Pakistan accords high priority to information technology

17 August 2001 Pakistan is launching two new institutes as part of its National Information Technology Policy and Action Plan.

Adopted in August 2000, the Plan provides an overall policy framework for the development of information technology across the country. The Plan focuses on Human Resource Development, Infrastructure Development, Software and Hardware Industry Development, Interent, Information Technology Promotion and Awareness and Legislation.

A feasibility study for the Virtual Information Technology Institute (VITU) and South Institute of Information Technology (SIIT) was conducted by three United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) consultants in November 2000.

The VITU will begin leasing an existing building from the Government of Punjab in 2001. The study estimates that some 2000 students will enrol in the first year and that this number will mushroom to nearly 100,000 five years later.

At a total cost of US$21 million, the VITU and SIIT form the cornerstone of the government’s ‘smart learning nation development strategy’. The key to the strategy is to ‘organize institutions and the population at large to take advantage of the technology now available to unleash and nurture the talent in the full population, not just a mostly urban elite (Feasibility Study, page 15).’

The Study goes on to say that ‘There are several current projects under way to bring communications in general and Internet connectivitity in particular to a major segment of the population.... (page 16). It is intended that ‘information technology serve as catalytic engine of development, spurring productivity increases in other areas of the economy’.

‘VITU will ... encourage business/academic "fusion" by bringing together the various stakeholders (producers, educators, consumers and employers) to focus on their common objectives (page 15).’

Source: Pakistan National Commission for UNESCO: arghazi@comsats.net.pk