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Higher Education Outreach

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Education is considered the backbone in shaping the country’s future course of Action. The great nations of the World who have achieved tremendous growth and Success, and emerged as the most developed countries of the world, have especially focused on Education- preferably the Professional Higher Education in the field of Engineering, Medicine, Finance and Planning. The developed nations also have focused on the advancement of science and technology-based education and bridged the gaps in Educational outreach.

The countries like Japan, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, America, Australia, and England have reached the heights of Success through Education. The Average Literacy rates in these countries are above 90% as compared to other countries.

The Developed Nations of the World have brought many innovations in education, Information and Communication Technologies and built advanced governance System and E-Government Initiatives. Such initiatives have eased the process of Education outreach. The online infrastructure of these developed nations have prompted the developing nations like Pakistan to learn from these countries and improve the Education Information Technologies and improve the Education Standards from Primary to Secondary, and from College Education to University Education.

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) formerly the University Grants Commission (UGC) has played a vital role in building linkages between the universities in lieu of  Research and Academic Excellence. Especially the former HEC Chairman Dr Atta-ur-Rahman’ tenure is considered the golden era  for  Improving  the spectrum of Research industries and Capacity Building of  The Universities and Degree awarding Institutes DAI’s. He also set the SOP’s of HEC and made it a Central regulatory Body of Higher Education Institutes and Introduced the ranking system in the Universities to improve the quality of education and promoted research-oriented Education at Graduate and Post Gradual level .

Despite all this, the higher Education outreach is still the far cry for rural population as there is a great dearth of Higher Education Institutes in Rural areas of Pakistan.Even the existing Institutes in the Rural areas are not imparting the Modern Education since the same obsolete type of Teaching Methodology is adopted in these Institutes. Even at the Degree Colleges fall short in imparting standardized Education on Modern lines as being offered at the Reputed Institutes .

As a result, the number of Graduates produced by Rural Area Institutes per year , is too big but their Skills are not the same as compared to the Graduates of Urban Area Institutes. The Reasons are several but the main reasons are  the lack of modern laboratories, lack of ICT based facilities, lack highly qualified Faculty and Trained Administrative & Managerial Staff to boost the academic Excellence of the  Institution and transform it into an Ideal Institute to set the precedence  for those who follow.

The Rural and Urban Divide has also divided the quality of Education  imparted and the degrees are offered at District and Tehseel Level. If we speak of Sindh only, the virus of Copy Culture have plagued the very roots of our Degree Level education and the Production is very substandard.so much so ,that the college graduates are not able to clear the Entry tests of various universities to pursue Master Level Studies .

Unfortunately, the situation becomes miserable when we come to know that in Sindh and Other Provinces, there are only Degree colleges for Science Students offering Regular Admissions in F.Sc Pre-Medical and Pre-Engineering Groups whereas limited admissions are offered to Arts or Humanities Students at Tehseel Level. In Addition to these, the affiliated colleges also offer regular Admissions in B.Sc and B.A but apart from the colleges of Big Cities, the attendance Ratio in Rural or Tehseel Level  is very nominal and the classes are not run properly for such Degree Level students due  to various reasons such lack of required Staff , Syllabus and Books ,funds and the interest of Students due to socio Economic Conditions .

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Ironically, students without guidance and career counseling take admissions either by Parents Wish or  on their own  preferably in Engineering and Medical Groups but they do not know that there are other fields such as commerce, computer science and Fine Arts for Intermediate Students to opt for  if they are willing to take admissions in these groups other than  traditional pre-Engineering and Pre-Medical groups.  The main reason is that there is no any college at Tehseel or District Level to offer Commerce, Computer Science and Fine Arts in Sindh . Compellingly, most of the students seek admissions at Science Colleges as they donot have alternate Options. .

The Education in Punjab is considered more standard as compared to other provinces since in Punjab, every college offers admissions in Pre-Engineering, Pre-Medical, Commerce, Fine Arts and Computer Science. Even their degree Classes are standardized and faculty is also efficient to  impart quality based Education  . The Education in KP has been improved tremendously under current PTI regime specially they have focused the Secondary Education and College Education . Even Baluchistan has improved Education Spectrum ,yet it has limited number of Higher Education Institutes and DAI’s that is only 8.

