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24th February 2021: Prior to 3rd Rectors Conference 2021, an important online panel discussion was successfully concluded on the topic of “Debating Pakistan Education Policy 2021: Student Centric Policies and Effective engagement of Students”.

The panel comprising of concerned stakeholders including government officials from Federal Ministry of Education and Professional Training, Vice Chancellors and leading academics suggested various recommendations for incorporating in new education policy which is going to be announced by the federal government soon. The panel discussion was organized by Superior University, Association of Private Sector Universities Pakistan (APSUP), Inter University Consortium for Promotion of Social Sciences Pakistan (IUCPSS), University of Lahore, and Government College University Lahore.

There was consensus among the speakers over vibrant university campuses through active involvement of students in various activities. The speakers urged that the higher education policies should be student centric.  In order to ensure effective engagement of students at the campuses, student societies/clubs should be strengthened.

These student societies should also play an effective role in inculcating values of responsible, critical thinking, citizenship, peace, co-existence, tolerance and harmony. Necessary revisions should be made to incorporate these values as part of curriculum especially at undergraduate level. Through such engagements, students get the chance to enhance their skills in the team work and in leading other students for specific well defined causes. However, there is a need of innovations in this model, and societies/ clubs must start thinking about contributing to the societal issues (rather than restricting themselves to the university/ departmental level activities only). Some recent innovations regarding the student societies at GC University Lahore offer good practical example.

They were of the view that the new education policy should be aimed at producing responsible, active and tolerant citizens equipped with the problem solving, critical thinking , conflict resolution and other required skills.  The speakers emphasized over provision of counselling services at each university campus to provide guidance to the students and faculty over stress and emotional management and future career pathways.  It was also suggested that vibrant university campuses are only possible through independent functioning of student societies/clubs and provision of required space & financial resources for student led activities.

It was also demanded that 34 points Roadmap on Peaceful and Tolerant University Campuses developed by the Vice Chancellors on 19 & 20th April 2017 should be implemented. The panel discussion was conducted was Murtaza Noor Executive Director APSUP while Mr. Mohiuddin Wani Additional Secretary/Focal Person Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training shared the background, objectives and consultation process in formulating new education policy.

The speakers included Prof. Dr. Muhammad Mukhtar Vice chancellor National Skills University Islamabad, Prof. Dr Athar Mehboob Vice Chancellor the Islamia University Bahawalpur, Prof. Dr. Asghar Zaidi Vice chancellor  Government College University Lahore, Prof. Dr. Rukhsana Kasur Vice chancellor Government College Women University Sialkot, Prof. Dr. Razia Sultana Vice chancellor Benazir Bhutto Women University Peshawar, Prof. Dr. Tayyaba Zarif Dean Faculty Social Sciences Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University Nawabshah, Prof. Dr. Rauf I Azam  Pro Rector University of Lahore, Prof. Dr. Wasim Qazi Vice Chancellor Iqra University Karachi, Prof. Dr. Vali Uddin Vice chancellor Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology Karachi and Prof. Dr. Tahir Hijazi Vice Chancellor  Muslim Youth University Islamabad.