KARACHI (PR): The School of Tomorrow (SOT) International Education and Cultural continued for a second day with large numbers of people in attendance. Like the previous day, full-day innovative science and art exhibits and other activities kept visitors entertained throughout the day and concurrent sessions provided valuable insights and food for thought.

The morning included a fascinating session on whether media and technology are controlling global thinking in which the panellists were Dr Carl Olson, Dr David Cole and Dr Sohail Naqvi. Dr Cole raised the point that if we receive information from a single source, our understanding of events is skewed, while multiple perspectives provide a broader understanding. Dr Olson argued that the pace at which technology and media are evolving now is so much faster than before that regulations cannot keep up.

Other sessions included one on teaching art across the curriculum in order to maximise the full range of benefits that it can offer to learners in all domains as it is not merely about entertainment but is a part of life. Rishad Mahmood moderated the session on whether sports can be a career, where the speakers were Sana Mir, Aisam-ul-Haq, Hajrah Khan, Shoaib Muhammad. Aisam-ul-Haq said, “Sports make a good student, but education makes a great sportsman.”

The session on the cyber crime bill was both informative and unnerving. It concluded that actual cyber criminals will be able to continue with their activities while spamming or lying online can merit severe punishment – it therefore is a way to control ways of thinking and affects the common man rather than punish serious cyber criminals.

Sessions for parents focused on the debate of quantity versus quality in parenting and one on understanding what your child is not telling you, such as issues of sexual abuse.

The keynote speech by Roger Schank raised the question of whether we need schools. He argued that schools today are not working as knowledge is not being created and IQ levels are dropping, saying “curriculum for learners must be developed not by standards but by learners’ requirements”.

Discussions on geopolitics included one on whether deweaponisation is essential and one on gender inequality. Media-related sessions looked at the role of graphics and comics in education, as well as the “cultural invasion” of dubbed cartoons and other animated programmes. Norbert Almeida gave an extremely informative presentation on how to keep our children digitally safe.

A powerful discussion on the need to control the proliferation of billboards argued for monitoring this “visual disaster”. The session on the clash of cultures in higher education, where the panellists were Dr Ishrat Hussain, Mrs Nasreen Mahmud Kasuri, Dr Nauman Naqvi and Dr Sohail Naqvi, moderated by Ms Mariam Chaudhry, argued that high income and inequality are key issues and investment in education and teachers is imperative. Another looked at unlocking government schools’ potential where the speakers were Ahmad Jalal, Khawaja AdeelAslam, Ms ShahnazWazir Ali and Shehzad Roy. They claimed that education is more of a management problem, but to bring about sustainable reform is wishful thinking.

Evening entertainment sessions featured hilarious stand-up comedy by Sanjay Rajoura, inspirational Zambeel dramatic readings of Ismat Chughtai’s works and an engaging talk on healthy food starring Chef Shai and Vaneeza Ahmad. In his concluding remarks by Beaconhouse Chief Executive Kasim Kasuri thanked the participants and said that the next SOT festival would be held in Lahore in March 2016. The festival concluded on a high note an amazing fireworks display and a jam-packed super-charged rock concert by Ali Azmat which was immensely enjoyed by the audience.