The massive urbanization and ever-increasing population warrants to establish more Higher Education institutes at Urban and Rural areas so that rural population may seek higher Education at Graduate and Post Graduate level at their hometown and head to Bigger cities for Research-based advance Education such as M.Phil, PhD, M.E, D.E  etc. This will greatly help in minimizing overcrowding in Higher Education Institutes as you all know that quantity affects the quality of Education.

The Recent statistics show that after Census 2017 that Pakistan needs more Universities, Schools and colleges, Hospitals for People to accommodate and facilitate.

The Demand of Higher Education has been ever increasing and several Higher Education Institutes both in Public and Private Sector are being established in urban areas but the rural areas are deprived of Higher Education Institutes.

If we take a look at  Higher Education Institutes at Division level in Sindh, We will come to know that Larkana Division has a One Medical University, One Engineering College, One General University Campus of Sindh University  at Larkana city only, A New Campus of SALU has been established at Shahdadkot, Shikarpur  to accommodate the Rural and Population of about 6192380  of Division Larkana .  There is no any Higher Education Institute at District Level, especially in District Kashmore and Jacobabad.

It is also ironic that as per Census 2017, District Kashmore has the population of 1089169, yet there is only single Degree College at Kandhkot for Three Tehseels i.e. Kandhkot, Kashmore and Kandhkot. Fortunately, a new Degree college has recently been established at Karampur but that too is without SNE may take a year to function properly .

More Over ,The province of Punjab Tops with Maximum number of Universities and Degree Awarding Institutes DAI’s with 60  both in Public and Private Sector , followed by Sindh with 55 HEI’s  in Public and Private Sector , KP with 35 Number of HEI’s in Public and Private Sector and fourthly only 8 Universities in Baluchistan.

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Additionally, there are 7 universities in Azad Jammu & Kashmir out of which One university namely Al-Khair University has been banned for Degree Verification. It is worthy to mention here that there are 20 universities in Federal Capital Islamabad.

HEC website also shows that there total 186 Universities /DAI’s to accommodate students from the population of 20,77,74,520  of Pakistan.  The 186 HEI’s/DAI’s are just salt in flour for the ever-increasing population of Pakistan since we need more HEI’s and DAI’s .

It is also an irony that from 186   HEI’s and DAI’s, most of HEI’s and DAI’s  are established at Big cities such as Karachi with 41, Lahore with 34, Islamabad with 20  respectively. The Number shows that most of these HEI’s and DAI’s are available to Urban Population whereas  Rural Population has only limited chances for getting admission in Medical, Engineering College or General University in comparison to Urban  Population.

This divide is further aggravated when the need arises for a Professional Accountancy Institutes such as Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP) Karachi and Institute of Management Accountants of Pakistan (ICMAP) Karachi. These Accountancy specific Institutes are available for Urban Population such as the metropolitan city of Karachi only. There may  be very few private Accountancy Colleges in other provinces but the authorized Accountancy colleges are only ICAP and ICMAP offering CA, ICMA Degree for Accounting and Auditing Professionals.

It is also recommended that ICAP and ICMAP should establish their campuses at other cities to facilitate the rural Population to extend Higher Education outreach. Furthermore, the HEC ‘s plan to establish District based campuses of various Medical, Engineering and General University campuses is a good initiative but  the question arises that whether these campuses will impart the same level of Standardized Education as these do at their main campuses –is  a big concern since at campus  they will have limited resources, staff  and limited Technology to impart Education and will offer only Graduate and Post Graduate Degrees .

It is also the great concern that most of the campuses are established without need-based analysis and influenced by Political will. Such campuses fail to cater to  the needs of the community.

HEC should personally monitor the Campuses Establishment, keeping in view the Population Needs and Requirements for such HEI or DAI campus.

