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Arslan Haider

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The Vice-Chancellors should devise a viable strategy to attract international students to encourage diversity and internationalization at their campuses. To this, they need to adhere to the parameters of quality assurance, create an enabling and conducive learning environment, and ensure merit at their campuses.

This was stressed by Raja Yassir Humayun Sarfraz, the minister for higher education and information technology Punjab while talking to the vice-chancellors during a five-day Leadership and Management Program, today, here at Faletti’s hotel. Lahore. The program is being organized by the Punjab Higher Education Commission for honing the managerial and leadership skills of the heads of public and private sector universities of Punjab.

On this occasion, the minister for higher education and information technology Punjab emphasized on harnessing information and technologies for effective teaching-learning process, saying “the world has become smart, the classrooms also need to get smart”, adding universities needed to introduce innovative teaching tools and improve the visualization and creativity of the students.

The minister lauded the efforts of the Punjab Higher Education Commission and assured the fullest support of the government towards improving the quality and access to higher education in Punjab.

Earlier, speaking to the participants during a session on Quality Assurance, the Chairman Punjab Higher Education Commission Prof. Dr. Fazal Ahmad Khalid said that this was an era of Education 4.0, the modern technology had disrupted the existing practices in all areas; education was not an exemption. “Universities have to work in line with the parameters of the modern knowledge economy to enhance their visibility on global ranking radars”, the chairman said. He emphasized “knowledge economy, today is all about innovation— innovating your curricula, classrooms, teaching-learning approaches—if you are not visible on the digital sphere, you don’t exist”

Dr. Fazal maintained that education was one of the important goals of the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda 2015-30 for which Pakistan was a signatory. He maintained that universities had a key role in achieving the targets of SDGs not only in education but also directly or indirectly for other goals. He further said that the PHEC aligned with the National Education Priorities of the government. “We have had meetings with the vice-chancellors, and submitted their recommendations to the federal government through provincial authorities to be included in the National Education Policy”.

He stressed that the quality of education could not be bettered than the quality of education providers, “Punjab Higher Education Commission has introduced the university of the year award to better the performance of the universities against the quality parameter carefully selected based on three global ranking agencies namely Times Higher Education (THE), Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), and Shanghai World Ranking” the best university will be award recognition, he added. The vice-chancellors assure their fullest commitment to the cause of improving the quality of education and lauded PHEC for arranging such a useful program. The training program will conclude on Sep. 17, 2021.

Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar has announced establishing a research chair at the Government College University Lahore in the name of the late Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the veteran Kashmiri separatist leader and former chief of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference.

The governor was addressing a condolence reference for the late Syed Ali Geelani which was organized by the Kashmir Society of GCU Lahore. Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Asghar Zaidi, Dr. Syed Mujjahid Gilani, the grandson of Syed Ali Geelani, and eminent journalist Salman Ghani were also present.

Speaking on the occasion, Chaudhry Sarwar paid tribute the courageous struggle of Mr. Geelani, saying that he had struggled all his life for his people and their right to self-determination. He said Geelani was an uncompromising campaigner against Indian rule in Kashmir, and he devoted his entire life to the independence of Kashmiris.

“Syed Geelani always looked in the eyes of enemy and loudly said we are Pakistan and Pakistan is ours,” the Punjab governor said.
He also announced that a block in Punjab University would be named after the Syed Ali Gilani.

Vice Chancellor Prof. Asghar Zaidi also highlighted Geelani’s decades-long struggle for Kashmiris’ right to self-determination, saying that the great Kashmiri leader suffered incarceration and torture by the occupying Indian state but remained resolute. He welcomed the decision of the governor to establish the Syed Ali Geelani Chair at GCU.

The participants prayed for Syed Geelani and conveyed their condolences to his family.

In an ongoing effort to promote youth education and employment, Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF), the country’s largest skills development fund has joined hands with Pakistan’s cellular and digital services frontrunner, Zong 4G, to launch an online course called ‘How to E-lance’.

The course will equip 10,000 youth with the knowledge to become professional freelancers, teaching these young learners to launch online careers on the world’s top two freelancing platforms: Fiverr and Upwork. Through the course, students will gain critical knowledge on the best ways to set up their online profiles to gain customers and create a network of clients.

