The recent alarm bells over rising extremism and intolerance among university students look set to be answered as public universities across Punjab have devised a plan to promote students’ interaction that will lead to peace and harmony among the youth enrolled at leading educational institutions.
As a result of a joint collaboration between University of Education and Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC), a plan has been devised by the directors student affairs (DSAs) at various varsities. DSAs are generally considered the primary points of contact between university administrations and students and deal with many of the issues faced by students. The plan has been divided into three sections — central, north and southern – following detailed discussions over the issue of rising extremist trends among students.
The DSAs agreed that there was a great need to enhance interaction between students enrolled at various universities through cultural, sports, literary and co-curricular activities and events. They have also highlighted the need for strengthening student societies and organising workshops for students that expose them to various perspectives for promoting peace, tolerance and conflict resolution.
Also among the plans are better facilities for counselling through students service centres. The DSAs plan also includes provisions for seminars, peace walks, social media summits and training of office bearers of all societies of the region about structure, functions and resources, open mind student forum for general students and appointment of peace proctors at departmental level. The DSAs also suggested the Punjab government allocate a sum of Rs 500 per student in order to engage them in various extra-curricular and constructive activities in a meaningful way.
Talking to reporters, University of Education Lahore Vice Chancellor Dr Rauf-e-Azam said the participants of the discussion agreed that strengthening of directorates of student affairs would be extremely helpful in addressing the issues of violence and extremism at the campuses. He said the university representatives had also decided to learn from each other’s experiences and expertise aimed at safe, peaceful and tolerant university campuses, adding that regional forums of universities would be established in this regard.
Dr Rauf said Punjab Minister for Higher Education Syed Raza Ali Gillani and PHEC Chairman Prof Dr Muhammad Nizamuddin had assured the meeting of their complete cooperation for effective implementation of the plans.