Pakistan higher education challenges
Challenges in Pakistan higher education
Islamabad, Jan 04: The mission of the Higher Education Commission is "to facilitate institutions of
higher education to serve as [engines] of socio-economic development [for]
Since its establishment as an autonomous body in 2002 under
the controlling authority of the prime minister with its policies being guided
by the policymaking board, there have been successes and failures.
is generally true when one needs to run, and not walk, and the HEC did just that
to catch up with our deficiencies of the past 62 years. There have been teething
problems similar to those experienced by most young organisations, but the HEC
has overcome these.
There has been considerable success at the HEC in the
last six years. The number of universities has increased from 74 to 129 i.e. 74
in the first 56 years, and 55 in the last six years. There have been some
concerns due to this phenomenal growth, and issues pertaining to quality are
University enrolment has approximately tripled from 135,000
to 315,000. The number includes some 70,000 students in private universities.
Access to higher education has more than doubled from 2.2 per cent to 4.7 per
cent. Women's enrolment has increased from 37 to 46 per cent; and development
and recurring budgets have increased. There may have been some errors of
judgment, but it is being ensured that these are not repeated. Future funding
will be dependent on fulfilling certain criteria.
About 5,000 scholars
are pursuing their PhD in foreign countries, and another 4,500 are pursuing the
degree locally. There are a number of concerns here on the academic standards of
PhD advisers and students which are being monitored. Foreign faculty hiring and
tenure track programmes are being handled.
The National Research
Programme for universities, the Pakistan Education and Research Network with 10
gbps bandwidth and video-conferencing facilities at more than 70
universities/institutions and the National Digital Library with 45,000 e-books
and 23,000 full text journals have been established. Besides there have been
curriculum reforms and the criteria for Masters and Phd degrees have been set.
Quality enhancement cells have been established in 30 universities and
leadership training has been provided to vice chancellors. There have been
learning innovation programmes for faculty members. Publications have shown an
improvement, although there have been some allegations of plagiarism which are
being looked into.
Pakistan has been called a 'rising star' in Science
Watch, and independent assessments by the World Bank and the British Council
have all been praiseworthy. Five years ago no Pakistani university ranked among
the top 600 universities of the world in the Times Higher Education Supplement.
Today, five do.
So where do we go from here? Emphasis will be on the
development of universities as institutions of higher learning, increasing
equitable access, improving the quality of teaching and research and stressing
leadership, curriculum development as well as innovation relevant to
Our universities need to contribute
positively to transforming society by imbuing in it qualities of greater
tolerance, pluralism and prosperity.
To increase equitable access, the
HEC plans to establish campuses in tier-two and tier-three cities, including the
underdeveloped, rural and tribal areas, eventually upgrading them to the status
of fully fledged universities.
The goal is to establish a sub-campus or
a 'community college' of existing universities in most districts of Pakistan
within the next 10 years to bring education to the doorstep. The goal is also to
reduce the gender gap at all tiers of higher education. More opportunities will
be created for women and 'soft disciplines', including social sciences,
humanities and the fine arts, will be supported.
Plans are to use
technology including radio, TV and the Internet to bring education to homes.
Most universities will have a distance-learning office. Public-private
partnerships will be encouraged through incentives. The criteria for
establishing universities and degree-awarding institutes in the private sector
will be rationalised to allow more private investment and wider participation
without compromising on the quality of education.
The Education Policy
2009 has committed seven per cent of GDP to education by 2015. This is a
phenomenal sum when the actual expenditure on education is less than 1.8 per
cent. The Unesco-recommended figure is four per cent of GDP.
In aiming to
keep pace with the Millennium Development Goals, Pakistan hopes to gain an 85
per cent literacy rate by 2015. Under the education policy, access to higher
education will be increased to 10 per cent from the current 4.7 per cent by 2015
and to 15 per cent by 2020. This is the HEC's main challenge which translates
into a post-secondary education enrolment of about three million from the
current 1.1 million.
What kind of funds are required to achieve this
goal? The current allocation of higher education is 17.5 per cent. In the new
education policy it is to be raised to 20 per cent by 2015.
all growth indicators and annual depreciation, this comes to a 35 per cent
increase in funding for the higher education sector every year to meet policy
goals by 2015 - assuming that the nation has the absorption capacity to do so as
an increase in budget does not necessarily guarantee absorption or
The HEC, however, has a good track record in the last six years
to incur and expend all expenditures and complete nearly all projects due to
proper project management and audit teams.
In conclusion, the HEC will
facilitate institutions of higher learning in Pakistan to move ahead with
improved equitable access. It will correct imbalances, ensure better educational
governance and accountability, focus on world-class quality in education and
research, innovate and help create a knowledge economy relevant to Pakistan's
socio-economic development. Dawn
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Candidates sent back by QAU selection board
Islamabad: Quaid-i-Azam University administration's mismanagement and lack of
preparation to convene the selection board on Saturday for fresh appointments
have caused problems for the candidates who had arrived from various parts of
the country and some even from abroad.
