US and EU ambassadors address seminar organized by Sindh Madressatul Islam University in Islamabad

Islamabad, January 22, 2016

Sindh Madressatul Islam University, Karachi organized a seminar on "International Peace and Stability through Education" on Friday at a local hotel. Mr. David Hale, US Ambassador, inaugurated its opening session.

Addressing the seminar US Ambassador extended his sincere gratitude to Vice Chancellor SMIU Dr Muhammad Ali Shaikh for inviting him in the seminar.

The US Ambassador said that Pak-US relationships are promoting education opportunities in both the countries on priority basis. "Education is a key factor for prosperous and safer Pakistan," he said and added that Sindh Madressatul Islam University is a very distinguish institute of Pakistan because founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had studied over here. "I am happy that today I am talking to the future leaders who are students of SMIU," Mr. Hale added.

He said that from Jamshoro to Peshawar, the US has been cooperating to Pakistan for improving educational institutions. He was of the view that 12000 scholarships have been created for Pakistani citizens though Higher Education Commission. Elaborating future projects he said that we will launch educational, sciences and technology project.

The last session of the seminar was presided over by European Union Ambassador to Pakistan Mr. Jean Francois. Speaking on the occasion he said that today he was addressing to the future leaders of Pakistan. He said the peaceful society can be built only through education. He further said that we are offering a number of scholarships to Pakistani students, and we want that more students of Pakistan should avail such educational opportunities at EU.

"We are already working for educational promotion in Sindh and hopefully will work with same spirit in future also," Jean Francois added.

The Vice Chancellor SMIU Dr Muhammad Ali Shaikh said that US and EU ambassadors are very keen to improve and promote education in Pakistan. "We have provided opportunity to our students to have face to face interaction with various brains of the success,'' Dr Shaikh said.

He said that today education is the only mean to eliminate terrorism from society. Similarly, education is also a great shield against discrimination and terrorism.

Later on, Dr Muhammad Ali Shaikh presented souvenirs and traditional Sindhi Shaal to EU and US ambassadors.

Earlier, 10 groups of SMIU students gave presentations on the subject of "Peacekeeping Though Education." In the last VC SMIU distributed prizes among winner students and awards to the best category students of 10 days National Leadership Program.

The seminar was part of 10 day National Leadership Program-2016, in which students of SMIU visited different varsities including NDU, NUST, AIOU, AIZ and PIDE. The SMIU delegation also had meetings with different government officials, Chief Justice of Pakistan, Chairman Senate, Chairman NAB and Federal Ombudsman. Also they visited National Assembly and other places.

National Seminar on Higher Education in Pakistan: The Way Forward

Karachi, October 16, 2015

Mr. Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Sindh's Minister for Education and Literacy has said that higher education was necessary for nation's progress and development. Hence, more universities should be opened in the country, especially in Sindh, where only 50 universities working in public and private sector, can't fulfill needs of huge population of the province. He said this while addressing inaugural session of "National Seminar on Higher Education in Pakistan: The Way Forward," which was organized by Sindh Madressatul Islam University at a local hotel on Friday, October 16, 2015.

Mr. Nisar Ahmed Khuhro said that we were not in favour of mushroom growth of universities in public and private sector, but there was a need of quality universities in Pakistan and Sindh province. The provincial education minister while emphasizing on merit based selection of students and faculty, said that we must concentrate on research. The distance learning was also a one way for getting education that should not be discouraged. He also said that after passage of 18th amendment the provinces were allowed to establish their own Higher Education Commissions, and now Sindh has its fully functional Higher Education Commission. He further said that our universities need funding, quality, encouragement and good faculty and students.

Mr. Khuhro said that Pakistan was doing well in education sector, but when we compare our universities with the universities of other countries, we feel that we must move forward in this respect. He said that there were more opportunities of higher education in Pakistan; hence we have to concentrate on quality of higher education in the country.

He also congratulated Dr Muhammad Ali Shaikh, Vice Chancellor of Sindh Madressatul Islam University on organizing this more important seminar.

Ms. Sharmila Farooqui, Special Assistant to Chief Minister Sindh said that Pakistan was confronting with an issue of quality of higher education. Hence, there should be merit based selection of faculty and students. She said that the enough funds should be allocated for scholarships for students. Also endowment fund should be set up for research work by faculty. She said that there was a continuous need of reviewing our syllabus. She also said that SMIU must open its campuses in other cities of Sindh like Sukkur, Larkana and other cities to provide quality education to poor students, who could not come to Karachi.

