A privilege for all: Free education from prestigious universities for all from Dec 12

The initiative has been started by the Latif Ebrahim Jamal National Science Information Centre at Karachi University .

Our Correspondent December 06, 2013
The initiative has been started by the Latif Ebrahim Jamal National Science Information Centre at Karachi University. PHOTO: AFP/FILE


Without paying a penny, people can avail education from Harvard University, a Ivy League institute, at anytime and from anywhere in Pakistan and across the world from December 12. All you have to do is pay for the degree.

Through its integrated and massive open online courses, the Latif Ebrahim Jamal (LEJ) National Science Information Centre at the University of Karachi intends to make courses from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, Stanford and other colleges free for everyone.

The aim is to provide students in Pakistan the same education as those available to students from prestigious universities. The initiative, said former Higher Education Commission chairperson Dr Attaur Rehman, has the potential to change the landscape of higher education in Pakistan and the developing world.

“While enormous effort undergoes to build and fund a large number of colleges, universities and technical institutions across Pakistan, a major bottleneck is the unavailability of highly qualified faculty,” said Dr Rehman.

He was speaking at a press conference along with Dr Muhammad Iqbal Choudhary, the director at KU’s International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences, on Friday.

Dr Rehman explained that despite the technological revolution brought by the internet in the last two decades, its role in the realms of institutionalised education through the availability of online courses was far from clear till the last few years.

Only recently, premier institutions began of offer to the world in-house resources, ranging from varied disciplines of social sciences to medicine, technology, engineering and business administration.

The resources offered by leading educational institutions across the globe were, however, scattered throughout the web, said Dr Rehman, necessitating the need for a sophisticated ‘aggregator’ to arrange the resources of about half a million lecture hours subject-wise and school-wise.

The initiative, referred to as LEJ Knowledge Hub, is set to offer thousands of full-time courses, skill development modules, research-based lectures, and online mentoring sessions through conjoining top-notch global resources, including MIT Open Courseware, a Harvard University initiative called Udacity,  MIT’s Khan Academy, Open Yale Courses offered by Yale University and Stanford Engineering Everywhere, the brainchild of Stanford School of Engineering.  Meanwhile, the resources through Pakistani institutions, including the LEJ’s courses and lecture series, HEC online courses and courses offered by Virtual University, are also a part of the initiative.

“The massive learning platform from various major world sources aims to ensure accessibility, structured mentoring, an assessment system, credit recognition and issuance of certificates and degrees wherever possible,” added Dr Choudhary.

Dr Rehman said that the inaugural ceremony of the LEJ Knowledge Hub will be held at the Governor’s House on December 12, where President Mamnoon Hussain will inaugurate the knowledge resource.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 7th, 2013.


Sajid Bhanji | 7 years ago | Reply

Salute to Dr. Ata ur Rehman and his team for a wonderful job.

Basit | 7 years ago | Reply

I am surprised to see misinformation in this article and just pure namedropping of brand name universities. First, Khan Academy has nothing to do with MIT; it's a great resource provided by sal khan and has many investors helping him including the largest from bill gates. Second, udacity has nothing to do with Harvard; it's started by an innovator who was a former professor at Stanford but this is his and his company's sole endeavor. Third, yes, materials and instruction are available all over the web but what we need to realize is that there is a lot more that's needed to excel than just knowledge of the material though it's a good start.

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