The 5th Vice-Chancellors’ Forum of Universities in the Islamic World concluded in Islamabad recently. Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives, Mr. Ahsan Iqbal chaired the closing ceremony.
Over 200 Vice Chancellors, including 40 from 20 different OIC countries, participated in the VC Forum that was jointly organized by the Higher Education Commission (HEC), COMSATS University Islamabad (CUI), Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO), Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training and British Council, Pakistan.
Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Ahsan Iqbal emphasized the need to realign the places of learning with the global explosion of knowledge and information technology. The Minister said that the Islamic world had given up on its fundamental heritage which was observation, inquiry, reflection, and critical thinking. “This lies at the root of underdevelopment in the Islamic world”, he said.
Prof. Dr. Muhammad T. Afzal, Rector, COMSATS University Islamabad presented the conference recommendations. Salient among these was the need for a collaborative approach, prioritizing skills over degrees, embracing new technologies and methodologies, bridging the gap between academia and industry, developing a clear understanding of the benefits and risks of artificial intelligence (AI), promoting gender equity, and developing facilities and infrastructure. The participants unanimously called upon governments of the Islamic World to allocate 1% of their national GDP towards higher education to secure the future of the Muslim Ummah in the wake of the challenges of Industry 4.0. It was also recommended that Universities in the Islamic World adopt measures for the emancipation of women in higher education and embed the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals in their programs, processes, and Systems.
The ceremony concluded with the inauguration of the ICESCO Chair for Big Data Analysis and Edge Computing at the Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. Dr. AlMalik, Director General ICESCO handed over the formalized agreement of the establishment of the Chair to Vice Chancellor QAU, Prof. Dr. Niaz Akhtar in the presence of Chairman HEC and Minister for Planning & Special Initiative and Rector, COMSATS University Islamabad.