Academia – Think Tank join hand for greater collaboration in Policy



 Islamabad: (July 30, 2020)- To address the critical challenges for the academia and education sector in after Covid19 scenario, a think-tanks and academia joint venture named as Council for the Advancement of Sustainable Policy, Education and Research (CASPER), has been launched formally here on Thursday. The online launch held by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and Allama Iqbal Open University AIOU), was participated by a large number of senior academicians including the Vice-Chancellors of various public and private sector universities and senior researchers. 

The newly formed platform that comprises on several leading public and private sector universities and academic institutions, aimed to find new and innovative solutions and to make collaborative efforts to improve the quality of research and to promote dialogue for the policies related to higher education in the country. Besides, CASPER would initiate a number of joint initiatives and would provide an active and vibrant platform to quality of education, policy research, new ways of learnings and faculty development in the new paradigm.

Dr Zia Ul-Qayyum, Vice Chancellor, AIOU, termed the initiative as a landmark step towards a greater collaboration among the academic institution in Pakistan and said that this forum would serve as platform for the policy dialogue on higher education and to resolve major issues that the universities and academia face in Pakistan. He emphasized on the need of every member taking ownership of the forum and added further that this non-political platform would be focused on collaboration and resolving issues. 

Earlier, Dr Shafqat Munir, Senior Policy Advisor, SDPI, presented a detailed overview of the objectives and vision behind establishing CASPER and said that the launch of this forum is indeed a landmark occasion as it would provide a much needed platform for learning, sharing and benefitting each other with the new knowledge and innovations. 

He added further that CASPER is the result of a wide range earlier consultative process between the academic institutions in Pakistan led by SDPI and AIOU and hence, its reflective of a shared wisdom. 

 Dr Syed M. Ali, Vice Chancellor, Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad, was of view that Covid19 has provided us a good opportunity to enhance collaboration in the field of research and innovation. He says online knowledge would play critical role in after pandemic scenario and this newly established forum would be instrumental in such knowledge generation and knowledge sharing. 

Prof. Dr Mazhar Saleem from University of Punjab on the occasion said that the universities in Pakistan have huge potential but lacking in resources to produce best of the results. Therefore, the forum like this would surely contribute in deliberating on the real issues and to find solutions accordingly. He added. 

 The distinguished speakers from different universities including Dr Qamar-uz-Zaman, Vice Chancellor, Arid Agriculture University (AAU), Dr Uzma Quraishi, Vice Chancellor, Women University Multan, Dr Saima Hamid, Vice Chancellor, Fatima Jinnah University Rawalpindi, Dr. Saiqa Imtiaz, Vice Chancellor, Government Sadiq College Women University, Bahawalpur, Dr Shafiq-ur-Rehman, Vice Chancellor, University of Balochistan, Dr M. Asif Khan, Vice Chancellor, University of Peshawar and Dr Qazi Waseem, President/ VC , Iqra University, also shared their views with the participants and said that CASPER could vital role on knowledge sharing in Pakistan. 

Mr Shahid Minhas, of SDPI, earlier , highlighted the importance of newly established forum and said that the higher education was already facing with numerous challenges in Pakistan that range from educational planning, teachers’ competencies, curriculum development, and delivery of contents to assessments and quality checks. However, the pandemic has adversely affected every system and the online education has exposed the quality of teaching, technological gaps, management issues, students’ behavior, and parents’ involvement in enhancing knowledge and skills of their children. Therefore, a forum to find solution with the collective wisdom was the need of hour, he concluded.