Published Date: Apr 21, 2014
Knowledge Impact Stressed – SDPI Press Release
There is a need for creating impact of knowledge in terms of indigenous
solutions to Pakistan’s problems and development issues. This was
expressed by Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed during his first public speech as the
Chairman of the Higher Education Commission (HEC). He was delivering a
Special Lecture on ‘The State of Higher Education in Pakistan’, at the
Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here today.
Dr. Ahmed highlighted that higher education institutions are
increasingly getting clustered in bigger cities, while there is an equal
need for quality education in smaller cities of the country. He said
that since the formation of the HEC in 2002, the state of higher
education in Pakistan has improved significantly in terms of research
output and quality. It is now time to think of ways in which higher
education can have real impact for the welfare of the society at large.
He stressed the need for a value-based education system.
the issue of fake degrees, he said that making the information about
validity of degrees (of certain individuals) public has damaged the
reputation of the HEC. In the context of the 18th amendment, he said
that there should be a centrally-set minimum standard of education.
However, a consultative process is being pursued with provincial
governments with regards to higher education policy. He also said that
budgetary allocation for higher education should be increased
progressively and not in an abrupt manner.
Abid Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI, highlighted that it is important
that real world problems and issues of development be covered in the
curriculum taught at universities. He added that in Bangladesh and
India, universities are proactive in linking research with policy, while
in Pakistan, think-tanks are playing a more active role in the policy
domain compared to universities. He suggested that the HEC can issue a
standard template for maintaining a district data profile, while
universities can follow the template in collecting data. This would help
in minimizing the oft-quoted discrepancy of data available for both
academic and policy research. He also brought forth the problem of
communication skills faced by a number of talented students in the
country. ‘Immersion’ courses were recommended in this context, whereby
students coming from better economic backgrounds should be sent on the
field, while those coming from underprivileged backgrounds can be sent
to various institutions for better exposure.
Muhammad Qaiser, VC, University of Karachi observed that there needs to
be more funding for higher education and the budgetary share of higher
education needs to be scaled up to at least 4%. He added that there
should be greater balance between basic research and applied research to
find solutions to real-world problems.
Asad Zaman, VC of the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics
(PIDE) observed that liberal arts and culture are becoming neglected in
higher education in Pakistan. This is unfortunate, since we have a
strong poetic heritage which can be very important in inspiring students
to serve the nation and create impact of the knowledge acquired. He
also highlighted that creative and critical thinking habits are often
ignored in our teaching.
Eatzaz Ahmed, VC, Quaid-i-Azam University, highlighted the need for
better quality of education at the college and high-school level. He
added that there is a need for qualitative measures for gauging the
impact of knowledge. He also opined on the basis of promotion in higher
education and recommended that there is a possibility of promotion
through a weightage-based system whereby all four elements of education
are considered. These include teaching, research, administration and
Masoom Yasinzai, Rector International Islamic University Islamabad,
observed that investments in higher education over the last one decade
have changed the landscape of the country. Pakistan now has a share of
0.25% in global academic literature. He stressed that basic research
should be pursued, while maintaining adequate balance for applied
research. It is also important to enhance the quality of higher
education so as to prevent brain drain from the country.
Ali Asghar Chishti, VC Allama Iqbal Open University, also emphasized on
the need for quality education and said that there is a need for
adequate training and workshops for teachers as well. Dr. Samina Qadir,
VC, Fatima Jinnah Women University corroborated the need for capacity
building of teachers. She also said that there is a need to think more
seriously about college education and incentives for college faculty to
contribute to research. Education should also be gender responsive, she
The Chairman HEC and VCs were also presented with shields in honorarium at the end of the lecture and discussion.