Two more educational channels soon: Atta
KARACHI – Two more educational television channels will become functional on Paksat-1 by the end of December, said the federal minister in-charge for Ministry of Science and Technology, Dr Atta-ur-Rehman, on July 14.
Addressing a press conference at the HEJ Research Institute of Chemistry, Dr Atta-ur-Rehman, also chairman of the Higher Education Commission (HEC), said that Paksat-1, Pakistan’s acquired satellite placed in space under his supervision during the previous government, was fully operational since April 2003 and its programmes were crystal clear and of the highest quality.
As part of the Pakistan Educational Research Network programme, two different television channels were already functional since June 16, 2004, while licenses for two additional TV educational channels were in the process of procurement, he added.
He said Paksat-1 was deployed in space to allow Pakistan to own and occupy its orbital slot, which could be used for its future satellites. The remaining life of the existing satellite was still from six to seven years, he added.
Briefing newsmen about the major ongoing programmes of the HEC, Dr Atta said that tremendous efforts were being exerted in the higher education, and science and technology sectors were likely to transform Pakistan from its present low valued agrarian economy to a “knowledge-based economy”.
“If all went in a proper direction, the main components of our export will be engineering goods, electronic products, telecommunications, information technology, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, high value added agricultural products and service sectors,” he mentioned.
He observed that during the last many years, various five- year plans of the government emphasized investment on lower level education, but the government now was focussing more on higher education. As such, substantial improvement in the status of universities in Pakistan would be seen in the years to come.
He said it had been decided at the recently held meeting of the chancellors committee, chaired by the president, that there would be a 50 per cent increase in the recurring and development budget every year till the time that the financial allocation for the higher education sector reached one per cent of the GNP. The target was expected to be achieved in about a five years time, he noted.
He pointed out that HEC was taking measures to develop PhD- level manpower through indigenous programmes and training of Pakistani students in various European universities, including in Germany, France, Austria, the Netherlands as well as in Chinese universities.
Referring to the number of PhDs presently produced within the country every year, Dr Atta said the situation needed to be urgently remedied. The HEC was working on indigenous PhD programmes, under which output would increase from the present 200 per year to about 1,200 to 1,500 per year over a period of five years.
He informed that under a programme aimed at attracting the best faculty members to universities in Pakistan, about 105 distinguished academicians, largely from the USA and Canada, had been selected and they were in the process of joining Pakistani institutions.
Talking of the HEC’s programmes pertaining to infrastructure development of universities, Dr Atta said, a digital library programme had been launched under which 32,600 journals, including 12,000 full-text journals, were being made available at all educational and research institutions in the country free of cost.
About 55 universities had already been joined together through fiber network, and the remaining would be connected over the next four to six months, he added. He said the Central Development Working Party of the government had recently approved a bookbank project worth Rs550 million, under which seminar rooms of various departments at universities would be provided with the latest textbooks.
He also mentioned the curriculum improvement activities and said that curricula of about 105 subjects had been revised for universities, adding that of medicine had been revised after a gap of 30 years.
He said that on the directives of former prime minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali, he was also working on a plan for the preparation of a national strategy for using science for the socio- economic development of the country.
Representatives of provincial and federal governments as well as various subject specialists and experts, economists and industrialists are being involved in the process and placement of sector wise reports before the federal government would begin within the next three months, he mentioned.