Mr. Mazharul Haq Siddiqui, former Vice Chancellor of University of Sindh said that human resources are very important for development of any country, while higher education is equally important for any nation's progress. He said that we must give importance to our primary education, thereafter, higher education could be improved. He said we were far below in investment in education sector and that was only 2 percent, hence education budget must be increased and more universities be opened specially in rural areas of Sindh, as almost all universities were situated in urban areas.

Earlier, Dr Muhammad Ali Shaikh, Vice Chancellor of Sindh Madressatul Islam University in his welcome address extended his deepest gratitude to the guests especially vice chancellors who came from other provinces of Pakistan. He said that main objective of holding this seminar was to discuss the issues related to universities and higher education in Pakistan and find ways to move forward. He said that this was a first seminar of its kind that SMIU has organized in the country. Dr Shaikh said that we must think on it why majority of our universities was not generating good results. He said that there were weaknesses of our higher education system. This is why; only one person - Dr Abdul Salam had received Nobel Prize so far. He said that outdated syllabus and politicization of teachers and students were among the problems facing universities. Hence, we must focus on quality of our higher education.

Vice Chancellors of various universities and noted academicians talk on governance, financial sustainability, research and other subjects related to universities and higher education

Prof. Dr. Javed Iqbal, Vice Chancellor, University of Balochistan, Quetta has said that Higher Education Commission should not be integrated in each province and the country must not establish its separate Higher Education Commission. Speaking at the technical sessions held on "Governance of Universities/ Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) and "Financial Sustainably of the Universities/Higher Educational Institutions," during the National Seminar on Higher Education in Pakistan: The Way Forward, he said that due to having different Higher Education Commissions in the country, quality of higher education will be destroyed. He said our universities were providing good quality education, hence instead of sending graduates to other parts of the world; we must encourage PhD and M.Phil study over here in our country.

Professor Dr. Dost Muhammad Baloch, Vice Chancellor, Lasbela University of Agriculture, District Lasbela said that sustainability comes with good governance. He said that governance of universities in each province is different. He said that good governance is related with financial sustainability.

Dr Akhtar Baloch, Vice Chancellor, Benazir Bhutto Shaheed University Lyari, Karachi said that governance is related to maintaining transparency and accountability in the universities.

Professor Mohammad Rais Alvi, Director KASBIT, Karachi said that without financial sustainability, it is very difficult to manage good governance. He said that the most universities are being run without financial assistance.

Professor Dr. Muhammad Haleem Khan, Vice Chancellor, Women University of AJK, Bagh, Muzaffarabad said that universities and their selection boards are not independent. He said that we instead of real universities are creating quantity of universities. Hence, universities must be independent in every way such as coordination and selection of faculty and students.

Dr. Javed Ashraf, Vice Chancellor, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad said that if we can improve quality education in existing universities then what would be purpose of establishing new universities in each district of the country. He said that many universities of the country have at least 35 years old equipments and other material, hence how can these impart quality education. He said that universities have limited sources, hence fees should be increased.

Dr Javed Ashraf said that the best way of quality research work is to hire faculty that have good research work on their credit. He said that good academic learning will lead to the best research. Hence, young faculty should be sent to the universities of other countries include USA, from where they can improve their research work qualities.

Dr Hamida Khuhro, noted historian while addressing the third technical session which was held on "Promotion of Quality Research" congratulated Dr Muhammad Ali Shaikh for organizing this very important seminar. She said that the quality research work was not being carried out, hence without quality research work, we couldn't move forward.

Dr. Hamida Khuhro said that research was about to do something new. Also interest of students in research work should be developed from their school days, so they can become good researchers while reaching to the level of higher education. She said that the researchers should concentrate on local problems for their research.

Prof. Dr. Shahida Hasnain, Vice Chancellor the Women University, Multan, said that all universities are deprived of funds; hence we have no labs and other basic facilities at the universities. She said that we are not giving proper time to research work. She was of the view that the faculty was being selected on academic courses, but not on research work.

Dr. Muhammad Memon, Chairman, Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, Hyderabad said that without research work, we could not survive. He said that there must be scholarships for research work in the country. He said that we need to have a national agenda and road map for research. He said that the regional partnership was available for research; hence we must utilize it and grab such opportunity.

Dr. Iqbal Panhwar said that without research we can't do progress. He said that outdated curriculum must be changed, while the pattern of doing M.Phil and PhD is also abusing.

