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Pakistan Observer

Published Date: Apr 22, 2014

Poor standard despite ‘clusters’ of institutions worry new HEC chief

Dr Mukhtar Ahmed in his first public interaction after assuming the charge of Chairman of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has expressed his concerns on the "clustering" of educational institutions in far and wide of the country, however in many of them quality education is missing. He expressed these concerns while delivering a lecture on ‘The State of Higher Education in Pakistan’, at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) Monday.

Dr Mukhtar called for a need to create impact of knowledge so that Pakistan’s education-related problems could be solved. “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.”

On the issue of fake degrees, he said making the information public about validity of degrees (of MPs) has damaged the reputation of the HEC. In the context of the 18th amendment, he said that there should be a centrally-agreed 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.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Muhammad Qaiser, Vice Chancellor, University of Karachi called for more funding for higher education. “The budgetary share of higher education needs to be scaled up to at least 4 percent,” he said. Dr Asad Zaman, VC of the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) stressed liberal arts and culture as must in university syllabus for Arts subjects. “This is very important as 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.”

Dr 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. Dr Masoom Yasinzai, Rector International Islamic University was of the view 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 percent in global academic literature.

Dr Ali Asghar Chishti, VC Allama Iqbal Open University, also emphasized 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 said there is need for capacity building of teachers.

"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 added.