INTERVIEW: SEEMA MUGHAL VICE CHANCELLOR GREENWICH UNIVERSITY

THERE IS A NEED OF PRIMARY EDUCATION COMMISSION

AMANULLAH BASHAR
Nov 09 - 15, 2009

Seema Mughal, the Vice Chancellor of Greenwich University strongly believes that education plays a key role in national building and for sustainable knowledge based economic growth of the country.

Having clarity of mind regarding development of education sector, Seema Mughal says that basic education which should be the first priority area in the field of education with the potential of providing grounds for national building needs a lot of improvement on urgent basis.

Although she heads a higher learning centre she feels that without improvement in the primary education higher education sector can not produce the desirable results. So far the improvement of primary education has not been given a serious thought in Pakistan and more and more focus has been given to the development of higher education sector.

Ms Anita Ghulam Ali the renowned educationist has established an autonomous body namely Sindh Education Foundation which is doing a wonderful job in the province of Sindh for the uplift of primary education sector. Under this scheme she has adopted various schools and is looking after management and operation of these schools. Undoubtedly, that is a job which cannot be done with out passion and dedication for the cause of education.

Seema Mughal has been declared as the women of the year in the field of education and she has been awarded "star laureate 2008 by South Asian Publications Pakistan. She has a unique approach for development of the education sector in Pakistan. She said that higher education sector had done really well during recent years by producing quality graduates. Although more and more universities and business schools are coming up, a very little has been done for basic education on grass root level.

'We don't have any primary education commission. There is a strong need for a Primary Education Commission with all powers for policy making and substantial amount of funding to provide guidelines both to public and private sector schools,' she recommended in an interview with Page.

"In fact our education model needs restructuring with the emphasis on primary education because it is basic education which plays the role of a feeder to the higher education sector. Look at the Sri Lankan Model of education that paid more attention and value to the basic education and that helped them to achieve over 95 percent literacy rate."

Committed to spread the light of education for the good of the society, she spoke at length over financial supports and budgetary allocation for education sector. She said that budgetary allocations were very important. Yet what really matters is the application and a strong follow up of these resources, she underscored.

In Pakistan a major chunk of budgetary allocations goes to higher education while the basic education sector is not given the share it deserves. Referring to the policies chalked out at the central level, she said, it was projected that the budgetary allocation for education sector should be raised to 7 percent of the GDP. So far the parameters set by this government are good, she said.

Replying to a question regarding utilization of the government funds for the training of the teaching staff at primary level, Seema Mughal said at primary level the teachers imparted knowledge to children but if they were underpaid or deprived of other facilities quality of education at this important children development stage would never upgrade.

"I believe we must have a Primary Education Commission that will work like Higher Education Commission which keeps check and balances on research and development works, teaching quality, and so and so forth of higher learning institutions. The same pattern of vigilance should be adopted for primary education sector with an emphasis on better remuneration for primary teachers so that these teachers could produce better quality raw material for higher education," she observed.

If this chain of supply is established on strong grounds the graduates will catalyse attainment of knowledge based sustainable economic growth for the country, she believed.

Higher Education Commission has dome marvellous job during last four to five years in improving the quality of higher education. In order to improve the performance of students and institutions the HEC initiated 5000 indigenous fellowship programs in 2003. In this mega project 500 scholarships were awarded over a period of five years. That was a good step forward to make quality graduates and the results of this have already started appearing in the field of management sciences.

She said that trade bodies like Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) were taking keen interest in the research work being carried out in universities and they had a program to make use of these research works for industrial and corporate sector developments.

Discussing the role of higher education in socio-economic growth, Seema Mughal said with determination regardless of the sources of financing higher education institutions had taken itself to task of knowledge transfer to the society. The contribution to the economy is self evident in the increasing employability of youth. Realizing the role of higher education centres in social building and development of human resources, the government should also design policies to further promote, regulate, and finance higher education sector.

She did not agree with the idea that due to lack of opportunities, most of the quality graduates departed from the country especially to the United States, making the nation deprived of the national assets. In fact when the economy grows, new industries are established that automatically creates job opportunities and that in turn retains the talent within the country and if the opportunities are not made available within the country why the ambitious young graduates prefer to live in a depressed atmosphere, she argued.

It is of vital importance to make timely decisions for the nation and unless we stop working on short terms goals it will be hard to achieve impressive results. Universities have to foster team working for the betterment of the society and the economy.

Historically, these were the very education centres that put fuels to the Pakistan's movement which culminated in the creation of a new country. 'We have to induce a similar spirit of nation building in our younger generation so that they assign first priority to make Pakistan stronger, she observed in a firm tone.

VICE-CHANCELLOR HONORED WITH TAMGHA-E-IMTIAZ

CONTRIBUTION IN THE FIELD OF EDUCATION AND PUBLIC SERVICE ACKNOWLEDGED

In recognition of her noteworthy achievements in the domains of Education and Public Service, the Government of Pakistan nominated Ms Seema Mughal for Tamgha-e-Imtiaz an award conferred upon people for extraordinary achievement in various fields.

Ms Seema Mughal's contribution in the field of higher education is significant for enhancing and encouraging literacy in Pakistan. As one of the founders of Greenwich University and the President of Greenwich Education Society. Earlier in 2006, she was named the "Woman of the Year" in Education.

Being the Vice-Chancellor of Greenwich University, she has always strived to make this institution a principal seat of learning where students can get an education as good as that imparted in foreign universities. She pioneered the concept of a foreign degree when the foundation of Greenwich Institute was laid in 1987. It was initiated in a bungalow with just 32 students enrolled in MBA. The idea of imparting useful education in affiliation with UK and USA universities at an affordable price at home lied at the heart of the project. Ms Seema Mughal's commitment to the noble cause and her conviction made headway and within a short span of four years, the university was shifted to a purpose-built campus, which could accommodate over 1500 students.

In 2007, the Higher Education Commission placed Greenwich University in the top category 'W'. Ms Mughal envisioned the necessity of research in academia and launched the Board of Advanced Studies and Research for students' facilitation. Moreover, the Quality Enhancement Cell assures maintenance of quality in every sphere of teaching and research.

Greenwich University with Ms Seema Mughal's vision has evolved into a complete lifestyle where the youth of Pakistan obtain much more than just degree with an aim to serve the country and humanity.


PAKISTAN'S LIQUID FOREIGN RESERVES POSITION

The total liquid foreign reserves held by the country stood at $ 14,226.2 million on 31st October, 2009. The break-up of the foreign reserves position is as under: -

i) Foreign reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan: $ 10,639.2 million
ii) Net foreign reserves held by banks (other than SBP): $ 3,587.0 million
iii) Total liquid foreign reserves: $ 14,226.2 million