A consortium of leading universities of the country has demanded the government to increase funding for social sciences.
An Inter-Universities Consortium (ICU) of nine public and private sector universities made the joint declaration on Sunday in a meeting held at COMSATS University Abbottabad.
Vice-chancellors of the universities and other speakers discussed the importance of social sciences in a state’s economic development and stressed that Pakistan’s political and economic crisis can only be resolved through the promotion of social sciences.
The speakers called for establishing social sciences councils across the country, providing equal funding and scholarships for this discipline as for other disciplines, and to set up laboratories for research in the discipline in all universities of the country. They added that though social science has been accorded importance globally, it has always been neglected in Pakistan.
The speakers also expressed concern over the meagre funds allocated for education, and higher education in particular.
“Because education has never been a priority of the government, it has never achieved its development targets,” said one speaker. He said that while the world over at least 5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is spent on education, Pakistan only spends 1.7% of its GDP for the sector, of which only 0.7% is allocated on higher education. “If we are interested in putting the country on the road to economic development, we need to increase budget allocations for education, for higher education, and above all for social sciences,” he added.
Taking to the media, IUC Chairperson and Vice-Chancelor Bahawalpur University Dr Mukhtar said that the consortium has found an endowment fund to be used for the development of social sciences. He that the consortium’s purpose is to promote research and linkages between all public and private sector universities of the country, to encourage student faculty development and arrange seminars and workshops in this regard.
He suggested that the Higher Education Commission (HEC) should set up offices at the district and provincial level to play its role in the promotion of higher education.
Dr Mukhtar said that thought nine universities are part of the ICU so far, other universities are being considered to become part of the syndicate.
Vice-Chancellor Gujrat University Dr Nizamat Din, Prof Nilofar Sheikh from Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai University and Dr Nasir Khan from HEC also spoke during the meeting.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2012.