The HEC should also expedite the process of Proposed HEI’s and DAI’s campuses so that drop out ratio may be minimized after Intermediate. Especially, the upper Sindh i.e. Sukkur and  Larkana Division may have more HEI’s and DAI’s especially Medical, Engineering and General Universities since Sukkur is 3rd Biggest City of Sindh having no any General university Except the IBA-Sukkur.

District Kashmore immediately requires two Degree Colleges for Both boys and Girls and a General university Campus, an Engineering College and a Medical College to cater to the needs of 1089169 Population and the bordering Districts of Punjab i.e Rajanpur and Dera Bugti District of Baluchistan as Kashmore is Gateway to Sindh for People coming from Punjab and Baluchistan province.

It is very important to know that  If our Rulers want to build the nation then Higher Education is necessary to impart professional education and enable the people to do research in multiple fields and build the foundations Knowledge Driven Economy.

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Education

Revamping College Education-The Challenges and Prospects

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College education has been the most neglected segment in Pakistan especially in Sindh where colleges are not provided with the development funds, modern methods of teaching, language, and computer labs and interactive classrooms. The obsolete promotions system and the old nomenclature of posts date back to the 1980s, non-provision of scholarships for higher education to government college teachers, so much so that the heads of colleges are not appointed based on administrative skills and competence.

The non-existence of any clear rules and recruitment policy for the appointment of principals in the government colleges have wreaked havoc with college education outreach and standards since the principals being unaware of even ABC of audit and accounting, DDO powers, responsibilities, drafting and correspondence, communication, office administration, linkages, financial audit, monitoring and evaluation of teachers and students’ outputs, curriculum development, course plan, planning development schemes such as repair and renovation of the college building and procurement procedure.

These trivial issues might have been resolved at the college level, had there been qualified and competent Principals having problem-solving skills and management skills

Mostly the professors in BPS-19 and BPS-20 are posted on administrative or management cadres such as regional directors, DGs and Chairman BISEs. There is no College Teachers Training Institute (CTTI) that may impart training to newly appointed lecturers and other staff that it may increase their productivity. Even representation in the college education department is denied and usurped by powerful PAS, PSS, PCS, PMS and OMG officers who are unaware of the college matters and issues.

Teachers dejected and disillusioned over delayed promotions, often take 18 years to the next grade yet some unfortunate ones get promotions after reaching the superannuation or after retirement. Earlier, the college teachers were provided move over to the next grade after completing their minimum service slab on the given scale but later it was withdrawn.Later, the time scale was granted to the teachers of school education such as PSTs, JSTs and HSTs, and the subject specialists of higher secondary schools, but the college education or higher education teachers were denied these monetary benefits since it provided respite against delayed DPC (Departmental Promotion Committee) by Board I and II to consider the cases of promotions from BS-17 to BS-20 respectively.

It is alarming that some teachers retire serving on the same grade throughout their service period and some get only one promotion to the next grade, given the obsolete promotion system and the so-called Four Tier i.e. Grade wise promotions and appointment for BS-17, BS-18, BS-19, and BS-20.

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Teachers’ Unions in all four provinces i.e. SPLA (Sindh), KPLA (KPK), BPLA (Baluchistan) and PPLA (Punjab) have protested for their rights and have been successful in getting their demands approved except SPLA, owing to internal differences, insincerity, individualism and disintegration on the basis of lack of consensus and no consultation with the college fraternity.

The old players of SPLA went on a solo flight and kept the members of  SPLA in limbo that resulted in their downfall who sabotaged the real voice of college teachers and dragged the college teachers in the quagmire of disappointment, deprivation, and injustice. The disparities still continue haunting the college fraternity.

The college teachers were provided move over to next grade after completing their minimum service slab in the given scale but later it was withdrawn

Some progressive young leaders rose up to win support for time scale and staged a showdown which drew the attention of the authorities to the long due issue of promotions and supplementing it with time scale until they get regular time-based promotions. But the old leaders could not digest the successful protest and the landmark court decision directing CM Sindh and Secretary College Education to resolve the issues of promotions and time scale after determining financial requirements and policy matters on a priority basis.

