Founding Pro-chancellor, Babar Sb, Rector, Shahid Sb, Osman Sb, Dean Andrabi, colleagues and the MPhil Class of 2021, askm.
It’s really good to be here to welcome you.
One of my favourite quotes is from the visionary H.G. Wells who described the essence of education as:
Quote: “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.” Unquote.
This race, and I believe this with all my heart, and I think all of you believe as well… that education is going to win that race. This is a relay race where pass on the baton of how we learn to another, and this School of Education is well positioned to lead the race.
Unlike many other programs in higher education, the MPhil attracts women. This is a victory for LUMS because when it comes to human development, women role models are essential and we must break new barriers to strengthen their leadership. In fact, if we disproportionately invested in women’s education, we will win that race.
Also unlike many other programs, the MPhil attracts leaders. How many of the students here feel they have leadership experience at whatever level?
This is another victory for LUMS. We have much to learn from you.
But everyone here is aspiring an education that amplifies a purpose. The etymology of the word “education” is derived from “edukatchio and eduche” which is to lead, to conduct, to raise and to uplift others. Education is a reminder that our purpose is greater than ourselves.
Part of that purpose will be derived from the world-class knowledge and curriculum you are about to experience. And part of it will be derived from an unwritten curriculum. The unwritten curriculum boils down to the people you will spend your time with.
Here’s another one of my favourite quotes from the anthropologist Margaret Meade who challenged the conventional wisdom of doing it alone and said:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has”.
That world you want to change is at your doorstep. The opportunities to make a difference in Pakistan are at your doorstep. Pakistan’s demographic dividend is staggering. I’ve lived mostly in Canada, the 2nd largest country in the world. I remind myself that 2/3 of all Canadians, or over 24 million people are equal to as many young children in Pakistan who are out-of-school. They are at your doorstep.
I know Dean Andrabi is a data guy and keen for you to learn how to measure impact. We also know that the education metrics of Pakistan compare poorly with our South Asian neighbours who have similar per capita income. But this presents a great opportunity to make a difference. And the point is, the world we want to change is not in South Asia, it is on our doorstep.
The small groups Mead referred can certainly be found within the SOE and you will spend a lot of time with them. But I encourage you to seek partnerships from your colleagues in the Schools of Business, HSS, Science and Engineering and Law. They too seek purpose and you must seek them out as well.
So, class of 2021, go ahead and dream about making a difference in the fastest growing sector in Pakistan, and amplify your purpose.
Most of your interventions won’t win awards or public accolades but you will win the hearts and minds that subsume every other discipline at LUMS.
This is because the mother of all disciplines is education and while we are an academic institution offering specializations, we are also united by shared cultural traditions. Cultural education means building in ourselves the capacity for reflection – about our own culture and the culture of others.
So, let us look through the lens of philosophy, the arts and science and everything else that LUMS offers, to build our cultural self-conscientiousness as citizens of the 21st century.
Let me conclude by saying that we, the administration, the staff and your teachers – especially your teachers, we are by your side throughout your journey here at LUMS – in the hallways, the weekly events, at the sports facilities and of course at your convocation! I personally look forward to see you at a seminar and learn from you.
Good luck. Thank you, and God Bless!