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HEC is a strategic organisation

Dr AQ Khan says: HEC is a strategic organisation, don't shred it to pieces
Islamabad, March 31: Renowned nuclear scientist Dr AQ Khan has strongly opposed what he has called the destruction of the country's highest forum to guarantee for quality of education, the Higher Education Commission (HEC).

"There is a move to destroy the Higher Education Commission by shredding it to pieces and hand these pieces to the provinces. This is a sure recipe for disaster. A central role of the regulatory authority is vital to ensure standards and to build the requisite high level manpower needed to develop a knowledge economy. The destruction of HEC through its fragmentation will have devastating consequences for Pakistan," he said in a write-up.

Dr AQ Khan stated: "Pakistan needs to develop technology if it aspires to join the ranks of industrially advanced countries for economic growth. Development of technology is essential for industrialization, for energy growth, to explore, map and mine natural resources, including Coal at Thar, Gold at Riko Diq, Copper at Saindaik, Gas at Qadirpur, and others yet to be explored. Pakistan needs technology for Information and Communication Technologies; to drive its own high tech manufacturing industry; for transportation and avionics; for weather predictions so disasters like floods and tsunami are forecast; for defence and space applications, and for health, agriculture, natural and applied sciences, amongst others. Pakistan also needs technology to continue to protect, develop and exploit its national assets.

There are three important and essential ingredients if we wish to become a high-tech country: 1) Skill Development, and Support for Research, 2) Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Infrastructure, and Technology Readiness, and 3) Transfer of Innovation and Technology to Industry.

The first two are also supported by the vision of the World Bank (WB) and the World Economic Forum (WEF). WB identifies a Skilled Force, Innovation and ICTs as three of the four key pillars of a knowledge-based economy. WEF Global Competitiveness Report 2010 includes Higher Education as 5th, Technology Readiness as 9th, and Innovation as 12th pillar of competitiveness.

Where is Pakistan today in terms of its Science and Technology (S & T) workforce, its research, its technology readiness, and transfer of technology to the industry? The total S&T workforce in Pakistan is around 130,000. Out of this, the total number of Researchers & Scientists is 53,000, but only 10% (about 5300) hold PhD degrees. 80% of these PhDs (about 4000) are in Higher Education Institutions governed by the HEC. Of the total 53,000 Researchers & Scientists in Pakistan, 24% are in Social Studies and Humanities; 24% in Natural Sciences; only 18% in Engineering; 16% in Medicine and 14% in Agriculture.

If we compare the worldwide densities of scientists & researchers, Pakistan has only 162 researchers and scientists / million population (which is among the lowest in the region), Turkey has 562, China 926, South Korea 4162 and USA 4651. Clearly, Pakistan needs a much larger science and technology workforce, and research in critical areas. We need to increase the number of scientific and research personnel by at least 4 times in the next 10 years if we are to follow in the footsteps of regional leaders in the field!

HEC has been doing a good job in building this capacity of Scientists and Researchers, which is the first pre-requisite to becoming a high-tech country and a regional and global power. The government should also have built up an industrial infrastructure (which it failed to do) to absorb these qualified people and utilize their talent.

On the Public front to fill the current vacuum, HEC is currently funding approximately 7500 PhD scholars (3500 in foreign and 4000 in local universities) mostly in critical areas. This is double the number of PhDs that currently exist in Pakistan. But that is not enough! We need an 'additional' 15,000 PhDs over next 10 years, i.e. 1500 PhDs on average per year. The capacity to produce PhDs at universities is presently 700 PhDs / year. With the returning scholars, the number of PhDs at the Higher Education Institutions will increase from the current 20% to 40% of faculty. This will enable the award of over 1000 PhD / year in 2 years, and to over 1500 PhDs / year in 5 years, thereby ending the dependency of Pakistan on foreign PhDs and also saving millions of dollars per year in foreign exchange.

Pakistani universities have produced nearly the same number of PhDs in the last 8 years (3280) since the establishment of HEC as in the first 55 years (3000) of its existence. Today we produce 10 times more PhDs in Engineering and Technology than ever in the past (140 in last 8 years, versus 14 in first 55 years). The universities are now able to produce more PhDs over the next 3 years than it was over the last 8 years.

