Conference on Redefining Higher Education in
Welcome and Introductory Remarks
By Syed Babar Ali
Pro-chancellor, LUMS and member, Task Force on
Higher Education in Developing Countries
IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, MOST GRACIOUS, MOST MERCIFUL
It is my pleasure and privilege to welcome you all, on behalf of
the Lahore University of Management Sciences and my own behalf,
to the Conference on Redefining Higher Education in Pakistan.
We look forward to two days of intensive interaction
and discussions to formulate strategies for the improvement of higher
education in Pakistan. We are fortunate to have with us a galaxy
of higher education experts from home and abroad to discuss the
challenges and opportunities offered by higher education to revamp
the system in Pakistan for greater common good.
The Task Force on higher education in Developing countries,
convened by the World Bank and the United Nations Educational, Scientific
and Cultural Organization in 1997, comprised 16 members from 13
countries spread over five continents. The Task Force held intensive
discussions and hearings over a two-year period to draw upon the
knowledge and experience of higher education practitioners from
around the world. The task Force Report entitled Higher Education
in Developing Countries: Peril and Promise was launched internationally
in March 2000 in Washington, D.C. I, as a member of the Task Force,
had provided copies of the report to the Vice-Chancellors/ Rectors
of the Universities in Pakistan in May 200. The distinguished participants
of the conference have already received copies of this Report.
The main authors of the Task Force report are Professor
Henry Rosovsky and Professor David Bloom. We will benefit from their
wisdom and sagacity. Dr. Rosovsky is the former Dean of the faculty
of Arts and Sciences and is Geyser University Professor Emeritus
of Harvard University. He is the Co-chair of the Task Force. Dr.
David E. Bloom is Professor of Harvard University and is Head of
the Task Force Secretariat. I, as a member of the Task Force, am
witness to their tenacity of purpose and clarity of approach. They
will enlighten us on the salient features of the Task Force Report
in the first session this morning and, through their presentations
and ensuing discussion, will set the tone of this Conference.
The second session today will deal with higher education
in Pakistan and, besides an overview, is structured on the pattern
of Task Force Report to deal with issues of public interest, governance,
science and technology, information technology, and general and
The last session today will deal with comparative
issues and we will hear from the distinguished participants from
Bangladesh and India to give a regional perspective to our discussion
on higher education.
Sessions tomorrow will successively deal with role
of higher education in societal transformation, governance and management
of higher education, raising quality of teaching and research, and
financial sustainability of higher education institutions in order
to guide us towards strategy formulation and implementation.
The Task Force has diagnosed specific problems of
higher education that are common across the developing world and
has suggested potential solutions. We need to formulate and implement
strategies for the improvement of higher education in Pakistan.
This is the objective of this Conference.
We are grateful to the World Bank for having sponsored
participation of our distinguished guests from Bangladesh and India.
We are deeply indebted to the participants of the Conference from
all over the Pakistan The representatives of the various international
organizations in Pakistan have honoured us by their presence.
I am thankful to my colleagues for making arrangements
for holding the Conference. It is sincerely hoped that our distinguished
guests will bear with us for any lapses on our part. I wish you
all very productive two-days of interaction.
May I now request Prof. Henry Rosovsky to enlighten
The Task Force sounds an alarm that higher education
in developing countries is in crisis: it is generally overcrowded,
chronically under-funded, poorly managed, and beset with inadequate
faculty and curricula.
The report underscores the need for a holistic approach
to education policy, emphasizing that poor countries should view
higher education as a vital part of their overall human development
strategy. It argues that advanced education is crucial for developing
countries if they hope to engender the capacity required to overcome
serious problems, such as hunger, persistent poverty, environmental
degradation, and economic under-performance.
Demand for higher education is rising rapidly, compounding
the challenges for countries that hope to improve quality, reduce
public cost, and increase access to all strata. The Task Force report
advocates a policy of systemic reform emphasizing planned diversity,
where both public and private actors co-ordinate their actions within
a clear strategic framework.
Mamphela Ramphele, incoming World Bank Managing Director
for Human Development, Task Force Co-Chair, and Vice Chancellor
of the University of Cape Town, South Africa expressed her belief
that higher education is important to poverty reduction: There
is no way we can succeed in the eradication of poverty if the developing
world is not a part of knowledge creation, its dissemination and
utilization to promote innovation. Higher education is a critical
factor in making this possible and must be part of any development
To learn more about the World Banks Human Development
Week, visit http://www.worldbank.org/
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