While addressing inaugural ceremony of the conference, President of Pakistan Dr. Arif Alvi said that universities must focus on enhancing the quality of education and research in addition to increasing enrolments and publications. As the economy improves, the funding situation for higher education will improve. Mr. Shafqat Mahmood, Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training further clarified that the Government intends to enhance funding for higher education for recurring as well as the development budget.
The President said that while education must focus on developing human intellect, it should also try to ensure that it is relevant to needs of the society. He emphasised that universities should improve their syllabuses, bring it into consonance with social needs and the psychological needs of the students. “Education must be a pleasure, which should not keep the students under a perpetual stress of achievement.”
In his remarks, Mr. Shafqat Mehmood lamented that Pakistan is declining in the Learning Poverty Index, adding that quality has become a challenge with the expansion of access to education. He said the Government has launched the Kamyab Jawan Programme to promote start-ups and incubation activities. He maintained that 50,000 undergraduate scholarships per year have been announced under PM’s Ehsaas Programme.
Chairman HEC Tariq Banuri said that the conference themes correspond with HEC’s reform agenda. He added that the goal of this conference is to start a national conversation about “quality”. He maintained that quality is not a destination, it is a journey.
US Ambassador Mr. Paul Jones stated that the United States is proud of its educational linkages with Pakistan. “I have over three decades in diplomacy and have not seen more effective partner in education than HEC.” He said the United States has recently entered into 23 partnerships with Pakistani institutions, adding that 100 Pakistanis have been sent to the United States under the US-Pakistan Academic and Cultural Exchange Programme.
Director QEC, Mr. Ijaz Ahmad of
Government College Women University Sialkot attended the conference.