The Higher Education Commission (HEC) and the universities of Pakistan have committed to further mobilizing their resources for immediate, mid-term, and long-term relief of the flood-affected areas of the country.
In this regard, an online meeting of the Vice Chancellors of public sector universities was held on Monday.
Addressing the meeting, Chairman HEC, Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, appreciated the universities that have already taken initiatives for immediate support of people in flood-affected areas. He said that Pakistan’s higher education sector has always responded to challenges of natural calamities, be it the 2005 earthquake, 2010 floods, the issue of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), or other similar situations.
The Chairman urged the university leadership to categorize their efforts into immediate, mid-term, and long-term plans. “I know many universities are doing this already but I would emphasize that provision of food, clothing, and shelter to the affected people should be our top priority, with subsequent plans for medical camps by medical universities as well as respective services of agriculture, engineering, and veterinary universities, etc.”, he remarked.
Dr. Mukhtar urged stronger collaboration amongst universities of similar disciplines for better identification of issues and their solution. He further asked universities to establish clusters for food security, health and nutrition, livestock (including fisheries and poultry), and infrastructure.
The Chairman said that HEC’s IT division has been tasked to immediately create a web portal for mutual sharing of information among universities so that all activities in the higher education sector for flood-affected areas are executed in a coordinated manner. He also asked the Rector Virtual University for establishing a centralized database integrated with the portal for data collection, and information sharing, and to facilitate a coordinated effort.
The participants agreed that no student of any university who belongs to the affected areas should be denied the right to education because of his/her inability to pay the fees. The university heads were urged to defer tuition and hostel fees of deserving students so that there is no disruption in their studies.
The universities were asked to contribute at least one day’s salary of their employees for flood relief, subjected to the consent of the employees particularly those serving in lower grades. The meeting was also informed that a live audited account will be established at HEC for the collection of donations and sustained rehabilitation of flood-affected people across the country.