Bahawalpur: 20 May: Prof. Dr. Muhammad Mukhtar, Vice Chancellor, the Islamia University of Bahawalpur represented Pakistan at the Senior Seminar on Higher Education Regionalization in Asia Pacific: Implications for Governance, Citizenship and University Transformation.
This seminar was hosted by the Hong Kong Institute of Education in collaboration with the East-West Center and Centre for Governance and Citizenship of Hong Kong and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Bangkok office. Participants from Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Pakistan, Philippines, and Thailand gave an overview of governance, citizenship and university transformation issues in Asia Pacific region. Major objective of this seminar was to evaluate issues several countries are facing in the Asia-Pacific region and find out ways to promote regionalization in higher education.
Prof. Dr. Mukhtar participated in discussion relevant to regionalization of higher education in the Muslim World. He urged that higher education in the Muslim World should be seen in perspective of its historical contribution and isolating higher education in the Muslim and poor nations will create disparities and unrest in the World. While appreciating ideas of this joint group meeting he said that regionalization in higher education is in accordance with the Muslim values. He quoted Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) saying that “Seek Knowledge even if you have to go to China”. As Arabia is far from China and Muslims were advised to collaborate on higher knowledge without any differentiation in religion or creed.
During discussion session various questions were raised about educational system in the Muslim World. Prof. Mukhtar mentioned that several organizations like OIC Standing Committee on Scientific & Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH) and Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) are trying to implement regionalization, however, it will be pertinent that developed world should be more open towards accepting the idea of promoting regionalization without any discrimination. In responding to a question regarding affiliated colleges system in Pakistan, he mentioned that we understand bottleneck of education system in Pakistan and Higher Education Commission is striving to rectify this issue in our educational system. An idea from Dr. Mukhtar was highly appreciated that the Islamia University of Bahawalpur is going to be a global pioneer in utilizing cell phone in their distance education system.
Furthermore, he mentioned that the Islamia University of Bahawalpur has also initiated outreach programs by utilizing other organization’s infrastructure and building for educational purposes. In responding to appreciation of UNESCO representative Prof. Mukhtar mentioned that there is no question that South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has wonderful collaborative mechanism, however, he showed his willingness to collaborate with neighboring India, China, Afghanistan for higher education development.
Prof. Dr. Muhammad Mukhtar in his presentation highlighted the state of public sector universities in Pakistan and said that at the time of independence there was only one institute of higher education but currently there were 132 universities recognized by the Higher Education Commission in the country for a population of about 180 million.
Higher Education Commission is facilitating institutions of higher learning to serve as an engine of growth for the socio-economic development in Pakistan. It was established in 2002 through a Presidential Ordinance and its basic mandate is to build a knowledge-based economy. It also evaluates, improves and promotes education and research in Pakistan, with the development of leadership, governance and management in the universities. Its strategy to develop human resources improve access and achieve excellence in learning and research, keeping all these activities in relevance to national priorities. Its responsibilities also include the submitting of the recurring and development budget to meet the financial requirements of the public sector institutions.
The HEC of Pakistan has initiated a number of programmes aimed at developing collaboration within the country as well as on regional and international level. It is a fact that quality adds value to higher education, hence HEC regularly monitors and evaluates quality assurance.
The pay offs of programmes of foreign faculty hiring, Post-Doc scholarships, Master scholarships and learning innovation are beginning to appear now. A huge amount of Rs. 345 million has been incurred on HEC sponsored research in the year 2009-10. HEC also awarded 986 travel grants, which have been crucial in promoting regionalization.
There has been tremendous research growth from Pakistan which is ranked as first in two areas of Microbiology and Plant and Animal Sciences. At present Pakistan is among those countries with highest percent increase in total citations in the worlds, best science research Journals. Pakistan’s National University of Science and Technology (NUST) and University of Engineering and Technology Lahore are ranked among the top 300 technology universities with NUST at 274 and UET at 281 ranking.
Prof. Dr. Muhammad Mukhtar also highlighted the future projects of HEC, which are aimed at producing world class leadership, governance and management. He said that HEC Pakistan is committed to bring sustainable change through education. Therefore it is the dire need of the hour not to just erect the buildings but to build the bridges between higher education and society, industry and among all nations of the world.