Islamabad: Federal Minister of Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood said on Tuesday that universities should be centers of high-quality traditional and virtual education, with high-quality teachers.
Addressing the launching ceremony of Phase-II of the Digital Learning and Skills Enrichment Initiative (DLSEI), he said it was an initiative of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Pakistan in partnership with Coursera.
The ceremony was also attended by Dr. Shaista Sohail, Executive Director, HEC, Mr. Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO Coursera, Vice Chancellors, Senior faculty members and students
After the successful completion of the DLSEI Phase-I project, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan has signed a contract with Coursera and officially launched the Program at a largely discounted pricing model.
The press release here stated that HEC, through its Digital Learning and Skills Enhancement Program (DLSEI), aims to enhance the online learning and skills development of passionate students through more than 1,000 courses and 28 learning tracks.
In his speech at the ceremony, the minister said that due to the increasing demand for universities, Pakistan’s education system is facing many challenges, especially the lack of quality and relevance.
He emphasized the importance of interventions such as Coursera for students and teachers. “There is a huge demand for skills development in the country, and the courses offered through Coursera are an extraordinary intervention, especially at a time when Covid-19 has greatly increased the importance of online learning.”
He also thanked the National Institute of Higher Education (NAHE) for providing training to university leaders, faculty and administrative staff to improve their capabilities.
Mahmood said that during the Covid-19 pandemic, many gaps were discovered in the education system, including the country’s digital divide, teachers’ inability to teach online, and students’ difficulty in understanding online courses.
He hopes that the online courses under DLSEI can have a huge impact by honing the talents of Pakistani students and improving their employability, so that they can contribute to the country’s socio-economic development.
Dr. Shaista Sohail, Executive Director of HEC, stated in his speech that DLSEI was launched in 2018 in accordance with the agreement between HEC and Coursera to strengthen online learning and skill development for enthusiastic students.
Students who benefit from these courses will be able to access the courses and certifications of the world’s top universities and have the opportunity to sign up for the highest ranked and most expensive online courses.
She hoped that the initiative would help the country turn its youth bulge into an asset. She informed the audience that over 50,000 curated licenses would be issued under the phase-II of the initiative and fist year HEC would distribute 24000 licenses to all public and private sectors universities as per enrollment basis.
She said two percent quota has been specified for people with special needs, in addition to formation of a subsidized model for public sector universities.
Jeff Maggioncalda highlighted the significance of DLSEI for skill development in youth, stating, “investment in youth is an investment in the future.”
Earlier, Mr. Nazeer Hussain, Director General IT, HEC presented the concept behind the launch of DLSEI. He said HEC joined hands with Coursera to provide students and faculty with an opportunity to acquire certifications from world-class universities.