LAHORE:26 august: The Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) Friday inaugurated Punjab's first-ever Staff Development Academy during a ceremony at the University of Education. Punjab Minister for Higher Education Raza Ali Gillani was the chief guest on the occasion whereas PHEC Chairman Dr Nizamuddin was also present. Addressing the ceremony, Minister Higher Education Raza Ali Gillani said that the Staff Development Academy (SDA) had been established under the Faculty Pedagogy Skill Programme of the Punjab government with a total outlay of Rs 176.087 million. "The establishment of the academy is one of the remarkable efforts of the Punjab Higher Education Commission to improve quality of teaching at college and university levels," he added. The minister said that the Punjab government was striving hard to bring the higher education's system on a par with international standards and the department was investing resources and efforts to achieve this goal. "The establishment of the training academy is aimed at strengthening the teaching profession in Punjab by providing substantial professional learning opportunities, modelling highly effective educational practice and identifying teachers, who are committed to development of young people and to their own professional excellence," he added. In his address, PHEC Chairman Dr Nizamuddin said that there was a dire need of qualified faculty and staff in higher education institutions of the province. "We are facing shortage of qualified teachers in our colleges and universities as more than 5,000 PhD slots are vacant," he added. Published in Daily Times, August 26th 2017.