Monday, April 30, 2012

Pak Virtual U Wins Top OCW Award

Pakistan's Virtual University (VU) has won the Outstanding New Site Award 2012 for an Open CourseWare website which was created last year, according to media reports.

The Awards for OpenCourseWare Excellence provide annual recognition to outstanding courseware and OpenCourseWare sites created in the OCW Consortium community. They also recognize individual leadership in moving the ideals of OpenCourseWare and Open Educational Resources forward. The awards are announced each year at the global OpenCourseWare Consortium's annual conference.

In 2001, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology launched the world's first open courseware program, which inspired many other universities, including Pakistan's Virtual University, to join the Open CourseWare (OCW) movement.


Founded in 2002, Virtual University of Pakistan has so far contributed 138 courses on a wide range of subjects since joining the OpenCouseWare consortium. These courses include free and open digital publications of high quality educational materials for colleges and universities.





Enabling virtual education is the high-speed broadband expansion led by PTCL which has propelled Pakistan to become the fourth fastest growing broadband market in the world and the second fastest in Asia, according to a recent industry report. Serbia leads all countries surveyed with a 68% annual growth rate from Q1 2010 to Q1 2011. Thailand (67%), Belarus (50%), Pakistan (46%), and Jordan (44%) follow Serbia. India is in 14th place worldwide with a 35% annual growth rate.

 The quickest and the most cost-effective way to broaden access to education at all levels is through online schools, colleges and universities. Sitting at home in Pakistan, self-motivated learners can watch classroom lectures at world's top universities including UC Berkeley, MIT and Stanford. More Pakistanis can pursue advanced degrees by enrolling and attending the country's Virtual University that offers instructions to thousands of enrolled students via its website, video streaming and Youtube and television channels.

The concept of virtual instruction is finding its way to K-12 education as well. Increasing number of Pakistanis are drawn to the Khan Academy channel on YouTube making Pakistanis among its top users. Virtual Education for All is a local Pakistani initiative extending the concept to primary level. 



All of these technological developments and open courseware initiatives are good news for making education available and accessible to satisfy the growing needs in Pakistan and other emerging countries around the world seeking to develop knowledge-based economies of the 21st century. Virtual University deserves credit for leading this education revolution in Pakistan.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

ICT4E in South Asia

Khan Academy Draws Pakistani Students

Pakistan Rolls Out 50Mbps Broadband Service

More Pakistan Students Studying Abroad

Inquiry Based Learning in Pakistan

Mobile Internet in South Asia

Allama Iqbal Open University

Online Courses at Top International Universities

Pakistan Virtual University

Pasi Sahlberg on why Finland leads the world in education

Intellectual Wealth of Nations

Pakistan Primary Education Crisis

Indian Students' Poor Performance on PISA and TIMSS

Pakistan's Demographic Dividend

India Shining, Bharat Drowning

PISA's Scores 2011

Teaching Facts versus Reasoning

Poor Quality of Education in South Asia

Infections Cause Low IQs in South Asia, Africa?

CNN's Fixing Education in America-Fareed Zakaria

Peepli Live Destroys Western Myths About India

PISA 2009Plus Results Report

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

http://www.google.co.uk/publicdata/explore?ds=d5bncppjof8f9_&met_y=it_net_user_p2&idim=country:GBR&dl=en&hl=en&q=internet+users+as+percentage+of+population#!ctype=l&strail=false&bcs=d&nselm=h&met_y=it_net_user_p2&scale_y=lin&ind_y=false&rdim=region&idim=country:IND:PAK&ifdim=region&hl=en_US&dl=en&ind=false

Please use latest data

Asim said...

VU is very good, especially if you are an Overseas Pakistani. USD 1000 per year, anyone can afford it.

Tahir K. said...

Very encouraging and heartening to know that Pakistan has achieved this honour. Pakistan's position at # 4 amongst the users of broad band worldwide is indeed creditable, is the data correct and checked by some well known authority?

Riaz Haq said...

Tahir: "Very encouraging and heartening to know that Pakistan has achieved this honour. Pakistan's position at # 4 amongst the users of broad band worldwide is indeed creditable, is the data correct and checked by some well known authority?"

The data is from The Broadband report which is considered credible and often quoted. It says the growth rate of broadband in Pakistan is the 4th highest in the world but Pakistan still has very low broadband penetration with just a couple of million subscribers so far.

Shams said...

