By: Prof. Waqas Ahmed
Given the changing paradigm shift in the dynamics of education and job market as well as the growing demand for skilled young workforce, the establishment of National University of Pakistan in 2023 is a piece of significant news, a step in the right direction to meet the rising challenges in the education sector and Pakistan’s socio-economic development.
Working under the ambit of the Ministry of Defence in Cantonments and Garrisons of Pakistan, Federal Government Educational Institutions Directorate is running 50 colleges, 311 schools, and 26 institutes of special education. With a formidable workforce of 10,000 teachers including around 200 PhD and more than 1,000 MPhil scholars, the FGEI system caters to the educational needs of over 20,000 students.
The FGEI degree colleges spread all over the country are affiliated with seven regional universities having different academic schemes and forecasts, diverse admission policies, exam schedules and assessment mechanisms, and fee structures thereby undermining the concept of a uniform education system. Issues like the cumbersome movement of students between universities of different cities or provinces highlighted the indispensable need for a platform in the form a university to provide a solid connecting link for the degree colleges of FGEI.
Becoming a reality on the blessed day of 27th of Ramazan in 2023, the National University of Pakistan (NUP) is the fruit of untiring effort of four years. Land comprising ten acres in the zone 4 of Islamabad (Kuri Agro Farm Scheme) has been acquired for the main campus of NUP, where academic block is being built to start educational activities in computing science, engineering, emerging technologies, natural and applied sciences, social sciences, and arts. Until completion, NUP will continue its functioning in Federal Government Sir Syed College Rawalpindi, Federal Government Post Graduate College for Women Kashmir Road Rawalpindi, Federal Government Post Graduate College for Women Abid Majeed Road Rawalpindi, Federal Government Liaquat Ali Degree for Boys Peshawer Road Rawalpindi, and Federal Government Quaid-e-Azam Degree College Chaklala Scheme III Rawalpindi. The university will also have the specialty of running a central institute catering to the educational needs of differently abled students in the form of Jinnah Institute of Inclusive Education (JIIE).
The establishment of NUP will go a long way in making its affiliated colleges independent, financially viable and strong entities. Focusing on research and equipping the students with the 21st century skills like critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication, NUP will be targeting lower income and lower middle income classes to create an equitable environment for quality education and skill development.
The University shall include the following faculties:
(a) Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences;
(b) Faculty of Computing;
(c) Faculty of Management Sciences;
(d) Faculty of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts;
(e) Faculty of Engineering and Emerging Technologies.
National University of Pakistan will play a vital role in bringing a much-needed change by fostering innovation, creativity, national unity, interprovincial harmony, and great ideals of good citizenship. Emphasizing lower income groups in NUP and enhancing skills through modern education in social and natural sciences, FGEI will be taking the leading role in propagating the concept of people as a centre that galvanizes the real social, economic, and intellectual progress of a nation. As free thinking and independent citizens of Pakistan, FGEI students will be a positive binding force to mitigate the negative impact of gender bias, divisiveness, and dogmatism, paving the way for a sustainable, dynamic, progressive and self-reliant society. National University of Pakistan is indeed a commendable project as a investment in the future development of Pakistan’s citizens, providing equal opportunities for higher education. The students belonging to lower or lower middle economic strata will get a chance to have quality and skills-based education, making social and economic progress a reality. The project is also linked to UN’s SDG 4 and 9. It will uphold the international norms and principles of equity, gender parity, quality education, and human rights. Providing a cost-effective solution for access to quality education, the project of NUP will inspire students and teachers to make necessary economic plans for progress in industry and trade thereby enhancing skilled and professional workforce in science and technology.