The partnership is part of Zongs’s #LetsGetDigital campaign, aims to support youth in achieving the national digital agenda. Mobile users that are Zong customers will be provided free internet data to complete the course online. Learners will be rigorously trained for three weeks to develop the skillset required to become successful freelance service providers.

This initiative is part of PSDF | e-Tayyar, the program area dedicated to preparing youth in valuable digital skills, for readiness in employability and income-generating opportunities in the emerging digital world. As Pakistan becomes the world’s top destination for hiring freelancing professionals, a skilling strategy to help the upcoming work force is imperative to maximize its rise in the international market.

“Leading Pakistan’s ICT-led digital transformation, we take it upon ourselves to upskill the Pakistani youth to make them job-ready in today’s increasingly digital world, shared Mr. Wang Hua, Chairman and CEO Zong 4G. “We’re pleased to have collaborated with PSDF to design the ‘How to E-lance’ course to make our youth future-proof when it comes to employability in a hyper-digitalized marketplace,” he added.

Jawad Khan, CEO PSDF, reiterated, “This is the ideal time to take robust action and direct our youth towards earning opportunities available in the global freelance market. Our partnership with Zong actively supports them by providing the necessary resources and technical knowledge they need to successfully initiate their journey”.

PSDF is also collaborating with Huawei to provide 300 smart tablets to top PSDF trainees, encouraging them to participate in this course and secure their future. These steps will expand the digital learning outreach and support even more young people, especially women, who often face mobility challenges to also get digitally connected and establish online careers.

Chairman Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) Dr Fazal Ahmad Khalid has decided to step down as Chairman here on Friday.

Sources told Academia Mag that Dr Fazal Ahmad has been appointed Rector Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering, Science and Technology (GIKI). His appointment is a major reason behind his resignation from the post of Chairman PHEC.

Sources also told that a notification regarding his appointment as Rector GIKI had also been issued by the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training on August 31, 2021.

Notification no F.No. 1-73/2021(IC-II) was issued by Section Officer Fahad Javed which reads, “I am Director to refer to GIKI Topi Swabi KP letter dated 21st May 2021, on the subject noted above and to convey that the President of Pakistan/Chancellor GIKI has been pleased to appoint Dr Fazal Ahmad Khalid as Rector GIKI for period of three years w.e.f 30th August.

The decision of resignation by Chairman PHEC Dr Fazal Ahmad may add problems for PHEC which is already facing several crises.

University of Management and Technology (UMT) held a seminar on “Rule of Law and Democracy” here on Wednesday, senior advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan Aitzaz Ahsan was chief guest on occasion.

Aitzaz Ahsan also called upon President UMT Ibrahim Hasan Murad and endorsed the way UMT is producing quality graduates of all fields. He also appreciated the young leadership skills of Ibrahim Murad and said that he is upholding the legacy of his father Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad (Shaheed) very well. Ibrahim Murad expressed that scholars and lawyers like Aitzaz Ahsan are the real intellectual asset of Pakistan. President UMT Ibrahim Murad also presented a souvenir to Aitzaz Ahsan.

While speaking at seminar Aitzaz Ahsan said that democracy is a legal right of every Pakistani and our responsibility is not just to declare ourselves obliged to serve it by only voting. He explained that democracy will rule when every segment of society will pay respect to each other’s. He elaborated the meaning of democracy which means discussion and debate of ideas, having the right to freedom of expression, and involves tolerating everything with faith and positivity.

Aitzaz Ahsan discouraged a democracy in which the lower class is not treated equally. Where there is no patience, there is no democracy, said Aitzaz Ahsan. He further said that the Rule of Law written in books has no power until it is reflected in the way we think, in our attitudes as well as personality. He also accepted the fact that we need to provide a better Pakistan to our future generations.

Seminar was attended by Head OCM Saqib Akhtar, faculty of UMT School of Law and Policy, students and PhD scholars from other departments.

The Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) has been suffering from severe financial crises as the Commission has failed to impress the Punjab government for getting its required budget.

As per the sources, PHEC demanded Rs 1540 million for the fiscal year 2021-22 in terms of development budget but Punjab Government only allocated and awarded Rs 290 million to the commission. However, in terms of non-development budget, PHEC demanded Rs 787 million but only Rs 225 million were awarded by government.

