ISLAMABAD - The Higher Education Commis­sion (HEC) is set to introduce competency based undergrad­uate education across the coun­try, statement released said on Tuesday.

Statement issued by HEC said that it had undertaken extensive consultations with over 1,000 individuals in 143 universities on measures needed to enhance student success. The consulta­tions have led to the revamping of the undergraduate curricu­lum and introduction of “com­petency-based education” at all universities and affiliated col­leges across Pakistan.

Competencies are defined as combinations of knowledge, skills, behaviour, and interper­sonal characteristics that en­able individuals to succeed in their future life.

The Chairman HEC said, “Uni­versities had to work in such a way as to maximise the proba­bility of such success, especial­ly through the undergraduate degree programme, which is the flagship of any higher edu­cation system. In practice, how­ever, this has not been the case. A major reason is that very little attention has been given in the past to this question, and there­fore to the substance and quali­ty of university education.”

He said the new system was based explicitly on “competen­cies”, i.e., the determinants of fu­ture student success, and was designed to ensure that edu­cational programmes orient themselves to the future needs of students. This shift will have long-lasting positive impacts on educational achievement and future success. The new system will be rolled out over the com­ing year, he added.

The statement said that the old curriculum did not provide Paki­stani students with such essential 21st century skills as critical and creative thinking, problem-solv­ing, effective communication, quantitative analysis, team build­ing, or research methods.

The new curriculum is de­signed specifically to enable the transmission of these skills as well as interpersonal and behav­ioural attributes. More impor­tantly, the new curriculum fo­cuses on applying the acquired knowledge and skills to life’s challenges, rather than mere­ly acquiring theoretical knowl­edge. It emphasises exploration, curiosity, discovery, and creativ­ity amongst students.

The academic component of the curriculum seeks to balance generalization and specializa­tion. In earlier semesters, every student must complete Gener­al Education (GE) courses in the major domains of human knowledge, i.e., Arts and Hu­manities, Natural Sciences, So­cial Sciences, Quantitative Rea­soning, and Expository Writing, in addition to Pakistan Studies and Islamic/Religious Studies.