- National education emergency is need of the hour: Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman
By Hamid Khan Wazir
ISLAMABAD: Prof. Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman, Chairman Prime Minister’s Task Force on Science and Technology, has stated that national education emergency is need of the hour and recommended an increase in allocation to education by federal and provincial governments by 0.5% of GDP annually till it reaches 5.0% of GDP over next 5 years.
He was addressing a webinar on the topic of “Budget 2021-22: Needs & Expectations of Higher Education Sector” organized by the Association of Private Sector Universities Pakistan (APSUP), Superior University, Inter-University Consortium for Promotion of Social Sciences Pakistan (IUCPSS), University of Lahore, Government College University Lahore, and FPCCI Central CSR Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology here on Thursday.
Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman said that 33% should go to higher education and the rest 67% be spent on schools, colleges, and technical education. He suggested at least 5% of all colleges should be converted to high-level technical colleges with foreign collaboration to ensure high-quality skilled workers, and 5,000 students should be sent on scholarships for Ph.D. to top 200 universities abroad annually to pursue emerging technologies. He further suggested major national programmes for technology parks and promotion of innovation/ entrepreneurship, funding for knowledge economy task force projects in emerging areas of industrial and agricultural importance, promotion of high tech manufacturing/ value-added exports through appropriate policies and incentives.
He was of the view that the tenure track system of appointment of faculty members in universities should be revised to attract top foreign faculty to Pakistan. He recommended the expansion of the matric-tech program in schools across Pakistan to provide technical training at the matric level.
Chairman Vice-Chancellors Committee and Vice-Chancellor Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad, Dr. Muhammad Ali Shah suggested allocation of Rs 150 billion in the new budget as a recurring budget in order to overcome the years-long deficit and financial problems being faced by Pakistani universities.
Prof. Dr. Muhammad Ali, Vice-Chancellor, Quaid-e-Azam University & Chairman Vice Chancellors Prof. Dr. Shafiq-ur-Rehman, Vice-Chancellor, University of Balochistan, Quetta, Prof. Dr. Tayyaba Zarif, Vice-Chancellor, Government College University Hyderabad, Imran Masood, Vice-Chancellor, University of South Asia & spokesperson APSUP, Prof. Dr. Gul Majid Khan, Vice-Chancellor, Islamia College University Peshawar and Prof. Dr. Nek Muhammad Sheikh, Central President, FAPUASA, participated as panelists.
The stakeholders recommended allocating 5% of GDP for education, involvement of stakeholders and end-users across Pakistan in the policy formulation process, equal opportunities of scholarships, research grants, and faculty training both for public & private sector, one window facility for issuance of NOC and accreditation of academic programs in order to avoid unnecessary delays, restoring the role of HEC as a supportive and facilitative organization, respecting the autonomy of the universities, restoring tax rebate to 75% for teaching & research community, the establishment of a contributory fund for payment of pensions, encouraging the role of the private sector in the higher education sector, the revival of the indigenous scholarship program and special grants for the mobility of sharing expertise, existing facilities, experience, and knowledge. They also vowed to undertake collaborative efforts in order to overcome challenges being faced by the higher education sector.
In the end, Prof Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman assured that these important recommendations by the stakeholders would be communicated to the concerned quarters.