Research output has also grown six-folds since 2002 (from 815 in 2002 to 5068 in 2010): 80% of these research publications are coming from HEIs. Output has more than doubled just in the last 3 years and is expected to double again in the next 3 years. Today Pakistan has caught up with Thailand and Malaysia, which had a head start on us by almost 6-7 years. A boom is in the offing!

According to Science Watch, January 2011 issue, research growth from Pakistan ranked 1st in 2 areas: Microbiology; and Plant and Animal Sciences. But that is not enough: Major research in priority areas and in Engineering and Technology is required, which is slowly beginning to take over. The results will be apparent in the next five years, provided the government is sincere in utilizing this talent and creates opportunities for them, thus avoiding a brain drain.

Already, according to QS World Universities Rankings 2010, 2 Universities: NUST (274), and UET (281) are now in top 300 Technology Universities of the World, while MUET is in top 400. We need to continue to focus on adding quality in research and education to our other universities as well.

For Technology Transfer to Industry, HEC is working on Development of High-Tech Incubators. Those in the pipeline at the universities include at UA Faisalabad, UET Peshawar, UET Lahore, NED, and NUST.

Three Centers of Excellence in Energy, Food Security and Water Resources are also under development. HEC is striving to make these the regional hubs. As an example, towards resolving national problems in the Energy sector alone, Pakistan needs 20,000 MW now, and an additional 20,000 MW in the next 10 years to grow as an industrial and high tech nation! Where are we going to get all this energy from? This is only possible if we explore and exploit all possible indigenous resources available to us include coal, wind, solar, nuclear, etc. No single research center in Pakistan has this capacity to do this. A critical mass of scientific and engineering manpower will be required in multi-disciplinary areas to achieve these goals which the center will be geared to do. In the case of joint ventures with foreign firms (which, in some cases like Thar Coal and Riko Diq I consider essential), we will be needing well-qualified technocrats to handle these projects and to coordinate with foreign partners.

HEC has grown as a critical, viable, and strategic organization over the years. Higher education is vital to the future development of Pakistan and every effort must be made to ensure support to this sector. Now that a major step in higher education in Pakistan has been taken under the HEC, we must sustain and build upon these achievements. The government must ensure HECs continuity and support it to help achieve self-reliance in high tech areas. This will enable Pakistan to join the ranks of industrially advanced countries which will lead to economic prosperity as well.

The move by the Parliamentary Committee on devolution, headed by Mr. Raza Rabbani, to shred HEC into several parts and transfer most of its functions to the provinces is a sure recipe for disaster. The government must not destroy the only sector which seems to be working reasonably well by breaking it into pieces. I do agree that there is some need to revisit the priorities of the HEC in the light of present requirements whereby more engineers are trained to expedite industrial development. There is a well-known saying in the West: "The progress and prosperity of a country is the reflection of the competence and achievements of its engineering profession." However, to make this dream come true, there is an urgent need for the establishment of a broad-based industrial infrastructure.

I had earlier expressed some reservations regarding some of the programmes and priorities of HEC in this very newspaper. Nevertheless, I still think that it is a functional organization and it is very easy to make some modifications, as and when required, in the light of the changing environment."

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PMAS-AUAUR Convocation
Rawalpindi: Punjab Governor Sardar Muhammad Latif Khan Khosa Wednesday stressed the need of an urgent need of research-based education to focusing more on agriculture, which is crucial for country's future.

"It is heartening to see that the PMAS-AAUR is doing extensive work in the field of agriculture, which is vital for Pakistan 's economy," he stated this while addressing the 12th Convocation of Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi (PMAS-AAUR).

Over 1,517 students were awarded degrees for the year 2010 on the occasion including 21 PhD scholars. More over 59 students were decorated with medals.

Governor Punjab Sardar Muhammad Latif Khan Khosa, urged the graduates to give their best input through transforming the knowledge and skills they acquired during their academic life into practical endeavours for the prosperity and well being of the nation. "Each and every effort was made by the nation to let them stand at par with their peers in their selected fields of study and now it is their turn to repay the nation with development and affluence. It is need of the hour to explore the potential they have and use it for the development of science and technology which ultimately lead to the well being of mankind," he added.

The Governor applauded the efforts of Higher Education Commission in giving a road map and vision to the nation for higher education of science and technology. The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has brought a paradigm shift to the culture of universities and institutions of higher learning, he opined.

