26 January, 2011

Islamabad Knowledge City Festival: Evolving a Culture of Learning

Published in Pakistan Observer (26 Jan. 2011)
Sana Jamal

ISLAMABAD: “Knowledge for All - All for Knowledge” was the slogan of the first ever ‘Islamabad Knowledge City Festival’ which concluded on Tuesday, attracting a marvelous response from the knowledge lovers of the twin cities during the week long activities at convention center.

The festival organised by the Ministry of Education and its affiliated organisation, National Book Foundation (NBF) was an effort to make federal capital a hub of knowledge and a model education city for the whole country as Islamabad has the highest literacy rate in the country i.e. 85 per cent.
Around 80 government and private sector organisations, literary and cultural bodies, publishing houses and research centres participated in the festival to showcase their achievements. Along with officials of ministry and its related departments, a large number of students and teachers of various schools and colleges participated in the event.

During the five-day long knowledge festival the participants experienced colorful activities related to education, book fairs offering variety of books, exhibitions displaying scientific models, arts and crafts, cultural display, competitions, tableaus etc.

“This is a unique festival arranged for the first time in Islamabad to provide a creative platform for the students and teachers to gather under one roof and share valuable information as well as increase knowledge” expressed Shagufta Perveen, a teacher.

The festival was aimed at instilling a culture of learning and sharing knowledge in the country. “Through this festival, we aim to promote sharing of knowledge, which will help in creating a peaceful and progressive society”, said the Education ministry.

The main method to instill a culture of knowledge is through the continuous habit of reading which is a step towards gaining knowledge and enrichment of information. This was the message of the makeshift library by National Library of Pakistan at the festival which also offered membership to the public, informed Mohammad Riaz, the librarian. A grand book fair with books on all subjects from politics to art and culture, literature to social issues, and rare books was also part of the festival in which more than 25 publishers participated. “Books are available here on discount, which I think is really good for students,” said Saima, a student of 9th grade.

“The festival’s special focus is on poor children to bring them in the mainstream of schooling. The visitors have demanded to hold such festivals in different cities of Pakistan to facilitate students” said M. Tahir Shahid, Director Physical education of F.G. Post Graduate College H-8 while talking to Pakistan Observer.

Educational institutions’ seminars, discussions and lectures on various topics, including education, art and culture, literature and knowledge management were also part of the festival.
Representative of Students Affairs and Foreign Training of Federal directorate of education, Roma Akram, believed that “such festival provides platform for sharing educational prospects and should be arranged future.”
At the stall of Centre for Integrated Education and Reading Achievement, Ammar Nasir of grade 7 gave a thorough explanation on human torso while Wajid Rehman briefed the visitors on human skeleton. While the students of the Pak-Turk International School System had set up a stall that offered free blood group testing facility to students.

The fifth graders of Shaheen School System, with the help of their teachers, had created a striking, life-sized model highlighting the dangers to dolphins in Pakistan.

Various organizations including National Book Foundation (NBF), Federal Directorate of Education (FDE), National Library of Pakistan (NLP), National Education Foundation (NEF), NISTE, UNESCO, Urdu Science Board, Curriculum Wing and various book publishers set up their stalls and displayed different activities.

The event not only projected the national perspective on education but also provided a complete package of information to students about their future career options. “It is the need of the hour to create an atmosphere in which knowledge flourishes and provide a platform to people where they can share knowledge with each other, understand its importance,” remarked Mazharul Islam, Executive Director, National Book Foundation and Coordinator of the event.

A colourful stall was set up by the Federal College of Education, H-9, Islamabad, where embroidered mobile covers and exotic candles were displayed. “These products were prepared by teachers during their training” informed Saba Arshad, a student of BS Education. At the ‘Artisans at Work’ expo, master artisans displayed their skills and crafts.