ISLAMABAD ( BMZ REPORT )
The 10th Meeting of the Committee of Heads of University Grants Commission/ Equivalent Bodies of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Member States was inaugurated by Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs here on Monday. The meeting then witnessed selection of Pakistan as Chair of the Committee. Dr Mukhtar Ahmad, Chairman Higher Education Commission, took charge as Chairperson of the Committee UGC/ Equivalent Bodies.
Addressing on the occasion, Mr Sartaj Aziz, welcomed delegates from Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka, to Pakistan. He congratulated the HEC for its untiring efforts for successfully arranging the event under the umbrella of SAARC. He said Pakistan as a founding member of SAARC is committed to the principles and objectives enshrined in SAARC’s principal charter, its social charter and its development goals. He said over the years Pakistan has contributed to the efforts and took major steps to advance SAARC ideals and objectives. He highlighted the overall assessment in the field of education and literacy and pointed out that higher education cannot be isolated from the preceding levels of education that is quality of primary and secondary education .
Improvement in quality at all levels of education is essential or there would be a mismatch. He also highlighted the progress made since the inception of the Higher Education Commission. He also shared the Government’s Fee reimbursement schemes for students of less developed areas, technological readiness through provision of laptops for 100000 students nationwide and Youth Internship programme. He dwelt on the comprehensive Vision 2025 for economic and social development aims to focus on the goal for achieving knowledge economy.
While appreciating the outgoing chairperson in his opening address, Dr Mukhtar Ahmed expressed his pleasure at hosting the event in Pakistan and said that for countries to develop investing in education was a basic requirement. He stressed that the SAARC countries faced similar challenges and collaborations and cooperation in research and development could prove beneficial to all.
He said, ‘ It is necessary to use this forum and use education diplomacy to achieve the results of the Millennium Development Goals that have yet to be achieved.” He shared plans to make the Committee a forum that would show tangible results in the field of higher education.
Prof Hamidullah Amin, President of Private Universities, Ministry of Higher Eduation , represented Afghanistan, Dr. Muhammad Mohabbat Khan Member University Grants Commission represented Bangladesh, Mr. Tshewang Tandin from Bhutan, Ms. Fatimath Amira from Maldives, Dr. Parashar Prasad Koirala, Chairman University Grants Commission, Nepal Prof, Ved Prakah, Chairman UGC India and Prof Mohan De Silva , Chairman UGC Sri Lanka expressed their confidence in the new Chairperson to fulfil the aims for enhanced cooperation between member states.
Later sessions discussed the initiatives that can be taken by heads of HECs/UGCs in respect to mutual recognition of degrees, establishing contacts in research and teaching, achieving common regional education standard, cooperating in quality assurance and accreditation mechanism, harmonizing curriculum of member states and cooperation in open and distant learning. The need to strengthen the mechanism and promote research for applied solutions was also stressed.
Earlier in the meeting Mr Y. K. A Rohan Aijith , Director SAARC Secretariat, shared the message of Mr Arjan Bahadur Thapar, Secretary General SAARC. He presented the brief history of the meetings of the Committee of Heads of University Grants Commission/ Equivalent Bodies of SAARC Member States.