It is also pertinent to note that the civil servants are unaware of the technical terms and issues of colleges and only college teachers can address the needs and resolve the issues of college teachers properly and on a priority basis. The college teachers should also be allocated a 5% to 10% share in administrative posts in Secretariat as our college teachers are the most efficient and talented and can better deliver in policymaking and updating curriculum, service rules drafting and making informed decisions on administrative grounds.

It is shocking and disgusting to express that the teacher who is the factory to produce all the officers, is deplorably considered “not fit” for administrative positions though he/she is recruited through the same SPSC/FPSC. It would be great if the government introduces executive service to join the civil service or secretarial service like SOPE (Section Officers Promotions Exam) conducted by FPSC from the Federal Employees in Grades 7 to 16 have 8 years Experience.

After passing SOPE, they are awarded CSS cadre OMG (Office Management Group). They have been doing a tremendous job as these officers are well aware of day to day office matters and meet deadlines quite easily and require fewer directions. The government should also revise the SNE of the colleges by creating three additional posts i.e. Vice-Principal BS- 18 and Sub Engineer BS 11/16 and Assistant Director (Finance and Planning) BS-17 to run the administrative, development and accounting matters smoothly.

Ineffective SPLA appeared to be in limbo that resulted in its downfall who sabotaged the real voice of college teachers and dragged the College Teachers in the quagmire of disappointment, deprivation and injustice

The Federal colleges and Punjab colleges have Vice Principals who look after or officiate in the absence of principals. There should be either direct appointments through a search committee or Public Service Commission for the position of vice-principals and principals so that most experienced persons may be appointed on the administrative posts. Furthermore, local and international scholarships and study leaves are not granted to college teachers to pursue M.Phil and Ph.D. or Postdoctoral studies as availed by university teachers.

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The projectors should be used and the laptop scheme should be initiated for teachers so that teachers can impart education on modern lines and make learning a fun process as students get bored from the lecture of 40 to 45 minutes. The presentations on multimedia projects will make learning interactive and collaborative.

Principals are the team leaders rather than just a boss to scold, report, temper with ACRs or take action against teachers on personal grudges and lenient on blue-eyed teachers. As a fact, the bosses will never take responsibility but they shift responsibility, on the other hand, the leaders always believe in teamwork and take the responsibility of either good or bad and defend their teammates.

Regrettably, so many principals are imposed upon the colleges lacking the competency to run the day to day affairs. Owing to their incompetence, inefficiency, and lack of training, the college academic, and administrative issues surface which prompts the supervisory authorities to intervene and resolve issues. These trivial issues might have been resolved at the college level, had there been qualified and competent Principals having problem-solving skills and management skills. It is also necessary that Executive Management Training should be made compulsory for the Principal before joining. This will further their deliverables.

It is the need of the hour to address the woes of College Teachers and the College. These should be resolved on the war-footing basis to transform colleges into great seats of learning since colleges fill the gaps of higher education where there are no universities. The colleges serve as higher Education intuitions offering degrees at Undergraduate, Graduate and Post Graduate level.

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Global Socio-Economic Impact of Covid-19

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The Pandemic originating from Wuhan China has enveloped the whole world and the catastrophe caused by covid-19 is beyond speculation.  Schools, Colleges, Universities and business are closed for an indefinite period and the World has gone into self-isolation while the countries imposed lockdown in the world in the severely hit areas to contain the outbreak at massive scale.

The pandemic has affected all the countries especially China, France, Italy, Germany, US, UK, Iran, Egypt and third world countries i.e Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and  Afghanistan and some African countries.

There are some countries which are severely impacted socially and economically while some countries have sustained moderate impact owing to taking timely preventive measures as per circulated guidelines of WHO and Local Health ministries of respective Countries.

With President Donald  Trump clipping the wings of  UN’s apex health body by cutting the financial support amid the Global Pandemic, the catastrophe is expected to go from bad to worse as WHO  will experience the funds’ shortage that will ultimately contribute to a deep humanitarian crisis. 

The world posts a bleak picture already as all business activities have been suspended, the markets have been closed for an indefinite period, the stock markets crashed and the unemployment ratio suddenly jumped to historical high due to covid-19 Pandemic. Even OPEC members have decided to cut the oil production given the pandemic situation. 

