Education and National Security: Where Do We Stand?
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Education and National Security: Where Do We Stand?

Education and National Security

National Security is an emerging concept in the state’s craft and with the evolution of the nation-state, it has gone through several phases. In the years after the Second World War, national security was all about getting your hand on nuclear energy and that led to an armed race between the United States and former Soviet Russia, the justification for acquiring such lethal weaponry was that each trying to secure its nation form any “potential threat” that the other posed. Hence, we saw during the time of the “Cold War” that each power tried to get its hand on the advanced form of atomic and hydrogen bombs, and this continued up until nuclear proliferation was signed between both parties. But with time, the concept of “National Security” has grown out of its traditional outlook, with nation-states across the globe prioritizing human capital over any kind of weaponry and defense system. The goals have shifted too, from securing the borders from any foreign threat to producing a workforce capable of running an advanced economy in a highly competitive world. And it goes without saying, that for procuring any sort of safety and security in the current capitalistic world, of nation-states, the education sector plays a key role, as it sets the stage for what the economic and political structure of the country might look like. Hence, both education and National security are intertwined with each other in so many ways. It is pertinent to now ask ourselves this question, that we do we situate ourselves in the current paradigm of National Security and what are the challenges we are currently encountering while navigating through this terrain?

Before dwelling into the nitty gritty of this conundrum, it is important to recognize the issues that Pakistan is facing concerning National Security are multifaceted, A never-ending dispute on the Duran, insurgency in Baluchistan, the Indian involvement across LOC, etc. have put the country’s leadership and policymakers under immense pressure and they are still unable to prioritize education as a tool to counter security and economic challenges. But in the global trend of International Relations, even the paradigm of security has been replaced with “economy” and then the whole debate trickles down to “producing a quality human capital” the one that is equipped with the necessary tools to combat the challenges at hand, the challenge of economic growth and global competitiveness.

Drawing a comparison from other regional powers, Pakistan is still spending way less of its annual GDP on education, than any other country in South Asia. In 2017, Pakistan’s allocation of 2.9 percent of its GDP for education, as detailed in the report ‘Bringing All the Girls to School: A Case for More Investment,’ was notably lower than the corresponding figures for other South Asian countries. Specifically, Bhutan earmarked 6.6 percent, Nepal allocated 5.2 percent, India devoted 3.8 percent, and even Afghanistan committed 4.1 percent of its GDP to education. Many public policy experts that in order to counter the national security challenges, Pakistan needs to spend at least 5 percent of its annual GDP on education, to build new laboratories, libraries, and public sector universities.

It goes without saying that by no means we can undermine the importance of the procession of a good defense system, to protect the national borders from any foreign or domestic threat. But this can only go thus far, as in the modern day and age, education and national security are deeply interconnected. You have to have a good education system in place to counter all types of adversaries on the path to nation-building.

Not only focusing on education will land us good opportunities and skilled manpower, by fostering the environment of critical thinking in academia, but we will also be able to fill the leadership gap that our country is currently facing. Apart from skilled youth, which includes, doctors, engineers, and AI scientists, we also need individuals in academia who have a sense of what “being a Pakistani” means and how to turn the dreams of our forefathers into reality.

To summarize, it is possible to further elaborate on the connection between education and national security and explore how, as a nation, we can address security challenges by prioritizing education. Our inability to emphasize education has resulted in missed opportunities. The recent lunar mission by our neighboring country should serve as a wake-up call, highlighting the importance of investing more in education to better prepare us for potential national security threats in the future.”

Related: Education to Combat Extremism

The writer, Muhammad Saad, is an M.Phil scholar of Political Science at GCU Lahore.

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