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Here are excerpts of an article by Dr. Ata-ur-Rehman published in Pakistan Herald:
On July 23, 2006, an article was published in the leading daily Indian newspaper Hindustan Times, titled “Pak threat to Indian science.” It was reported that Prof C N R Rao (chairman of the Indian prime minister’s Scientific Advisory Council), had made a detailed presentation to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the rapid strides that Pakistan was making in the higher education sector after the establishment of the Higher Education Commission in October 2002 and my appointment as its first chairman. The article began with the sentence “Pakistan may soon join China in giving India serious competition in science.”
Serious apprehensions were expressed before the Indian prime minister at the rapid progress being made by Pakistan in the higher education and science sectors, first under the ministry of science and technology after my appointment as the federal minister of science and technology of Pakistan in 2000, and later under the Higher Education Commission. It was stressed during the presentation to the Indian prime minister that if India did not take urgent measures to upgrade its own higher education sector, Pakistan would soon take the lead in key areas of higher education, science and technology.
Something remarkable happened in Pakistan during the short period from 2000 to 2008 that rang alarm bells in India. It also drew unmitigated praise from neutral international experts. Three independent and authoritative reports, praising the outstanding performance of the HEC, were published by the World Bank, Usaid and the British Council. Pakistan won several international awards for the revolutionary changes in the higher education sector brought about under the leadership of the writer. The Austrian government conferred its high civil award “Grosse Goldene Ehrenzeischen am Bande” (2007) on the writer for transforming the Higher Education sector in Pakistan. The TWAS (Academy of Sciences for the Developing World, Italy) Award for Institutional Development was conferred on the writer at the academy’s 11th general conference in October 2009.
Prof Michael Rode, the chairman of the United Nations Commission on Science, Technology and Development and presently heading a Network of European and Asian Universities (ASIA-UNINET), wrote: “The progress made was breathtaking and has put Pakistan ahead of comparable countries in numerous aspects. The United Nations Commission on Science and Technology has closely monitored the development in Pakistan in the past years, coming to the unanimous conclusion that (the) policy and programme is a ‘best-practice’ example for developing countries aiming at building their human resources and establishing an innovative, technology-based economy.”
Pakistan was poised to make a major breakthrough in transitioning from a low value-added agricultural economy to a knowledge economy. Alas, corrupt politicians with forged degrees plotted to destroy this wonderful institution where all decisions were merit-based, a trait unacceptable to many in power. A government notification was issued on Nov 30, 2010, to fragment the HEC and distribute the pieces. At this point I intervened. It was on my appeal to it that the Supreme Court declared the fragmentation of the HEC to be unconstitutional. The development budget of the HEC has, however, been slashed by 50 percent and most development programmes in universities have come to a grinding halt.
The Indian government need not have worried. We Pakistanis, alas, know how to destroy our own institutions.
Pak threat to Indian science
Pakistan may soon join China in giving India serious competition in science. “Science is a lucrative profession in Pakistan. It has tripled the salaries of its scientists in the last few years.” says Prof C.N.R. Rao, Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Scientific Advisory Council.
In a presentation to the Prime Minister, Rao has asked for a separate salary mechanism for scientists. The present pay structure, he says, is such that “no young technical person worth his salt would want to work for the Government or public sector”.
He adds, “You needn’t give scientists private sector salaries, but you could make their lives better, by say, giving them a free house.”
Giving his own example, he says, “I have been getting a secretary’s salary for the last 35 years. But I have earned enough through various awards.
But I can raise a voice for those who aren’t getting their due.” Last year, Rao won the prestigious Dan David Award, from which he created a scholarship fund. So far, he has donated Rs 50 lakh for scholarship purposes.
The crisis gripping Indian science seems to be hydra-headed. “None of our institutes of higher learning are comparable with Harvard or Berkeley,” points out Rao. The IITs, he says, need to improve their performance: a faculty of 350 produces only about 50 PhD scholars a year. “That’s one PhD per 5-6 faculty members,” says the anguished Professor.
Rao fears that India’s contribution to world science would plummet to 1-1.5 per cent if we don’t act fast. At present, India’s contribution is less than three per cent. China’s is 12 per cent.
“We should not be at the bottom of the pile. When I started off in the field of scientific research at 17-and-a-half, I had thought that India would go on to become a top science country. But now, 55 years later, only a few individuals have made it to the top grade,” he laments.
Here's a News report on number of PhDs in Pakistan:
The Pakistani universities are now able to produce more PhDs in the next 3 years as compared to last 10 years. The total number of PhDs in Pakistan has reached the figure of 8,142.
According to the data available with ‘The News’, the number of PhDs has increased from 348 (1947 to 2002) to 679 in 2012 in agriculture and veterinary sciences, from 586 to 1,096 in biological sciences, from 14 to 123 in business education, from merely 21 to 262 in engineering and technology and from 709 to 1,071 in physical sciences. In social sciences, the number increased to 887 from 108 during last ten years.
The figures also indicate that during the last decade, special emphasis has been paid to the disciplines of agriculture and veterinary sciences, biological sciences, business education, engineering and technology, physical sciences and social sciences.
