Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission (HEC) and universities have committed to mobilizing additional resources for immediate, mid-term, and long-term relief for flood-affected areas.
On Monday, vice chancellors of public sector universities met online. Chairman of the HEC, Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, thanked universities for taking immediate steps to assist flood-affected residents. Pakistan’s higher education sector has always responded to natural disasters, whether it was the 2005 earthquake, 2010 floods, or the issue of internally displaced persons (IDPs).
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In his address, the Chairman urged the university leadership to categorize their efforts into immediate, mid-term, and long-term plans. The provision of food, clothing, and shelter for the affected people should be of the utmost priority, along with medical camps planned by medical universities and respective services of agriculture, engineering, and veterinary universities, etc., which a few universities are already in the process of doing.
In order to identify issues and solve them, Dr. Mukhtar urged stronger collaboration among universities of similar disciplines. In addition, he asked universities to establish clusters for food security, health and nutrition, livestock (including fisheries and poultry), and infrastructure.
According to the Chairman, the HEC’s IT division has been instructed to create a web portal for universities to share information mutually so that all activities in the higher education sector for flood-affected areas can be coordinated. Additionally, he requested that the Rector Virtual University establish a centralized database integrated with the portal to facilitate data collection and information sharing.
Students from the affected areas should not be denied education because of their inability to pay fees at any university. It was requested that university heads defer tuition and hostel fees for deserving students so that there would be no disruption to their education.
University employees, especially lower-level employees, were asked to contribute at least one day’s salary to flood relief, subject to their consent. HEC will also establish a live audited account for the collection of donations and sustained rehabilitation of flood-affected people across the country, attendees were informed.