Islamabad, March 20, 2023 (PPI-OT):The 5th Vice-Chancellors’ Forum of Universities in the Islamic World on the theme “Towards Disruptive Technology in a Globalised World” was inaugurated in Islamabad on Sunday. Over 250 Vice Chancellors, including 40 from 20 OIC countries participated in the Forum, which was aimed at sharing experiences, pooling resources, fostering collaborations, strengthening networks between universities, and promoting dialogue on the future of higher education in the Islamic World. The VC Forum 2023 was jointly organized by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Pakistan, Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, Islamabad, COMSATS University Islamabad (CUI), Islamic World Educational, and Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO), and British Council Pakistan.
While speaking during the opening ceremony, Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training, Rana Tanveer Hussain, as chief guest, emphasised the need for skill development of youth and that the universities needed to respond more effectively to the rapidly developing realities. The Minister called upon all Islamic countries to pool resources and expertise to benefit the entire Muslim Ummah. He said the most important outcome of education is the development of a good moral character.
He highlighted the need to develop a framework for mutual recognition of degrees among OIC member states, which can potentially facilitate greater movement of skilled manpower and increase collaborative research between Islamic countries. Dr. Salim M. AlMalik, Director General, ICESCO, while referring to the Holy Quran said that Mankind has been given limited knowledge, yet this little knowledge has caused great disruption such that what is taught in universities is almost redundant by the time students graduate.
He informed the audience that the development of robotics would make 97 million jobs obsolete in the next 10 years, 375 million people would have to switch their jobs, causing immense disruption and increasing the digital divide. Dr. AlMalik also emphasised the need to reconstruct the glorious Islamic heritage in science. Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman HEC urged the participants to contemplate how the Muslim Ummah can be steered into the right direction. He reminisced the immense contributions of early Muslims, that were fundamental to advances in science and technology being at the root of global development today.
He gave an overview for establishing the platform of VC Forum and how it will help higher education institutions in the Islamic world to collaborate and contribute to socio-economic development. Dr. Ahmed called for devising tangible initiatives and support of the Governments for reshaping the higher education landscape in the Islamic world. Speaking at the closing ceremony, Federal Minister Mr. Ahsan Iqbal emphasized the need to realign the places of learning with the global explosion of knowledge and information technology. The Minister said that Islamic world had given up on their fundamental heritage which was observation, inquiry, reflection and critical thinking.
“This lies at the root of underdevelopment in the Islamic world”, he said. The Minister outlined a seven-point reform, audit and performance plan that universities in Pakistan would have to follow in future. This includes academic excellence in imparting knowledge, research and innovation, strong academia industry linkages, community service and contribution to society, technology enablement, corporate governance, and above all impact of graduates in society.
He also said that this framework will result in formation of a premiere league of universities which will prepare them to advance into top 100 universities of the world. High Commissioner of UK to Pakistan, Andrew Dalgeish said that UK remains committed to the educational and cultural relationship with Pakistan. He said that a significant partnership between British Council and HEC has resulted in a large number of qualified Pakistanis joining the local skills market. “Pak-UK Education Gateway is one of the key projects that is part of the global partnership programme.”
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