Expressing his view over this development, HEC Executive Director Professor Dr. Sohail H. Naqvi said that the production of these PhDs is the harbinger of a great future. “These researchers, who have worked on problems of crucial importance to Pakistan, will play a leading role in the production of knowledge workers with a potential to take Pakistan in the ranks of developed nations,” he added.
He further said that HEC since its inception has introduced various indigenous scholarship schemes to create a critical mass of highly qualified human resources in all fields of studies who conduct research on issues of importance to Pakistan. “These locally qualified academics and researchers are playing an important role to improve the research and development potential of public as well as private universities and it will also strengthen the local industrial sector. With the launching of the schemes, research culture in public or private sector universities has been developed in accordance with international standards.”
The education experts view this development as an achievement in the higher education sector of Pakistan.
Dr. Farida Faisal, a fresh PhD holder from Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi in Economics, views this development as result of provision of incentives and various indigenous scholarship schemes introduced during last few years in Pakistan. She said that good aspect of this development is that along with quantity, there has been strong emphasis over quality of these PhDs, which will improve with the passage of time, she hoped.
She suggested that keeping in view the future needs of Pakistan; there is a need to produce more number of PhDs in the next ten years.
Dr. Ashfaq Ahmed, associate professor at the Institute of Business and Management, UET, Lahore, who has recently completed his PhD degree in Management Science with distinction from Foundation University, Islamabad, termed this achievement an outcome of reforms and education-friendly policies introduced by the HEC, which were aimed at promotion and research and academic activities nationwide and across the globe during the last decade.
In the first 55 years since Pakistan’s independence, a total of 3,281 PhDs were awarded at Pakistani universities. However, since the establishment of the HEC in 2002, over 4,850 PhDs have been awarded to-date, which is more than what was awarded in the previous 55 years.
Here's a report on US Aid funding for HEC in Pakistan:
Islamabad, April 7(ANI): The US Embassy in Islamabad has refuted media reports that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has put its 250-million-dollar project in Pakistan on hold in the wake of the issue of devolution of the Higher Education Commission (HEC).
Accord to a media report attributed to sources, the USAID was supposed to provide the first instalment for the project “Financial Assistant and Development Programme”, which has been put on hold, and the rest of the funding has also been frozen till the situation is not cleared about the role of the HEC in future.
“These reports are inaccurate.USAID has not put any funding for the HEC on hold, nor does it have any plans to do so at this time,” the US Embassy said in a statement.
“The United States through USAID already has provided all of its planned funding to the HEC for 2010, which amounted to $45 million. Funding for any future USAID programs will be determined later this year, when the U.S. Congress approves funding for 2011,” it added.
The statement notified that the USAID had been working closely with the HEC to strengthen the capacity of Pakistani universities, and that this collaboration aimed to assist Pakistan in developing a cadre of world-class experts who can play an active role in Pakistan’s economic and social development.
“In addition, USAID provides merit-and-need-based scholarships through the HEC for in-country higher education,” it added.
The statement said that separately, the USAID provides 20 million dollars every year to support the world’s largest Fulbright scholarship program, which is implemented by the US Department of State in partnership with the HEC. “The Science and Technology partnership with Pakistan also is implemented through the HEC,” it added. (ANI)
For the first time, nine research papers by Pakistani students have been selected for presentation at the American Society of Microbiology (ASM) Conference.
A total of 11 abstracts were submitted by M Phil students at Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) for the 114th international conference scheduled to be held in Boston later this month.
Leading author for the research papers and Head of Molecular Pathology at DUHS Dr Saeed Khan says the study of infectious diseases in Pakistan is critical, “because no one is safe till everyone is safe.”
The areas of research include diseases prevalent in Pakistan such as tuberculosis, HIV and Aids, Hepatitis B, C and D, and auto-immune diseases among other viral and bacterial infections.
Khan’s team comprises Asif Iqbal, Noorulaine, Nazish Haider, Maria Zahid, Zeba Zehravi, Fatin Zehra, Sehrish Mohsin, Noorul Huda, Ayaz Ahmed and Kanwal Niazi.
Khan, who will be the presenting author for his paper ‘Prevalence and drug resistance pattern of TB in different areas of Sindh’ says, “Due to the population not taking proper medication there is a change in bacteria making TB not treatable by drugs that currently available.”
The work is extensive and strenuous especially when researching and studying the pathology for HIV in Pakistan, Khan says. “The stigma attached to HIV and then the changes in prevalence among injecting drug users and sex workers is a challenge to track and document but it is important work which must be properly researched.”
One of the students and presenting author for research paper ‘Genetic diversity and geographic linkages of HIV using bioinformatics tools’ Maria Zahid says she didn’t expect such a positive response to their submissions.
“We had always planned to submit our (research) papers but was pleasantly surprised when almost all were accepted,” she told Dawn.com.
Zahid began working on her research paper in January last year and is analysing the circulation of the virus and which types and subtypes are common in Pakistan. “HIV has two types and 11 sub-types. We can only work on developing vaccines once we know which types and subtypes we are dealing with. Presently in Pakistan we have subtype A of the virus whereas worldwide subtype B is prevalent.”
