Panel discusses education policy amid policy announcement on March 23

BAHAWALPUR: An online panel discussion held on Thursday on the topic of “Debating Pakistan Education Policy 2021”.

The panel comprising concerned stakeholders including government officials from Federal Ministry of Education and Professional Training, Vice-Chancellors, Central President Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association suggested various recommendations for incorporating in new education policy which is going to be announced on 23rd March.

The panel discussion was organized by Superior University, Association of Private Sector Universities Pakistan (APSUP), Inter-University Consortium for Promotion of Social Sciences Pakistan (IUCPSS), University of Lahore, and Government College University Lahore.

There was consensus among the speakers over declaring education emergency, spending at least 4 per cent of GDP on education and allocating one-third of education budget over universities, discouraging rode learning and improving assessment at an intermediate level, respecting, protecting the autonomy of universities and academic freedom at university campuses, review of recent undergraduate and PhD policies, formulation of policies in consultation of stakeholders, introducing one window procedure for award of charters, recognition of universities and approval of new academic programs to avoid years-long delays, encouraging the role of the private sector in enhancing access to higher education, ensuring the effective engagement of students through strengthening student societies and directorates of student affairs and restoration of 75 per cent tax rebate for researchers.

The panel discussion was conducted was Murtaza Noor Executive Director APSUP while Mr Mohiuddin Wani Additional Secretary/Focal Person Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training shared the background, objectives and consultation process in formulating new education policy.

The Vice-Chancellor University of South Asia and former Education Minister Punjab, Mian Imran Masood highlighted importance and contribution of the private sector in higher education and recommended equal treatment to public and private sector universities in terms of policies and funding, Vice-Chancellor GCU Lahore Dr Asghar Zaidi emphasized over innovations in student societies/clubs as they should start thinking about contributing to the societal issues rather than restricting themselves to the university/ departmental level activities only.

Rector International Islamic University Islamabad, Dr Masoom Yasinzai suggested for the award of 50 scholarships each for the faculty of nine public sector universities of Balochistan at Chinese universities so that they, as trained human resource, may play an effective role in CPEC related projects. Vice-Chancellor Islamia University Bahawalpur Dr Athar Mahboob and Vice-Chancellor University of Hazara Dr Jamil Ahmed were of the view that special attention should be paid to resolve the problems being faced by the universities in far-flung areas.

They also recommended that policies in higher education should be aligned with ground realities and based on proper situational analysis, data and proper consultation with the stakeholders and end-users.

Head Campus SZABIST Larkana Dr Zahida Abro underlined the importance of active and effective participation of women in the education sector and demanded immediate steps in this regard.

Secretary IBCC Dr Ghulam Ali Mallah talked about uniformity in assessment and discouraging rode learning at the intermediate level through learning from best practices and enhancing the capacity of intermediate boards.

Central President Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association, Dr Sohail Yousaf suggested that new education policy should incorporate protecting autonomy of the universities, academic freedom and sufficient funding to the universities.