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November 18, 2011

Higher education ratio has risen to 7.8pc: HEC chairman


November 18, 2011

HIGHER Education Commission Chairman Javaid R Laghari has said that in 2008, the ratio of higher education in Pakistan was 2.5 percent but after the HEC’s initiatives, it has reached 7.8 percent and the government has a vision to increase the figure by 15 percent till 2020.
He stated this while addressing a meeting with Punjab University Vice-Chancellor Mujahid Kamran, deans, chairpersons and other faculty members at the university. Senator Jahangir Badr, who had come to attend his PhD class, was also present.
The HEC chairman said that the greatest challenge was to reach out to the people in remote areas at their doorstep and financially support the students who could not afford higher education. He said unfortunately, Pakistan was way behind other Muslim countries in the field of education, adding that there were over 12,000 research publications a year in Iran while Pakistani universities were producing 6,000 to 7,000 research publications annually. He said the higher education was meant for creation of knowledge and our real challenge was knowledge creation.
Laghari said Pakistan needed qualified faculty for research. He said there was an average of 25 percent PhD faculty members in the country but it was amazing that the number of regular PhD faculty of the PU was 40pc. He said he was happy to hear that the PU was producing over 100 PhDs a year while all Pakistani universities collectively produced 700 PhDs last year.
The HEC chairman said that the commission was supporting 7,500 scholars out of which 3,500 scholars were studying in foreign countries who would join Pakistani universities in the next three to four years. He said the government had a plan to have 15,000 PhDs in the next 10 years. He said that besides focusing on quantity, the HEC was also ambitious to ensure quality education and research and for the purpose, the chairman said, various steps had been taken, including establishment of the directorate of distance education,

introduction of associate degree programs, regulating colleges and keeping a check on them by the universities, quality enhancement cells (QECs), accreditation councils, pilot project of the Institute of Performance Evaluation of the universities, etc. He said 89 QECs were functioning in Pakistan and three technology parks were being setup while more incubators were being established, the number of which would touch 12 soon. He said that every single reported case of plagiarism was being pursued and there was an annual increase of 15 percent in research. Laghari said that despite inflation, the HEC was funding universities with Rs300 million. He said that although we were facing financial constraints but the higher education was our future.
He said that because of lack of funds, academic institutions could not afford paying 50 percent basic increase in the salaries announced by the federal government. He said if the government did not pay heed to provision of facilities to the universities and financial benefits to faculty members, foreign countries, like Saudi Arabia, might attract our human resource after offering them good salaries. Dr Laghari, citing examples of 40 billion dollar Facebook, Hawlett-Packard etc, advised the graduates to focus on creating jobs for themselves. He lauded the services of Badr against the devolution of the commission. Jahangir Badr said that no country could develop without education and he would talk to the government functionaries at all levels about the academic projects briefed to him.

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