Mr. Fazlullah Pechuho, Secretary Education and Literacy, Government of Sindh while addressing the last technical session held on the subject of "Perspective from Pakistan's International Partners in Education" said that with restoration of law and order situation in Pakistan, our country will emerge as a force in education and economy in the world. He said that Sindh government has launched many educational programmes with the help of donor countries. Among these programmes are Community Mobilization Programme and Public – Private Partnership that will support in brining reforms in education sector.

The provincial education secretary further said that teachers cannot manage administrative affairs of schools; hence administration and teaching cadre have been separated from each other. Now managers and directors will look after the administrative matters of educational institutes.

Consul General of Russia Mr. Oleg N. Avdeev in his speech said that research and higher teaching are a great source of Pakistan, but it requires more practical touch and establishment of more educational institutions in Pakistan. He said that there was only one university in Karachi that has singed MoU with Russia. He offered SMIU to send a batch of its students to study for few months in Russia. "These exchanges could be very fruitful as we have space research and technology, hence they can benefit from it. He said that we are working with Pakistan on these lines to establish linkages between both countries and we are offering ten free scholarships to Pakistan's students.

Ms. Rita Akhtar, Executive Director United States Education Foundation, Islamabad, Pakistan said that during current year Karachi has got more Fulbright Scholarships. She said that in the year of 2005 there were just 10 to 20 students of Pakistan who had availed said scholarships, now its number has been increased. She said Pakistan's students should be encouraged to get US degrees. Besides it, there were many other scholarships for education in USA, so Pakistan's students should avail such opportunities.

Ms. Sarah Parvez, Head of Higher Education, British Council Pakistan said that British Council was working in 110 countries of the world, and it was working with Pakistan since 1948. She said that the British Council was collaborating with many universities in Pakistan and wanted to give an international perceptive to Pakistan's universities. She said we were engaged in learning and training of Pakistan's students and teachers.

Mr. Lars Bergmeyer, Director, DAAD Information Center Islamabad said that research in universities was very important for economic development. He said that there were many scholarship holders of Pakistan, who got education and training from Germany and now serving their own country Pakistan. He further said that we all should strive for academic freedom, understating and to develop research in this scenario.

Talking in a session held on "Improving the Teaching and Learning Environment," Mohtrama Shahnaz Wazir Ali, President, SZABIST, Karachi said that institutions are build on quality education. She said knowledge skills were needed for research; hence we proactively should promote these areas.

Prof. Dr. Muhammad Aslam Uqaili, Vice Chancellor, Mehran University of Engineering and Technology, Jamshoro, said that there was a need to provide quality training to teachers. He said our country has many sources, but we were lacking behind in quality of higher education. Hence, we have to improve quality of our higher education.

Dr. Zahoor Ahmad Swati, Vice Chancellor, The University of Agriculture, Peshawar said that higher education in the country can be improved through competent and committed teachers. "Teachers should be role models for their students, and teachers should engage their students in creativity and research work," he said.

Prof. Nisar Ahmed Siddiqui, Director, Institute of Business Administration, Sukkur said that the higher education was considered as a tool for economic growth in a country. He said the government, academia and industry can jointly bring change in the higher education.

All the six technical sessions were followed by Question-Answer sessions also.

Concluding session

Dr Sikandar Ali Mandhro, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Environment and Cooperation Government of Sindh has said that universities are backbone of the Nation, thus, we can solve problems of our country through education. Similarly, knowledge is important to reduce curse of ignorance. He said this while speaking at the concluding session of "National Seminar on Higher Education in Pakistan: The Way Forward."

Dr. Mandhro said that resources of universities must be developed, that will benefit people of the country. He said that young generation must become exemplary citizens and that objective can be achieved through quality education. He also said that the federal as well as provincial governments should provide funds to the universities. He said vice chancellors, serving at different universities, can guide the governments in respect of financial and other related matters and we will follow their advices.

Mr. Shah Jahan Khan, Coordinator to Chief Minister Sindh said that more attention should be paid to universities for progress of the country. He said that more quality people should be produced for development of the country. He said if we want developed and harmonious country, then we must give priority to quality higher education.

Vice chancellors of difference universities also gave their concluding remarks during the session and said that higher education should be on priority of federal as well as provincial governments and their financial matters should be resolved.

In the end Dr Muhammad Ali Shaikh, the host of the event and vice chancellor of Sindh Madressatul Islam University once again thanked to the honorable guests, and wished that the higher authorizes will act upon the suggestions given by the speakers in the seminar. On this occasion he gave customary gifts as Ajrak and shields to the guests.