The Global economy has been severely impacted by the shocks of the deadly virus that prompted companies like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Face book, Twitter to ask their employees to work from home to avoid contracting  Covid-19.

All the industries have been impacted badly that include entertainment, Sports, food franchise has completely shutdown creating panicking situation all around as once busiest streets and markets have started presenting deserted look.

This global economic warrants that if the early remedy to cure covid-19 is not discovered, the future will be dreadful to predict. The mighty economies such as China, the US, France, Italy, UK, Germany has been seriously impacted by this deadly virus. The situation is haunting the people around the world, bringing misery of greater proportion as compared to Word War II, Ebola, SARS, MERS, Plage and Yaws.

The Daily Wage workers, Private workers, drivers, hawkers, shop keepers and thousands of similar workers have lost their jobs and the opportunity to earn their livelihood. The companies have preferred work from home option for their employees to limit the outbreak and avoid contracting covid-19.

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It is alarming that hundreds of workers have filed as unemployed. The lengthy lockdowns have created serious humanitarian and economic crises and the experts are of the view that the circumstances are fast moving towards the global recessions and may take a long time to recover from this catastrophe.

Though China has been able to contain Covid-19 and even lifted restrictions on outgoing flights with some strict SOPs, yet the Covid 19 seems to be an invisible predator waiting for its prey regardless of any region. The virus has impacted all the zones i.e with the cooler, hotter or moderate atmosphere.

The only solution to fight this pandemic is social distancing, maintaining the hygienic environment and avoiding crowdy spaces. The Governments around the world have imposed strict lockdowns and the frontline fighters (Health workers) around the world doing a marvellous job to protect their fellowmen even at the cost of falling prey to this deadly virus.

While fighting this pandemic. Many health workers have been tested positive. Even, some frontline soldiers lost their fight to this pandemic and laid down their lives to secure the future of their respective country.

Education is being imparted through digital platforms as online education is increasing for students. Though students are facing some issues such as the connectivity, Sound quality, Video Quality, yet in this emergency, the Schools, Colleges, Universities and other online course websites are striving to provide some light of  Knowledge in these difficult times.

The booming industries such as restaurants, hotels, motels and  Aviation have been closed for an indefinite period.

Coronavirus Pandemic has brought catastrophe in the world impacting all the industries and has caused economic slowdown throughout the world in all the major continents who are thickly populated such as Asia, Europe, the Americas and Africa.

Unfortunately, despite 151598 deaths worldwide and over 2.21 Million confirmed cases covid-19, all eyes are hooked towards the discovery of vaccine to treat the patients and save their lives. At the moment, only plasma therapy is being conducted and some common medicines are being used such as cough, flu fever-related medicine.

Though human trials have been started by some  Pharmaceutical companies, the experts are of the view that it may take one and half year for the vaccine to be available in the market. It is also estimated to be the costliest vaccine ever keeping in view its global implications and rapid speed of pandemic spread in the world.

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It is estimated that Europe, Asia, Middle East to suffer a lot especially, Italy, France, UK, Iran and US as the ratio of deaths is higher than other countries especially US where average deaths per days have surpassed all other nations that prompted Trump to cut funding to world health Organization accusing it of mishandling the pandemic and delayed response to mitigate its implication while  WHO head has refuted the allegations.

The covid-19 has also impacted Sports, News & Media, Entertainment and Services Industries to the extent that. All the sporting events have been suspended, series and Leagues have been rescheduled and big events such as  PSL, IPL, FIFA  World Cup, Olympics Games and others have been completely cancelled raising concerns among the players. Even the players are facing the trauma having travel history to the epicentre of Covid-19 Pandemic and tested positive.

 The Entertainment industry has been heavily impacted as all the dramas, Films and comedy shooting and recording has been postponed till indefinite period and all the events including concerts have cancelled due to covid-19 and actors have lost the source of living.