The research team, which has been unconventionally awarded with grants to support their travel expenses is scheduled to depart for the United States on May 15 depending on the acceptance of their visa. http://www.dawn.com/news/1105040/duhs-students-set-for-unique-disti...
Arizona State University will help bring light to Pakistan via a partnership celebrated Thursday.
Officials gathered on the Tempe campus to mark the initiative, in which ASU is partnering with two top Pakistani universities for five years to hunt for energy solutions for the South Asian nation.
More than 70 percent of the Pakistani population does not receive steady electricity. About 1,200 people died in Karachi this summer because of lack of power for air-conditioning and water pumps, according to a U.S. government official at the event.
The collaboration will focus on applied research relevant to Pakistan’s energy needs. Together academia, industry and the Pakistani government will work to formulate a sustainable energy policy.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded the $18 million project to ASU to establish the Partnership Center for Advanced Studies in Energy (PCASE) in association with Pakistan’s National University of Science and Technology in Islamabad and the University of Engineering and Technology-Peshawar.
ASU has worked with USAID on more than $40 million in grant-awarded projects; currently more than 30 projects are active. The grant to establish the Pakistani partnership is the largest USAID grant received by ASU to date.
“There are parts of Islamabad today that are without energy most of the time,” U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said at the Thursday event. “I believe that this development will have a direct impact on the people of Pakistan.”
Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, senior vice president for the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development at ASU, said McCain is a senator who thinks globally.
“We are so fortunate to have him here today,” Panchanathan said.
Lately the two Pakistani universities have initiated programs that the population needs, said Mohammad Shahid, the pro rector of the National University of Sciences and Technology in Islamabad.
“We want to fill in the gaps,” Shahid said. “There is a dire need.”
It’s vital the project makes life better for the people of Pakistan, said Syed Imtiaz Hussain Gilani, vice chancellor with the University of Engineering and Technology in Peshawar.
“With things calming down in the political arena, I think this is the time for the private sector to come in and invest,” Gilani said. “It’s a country that needs everything, not just energy. … I hope the frontier spirit I feel on this campus drives some people to come forward and invest.”
The creation of the two energy research centers – one at each Pakistani university – is expected to improve U.S.-Pakistani relations.
Both countries’ interest in renewable energy supersedes whatever may be happening in the diplomatic realm, said Larry Sampler, assistant to the administrator in the Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs, USAID.
“Truly we are part of a wonderful team effort that going forward is going to do wonderful things,” Sampler said.
#Harvard educated Dr. Tariq Banuri, current professor at University of Utah and member of #Nobel prize winning #UN #climatechange panel, to lead #Pakistan Higher #Education Commission. #HEC
SALT LAKE CITY — University of Utah professor Tariq Banuri has been appointed chairman of Pakistan's Higher Education Commission.
Banuri moves into the role from his positions as an economics professor and associate director of the U.S.-Pakistan Centers for Advanced Studies in Water at the U. He also serves on the executive committee of the U. Water Center.
Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission is an independent, constitutionally established institution with a mandate to finance, oversee, regulate and accredit all institutions of higher learning in the country.
Banuri has requested a leave of absence from his current position at the U. and said he is eager to explore partnership opportunities from his new post.
Banuri previously served as executive director of the Global Change Impact Studies Centre, a dedicated research institute for climate change studies in Pakistan. He was the founding executive director of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute in Pakistan and founding director of the Bangkok Centre of the Stockholm Environment Institute.
Banuri also was a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. He holds a doctoral degree from Harvard in economics, completed his master’s degree in development economics from Williams College and earned his bachelor’s in civil engineering from the University of Peshawar.
Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy says IITs have become victims to rote learning due to coaching classes
As more and more students leave India for higher studies, Infosys founder Narayana Murthy proposed that governments and corporates should “incentivise” researchers with grants and provide facilities to work here. “The 10,000 crore per year grants for universities under the New Education Policy will help institutions become competitive", he said.
Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy on Tuesday expressed concern over India’s education system saying that even the IITs are becoming a victim of learning by rote due to the “tyranny of coaching classes.” Murthy suggested that our education system needs a reorientation directed towards Socratic questioning.
The Infosys founder, who himself is an IIT alumnus, batted for Socratic questioning in the classroom in order to arrive at solutions to real-world issues. “Many experts feel that (in) our country, (there is an) inability to use research to solve our immediate pressing problems around us… (this) is due to lack of inculcating curiosity at an early age, disconnect between pure or applied research," he said.
As to what could be done to solve this, the 76-year-old suggested that the first component is to reorient teaching in schools and colleges towards Socratic questioning in the classroom to solve real-world problems rather than passing the examinations by rote learning. Socrates was a fifth century (BCE) Greek philosopher credited as the founder of Western philosophy.
Speaking at the 14th edition of the Infosys Prize event in Bengaluru, Murthy said that the nation’s progress on the economic and social front depends on the quality of scientific and technological research. Research thrives in an environment of honour and respect for intellectuals, meritocracy and the support and approbation of such intellectuals from society, he noted.