EDUCATIONAL standards in Pakistan cannot be compared with the international standards. For example, if Pakistani medical graduates go abroad, they have to qualify an equivalence test because the local system is not considered good enough on its own. Having said that, there are fields in which Pakistani professionals are unbeatable. One such field is the merchant navy.
The Pakistan Marine Academy (PMA) trains future Pakistani merchant navy officers. Only 150 cadets pass out from the PMA annually, and some private companies also produce about 50 cadets every year.
PMA cadets acquire professional education in the hope of getting good jobs after graduating from the academy. But usually these cadets remain jobless as foreign shipping companies seek only experienced Pakistani officers and not fresh graduates from the PMA.
I would like to ask owners of the Pakistani shipping companies what they are doing for their own fresh merchant navy officers.
I would urge the government to direct foreign shipping companies operating in Pakistan and the local companies to induct some fresh graduates as a matter of routine. This will also help the country’s fragile economy as Pakistan merchant navy officers will send remittances in foreign currency.
Pakistan has only one national flag carrier, the Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC), which has a fleet of just nine ships. It is unable to induct all PMA cadets. In this scenario, it is imperative that local shipping companies emphasised on hiring fresh PMA graduates. If the bleak situation continues, Pakistan will stop producing merchant navy officers soon.
Cadet Numan Sarwar
Published in Dawn, May 31st, 2021