Education minister urges universities to focus on skill development

ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training (FE&PT) Shafqat Mahmood on Saturday urged the heads of higher education institutions to focus on imparting education based on skill development to prepare students for national and international job markets.
He made these remarks while addressing the opening session of three-day Vice Chancellors Committee meeting being co-hosted by the Higher Education Commission and the British Council Pakistan being held here.
Briefings on a number of subjects including Tree-10 bill, improving undergraduate education employability, Higher Education Development Programme and NAHE Fellowship programme besides launch of Online and Distance Learning Policy will be other highlights of the meeting.
Besides vice chancellors from across country, the ceremony was attended by Minister of State for Climate Change, Ms. Zartaj Gul, Executive Director HEC Dr. Shaista Sohail and Mr. Amir Ramzan, Country Director, British Council, Pakistan.
Addressing the meeting through video link from Lahore, Mr. Shafqat Mahmood stressed that developing skill-oriented curricula and degree programmes is very important, particularly in the context of rapid changes in employer needs. He laid special emphasis on significance of measures needed to ensure constant improvement in the quality of education alongside an increase in access and an emphasis on relevance of education and research.
“No doubt, Pakistan needs an increase in the number of universities as the country’s population is continuously growing, however, this should not happen at the cost of quality.” He also urged the vice chancellors to pay special attention to character building of the students.
Minister Shafqat Mahmood highlighted that around 10 million students benefited from the Tele-school initiative, adding that the government is planning to dedicate at least five channels for education.
He expressed satisfaction over the improvement in performance of Pakistani universities as many universities have recently made it to international rankings.
State Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul Wazir highlighted the salient features of Tree-10 draft bill.
He said that the government’s efforts to promote plantation are vital for future generations of Pakistan, adding that according to experts Pakistan is highly prone to the negative impacts of climate change amidst urban flooding and famines and droughts in Thar.
Addressing the university heads, she emphasised, “We need to convert your knowledge and experience into practical solutions for issues like hazards of climate change.”
Zartaj Gul said her ministry wants educational institutions, especially students, to take ownership of the underlying concept of plantation.
She also underlined the universities’ role in promoting tolerance in the society.
In her welcome address, Executive Director HEC Dr. Shaista Sohail said that the ecosystem for education must be synchronised with the national goals.
She underlined that higher education must generate knowledge, produce research, promote entrepreneurship, innovation and commercialisation, community engagement, and peace in society, as well as play a pivotal role in economic uplift of a country.

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