The services industry especially the skilled and non-skilled have been subjected to starvation as all the roadside small business such as Hair Cutting Salons, Cobblers, Gold and blacksmith shops, Electricians, Booksellers, daily wages workers and Masons have lost their living owing to lockdowns globally.

 Finally, the Print and Electronic  Media are partially impacted though they are a very vulnerable community as they have been busy in coverage of the pandemic around the world and are prone to contracting the deadly virus due to close contact with Patients at Quarantine Centres and the Health specialists working at the hospital and temporary health centres specially set up for an emergency.

The Print Media has been hit hard as people consider it risky to read a Print copy of newspapers over covid-19 fears and prefer paper or online edition of the newspapers. Hence, such a trend has impacted the Newspaper  Sales badly.

On the other hand, electronic media such as News Channels, Radio and Digital Media such as Websites, YouTube are grabbing people’ attention.

The Social Media is also buzzing with Covid-19 updates though  Social Media and Silicon Valley companies have asked their employees to work from home and follow the preventive measures these include Twitter, Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft and Search Giant  Google.

The world should be united to fight this global pandemic that is haunting the world. The US should release funds to help WHO work effectively for global health and expedite the process of vaccine discovery as each day will deprive the near and dear ones of the families around the world. With collaborative efforts, the world can win this war against the pandemic.

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Education

What is the future of education?

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               “Education is the question of Life and Death for us: –Quaid-e-Azam

Education is the backbone of any country and plays a pivotal role in shaping the future course of the nations in the world. Education builds the nation’s roots deeper and stronger and prepares them for the competitive and contemporary world. It is because of Education.

There is the debate that is the traditional approach to education still relevant in the age of Are traditional approaches to education still relevant in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution? Fred Swaniker. He negates the idea by saying don’t think so.

Fred Swankier: “It starts with recognition amongst all educators that the world is changing. To prepare people for the future, you need to design an education system that is forward-looking and not backwards-looking.”

According to educational experts that in today’s world, artificial intelligence, robotics and industrial revolution has bestowed the nations with tremendous growth and innovation in education and teaching methodologies. The rapid development is also caused by the advancement in science and technology and space engineering. Scientists have done a marvellous job in changing the landscape of the world with innovative inventions all because of imparting quality education especially the higher education in the universities. This requires a reorientation all the way from early childhood education to primary school to university education. It means encouraging flexibility rather than specialization. It requires training and retraining teachers, as well as redesigning education systems and curricula.

In order to have a futuristic outlook, we need to reimagine and innovate education with the support of ICT (Information Communication Technology that may reshape the future world of Education and make it paper free for the students by providing Digital Education that knows no boundaries at all.  We need to make the learning fun, excitement and interesting so that our parents may not force their children to seek education. Instead, the students go on their own and learn through gadgets.

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In this connection, there need to be overhauling at every level of education from primary to Secondary, College and University level buy designing futuristic course materials with help of experts and training the teachers in the lines of the future generation. Since the communication gateways are flowing like rivers and every person wants to quench his thirst for education with the standard dose of materials developed by the experts. The Startups and Business innovation Ideas should be promoted so that we can produce entrepreneurs for running businesses like Yahoo, Google, Apple, PayPal and Microsoft. We need more standard companies like these by young entrepreneurs so that they may create jobs and do not seek jobs. This approach will change the real face of the countries especially the developing countries.  

Education should be skillet based not just theoretical that destroys prime years of innovation. We need to bring the expert brains to the classroom that can teach the future generations the most latest and advanced Knowledge so that they may take the nation to heights of success.  The societal development should also be focused so that barriers to female education may clear and thus participatory development will boost the economy of the country. Education will help increase the knowledge economy and will definitely in taking informed forecasting and budgeting needs of the nations.

Finally, Education Never ends, it is a life long process. It helps you to focus on what is important for learning and what is not. Every Individual learns a lot from the experiences, schooling at classroom and projects they work on. So, it could be said that you learn a variety of things during learning. Even in a professional career, you attend training and workshop to boost your Knowledge and wisdom. So it is evident from the above discussion that Education is a lifelong process and the future of education bright and the world without education is like a room without light.

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