'50% cut in HEC budget to hurt programmes'

Published: June 13, 2019
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A Reuters file photo showing graduating students. PHOTO: REUTERS

A Reuters file photo showing graduating students. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Slashing the budget for the Higher Education Commission by half will hurt the programmes it had devised for further promoting higher education in the country.

This was stated by the commission’s chairman Dr Tariq Banuri on Wednesday at a ceremony to mark the revival of the Higher Education Commission’s (HEC) National Academy of Higher Education (NAHE).

Dr Banuri said that owing to the financial crisis, the federal had approved only Rs59 billion for the commission against the demand of Rs103.5 billion.

“For development budget, HEC had demanded Rs59 billion but the government approved only Rs28 billion,” the HEC chairman said.

The government had allocated cumulative Rs109 billion for HEC in 2018-19 as against Rs87 billion in 2019-20.

The commission’s chief hoped that NAHE will help meet future challenges of the education sector.

Addressing the launch ceremony, President Dr Arif Alvi emphasised the need for evolving an education system which caters to the requirements of current and future challenges.

NAHE, he hoped, will become a centre of excellence for capacity building and skill development with the overall aim of enhancing the quality of teaching and learning, research, academic governance and leadership in higher education institutions.

“The dream of a golden tomorrow will not come true without development in the education sector,” President Alvi said.

He observed that NAHE will have to play its part and providing dynamic means to meet academic challenges.

“HEC will have to look at the needs of tomorrow and plan accordingly,” the president said.

Nations are built by people, therefore, quality of teaching and learning must be given due importance, as teaching embodies all the skills required to the dissemination of knowledge and effective communication.

President Alvi stressing the importance of quality education said effective use of human intellect could lead to building a better, knowledgeable economy.

Countries which made tremendous growth understood the elevation of masses through education ultimately achieved the goals of development and reduction of poverty.

The president said education required good teaching complemented by perfect communication skills to transfer knowledge to students.

He mentioned that the human factor in teaching was still important even after the introduction of artificial intelligence.

Teaching embodies all those skills by which knowledge has been given, borrowed and learned over centuries, he added.

Emphasizing the capacity-building of teachers at primary and higher education levels, the President said the system of their promotion should be based on seniority and competence.

He said the current education metrics that judge the performance of students needed to be altered to assess their knowledge capacity.

He said nations were built not by the governments, but by the people and stressed the role of all institutions in contributing to social reformation, may it be mosque, television or social media.

Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood said the government was taking measures for improvement of education in the country and had allocated resources for various academic programmes.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2019.

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