Islamabad (Staff Report): The Higher Education Commission (HEC), in collaboration with Fatima Jinnah Women University (FJWU), Rawalpindi held the opening ceremony of a two-day International Conference on Professional Development in Higher Education: Trends and Practices, Prospects and Innovations here at the Commission Secretariat on Monday.
Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman HEC was chief guest on the occasion, while Dr. Mahmood-ul-Hassan Butt, Consultant HEC presented a keynote address. Dr. Samina Amin Qadir, Vice Chancellor, FJWU, Rawalpindi, Mrs. Shaheen Khan, Adviser Learning Innovation, HEC, Mr. Fida Hussain, Director General LI, HEC and a large number of faculty members and professionals attended the event.
In his message on this occasion, Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed urged teachers to ensure character building of students and teach them social values and ethics. He added that apart from imparting education, it is also a responsibility of teachers to groom students. He stressed the need for preparing the youth to cope with challenges the country may face in the future. He said HEC has taken a number of initiatives under its Faculty Development Programme in order to build capacity of universities faculty. He revealed that HEC envisions 40 per cent of PhD faculty by 2025.
In his keynote address, Dr. Mahmood-ul-Hassan Butt shed light on salient trends and practices, prospects and innovations that have been incorporated in the higher education sector since the inception of HEC. He also shared the strategic priorities HEC has set for the future to continue the journey of progress and qualitative improvement of an integrated education system in the country. He said the founding fathers of HEC believed that the higher education systems lead in the relentless pursuit of quality of instruction, utilizing available knowledge and discovery of new knowledge, competencies and skills by preparing creative, critical, constructive and communicative scholars. He said the HEC policies guided towards numerical expansion of institutions from 59 universities in 2002 to 188 universities currently.
Informing the audience about the highlights of roadmap outlined under the Higher Education Vision 2025, Dr. Butt said a three-tier integrated system of tertiary education has been devised. He maintained that this system will have clear identification and differentiation of roles of Tier-I research universities, Tier-II comprehensive universities, and Tier-III affiliated colleges.
Addressing the conference, Dr. Samina Amin Qadir observed that new pedagogical paradigms have changed the educational landscape across the world. This, she stressed, requires academicians and reformers to ensure professional development of faculty and teaching staff equipping them with effective teaching methodologies. She noted that technological advancement has brought information about the whole world to the palm of one’s hand, however the abundance of information sources creates influx of actual as well as fake information. “Be careful in using technology,” she cautioned. She regretted that the developing countries borrow policies successful in the developed world without examining their utility in the light of their domestic ground realities. Local scenarios must be in view while evolving higher education policies, she underlined. She also admired HEC for its key initiatives for holistic development of higher education sector in the country.
In her welcome address earlier, Mrs. Shaheen Khan said the purpose of international conference is to refresh the knowledge base of faculty and explore novel innovations for their professional development. She said HEC is committed to empowering the universities teaching faculty in order to meet the Higher Education Vision 2025. She maintained that HEC, while realising need for improving teachers’ pedagogies and professional competencies, has taken major initiatives under different programmes to reform professional development which aims to develop teachers as professionally competent and capable to engage students in their learning.
On the first day of conference, three sessions were held which covered a number of topics including a Repertoire for Learning in Outcome based Education Paradigm; Improving Students’ Learning in Distance Education by Learning Style based Teaching; Courageous Fellowship in Higher Education Commission; Pedagogical Skill Development in Teachers’ Preparation; Faculty Development at Tertiary Level; and From Banking Model to Critical Pedagogy: Challenges and Constraints in University Classrooms. Speakers also expressed their views on Quality Teachers for Quality Education; Prospects and Insufficiency of B.Ed (Honours) Curriculum for New Teachers; Conceptualising Core Practices for Professional Development of Novice; Professional Development of Academics in Malaysian Higher Education Institutions; Effect of Metacognitive Instructional Strategies on Prospective Teachers Comprehension in Physics; Neuro-linguistic Programming and Effective Language Teaching in Pakistani Academe; Understanding the Epistemological Beliefs and Metacognition of Science Teachers; Articulating and Operationalising Pedagogic Messages; Teachers Attitude towards Need for Reflective Practice; Situating Teachers Professional Development; Problems and Challenges Faced at University Level; and Microteaching in Professional Development of Novice Teachers in Pakistan.