The reliable sources told Academia Magazine that due to negligence of higher leadership of PHEC, government awarded five times less budget than the required by the commission. The sources told that the Punjab government is not happy with the performance of PHEC which may be a reason behind the decrease in budget.

The sources added that PHEC’s performance was not as per the government’s expectations especially during last year which might be one of the reasons behind decreasing the budget.

The PHEC also failed to utilize one-third of the development budget issued in Fiscal Year 2020-21 till February 2021. The sources also informed that the commission also sent several PC 1 for approval and budget but they were all ignored by the government. PHEC demanded Rs 61 million in terms of different PC, sources informed this scribe.

Interestingly, PHEC was given Rs 95 million for phase one of establishing community colleges but it didn’t utilize even 10 percent of the total amount, sources told adding that Rs 110 were demanded by PHEC but zero amount was given by the government in this regard.

However, in contrast to the low budget, PHEC has huge expenditures including hefty salaries of higher management. The commission spends Rs 112 million in terms of salaries, Rs 18 million for the training of college teachers, Rs 10 million for conferences and seminars, Rs 54 million for operational expenses and Rs 28 million for purchasing of assets.
The sources also told that despite the low budget and higher expenditure, PHEC managed training for Vice Chancellors in a luxurious hotel where around Rs 10 to Rs 20 million will be spent by commission.

Parliamentary Secretary for Federal Education & Professional Training Wajiha Qamar on Wednesday launched Inter Board Committee of Chairmen (IBCC) E-Office at IBCC Secretariat Islamabad.

IBCC Secretary Dr Ghulam Ali Mallah briefed the Parliamentary Secretary on the utility and benefits of E-Office. Dr Mallah said that it is an urgent need to adopt E-Filling and office automation system, as it is cost effective, have digital backup, automation data retention, easy access to data and will decrease the carbon footprint.

Speaking on the occasion, Wajiha Qamar said that IBCC had been following the directives of Prime Minister by introducing transparency, ease of doing business, applicants facilitation and use of technology. She said that according to the vision of Prime Minister and following the directives of Federal Education Minister the launch of E-office will expedite the office affairs at IBCC Secretariat and will bring transparency. She added that the adoption of digital system would eliminate outdated office system and the new system would track the file which lead to timely implementation of government policies and would also bring transparency in affairs of the organization.

Ms Wajiha Qamar appreciated the efforts of Secretary IBCC Dr Mallah and his team for successful launch of e-office.Ch Jameel Waraich, Project Director (E-Office) NITB ensures that IBCC specific E-Services will also be integrated with E-office by NITB.

President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi has said that the uniform syllabus is a step towards building a united nation, the government has introduced a single national curriculum and announced massive scholarship for students to promote education in the country.

Addressing the joint sitting of the Parliament at the Parliament House in Islamabad on Monday at the advent of 4th Parliamentary Year, he said differently able people have been exempted from tuition and hostel fee by the Higher Education Commission, enabling them to become a vibrant and productive segment of the society. He said the government has paid special focus on safeguarding the rights of differently able people and women.

He said various programmes have been launched to provide skill training to youth. He said 1.7 million youth has so far been provided vocational training in this regard.

The President said the government has been implementing a number of social security initiatives under Ehsaas programme for social economic development of people. He said 208 billion rupees have been allocated for this programme that will benefit about thirty percent of the population. He said Ehsaas Nashonuma, Waseela Taleem, Ehsaas Kafalat, Ehsaas Scholarship, Emergency Cash, Langarkhana and Koi Bhooka Na Soye programmes would significantly contribute to social economic development across the country.

The President said the youth are being provided easy loans for starting their own business. He said that 100 billion rupees have been earmarked for this programme and fifteen billion rupees have so far been distributed among the eligible candidates.

Regarding protections of women rights, the President said the government has not only made effective legislation but also took administrative measures to prevent incidents of sexual harassment against women and children. He appreciated the government for undertaking legislation to protect women’s hereditary rights.

