islamabad - Higher Education Commission (HEC) on Thursday offered 20 training programmes for the faculty of Gambian universities which would be organised during the next couple of years.

The offer was extended in a meeting held here between the officials of HEC and a delegation from Gambia on visit to Pakistan.

The Gambian delegation comprised Vice-Minister/ Permanent Secretary Yaya Sireh Jallow, Senior Science, Technology and Innovation Officer Samba Sowe, University of Gambia Prof Faqir Muhammad Anjum and Deputy Vice Chancellor Vice Chancellor Ousman Nyang.

Chairman HEC Dr Mukhtar Ahmed shared the initiatives and achievements of the Commission for promotion of higher education in Pakistan. He said that the number of universities has now reached 188 along with 4000 affiliated colleges.

“Three million students are studying in Pakistani higher education institutions and the ratio of enrolment in higher education institutions has now reached nine per cent as compared to 2.6 per cent in 2002.”

The chairman said, “We have 25 per cent PhD faculty in our higher education system, while we aim at taking it to 40 per cent by 2025 in order to cope with the shortfall being faced by the country.”

He said HEC is responsible for setting the direction of the research activities in higher education institutions in order to harmonize research with social needs.

The chairman informed the dignitaries that HEC has set up three centers of excellence on water, energy and food security in Pakistani universities, while it plans to establish centers of excellence on climate change and artificial intelligence too.

He said that HEC has established a digital library, which gives students and researchers online access to over 200,000 books, adding that the HEC has also set up Offices of research, innovation, and commercialization as well as business incubation centers in a number of universities.

The chairman said, “We have the best ICT set up of the region and we have connected our universities through Pakistan Education and Research Network (PERN) and video conference facility.”

He also informed the delegation about the Technology Development Fund, Cloud Data Centre, Smart and Safe University Program, Smart Classroom concept, and Tenure Track System.

He said Pakistan now has five skill universities in addition two other institutions in the pipeline.

“We are linking all these initiatives with their impact on society. HEC started with a focus on quantity, followed by quality. And, now it has concentrated on the social impact of academic milestones,” he emphasized.

Talking to the Chairman, Yaya Sireh Jallow appreciated the steps of HEC for the promotion of higher education in Pakistan. He said Pakistan and Gambia enjoy cordial relations which need to be further strengthened by academic collaboration.

He wished to have collaborative endeavors between HEC and Gambian higher education institutions, seeking scholarships and training opportunities for Gambian faculty.

Dr Mukhtar Ahmed said HEC is willing to offer 20 training programs for a period of two years to Gambian faculty. He said HEC will conduct training in specific areas identified by Gambia including quality assurance, governance, science, technology, and engineering. “We need to work together for humanity,” he said.