Muscat: When young Mohsin Ali, a Pakistani topper who broke the 126-year-old academic record by securing the highest marks at BA/BSc level in the country, spoke of the circumstances he had to overcome to continue his education, everyone in a packed Pakistan School Muscat hall was on their feet and clapping.

The son of a poor father who bakes naan (bread) to support his family in Faisalabad, Mohsin received a standing ovation from  a crowd of who’s who of the Pakistani community in Oman, including former and current PSM toppers, who were all moved by Mohsin’s determination to succeed.

Pakistan has countless tales of excellence to tell in every walk of life, particularly in the field of education, where the country has seen a quiet revolution taking place in the last decade or so. This might explain why many Pakistani universities have received a creditable place in world and Asian rankings, a fact much of the public does not know in this age of instant communications.

The education sector in Pakistan has seen phenomenal growth in recent years. The number of university campuses in Pakistan has increased from over 100 to 258, including the establishment of 41 new universities under a strict set of criteria; the number of internationally accepted quality research publications and journals has risen to thousands each year; campuses throughout the country have access to top quality international research papers through a network of virtual libraries; student enrolment at universities has rocketed from 330,000 to over one million, and the increase in the percentage of women in the universities has swelled from 36 per cent to 46 per cent.

Mohsin’s was not a lone example on display. There were as many as 36 top position holders from various educational institutions throughout Pakistan, travelling to Europe as part of the Government of Punjab’s Youth Development Programme.

Also, Hania Usman of King Edward Medical University, which was established in 1860, moved the audience with her story of excellence.

The 41-member Pakistani delegation was headed by Prof. Dr Khaliq ur Rehman, vice-chancellor, Government College University, Lahore, and accompanied by director-general protocol, Government of Punjab and the deputy secretary to the chief minister of Punjab.

Addressing the gathering, K. K. Ahsan Wagan, charge d’affaires at the Embassy of Pakistan, spoke about education in Oman, Pakistan-Oman education ties and the tremendous growth in Oman’s education sector under the leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

“After HM’s historic visit to Pakistan in 2001, Pakistan-Oman ties have seen greater momentum in the field of education and a memorandum was signed between SQU and Agriculture University of Faisalabad. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is keen to see new linkages being established between the educational institutions of the two countries and the visit of this delegation is a step in the right direction. It is heartening to note that many Omani students are currently studying in Pakistani universities,” said Ahsan Wagan.

The head of delegation, Prof Khaliq, said that all top position holders were selected from different parts of Pakistan on the basis of their academic achievements. “Such initiatives will provide them an excellent opportunity to witness various developments undertaken by the developed countries in the field of education,” he said.

The delegation visited SQU and affiliated colleges the next day before flying to London, the first destination on their tour of Europe.

source: Times of Oman