The governor lauded the efforts of the University administration for research-based education. On this occasion he congratulated obtaining the degrees in various disciplines and distributed medals and gave away degrees to the graduates.

The students who got gold medals in the convocation of PMAS-AAUR were Julia Abbasi, Sajid Mahmood, Imtinan Akram, Qurat-ul-Ain Rizvi, Naveed Hamayat, Romesa Tahir, Maria Batool, Mahnoor, Muzima Bibi, Usman Ali, Misbah Sarwar, Mehreen Abbas, Shaher Yar Khan, Maryam Mukhtar, Hira Iqbal, Samar Naseer, Ainee Zafar, Zonia Naeem, Maryam Shahzadi, Rabia Nazar, Shumila Naz, Madhia Munir, Saima Kausar, Adnan Ahmad Munir, Jamshaid Nazir, Kiran Mukhtar, Amra Sajjad, Adil Shaheen and Sofia Tabassum.

Earlier, Professor Dr. Khalid Mahmood Khan, Vice Chancellor, PMAS-AAUR, in his welcome address said that the university in the current year completed the establishment of the University Institute of Biochemistry and Biotechnology building amounting Rs358 million to further strengthen to the ramparts of teaching science and emerging technologies. He further said that besides five more R&D projects worth Rs1.25 billion are in the works funded by HEC and after the completion of these projects a new chapter of sciences and technology in the field of agriculture and veterinary and animal sciences will commence at the campus, he added.

He informed the gathering that university has recently completed development and deployment of a 'Campus Management System' through its indigenous resources. This deployment is yet another notable achievement as very few universities in Pakistan have such an integrated application suite to automate major processes of the University like admission, enrolment and examination, personnel, financial management, library management, inventory & procurement etc. The vice chancellor said that university is successfully running a modern Hydroponics Plant in which green houses and environment control tunnel exist on the area of five acres from which tomatoes, cucumbers and vegetables grown in the university plant are also being exported to the middle east and this facility worth Rs700 millions was donated to the University by a foreign investor.

Earlier, Governor Punjab also inaugurated the newly constructed building of University Institute of Biochemistry and Biotechnology in the university premises. On this occasion the PMAS-AAUR vice chancellor gave a presentation to the Punjab governor about the academic and research activities going on University Campus.

Later, Punjab governor also inaugurated Spring Flower show arranged on the premises of the University by the department of Horticulture of PMAS-AAUR in collaboration with National Horticulture Society of Pakistan and in which various government, semi government departments and individuals participated.

The flowers of various kinds were exhibited in beautiful arrangements. The Punjab governor also visited different stalls of the flower show and appreciated the efforts of the organiser for organising such a wonderful show. The news

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BISE chairman removed
Rawalpindi: The Punjab government on Tuesday removed Chairman Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE), Rawalpindi, Chaudhry Abdul Hafeez after the board saw cases of cheating and stealing of solved answer sheets in the ongoing secondary school certificate (SSC) examination.

According to a notification issued by the secretary higher education, Mr Hafeez has been transferred to Lahore and the additional charge assigned to Dr Mohammad Ashraf, the director of colleges, Rawalpindi.

When contacted, Dr Ashraf confirmed that he had been given the additional duty, adding he would take charge on Wednesday.

Mr Hafeez was appointed chairman of the board about two years ago. He drew flaks for issuing faulty roll number slips to the candidates, reports of cheating involving children of influential people and unsafe keeping of solved answer sheets.

The higher education department also deputed Chaudhry Mohammad Akram, an additional secretary, to conduct an inquiry into alleged involvement of the board officials in the theft of over 500 answer sheets from Rawat on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the board suspended supervisor Mohammad Rafaqat and clerk Ismail Khan of its secrecy branch. Another clerk, Mohammad Arif, who was responsible for bringing the stolen answer sheets from a bank branch near Chowk Pindori near Rawat, and two more officials have already been suspended, said Abdul Sattar Ramay, the controller, BISE.

On the other hand, the Rawat police arrested Israr Ahmed and Sajjid Ali, the bank guard and sweeper, respectively, for their alleged hand in the theft of the answer sheets. Police obtained three days' physical custody of the two already arrested accused, Waqar Satti and Jehangir Khan, from the area magistrate.

