of “Karachi-Mumbai Educational Forum” under the auspices of South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA), where leading educationists and academics of both the cities could: (a) Benefit from each other’s experiences (b) Bring the educational communities of the two cities closer and (c) Work for spread of education in the region.
The Forum could be launched during the Pakistani delegation’s ensuing visit to Mumbai, if the SAFMA chapter in Mumbai could arrange a meeting of few leading educationists of that city with the educationists of Karachi. The meetings of the educationists from the two cities can take place in sidelines of the major events. These ties could be further strengthened during the Indian delegation’s visit to Karachi in June. Once the Forum is established and strengthened, it could undertake following activities:
Visits by Leading Academics: Under this program, the delegations of leading educationists, academics and university professors may undertake visits of the two cities on reciprocal basis to exchange their experiences, develop understanding about each other’s systems of education, develop strategies to further strengthen the educational systems and help the region rid of the evils of illiteracy and lack of education
Visits by Talented Students: Under this program, the delegations of most talented and leading post-secondary students can visit the two cities on reciprocal basis for short durations (from 3 to 7 days) in order to understand each other’s educational system and familiarize themselves with leading educational institutions.
Promotion of Books: Karachi and Mumbai are the centers of publication of scholarly, literary and journalistic works in the region. But, unfortunately, there is a very little avenue open for availability of these works across the borders. The Forum could arrange book exhibitions inviting publishers of both the cities to participate, thus providing the academics and students to benefit from this exchange of scholarly works.
Seminars and Conferences: The Forum would also organize seminars and conferences on themes of mutual interest like female education, media education, gender inequalities, child labor, drug abuse etc. These events would provide a platform to the engines of civil society in both the cities to reinforce and strengthen their efforts aimed at eradication of such evils from their social fabrics.
In addition to these few initiatives that could be undertaken by the proposed Karachi-Mumbai Educational Forum, there may be a host of other ideas and initiatives that could be undertaken. The objectives and the undertakings of the Forum could be further developed in the Sub-Committees meeting in Mumbai and Karachi during SAFMA Delegation’s visit to the two cities as discussed above.
Footnote: The theme was agreed upon in Mumbai and a MOU was signed last year by me, the Vice Chancellor of Bombay University and the representatives of SAFMA