Except for a plethora of platitudinous statements at
the time of convocations, or other similar occasions, higher education
was always kept on the back burner in Pakistan. Sure enough, Education
Commissions were set up by each successive governments, and elaborate
education policies were duly formulated; only to be consigned to the
national archives, subsequently.
The feudal class, the obscurantist elements, and
other vested interests combined to ensure that education in general, and
higher education in particular, should not be given the priority it
deserved. They succeeded even beyond their expectations. Even the Iqra
tax, which was supposed to be spent exclusively on education, was
diverted to other uses. And no questions asked!
The fact of the matter is that the importance of
investing in the development of human resources was never realized, even
though the glaring examples of Japan and South Korea were already there.
Ironically, it was left to a military man, President General Pervez
Musharraf, to display a political will which was required to give higher
education its rightful place in the over-all scheme of national
And, in the person of Prof Dr Atta-ur-Rehman, the
President found a person who had the ability, the vision, and most
importantly, the political will to do the job.
Prof Atta-ur-Rehman, and his talented team at Higher
Education Commission (HEC), are going about their task in a sincere,
dedicated, and business-like manner. Adhocism, which had been the bane
of our education policies in the past, has finally yielded to a
well-thought road map. Given the magnitude of the task, they are bound
to encounter some turbulence along the way. Yet, what they have already
managed to accomplish in a fairly short span of time, is indeed
commendable, and augurs well for the future.
In the past, higher education had remained an
exclusive preserve of the state-run universities. But, fortunately,
under the stewardship of Prof Dr Atta-ur-Rehman, it has been eventually
realized that the public sector universities by themselves can not carry
the entire load of tertiary level education. Hence, distrust has yielded
to a more understanding, indeed supportive, attitude towards the private
However, it is pertinent to mention that the process
needs to be expedited, and further strengthened. In view of the obvious
constraints, it would be unrealistic to expect any financial grant or
subsidy for the private sector universities. But surely, the H.E.C.
could play a more pro-active role in providing support for faculty
development by awarding scholarships to teachers and research scholars
of private universities.
The HEC should also assist in promoting greater
inter-action, even linkage, among the public and private universities,
such as exchange of teachers, and the use of libraries and laboratories
by the faculty and research students of private universities. The H.E.C.
has already taken an initiative in that direction by providing access to
30,000 books and journals through the membership of the Digital Library.
Greenwich University is also privileged to be part of this exclusive
We at Greenwich do realize that the dynamics of
higher education have undergone radical changes in recent years. The
stewardship of a country, including its economic policies, cannot be
entrusted to half-educated individuals with myopic visions. That is why
we at Greenwich give so much importance to producing graduates with
rounded personalities, who are well-equipped, and trained, to cope with
the challenges of present-day life.
In the fast-changing global scenario, particularly in
the wake of WTO, there is obviously a need for constant monitoring, and
fine-tuning, of the disciplines and courses being taught at our
universities. We also need to outgrow the concepts of education
inherited from our colonial past, when it sufficed to produce
individuals with a stereo-typed mind-set. Such a lead, and inspiration,
in the fitness of things, must come from the Higher Education itself —
of course, in consultation with the universities themselves, both in the
public and private sectors. It is sad that in past the private sector
universities never formed part of the decision — making. It is about
time that this deficiency is rectified.
We at Greenwich fully share the concerns of Higher
Education Commission towards maintaining the academic standards at the
seats of higher education. We also fully subscribe to their ideals of a
prosperous, enlightened, and educated Pakistan. We have a proven track
record of supporting HEC in all their endeavors in the past; on our
part, we mean to do so in future as well.
The author of this article is the Vice-Chancellor of
The article is written on the occasion of second anniversary of Higher
Eduction Commission (HEC)