15 April | 2024

Lahore, Pakistan

Vice chancellors pledge action for sustainability, equity in higher education

Dr Shahid Munir praises contributions of minorities in national development; Dr Ghazala Irfan suggests legislation to counter intolerance, extremism in educational institutions

Leaders from religious minorities, experts, scholars, and specialists in science, engineering, and information technology joined a day-long Vice Chancellors’ Conference, organized jointly by the Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC), and Bargad – a leading non-government organization formed in 1997 to promote peace, justice and cooperation among young people – at Lahore’s Faletti’s Hotel.

Addressing on the occasion, Punjab Higher Education Commission Chairperson Dr Shahid Munir pointed out that extremism was on the rise all over the world and all communities will have to unite against extremists and their ideology. “We believe that extremism and terrorism have nothing to do with any religion,” he said, adding that some people wanted to impose their point of view on others that’s not acceptable.

He said that radicalization in the society grew as a result of the disturbance in Pakistan’s neighborhood and its further causes included unrest and social injustice. He also appreciated contributions of all religious minorities in national development. He suggested the visible support of the minorities as guaranteed by the constitution. He also addressed issue of water scarcity, emphasizing usage of modern irrigation techniques.

Dr Shahid Munir said that respect for humanity and tolerance were hallmarks of an educated society. He said that the higher education cannot be promoted without peace and tolerance. He said that harmony and equality were indispensable for the development of nations. “We need a moral think tank of experts to make recommendations and act as role model for building a balanced society,” he said, adding intolerance can be eradicate through peace and acceptance to all.

‘All universities must launch ‘organized awareness campaign’ to counter intolerance and extremism’

Sharing her views, Bargad Chairperson Dr Ghazala Irfan stated that factors like weak educational system, socio-economic differences and unavailability of a proper knowledge were the main causes of radicalization among the young people. She called for legislation to counter intolerance and extremism in Pakistan, as she urged all universities to launch awareness campaigns to address these issues.

Speaking on the occasion, speakers said that the roots of the rising radicalization in young people were in socialization process and the educational institutions were also facing challenges to face extremist ideologies. They said that the radicalization was not only a problem of law and order, but its solution rests in the correction of social behaviors at both provincial and national levels.

Vice chancellors pledge action for sustainability, equity in higher education
A day-long Vice Chancellors’ Conference, organized jointly by Punjab Higher Education Commission, and Bargad, concluded at Lahore’s Faletti’s Hotel

The vice chancellors said that there was a need to promote healthy co-curricular and extracurricular activities in the educational institutions, especially in universities in order to avoid radicalization and extremist philosophies. They pledged action for equity, inclusion, and sustainability in higher education. The conference yielded a significant commitment to implement two percent quota reserved for minorities during admissions and fiver percent quota in jobs to promote equal opportunities for all citizens.

During discussions, the speakers highlighted threats to the ecosystem, food security, and energy issue. They emphasized the need for modern agricultural technology and efficient farming practices to mitigate challenges. Three dialogue sessions facilitated discussions between diverse stakeholders, paving the way for a more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable future for higher education in the province.