Did you notice how everything modern is set up in the Punjab?

Riaz Haq said...

Shams: "Did you notice how everything modern is set up in the Punjab?"

It doesn't matter where it's set up. It's after all a virtual university with courses produced in all parts of Pakistan which sit in the cloud at server farms which could be anywhere in the world and accessible to all comers.

Anonymous said...

http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/khanacademy.org#

Khan academy is very famous in USA. Well done Salman.

Anonymous said...

http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-106682-Higher-education-in-India


do read this!

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a David Brooks' NY Times column on online education titled "campus tsunami":

Online education is not new. The University of Phoenix started its online degree program in 1989. Four million college students took at least one online class during the fall of 2007.

But, over the past few months, something has changed. The elite, pace-setting universities have embraced the Internet. Not long ago, online courses were interesting experiments. Now online activity is at the core of how these schools envision their futures.

This week, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology committed $60 million to offer free online courses from both universities. Two Stanford professors, Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, have formed a company, Coursera, which offers interactive courses in the humanities, social sciences, mathematics and engineering. Their partners include Stanford, Michigan, Penn and Princeton. Many other elite universities, including Yale and Carnegie Mellon, are moving aggressively online. President John Hennessy of Stanford summed up the emerging view in an article by Ken Auletta in The New Yorker, “There’s a tsunami coming.”

What happened to the newspaper and magazine business is about to happen to higher education: a rescrambling around the Web.

Many of us view the coming change with trepidation. Will online learning diminish the face-to-face community that is the heart of the college experience? Will it elevate functional courses in business and marginalize subjects that are harder to digest in an online format, like philosophy? Will fast online browsing replace deep reading?
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The doubts are justified, but there are more reasons to feel optimistic. In the first place, online learning will give millions of students access to the world’s best teachers. Already, hundreds of thousands of students have taken accounting classes from Norman Nemrow of Brigham Young University, robotics classes from Sebastian Thrun of Stanford and physics from Walter Lewin of M.I.T.

Online learning could extend the influence of American universities around the world. India alone hopes to build tens of thousands of colleges over the next decade. Curricula from American schools could permeate those institutions.

Research into online learning suggests that it is roughly as effective as classroom learning. It’s easier to tailor a learning experience to an individual student’s pace and preferences. Online learning seems especially useful in language and remedial education.
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In a blended online world, a local professor could select not only the reading material, but do so from an array of different lecturers, who would provide different perspectives from around the world. The local professor would do more tutoring and conversing and less lecturing. Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School notes it will be easier to break academic silos, combining calculus and chemistry lectures or literature and history presentations in a single course.

The early Web radically democratized culture, but now in the media and elsewhere you’re seeing a flight to quality. The best American colleges should be able to establish a magnetic authoritative presence online.

My guess is it will be easier to be a terrible university on the wide-open Web, but it will also be possible for the most committed schools and students to be better than ever.


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/04/opinion/brooks-the-campus-tsunami.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Business Recorder story on PTCL:

Having an immense potential to be an instrumental agent in Pakistan's economic growth, PTCL management has set high goals for its self since its inception and is growing every passing day.

That the telecom giant of Pakistan is in transition is evident from the fact that it has posted yet another quarter of top line growth during the ongoing fiscal year.

Most obliging fact being that during the latest quarter ending March 31, 2012, PTCL showed revenue growth of 11.3 percent and scored a net profit of Rs 1.4 billion.

Its operation and effectiveness during the nine months ended March 31, 2012, is herald of business advancement and innovative farsightedness.

With the garland of strengths including PSTN (fixed lines), wireless local loop, broadband, corporate business solutions, carrier and wholesale services, operations performance, information technology, human resource development market communication, customer care, quality and revenue assurance and international business.

The company has firmly continued to grow in the emergent broadband market - both in wire line and wireless segments.

With the 61 % growth in Broadband customers, respective revenues have grown and increased by 77 %.

For the PSTN customers, introduction of various new packages commensurate with the needs of different segments of society as well as rationalisation of the tariff helped in increasing the landline usage thus arresting the revenue decline.

Concurrently, PTCL group revenue turned up to be Rs 28.3 billion which is 9.7% higher as compared to the same period last year.

Harmonising the corporate services also registered an increase of 5% in its revenues.

Of this, PTCL's revenue was Rs 14.8 billion.

