ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC) Dr Mukhtar Ahmad Wednesday said about 50 development projects costing Rs 75 billion had been initiated by the present government, to give a real boost to higher education.
These projects would focus on scholarships, new universities, upgradation of old universities and for research work. This target would be achieved within four years, he told APP in an exclusive interview here Wednesday.
The development projects would provide educational opportunities to the students within the country and those acquiring higher education abroad.
“This grant will be utilized at school level as HEC has no role in this regard. However this grant surely will help a lot to promote female education in Pakistan,” he said while explaining the key role being played by HEC in promotion of higher education.
Referring to the recent $70 million grant announced by Michelle Obama, wife of US President for promotion of girls education in Pakistan, he said it would prove to be a step forward in empowering girls and also help them play an important role in the country’s progress.
The grant was announced at a ceremony held at White House, during the recent visit of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif to Washington, which was attended by Maryam Nawaz and Kalsoom Nawaz.
The Chairman said that major natural disasters like earthquake, flood and terrorism in Pakistan had affected the running projects of HEC in the past.
He said that after coming into power in 2013, the PML (N) government focused on promotion of education, as a result the role of HEC was increased.
The Chairman informed that HEC was working in collaboration with Fulbright and USAID aimed at providing scholarships to Pakistani bright students.
On the directive of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, the scholarships were being offered to the top position holders of Pakistan educational institutions purely on merit.
A project of HEC, he said was underway through which Pakistan and the USA would jointly facilitate Pakistani students in getting quality higher education.
“Pakistan will share 33 percent funds for this project,” he remarked.
He said the Ph.d students who had completed their degrees in foreign universities through HEC scholarships were now working in the country in different sectors.
“We are facilitating these highly educated degree holders so that we can utilize their experience and expertise for opening of new industries and development projects in the country,” Dr Mukhtar added.
He said that the Ministry of Planning and Reforms has given special directives that those highly qualified persons who had learnt modern technologies in the foreign countries, the HEC should utilize their expertise to establish new industries in Pakistan.
The HEC, he said has started many educational projects in the less developed areas of Sindh, Balochistan, FATA and AJK.
The HEC, he further said was funding the new universities on priority to enhance their progress and quality of education for prosperity of the country.
Dr Mukhtar Ahmad said that HEC was investing about 50 percent on scholarships aimed at providing the world’s best educational environment to “our bright and talented students”.
These scholarships, he said, have been increased with the passage of time and HEC often stops its other projects to facilitate its students and do not compromise on the scholarships.
“It is the priority of HEC to enhance scholarships for our students,” he said.
Replying to a question, he said that many universities of the world were satisfied of our higher educational system and “now they are offering us scholarships.”
Dr Mukhtar highlighting the problems being faced by the country’s education system said that there were two major problems in the higher education of Pakistan: Quality of education and good governance at the educational institutions.
Unluckily, he said, “We have made education as business rather than paying attention to the quality of education. HEC is trying its best to address this problem.”
He said HEC could not pay full attention to the quality of education in the past due to some inner hurdles but recently it is on our priorities.
“We are resolving our educational issues in collaboration with all governors of the provinces and all higher educational institutions,” he said.
HEC is forming a team based on the professionals which will visit different universities of the country to check their quality and system of education, he informed.
Those universities which did not cooperate with HEC on the quality would be shut down with the orders of government. HEC would not compromise on the quality of education, he said.