Focus on Skills-oriented Education Need of Hour: Education Minister

Islamabad: Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training Mr. Shafqat Mahmood has urged the heads of higher education institutions to focus on imparting education based on skill development as well as knowledge creation so as to prepare Pakistani students for national and international job markets.

He made these remarks on Friday while addressing the opening session of three-day Vice Chancellors Committee meeting being co-hosted by the Higher Education Commission and the British Council Pakistan being held at Bhurban. The meeting will primarily deliberate upon HEC’s Policy on PhD Programs and Undergraduate Education Policy. Briefings on a number of subjects including Tree-10 bill, improving undergraduate education employability, Higher Education Development Program and NAHE fellowship program besides launch of Online and Distance Learning Policy will be other highlights of the meeting.

Besides Vice Chancellors from across Pakistan, the ceremony was attended by Minister of State for Climate Change, Ms. Zartaj Gul, Executive Director HEC Dr. Shaista Sohail and Mr. Amir Ramzan, Country Director, British Council, Pakistan.

Addressing the meeting through video link from Lahore, Mr. Shafqat Mahmood stressed that developing skill-oriented curricula and degree programmes is very important, particularly in the context of rapid changes in employer needs. He laid special emphasis on significance of measures needed to ensure constant improvement in the quality of education alongside an increase in access and an emphasis on relevance of education and research.

“No doubt, Pakistan needs an increase in the number of universities as the country’s population is continuously growing, however this should not happen at the cost of quality.” He also urged the Vice Chancellors to pay special attention to character building of the students.

Mr. Shafqat Mahmood highlighted that around 10 million students benefited from the Tele-schools initiative, adding that the Government is planning to dedicate at least five channels for education. He expressed satisfaction over the improvement in performance of Pakistani universities as many universities have recently made it to international rankings.

State Minister for Climate Change Ms. Zartaj Gul Wazir highlighted the salient features of Tree-10 draft bill. She said that the Government’s efforts to promote plantation are vital for future generations of Pakistan, adding that according to experts Pakistan is highly prone to the negative impacts of climate change amidst urban flooding and famines and droughts in Thar.

Addressing the university heads, she emphasized that, “We need to convert your knowledge and experience into practical solutions for issues like hazards of climate change.” She said her Ministry wants the educational institutions, especially students, to take ownership of the underlying concept of plantation. She also underlined the universities’ role in promoting tolerance in the society.

In her welcome address, Executive Director HEC Dr. Shaista Sohail said that the ecosystem for education must be synchronized with the national goals. She underlined that higher education must generate knowledge, produce research, promote entrepreneurship, innovation and commercialization, community engagement, and peace in society, as well as play a pivotal role in economic uplift of a country.

The Executive Director highlighted the role of Vice Chancellors in creating an enabling environment for teaching, learning, and innovation. She said the Vice Chancellors are making their important contribution to academic, administrative, and financial management. She, however, stressed that there is a strong will needed to deal with the challenges in terms of university governance. She also dilated on the universities’ financial issues, endowment funds, student welfare funds, and medical schemes. She asserted that to deal with these issues, the institutions need to adopt self-sustainability models and implement them with diligence.

Shedding light on the background of HEC-BC partnership, Mr. Amir Ramzan, Country Director, British Council said that the British Council has developed a very strong working relationship with HEC over the last 15 years. “The aim of our collaborative work has been to provide equitable access to quality higher education to the average Pakistani student,” he said.

Author

Arsalan Haider is a reporter at Academia Mag and has worked with leading national dailies and news channels. He tweets @arsalanhaider14

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