Likely, continuing with its vision of providing quality services an increase of 9 percent in company's administrative expenses was recorded which is fair enough.

Though Pakistan experienced the revolution of telecom industry in the last decade, PTCL has been working in this sector from its birth, which was many decades before from the revolution in the telecom sector; while during the last decade, other companies from around the world have jumped into the playing field with PTCL.


http://www.brecorder.com/articles-a-letters/187/1186395/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET report on Pakistan launch of new Nokia phones with Internet access:

In a bid to capture the lower end of the market, Nokia launched two new mobile phones — the Nokia 110 (Rs 3,800) and Nokia 112 (Rs 4,000) — in Karachi on Tuesday.

Designed to appeal to “young, urban consumers”, the devices can be used to access Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks directly, or through the Nokia Browser. Additionally, Nokia 112 features a preloaded eBuddy instant messaging service.

“Today’s mobile phone users want a quick internet experience that allows them to discover great content and share it with their friends – but without being held back by high data costs,” said Nokia’s Executive Vice President Mary T McDowell.

“The new Nokia 110 and Nokia 112 devices combine browsing, social media, apps, world-class entertainment and long battery life,” she added.

Commenting on the consumer habits in Pakistan, Vice President Near East Nokia Imran Mahmood said “our vision is to give the youth of Pakistan their first internet experience on a Nokia mobile device. And we are very pleased to have made great progress in this direction with our rich, affordable and power packed portfolio”


http://tribune.com.pk/story/379103/nokia-launches-two-new-phones-in-pakistan/

Riaz Haq said...

Telenor to help empower new digital generation in Pakistan, reports Daily Times:

LAHORE: Telenor Pakistan has launched a nationwide project that would help empower a new digital generation in Pakistan.

Telenor Talkshawk I-Champ is a knowledge-based initiative that aims to provide learning and training to young people to enable them to become future proponents in the digital age. Telenor will partner with Government of the Punjab and hold Internet workshops for class 8-10 students in 150 schools in the semi-urban and rural areas of Punjab. To mark the initiative, a launch event was held at Children’s Library Complex, which was attended by a large number of school children, their parents and teachers.

Deputy Speaker Punjab Assembly, Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan said government of the Punjab was committed to providing its citizens with quality education. The students were briefed on how the Internet works and how information can be searched for on internet-enabled mobile phones.

Acting Chief Marketing Officer Telenor Pakistan, Usman Javed said, “We are delighted to be partnering with the Government of Punjab to start promoting digital awareness among the youth of the province”. The winner of the Telenor Talkshawk I-Champ final competition will get to visit Opera Labs in Norway to learn more about how the Internet is being used by people around the world to share knowledge.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\05\13\story_13-5-2012_pg5_11

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Tom Friedman in NY Times on online education revolution:

Andrew Ng is an associate professor of computer science at Stanford, and he has a rather charming way of explaining how the new interactive online education company that he cofounded, Coursera, hopes to revolutionize higher education by allowing students from all over the world to not only hear his lectures, but to do homework assignments, be graded, receive a certificate for completing the course and use that to get a better job or gain admission to a better school.

“I normally teach 400 students,” Ng explained, but last semester he taught 100,000 in an online course on machine learning. “To reach that many students before,” he said, “I would have had to teach my normal Stanford class for 250 years.”

Welcome to the college education revolution. Big breakthroughs happen when what is suddenly possible meets what is desperately necessary. The costs of getting a college degree have been rising faster than those of health care, so the need to provide low-cost, quality higher education is more acute than ever. At the same time, in a knowledge economy, getting a higher-education degree is more vital than ever. And thanks to the spread of high-speed wireless technology, high-speed Internet, smartphones, Facebook, the cloud and tablet computers, the world has gone from connected to hyperconnected in just seven years. Finally, a generation that has grown up on these technologies is increasingly comfortable learning and interacting with professors through online platforms.
------------
Private companies, like Phoenix, have been offering online degrees for a fee for years. And schools like M.I.T. and Stanford have been offering lectures for free online. Coursera is the next step: building an interactive platform that will allow the best schools in the world to not only offer a wide range of free course lectures online, but also a system of testing, grading, student-to-student help and awarding certificates of completion of a course for under $100. (Sounds like a good deal. Tuition at the real-life Stanford is over $40,000 a year.) Coursera is starting with 40 courses online — from computing to the humanities — offered by professors from Stanford, Princeton, Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania.
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M.I.T., Harvard and private companies, like Udacity, are creating similar platforms. In five years this will be a huge industry.

