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Wednesday February 28, 2024

Universities, HEC to play role for flood victims

By Our Correspondent
August 30, 2022

Islamabad: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) and the universities of Pakistan have committed to further mobilise their resources for immediate, mid-term and long-term relief of the flood affected areas of the country.

In this regard, an online meeting of the vice chancellors of public sector universities was held on Monday. Addressing the meeting, HEC Chairman Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed appreciated the universities who have already taken initiatives for immediate support of people in flood-affected areas. He said that Pakistan’s higher education sector has always responded to challenges of natural calamities, be it 2005 earthquake, 2010 floods, the issue of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) or other similar situations.

The chairman urged the university leadership to categorise their efforts into immediate, mid-term and long-term plans. “I know many universities are doing this already but I would emphasize that provision of food, clothing and shelter to the affected people should be our top priority, with subsequent plans for medical camps by medical universities as well as respective services of agriculture, engineering and veterinary universities, etc.”

Dr. Mukhtar urged stronger collaboration amongst universities of similar disciplines for better identification of issues and their solution, and establish university clusters for food security, health and nutrition, livestock (including fisheries and poultry) and infrastructure.

The chairman said that HEC’s IT division has been tasked to immediately create a web portal for mutual sharing of information among universities so that all activities of higher education sector for flood-affected areas are executed in a coordinated manner.

He also asked the Rector Virtual University for establishing a centralized database integrated with the portal for data collection, information sharing and to facilitate a coordinated effort. There was a consensus among the participants that no student of any university who belongs to affected areas should be denied right to education because to his/her inability to pay the fees. The university heads were urged to defer tuition and hostel fees of deserving students so that there is no disruption in their studies.

The universities were also asked to contribute at least one day salary of their employees for flood relief that may be subject to consent of the employees particularly those serving in lower grades. The meeting was also informed that a live audited account will be established at HEC for collection of donation and sustained rehabilitation of the flood-affected people across the country. A number of vice chancellors from different provinces shared their ongoing activities for the flood victims and shared with other university heads different possibilities of playing their part. They thanked HEC for taking this step to facilitate better coordination among higher education institutions.