Higher Education Commission (HEC), Pakistan and Huawei Technologies organised on Thursday a ceremony to celebrate 10 years of strategic partnership for promotion of higher education through development of ICT infrastructure in Pakistan.
Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms was chief guest and Engr. Baligh-ur-Rehman, Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training was guest of honour on the occasion. Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman HEC, Dr. Arshad Ali, Executive Director HEC, and Mr. Terry He, Regional President Huawei Middle East were also present along with a large number of Vice Chancellors, faculty members and IT experts from Pakistan and China.
Mr. Ahsan Iqbal along with Engr. Baligh-ur-Rehman inaugurated the Smart and Safe Campuses Project of HEC during the ceremony. Pakistan’s first R&D Centre by Huawei was also inaugurated by the two Ministers. In his address, Mr. Ahsan Iqbal said education is the most critical resource for any nation in the age of knowledge economy.
He observed that Information Technology has turned into a game changer as it is redefining the society. He said the digitization regime has revolutionized the whole fabric as witnessed by the rapid development of online education, online shopping and modern public transport.
“We have to embrace this paradigm shift in order to keep pace with the world,” – he stressed.
He said Pakistan is on its way towards knowledge economy and partners like Huawei have a remarkable role in making this journey easier.
Terming the human resource the most important asset, the Minister said the Government of Pakistan aims at having 20000 PhDs in the next 10 years. He maintained that the Government has increased the budget of higher education sector so as to give youth the best possible opportunities to acquire quality education. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project will make the Pak-China friendship exemplary. He urged HEC and Huawei to aim bigger so as to turn Pakistan into a technology hub for the regional and Central Asia.
Engr. Baligh-ur-Rehman appreciated HEC for effectively using technology and utilizing the facilities of Pakistan Education and Research Network (PERN) to connect universities. This is the era of fourth industrial revolution which marks technology and collaboration, he said. Adding that, team work is inevitable to effectively leverage the new technologies.
Describing the background of HEC-Huawei strategic partnership, Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed said the bilateral collaboration started in 2006 helped Pakistan have its ICT set-up.
“The ICT set-up in Pakistan now is second to none,” – he affirmed
He said PERN has connected over 247 higher education institutions in Pakistan. He revealed that the development of higher education sector in the country was dreamt in 1998 when Vision 2010 was devised.
Referring to the recent spate of terrorism incidents, he emphasized that the nation should not lose hope and continue its journey towards socio-economic, educational and technological development. He stressed the need for further improvement of cooperation between HEC and Huawei to prepare themselves for the future challenges.
Mr. Terry He said investing in education is tantamount to investing in future of a nation. He observed that technological advancement has brought a significant change in the education sector and Huawei thinks it to be its responsibility to provide technological solutions to educational issues.
During the ceremony, HEC and Huawei also signed a Memorandum of Understanding under on behalf of 13 universities which have been selected on competitive basis for the award of Huawei Authorized Information Network Academy (HAINA) under which these universities will be equipped with advanced technology laboratories for human resources of universities and the nearby community.
Through the 10-year strategic partnership between HEC and Huawei, PERN and Cloud Data Centre has been established in Pakistan in addition to various other initiatives including launch of Education DWDM project and video conference facility at universities across Pakistan.
Technology readiness and state of the art Information Technology infrastructure are prerequisites for the development of higher education and research. In this regard, Higher Education Commission, with the unprecedented budgetary support by the Government of Pakistan, has been striving hard in aligning the country’s higher education sector with the latest trends and technologies.
So far, PERN has digitally connected 247 Higher Education Institutes. Video conferencing, ebooks and digital library, Unified Communication System, HEC Cloud Data Centre, Smart University and Safe Campus are a few ICT initiatives taken by the HEC that place Pakistan’s higher education sector amongst the most modern IT enabled environments in the region. Huawei Technologies is one of the leading partners of HEC in the provision of latest IT services in the sector.