While the lectures are in English, students have been forming study groups in their own countries to help one another. The biggest enrollments are from the United States, Britain, Russia, India and Brazil. “One Iranian student e-mailed to say he found a way to download the class videos and was burning them onto CDs and circulating them,” Ng said last Thursday. “We just broke a million enrollments.”

To make learning easier, Coursera chops up its lectures into short segments and offers online quizzes, which can be auto-graded, to cover each new idea. It operates on the honor system but is building tools to reduce cheating.

In each course, students post questions in an online forum for all to see and then vote questions and answers up and down. “So the most helpful questions bubble to the top and the bad ones get voted down,” Ng said. “With 100,000 students, you can log every single question. It is a huge data mine.” Also, if a student has a question about that day’s lecture and it’s morning in Cairo but 3 a.m. at Stanford, no problem..


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/16/opinion/friedman-come-the-revolution.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET report on PM Gilani's plan to promote online education in Pakistan's under-served areas:

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has announced that the federal government will allocate Rs17 billion for the development of Information Technology (IT) infrastructure and broadband connectivity in un-served areas in the next budget.

Addressing the third convocation of Virtual University at the Expo Centre here on Saturday, the prime minister said that education in general and science and technology education in particular were “a matter of life and death” for the nation.

He said his government had already spent Rs22 billion on IT. He also announced an IT award of Rs20 million for talented students from backward areas.

Gilani said that broadband centres would be established in each union council and these would provide 30,000 jobs this year. He also announced the establishment of 30 more Virtual University campuses throughout the country including in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

The prime minister directed the IT minister to expedite the awarding of contracts for 3G mobile technology in Pakistan.

He said that this technology would create jobs and promote development. He said that he had directed the finance minister to create 100,000 jobs in the budget for 2012-13.

“An educated Pakistan, which is the vision of Virtual University, is in line with my government’s determination to provide an affordable and quality education to all at the same time. I want the university to undertake expansion projects and increase its nationwide presence. I have already approved, in principle, the setting up of a custom-built Virtual University campus in every district of the country. I am very glad to hear that the first four campuses under this initiative have already started functioning,” he said.

Gilani said though education was a provincial subject after the passage of the 18th Amendment, the federal government was “committed to increasing the share of GDP for education in line with the Millennium Development Goals”.

Pakistan currently has one of the lowest rates in the world of spending on education as a proportion of GDP.

The prime minister praised Virtual University for its “quality and innovative techniques of delivery”. He noted that the university’s open course ware website had been recognised as the best in the world by the Open Courseware Consortium that included such world leaders as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford and Yale.

Gilani said that the government was planning to raise the rate of enrolment in higher education significantly in coming years. “The only way this quantitative and qualitative growth can take place is through an effective use of technology for the dissemination of education for students residing in all areas of the country. I am glad that Virtual University is playing its due role in this respect,” he added


http://tribune.com.pk/story/381449/it-infrastructure-pm-announces-rs17-billion-for-broadband/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Nation report on PTCL's one millionth broadband subscription in Pakistan:

Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani has inaugurated Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) celebration of achieving Pakistan’s first one million Broadband customers as part of the national commemoration of World Telecommunication & Information Society Day 2012 held here at Pak-China Friendship Center, says a press release.

“Telecommunications and IT are bringing encouraging economic dividends and inspiring lifestyle choices for the people of Pakistan,” said Prime Minister Gilani, who was the chief guest of the mega event and exhibition organised jointly by PTCL and Ministry of IT & Telecom to mark the WTIS Day 2012. This year’s theme for WTIS Day is ‘Women, Girls & ICT’.

“The role of ICTs matter immensely for gender equality and empowerment of women,” said Prime Minister Gilani. “ICTs are a force multiplier for girls’ education, enabling them to build their future on a level-playing field with their male counterparts.” The event was also addressed by Federal Minister of IT & Telecom, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf; Federal Secretary IT & Telecom, Farooq Ahmed Awan; and PTCL President & CEO, Walid Irshaid. The event was attended by senior government and PTCL officials, a large number of students, members of the civil society and media.

“Achieving one million Broadband customers mark is yet another historic milestone for PTCL,” said Irshaid in his remarks. “PTCL passionately believes in creating innovative yet affordable ICT and telecom solutions that meet the needs of all segments of Pakistan’s society, especially women. We are determined to utilise the full potential of ICTs by providing women with the telecommunication tools, products and services they need to empower them to be free and make their own decisions.”

