The Higher Education Commission (HEC) is committed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) process and feels a special sense of responsibility to incorporate the SDGs process into academic activities in Pakistan. This was stated by Dr Tariq Banuri, HEC Chairman, while talking to a UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) delegation comprising of Musarrat Youssuf, UNICEF Chief, Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Section and Dr Luis Gorjon Fernandez, UNICEF Head of Social Policy.
Dr Banuri briefed the delegation about the major objectives of HEC including progress on increased access, quality and relevance. Since the inception of HEC, the Chairman said, “the access rate has increased from 2.5 percent to 10 percent and HEC is actively working on improvement in quality and relevance.”
Dr Banuri said HEC values international collaborations for promotion of higher education and research in the country. He said “HEC has developed a number of collaborations with various countries including the United States, China and the United Kingdom. He stated that the SDGs are meant to lift up the downtrodden communities, pulling them out of poverty and paucity of education. He maintained that HEC plans to establish a regional research fund to promote research culture at grass root level which will help people of different districts of Pakistan find solutions to their local problems.
The Chairman stressed the need for mobilising masses to work on ignored issues which could help resolve their local problems. “HEC will encourage regional universities or university campuses in districts to collect database and identify challenges and opportunities for research. This Research with ‘small r’ will prove to be very effective in addressing local socio-economic issues,” he affirmed.
Shedding light on the mission of UNICEF, Dr Fernandez said UNICEF works in collaboration with the local, provincial and federal governments to safeguard the rights of children. He said UNICEF Pakistan wants to integrate a forum to work on a welfare policy for children in the country.
Youssuf informed the Chairman that UNICEF is also working on the welfare of Pakistani adolescents. She emphasised on engagement with academia for work on the rights of children and well-being of adolescents.
Dr Banuri said HEC and UNICEF need to identify potential areas and possibilities of bilateral collaboration, as the two sides can undertake joint impact for research programmes with our universities playing a leading role.