President Dr. Arif Alvi has called upon all stakeholders to ensure that all school going children were admitted in schools and all FSC qualified students were admitted to higher education institutions (HEIs). He added that our rate of primary enrollment was only 68% compared to other regional countries’ rate of over 98% whereas higher education enrollment was only 9% compared to around 60% of other regional countries. This, he said, was not sufficient to provide much needed quality human resource required for achieving accelerated socio-economic growth in the country.
The President expressed these views while addressing the Convocation Ceremony of the Virtual University of Pakistan (VU), in Lahore, on Thursday. The convocation was attended by the faculty, and students of VU and their parents.
Addressing the ceremony, the President said that all children of school going age should be admitted in schools and no child should be left behind as education was essential for the country’s development. He said that as compared to other countries in the South Asian region, Pakistan had a low enrolment rate of 68% at the Primary Education Level whereas it was over 98% in other countries. He said that the low enrolment rate at the primary level was alarming and worrisome for the entire nation.
The President said that the universities usually take pride in refusing admissions to thousands of students who desire to pursue higher education which, he said, was deplorable and should be discouraged. He called upon the government and relevant HEIs of the country to ensure 100% admission for all students seeking higher education by increasing their capacity to substantially increase the number of graduates equipped with quality higher education using online and blended modes of learning.
The President said that an educated youth and a skilled workforce were the most essential ingredients for moving forward but unfortunately the pace of producing IT educated youth of 27,000 per year was extremely low as compared to the neighbouring country which produced almost 800,000 IT graduates every year. He highlighted that the most practical and speedy way to fill the gap between the required number of graduates was shifting our education system to internet-based online and hybrid modes which are now increasingly being practiced very successfully in different countries.
The President said the Muslim societies in the past became afraid of gaining new knowledge, were hesitant to adopt innovation, inventions and progress made in scientific, social and management fields and, therefore, were left far behind compared to many countries of the world. He said the Sir Syed Ahmad Khan rightly realized the importance of education and knowledge after the War of Independence in 1857 and urged the Muslims to gain knowledge and education which was the lynchpin of gaining back the lost glory and supremacy. He regretted that till date we were unable to act upon his advice as unfortunately only 68% of our children were admitted in schools at the primary level. He said that by starting now and taking appropriate actions, it would take only ten years to achieve 100% enrolment rate.
The President further said that as a nation we needed to shift our focus from power politics, and should shift our focus to providing quality education to our children and youth. He said that the government, High Education Commission and educational institutions, both in private and public sectors, should devise concrete and speedy pathways to ensure that no student was denied admission in higher education on any pretext or reason.
The President said that Allama Iqbal Open University and VU were doing an excellent job of providing cost effective and quality education to the youth and endorsed the VU’s plan to provide virtual education to Afghanistan, Muslim and other countries which were in need of cost-effective quality education.
Earlier, Rector VU, Prof Dr Arshad Saleem Bhatti, said that VU, established in 2002, was providing higher education and skill training in the IT sector to the country’s youth and had become one of the largest universities in Pakistan in terms of student enrolment. He further stated that 160,000 students were currently enrolled in various programmes of the VU whereas 8000 foreign students were also enrolled. He added that VU was providing the most cost-effective, flexible, inclusive and accessible higher education in the country, besides providing scholarships and awards to the deserving students. He informed that VU was also working on the development of differently-abled friendly and accessible course content.
The President also conferred degrees, and distributed gold medals and merit certificates among the top performing graduates of VU.