Federal Education Minister Shafgat Mahmood on Tuesday said that universities were supposed to be the centres of quahty conventional and virtual education with highly qualified f aculty.
The minister was addressing a gathering on Tuesday at HEC at the launching ceremony of Phase-II of the Digital Learning and Skills Enrichment Initiative (DLSEI).
The ceremony was attended by HEC Executive Director Dr Shaista Sohail, CEO Coursera, Vice Chancellors, Senior faculty members and students.
DLSEI is an initiative of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) PakistaninpartnershipwithCoursera, an American massive open online course provider.
After the successful completion of the DLSEI Phase-I project, the HEC has signed a contract with Coursera and officially launched the programme.
DLSEI intends to enhance online learning and skills development among passionate students with 1000+ courses and 28 learning tracks.Addressing the ceremony, the Federal Education Minister said that Pakistan`s education system is f acing a plethora of challenges, particularly lack of quality and relevance, amidst rising demand for universities.
He underlined the importance of interventions like Coursera for students and faculty.
`There is a massive need for skill development in the country, and the courses offered through Coursera are a remarkable intervention especially at a time when Covid-19 has greatly enhanced the importance of online learning.
He also appreciated the National Academy of Higher Education (NAHE) for offering training to university leadership, faculty, and administrative staff to enhance their capacity.
Mr Mahmood said that many gaps were identified in the education system during the Covid-19 pandemic, including the digital divide in the country, faculty`s inability to teach online, and students facing difficulty understanding online classes. He hoped that the online courses under DLSEI will make a huge difference by honing in the talent of Pakistani students and improving their employability, ena-bling them to contribute to the country`s socio-economic development.
HEC Executive Director Dr Shaista Sohail said that DLSEI was launched in 2018 under an agreement between HEC and Coursera to enhance online learning and skills development among passionate students.
The students, who benefit from the courses, will be able to access courses and certifications from top universities of the world and get an opportunity to enroll themselves into the highest ranked and most expensive online courses, she said.
The ED hoped that the initiative will help the country turn its youth bulge into an asset. She informed the audience that over 50,000 curated licenses will be issued under the phase-II of the initiative and 1st year HEC will distribute 24000 licenses to all public and private sectors universities as per enrollment basis. She said that two percent quota has been specified for people with special needs, in addition to formation of a subsidized model for public sector universities. Mr. Jeff Maggioncalda highlighted the significance of DLSEI for skill development in youth, stating that, `investment in youth is an investment in the future.