The Higher Education Commission (HEC), Pakistan has urged the universities to institute effective protocols and programmes to curb opportunities of radicalisation of students and universities staff while strengthening security arrangements on campuses. In a letter issued to vice chancellors, rectors and heads of universities, the Chairman HEC has said that “some of the recent acts of violence and terrorism in the country have exposed involvement of university students in such disastrous incidences. This is quite unfortunate and underscores that intolerance, radicalization, and extremism is on the rise, and universities present no exception to this ominous challenge.”
The letter states that HEC has been constantly sensitising the top leadership of the universities of possible security threats, its manifestations and how negatives potencies plan, approach and organise such brutalities.
Citing the Vice Chancellors’ Committee meeting held in May 2017, the letter says connection and coordination with students should be strengthened and faculty visibility may be ensured in all social spaces across the university so as to eliminate disconnect with the students and between faculty themselves.
The letter emphasises mentoring and counselling of students stressing it becomes a regular university activity. “Any unusual behaviour must be carefully monitored and analysed,” the letter maintains.
It urges that directorates of students should be established for registering problems of students and offering solutions to them. It further directs for promoting tutorials, sports and extra-curricular activities making them part of universities’ routine business. It advocates holding of public lectures to promote understanding, tolerance and peaceful co-existence. The VCs Committee Meeting was followed up with a seminar organised in collaboration with the Inter-Services Public Relations on the role of youth in rejecting extremism at GHQ, Rawalpindi wherein a board spectrum of realities and difficulties were discussed and the universities’ leadership was encouraged to institute sustainable programmes and processes to address the eminent threat of radicalisation.
The Chairman reiterated that higher education sector is expected to not only rid any involvement in acts of extremism, but also take measures that engage youth and students in gainful academic and social activities envisaging professionalism, higher moral and ethical conduct, tolerance and respect for divergence.