Six bundles carrying 522 solved answer sheets were recovered from Waqar, a private school teacher, and Jehangir, a driver, on Sunday night by the Rawat police. During interrogation, Waqar told the police that the sheets had been given to him by one Zahir Shah, the owner of a private school in Kahuta, to make improvement in their contents in exchange for money. Dawn

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Model colleges excel in class V centralised exam with 96%
Islamabad: Islamabad Model colleges, maintaining their previous record, excelled in Centralised Annual Examination for Class V (2010-11) with the pass percentage of 96.69. The result was announced by Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) on Wednesday in a ceremony held here.

In Islamabad Model colleges, 3,238 students passed the examination out of 3,349 appeared acquiring the highest percentage of 96.69 while in FG schools, 11,689 students passed out of 13,722 appeared in the examination and the pass percentage remained 85.18.

Among private candidates, 3,923 passed the examination out of 3,923 appeared with the pass percentage of 83.31. In overall positions of Islamabad Model colleges, Naveeda Akhtar of Islamabad Model College for Girls (IMCG), Korang Town and Fahad Sohail of Islamabad Model College for Boys (IMCB), G-10/4 secured first prize.

Usman Khan of Islamabad College for Boys (ICB), G-6/3 and Hussain Ahmad of IMCB, G-10/4 got second and third prize respectively. Among boys, Fahad Sohail of IMCB, G-10/4 clinched first prize, Usman Khan of ICB, G-6/3 second and Hussain Ahmad got third prize.

While among the girls, Naveeda Akhtar of IMCG, Korang Town secured first and Yumna Akhtar of IMCG, F-6/2 got second prize. Two girls including Iman Waheed of IMCG, Korang Town and Faiza Ahmed of IMCG, F-6/2 obtained third prize.

On the basis of scholarships, IMCB, G-10/4 was declared as best institute with 31 scholarships. While ICG, F-6/2 secured 20 scholarships and got second prize and ICB, G-6/3 got third prize with 17 scholarships. On the basis of GPA, ICG, F-6/2 clinched first prize with 5.04 GPA, IMCB, G-10/4 second with 4.87 GPA and IMCG, F-6/2 got third prize with 4.63 GPA.

In overall positions of F G schools and private, Neelam Naz of Federal Government Junior Model School (FGJMS), G-6/1-3 secured first prize, Noor Javed of Khadija Montessori and Hussain Public School, M.T Humak second and Sidra Tabbasum of FGJMS, G-6/1-3 got third prize. Among boys, Muhammad Talha Sarfraz FGJMS, G-10/3 obtained first prize, Ahmed Ismail of Khadija Montessori and Hussain Public School, M.T Humak second and Rohail Ahmed Malik of FGJMS, 1-10/2 got third prize. Among girls, Neelam Naz of FGJMS, G-6/1-3 secured first prize, Noor Javed of Khadija Montessori and Hussain Public School, M.T Humak second and Sidra Tabbasum of FGJMS, G-6/1-3 got third prize. On the basis of scholarships, F.G Girls Middle Model School, I-9/4 was declared as best institute with 28 scholarships while F.G Junior Model School, G-10/3 secured second prize with 21 scholarships and F.G Junior Model School, G-6/1-3 stood third with 14 scholarships.

On the basis of GPA, F.G Junior Model School, G-10/3 was declared as best institute with 5.20 GPA. F.G Girls Primary School, Khanna Nai Abadi got second prize with 5.11 GPA and F.G Girls Primary School, Shakrial obtained third prize with 5.07 GPA.

Urban sector stood as best in overall result while Nilore sector was declared as best among the five sector of federal capital.

A total of 2,1780 students appeared in the exams out of which 18,850 passed the exams and the overall pass percentage remained 86.54. The result was announced by FDE Director Training Bashir Ahmed Arain.

Addressing the gathering, FDE Director General Shaheen Khan congratulated the successful students and praised the efforts of parents and teachers in making their success possible. The overall top position holders were awarded with the cash prizes of Rs10,000, Rs7,000 and Rs5,000 along with merit certificate and gold, silver and bronze medals.

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Rafique joins education ministry as joint adviser
Islamabad: Professor Rafique Tahir has joined the Ministry of Education as joint education adviser (JEA) in BPS-20. Professor Tahir also remained as director (training) in the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) and director of the Federal College of Education. He is likely to be posted in the Policy Planning Wing of the Ministry of Education. The news

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