A think tank on higher education in Pakistan consisting of noted academic experts, writers, analysts, representatives of civil society and youth organisations was formally set up in Islamabad on Sunday.
The mandate of the initiative is taking stock of various challenges faced by the higher education sector in Pakistan as an independent body. Besides, the think tank would also engage in lobbying activities with stakeholders concerned, including parliamentarians and political leaders in order to urge them to include and prioritise higher education in their election manifestos and governance policies.
The body would also strive towards effective implementation of constitutional clauses related to education and higher education sector, ensuring academic freedom and autonomy of universities and promotion of civic education and peace building at university campuses.
Members of the think tank were of the opinion that the selection process of key appointments in higher education sector, including chairpersons of federal and provincial higher education commissions and vice-chancellors were carried out without vetting by an independent authority and the think tank would keep a check on such appointments in order to ensure transparency.
It would also establish provincial, regional and, subsequently, district levels chapters for active participation of stakeholders. It would also prepare reviews and assessment reports on various higher education developments and issues and budgetary allocations on a regular basis.
Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) President Dr Kaleemullah Barech welcomed the setting up of the working group, saying it was a milestone towards promotion of higher education in the country. Coordinator of the working group, Muhammad Murtaza Noor said the body would be greatly helpful in bridging the gap among academia, civil society, parliamentarians and policymakers. He said many senior and reputed academics, writers, analysts, law and higher education experts from across the country had expressed support for the cause of the working group.