Alongside imparting education, universities must equally focus on enhancing the employable skills of the students, cultivating their values, and trimming their attitudes to maximize their employability chances in the market.
This was said by Chairman, Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) Prof Dr. Fazal Ahmad Khalid, today here on Monday, September 13, 2021, at Faletti’s Hotel, Lahore while addressing the inaugural session of the five-day Leadership and Management Training program for the Vice-Chancellors of public and private universities in Punjab.
The inaugural ceremony that was organized by Punjab Higher Education Commission and attended by Amjid Saqib, Executive Director Akhuwat Foundation, Secretary Higher Education Department, Govt. of Punjab, Commission members of the PHEC, vice-chancellors of public and private sector universities in Punjab.
To this end, universities need a competent team and an inspiring leader. Through inspirational leadership, and effective management universities can cope with the emerging challenges in higher education and achieve good governance at their campuses, he added.

The chairman maintained that the program would provide an opportunity to vice-chancellors to strengthen their networking and to enable them in transforming the higher education institutions in order to improve academic excellence and international ranking. Prof. Dr. Fazal Ahmad expressed his resolve saying, the initiative would enhance vice chancellors’ commitment to ensuring sustainable education, quality, standards at their institutions while contributing towards the socio-economic development of the country.

Addressing this occasion, the chairman PHEC Prof. Dr. Fazal Ahmad said that industry 4.0 had revolutionized the world and proven disruptive to the traditional mode of governance and leadership, the vice-chancellors, in order to effectively run the campus affairs efficiently had to re-align themselves as per the imperatives of this changing environment. He said that PHEC had trained vice-chancellors from public sector universities in the first phase last year. “The program was appreciated by the participants and there were calls for another program for the freshly appointed vice-chancellors. The current batch of the training program has included vice-chancellors/rectors from private sector universities as well” he added.

Secretary Higher Education Department, Govt. of the Punjab Syed Javed Iqbal Bokhari, also addressed the participants. He said that the performance of universities was linked with the individual performance of the vice-chancellors and stressed making universities centers of excellence in education, research, and public service. He added that the role of vice-chancellor was crucial in this regard and they needed to work hard to improve the standards of universities at par with international parameters and to compete with global higher education institutions. The secretary maintained that the higher education department with the collaboration of the Punjab Higher Education Commission has developed the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the vice-chancellors. He added that the best-performing vice-chancellors against these indicators would be awarded recognition.

Syed Javed Iqbal Bokhari further said that the government under its reformative agenda in the higher education sector had also prepared the universities model act to systemize and harmonize the operations of universities in the province. He lauded the efforts of the Punjab Higher Education Commission for organizing the second batch of the vice-chancellors leadership and management program saying that the universities were facing tremendous challenges regarding academics and administration, the program would help vice-chancellors to develop new insight for better intuitional planning and growth through sharing of experiences and best practices implemented by the eminent higher education institutions.

Earlier addressing participants, the Executive Director of Akhuwat Foundation, Dr. Amjid Saqib emphasized value-based education and character building of the students, saying that the life of Prophet Mohammad (SAW) offered a guide for all of us to model such traits. He appreciated PHEC on the organization of such a needed program and lauded the leadership of Prof. Dr. Fazal Ahmad Khalid. The five-day program will address a wide range of topics on leadership and management including developing teaching excellence, roles of students and faculty, quality enhancement mechanisms, financial management in Universities, leveraging Information Technology, and Institutional, Transformation. The program will conclude on September 17th, 2021.

Ulema from different schools of thought and leaders of religio-political parties have termed the Single National Curriculum (SNC) in accordance with the Constitution of Pakistan.

The joint declaration released after the meeting chaired by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Middle East and Interfaith Harmony Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi and participated by Ulema from different schools of thought on Sunday, said the rules about rights of interfaith harmony, women and minorities were clear and loud in the Single National Curriculum.

The joint declaration stated that it was clearly mentioned in the Single National Curriculum that students from non-Muslim community were not bound to get the Islamic education, saying that Single National Curriculum will help reduce religion-based crimes in the country and establish interfaith harmony in society.

The declaration maintained that India was behind recent spike in sectarian based violence in Pakistan, adding that Pakistan at every platform will expose the real face of India.

It further stated that those active against the Single National Curriculum tried to damage the image of Pakistan. The Ulema participating in the meeting stated that the incumbent government did well to take measures and implement the Single National Curriculum across the country.

They stated that nation had already rejected propaganda of a group of few men and women active to run campaign against Single National Curriculum.

Ulema said that subjects which played role in eradicating prejudice were included in the uniform curriculum. They also asked America to set free Aafia Siddiqui as the Afghan war had already ended and there was no justification to keep Aafia in detention further.