Saturday
24 February | 2024

Lahore, Pakistan

Two-day vice chancellors’ moot kick start in Lahore to promote civic education

In partnership with Punjab Higher Education Commission, Center for Peace and Secular Studies organizes conference to explore ways to integrate civic education into various academic disciplines

A two-day conference – Vice Chancellors on Civic Education – started in Lahore’s Faletti’s Hotel with an aim to promote awareness among universities’ faculty, administrators, and students about significance of the civic education in cultivating active and engaged citizens.

Arranged by the Center for Peace and Secular Studies in partnership with Punjab Higher Education Commission, the conference also aims to explore ways to integrate civic education into various academic disciplines, ensuring students receive a comprehensive and multidisciplinary education on civic issues, democratic values, social justice, and active citizenship.

By fostering partnerships between higher educational institutions, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and community groups, the conference intends to strengthen civic education initiatives, and create meaningful opportunities for all students to apply their learning in real-world context.

‘Conference intends to strengthen civic education initiatives, and create meaningful opportunities for students to apply their learning in real-world context’

In his inaugural address, Punjab Caretaker Chief Minister’s Adviser on Law and Parliamentary Affairs Kanwar Muhammad Dilshad suggested civic education for all institutions, and said that the fresh curriculum must include critical thinking and social responsibility besides understanding of rules and rights. “Our goal must be to teach students to become active and responsible members of our society,” he said.

In an era of divisions, intolerance and disinformation, the civic education will serve as a ray of hope, he said, adding that civic education was the basis of democracy. He said the government has put high importance on education. He urged the vice chancellors to pay special attention to character building of the students. He laid special emphasis on significance of measures needed to ensure constant improvement in quality of education.

Kanwar Dilshad expressed satisfaction over improvement in performance of higher educational institutions. “I think we need an increase in the number of the universities as Pakistan’s population is continuously growing,” he said, but pointed out that this increase should not happen at the cost of quality. He asked the vice chancellors to focus on entrepreneurship, innovation and commercialization, community engagement, and a role in national development.

Dr Shahid Munir asks universities to embrace task of inclusive curriculum development, reflective of centerless of perspectives, cultures, and identities

Welcoming the audience, Punjab Higher Education Commission Chairman Dr Shahid Munir said that the higher education institutions have power to create a culture of dialogue, understanding, and respect. “We must remember that higher education institutions are special spaces where ideas are nurtured, where minds are shaped, and where future leaders are forged.” In an accepted environment, both faculty and students can engage in open conversations, challenging one another’s perspectives while seeking common ground, he said.

He asked higher education institutions to embrace the task of curriculum development, as curricula should be inclusive and reflective of the centerless of perspectives, cultures, and identities that exist within this society. By integrating peace, tolerance, and acceptance and inclusivity themes across various disciplines, he said that the institutions can equip students with tools to navigate complex issues and contribute positively to their communities.

Two-day vice chancellors’ moot kick start in Lahore to promote civic education
Dr Shahid Munir and Saeeda Diep presenting shield to Zafar Ullah Khan during first day of a conference of vice chancellors on civic education in Lahore’s Faletti’s Hotel.

Dr Shahid Munir also suggested that the higher education institutions must also provide robust student support services, and must ensure that all students, regardless of their backgrounds, feel included and supported throughout their academic journey. By offering counseling services, mentoring programs, and student organizations that promote peace and inclusivity, the institutions can create a sense of belonging for every student, he said.

He said that need for education of peace, to understand different religions, cultures, ethnicities and then engage in dialogue – with other cultures, people, and religions – is even more urgent than in the past, if peaceful coexistence and dialogue are to prevail over confrontations and conflicts besetting humanity as a whole. “All humans, including Muslims, Christians, Hindu, Buddhists, Jewish, and humanists, have a responsibility to create a common future for us and our unborn generations,” he said.

Saeeda Diep suggests a new course for higher educational institutions to harness collective wisdom and forge partnerships

“Each lecture hall, each laboratory, and each library within all higher educational institutions holds a potential to shape minds, and change lives. It is imperative that we infuse these spaces with an environment that fosters critical thinking, inclusivity, and empathy,” Saeeda Diep, Executive Director of the Center for Peace and Secular Studies, said in her welcoming note.

She said that landscape of the higher educational institutions bears both opportunities and challenges. In the halls of these esteemed institutions, the graduates were nurtured into the leaders of tomorrow, and torchbearers of the nation’s ideals, she said. “In their foreign endeavors, these graduates and other youngsters serve as our ambassadors, carrying our values, and aspirations beyond borders.”

Saeeda Diep suggested a new course for higher educational institutions to harness collective wisdom and forge partnerships that transcend institutional boundaries. “We can reshape the educational landscape, instill a sense of civic duty, and mold individuals.” With dedication, collaboration, and a shared vision, “we can transform challenges into stepping stones towards progress,” she said.

Two-day vice chancellors’ moot kick start in Lahore to promote civic education
A group photo of participants during vice chancellors’ conference on civic education.

Prof Dr Rukhsana Kausar, Prof Dr Mehboob Hussain, Zafar Ullah Khan, and Dr Yaqoob Khan Bangash joined the first panel discussion, moderated by Shagufta Shaheen, on the topic of civic education’s impact on cultivating conscious citizenship and shaping responsible individuals. Dr Murtaza Jafri, Prof Dr Ahmad Bilal, Dr Sharieh Hosseini Nasab, Dr Sughra Sadaf, and Rashaid Rana joined the panel discussion, moderated by Rabeya Jalil, on the topic of arts and cultural role in shaping personality and fostering holistic development.

Punjab Women Development Department Secretary Sumaira Samad, Babar Yaqub Fateh Muhammad, American Lycetuff CEO Zeeshan Zia Raja, and TV anchor Iqra Haris appeared in the panel discussion, moderated by Prof Dr Raana Malik, on the topic of gender inclusivity, promotion of a society that respects and embrass the diversity of all genders, ensuring equal opportunities. Senior journalists Mujeeb ur Rahman Shami, Jawad Faizi, and Naeem Masood joined the panel discussion, moderated by Hira Ijaz, on the topic of understanding the role of media in shaping the public opinion.

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