The cases of many candidates who had
applied for the post of associate professors and lectures were deferred till the
next selection board. A candidate who had arrived from abroad was asked to come
again as the university had not completed his evaluation reports and his case
was not completely processed.
The university administration wasted the time
of different subject specialists by inviting them without preparation.
Meanwhile, a spokesman of the Vice-Chancellor expressed his ignorance about
such occurrence causing sheer disappointment to candidates as well as the
"However, if some cases are postponed, the
university would call them up for re-evaluation on January 15, 2009," he
It is important to mention here that the teaching faculty of the
university already had expressed their reservations saying, "The selection board
was conducted to appoint some favourites of the vice-chancellor. The
administration is making these appointments under the rules namely Tenure Track
System (TTS) Version II while the QAU syndicate has not formally adopted the
TTS," an academic staff said on condition of anonymity. A university
cannot implement the TTS unless it has adopted it after due approval of its
syndicate or the competent authority, he added.
The academic staff of the QAU
has alleged that the posts were advertised in February last year and in
principle, all 49 candidates of grades 20 and 21 should be interviewed in one
selection board. But all the candidates were not asked to appear before the
board on Saturday.
Therefore, candidates for the posts in grade 18, 19 and
others appeared before the board from different cities even from abroad and had
to go back without having a chance of interview. The nation
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Art therapy workshop
Islamabad: Offering a unique holiday experience - both therapeutic and fun,
Media Vision on Sunday arranged a one-day art therapy workshop at Madawa Public
School in I-11/4 slum area.
The workshop was aimed at introducing the
basic principles and practice of art therapy to emotionally, behaviorally,
developmentally and medically challenged children from Swat and NWFP residing in
the federal capital.
Media Vision Art Director Samina Jamshed conducted
the workshop, which was attended by over 50 internally displaced
The workshop "Innocence vs terrorism" blended theories and
experimental exercises offering a thorough introduction to the therapeutic use
of fine art as a powerful treatment modality for children.
drew caricatures, paintings, a variety of art that helped them express their
thoughts, feelings, conflicts, strengths and increased their self-esteem and
coping skills. Jamshed said Media Vision had taken this task to console children who experienced terrorism and witnessed
"We provided all the material including colour pencils,
crayons, sharpener, eraser, glue, scissors, multi-coloured fancy papers to these
destitute children free of costs," said Jamshed, adding, lunch was also served
to them. Daily times
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Teachers protest drive
Peshawar: Expressing serious concern over the government's failure in recovering
the kidnapped vice-chancellor of the Kohat University of Science &
Technology Prof Dr Lutfullah Kakakhel despite lapse of 58 days, the
Tanzim-e-Asatiza has declared to launch a protest drive for his safe and early
A meeting of the university campus, Peshawar chapter, of the
Jamaat-e-Islami-backed Tanzim-e-Asatiza was held on Sunday. The participants
said that the government was least concerned about the recovery of the kidnapped
vice-chancellor. They said that about two-months had passed since his kidnapping
but no concrete step could be taken for his recovery. They said that the
government knew the kidnappers, who had forwarded their demands for the release
of the vice-chancellor.
They lamented the attitude of NWFP Governor Owais
Ahmad Ghani, who is also the chancellor of the universities. "The chancellor
should have resigned due to his failure to recover head of an institute of
higher learning," he added. Dr Lutufullah was kidnapped by unknown people from
Akhurwal area of Darra Adamkhel on November 6 while he was on his way from
Peshawar to his university in Kohat.
The political administration and
security forces came into action soon after the kidnapping and conducted raids
on various suspected dens of outlaws and militants and arrested scores of
Akhurwal tribesmen under the collective responsibility section of the Frontier
Crimes Regulations. The action, however, failed to bear any fruit.
about 25 days the whereabouts of the vice-chancellor were not known, as no one
had claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. Later Tariq Afridi, TTP commander
in Darra Adamkhel, allegedly claimed responsibility for the abduction and sought
release of his four militants.
The vice-chancellor also reportedly made a
phone call to his university with the request to expedite efforts for his
recovery. There were also reports that the kidnappers had contacted the family
of the vice-chancellor for clothes and medicines. The Tanzim-e-Asatza meeting
was told that the vice-chancellor was ill.
It appealed to the militants to
release him unconditionally on humanitarian grounds. The news
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Schools of excellence
Attock: Punjab government will establish two high schools for boys and
girls separately in the city under a special programme to provide modern and
quality educational facilities to students.
Spokesman for the district
administration said in a press release on Sunday that on the directive of chief
minister Punjab, Government Pilot High Secondary School for boys and Government
Girls High school No-2 would be constructed and called "schools of excellence".
The schools will have modern educational facilities like libraries,
computer laboratories and well-equipped auditorium. New academic blocks, parking
and playgrounds will also be constructed at the both schools by a private firm,
the spokesman said.
The schools of these kind are being established at
the district headquarter levels across the province. Dawn
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