Earlier, Prime Minister Gilani visited PTCL’s impressive pavilion exhibition set up in the main hall of the Pak-China Friendship Centre. The Prime Minister experienced first-hand telecom giant’s state-of-the-art products and services, and was briefed by PTCL’s team about their various features.

President & CEO PTCL, Walid Irshaid, also presented on the occasion special 1 million Broadband commemorative shields to Prime Minister Gilani and Minister IT & Telecom, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf.


http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/business/18-May-2012/telecom-it-bringing-economic-dividends-pm

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts of a Nature magazine article on higher education support in Musharraf years:

Despite the problems, science has been flourishing in Karachi and other Pakistani cities, thanks to an unprecedented investment in the country's higher-education system between 2002 and 2008 (see 'Rollercoaster budget'). As funding increased more than fivefold in that time, new institutes focusing on proteomics and agricultural research sprouted, and the University of Karachi's natural sciences department rose from nowhere to 223 in the 2009 QS World University Rankings.
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The surge in higher-education investment occurred after the rise to power of General Pervez Musharraf in 1999, who as leader of the army had led a low-key coup d'├ętat and installed himself as de facto president. Musharraf was a liberal progressive who hoped to modernize Pakistan. "It was a moment in Pakistani history that now seems so distant," says Adil Najam, an expert in international development at Boston University in Massachusetts.

With the economy booming in the early 2000s, Pakistani academics sensed an opportunity. Higher education had never had much popular support in the country, where literacy hovers at about 50%, but in Musharraf they saw a champion. In a series of reports, Najam and others made the case that if the nation could mobilize its universities, it could transform from a poor agricultural state into a knowledge economy (see Nature 461, 38–39; 2009). The group called for a new Higher Education Commission (HEC) to manage the investment, as well as better wages for professors, more grants for PhD students and a boost in research funding.
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Rahman, a chemist at the University of Karachi and, at the time, the minister for science and technology, enthusiastically set out to overhaul the nation's universities. With Musharraf's support, annual research funding shot up 474% to 270 million rupees (US$4.5 million in 2002) in the first year alone. The HEC set aside money for PhD students and created a tenure-track system that would give qualified professors a monthly salary of around US$1,000–4,000 — excellent pay by Pakistani standards.

Rahman's strong scientific background, enthusiasm for reform and impressive ability to secure cash made him a hit at home and abroad. "It really was an anomaly that we had a person of that stature with that kind of backing," says Naveed Naqvi, a senior education economist at the World Bank, based in Islamabad. "Atta-ur-Rahman was a force of nature."
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Between 2003 and 2009, Pakistan churned out about 3,000 PhDs, roughly the same number awarded throughout its previous 55-year history. More than 7,000 PhD students are now in training at home and abroad. Meanwhile, scientific research publications have soared from roughly 800 in 2002 to more than 4,000 in 2009 (see 'Publishing power')...


http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100922/full/467378a.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a SJ Mercury News story on use of videoconferencing for education in developing countries:

Videoconferences have largely been confined to offices. Not anymore. New technologies developed by Polycom and other videoconference vendors let employees use smartphones and tablet devices join in no matter where they are.

It's a "game changer" for Chris Plutte and his line of work -- using videoconferencing to connect students from countries around the world with students in American schools to help them better understand each other and the countries they call home.

"This opens up a whole new opportunity for us. It's about access for us," said Plutte, executive director of New York-based Global Nomads Group, a nonprofit he co-founded in 1998 that is currently linking several schools in the United States with those in Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo for town-hall type meetings.

"It's pretty amazing. In the past, students and schools that participated in our programs had to have a (wired) Internet connection. They needed to have a computer. They needed to have electricity," he said. "This is a game changer for us in that (videoconferencing) can now reach more rural schools in developing countries like Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo."
------------
"It's called the consumerization of IT," said Costello, the IDC analyst. "These devices are coming into the workplace."

Total smartphone shipments worldwide reached 472 million in 2011, up 53 percent from 2010, said a Gartner report. Tablets are also growing, with Gartner projecting that by the end of 2015, more than 900 million will have been sold.

"This is about the ability to connect to different types of people on different types of devices on any network. It's device-agnostic. You can have a smartphone connected to a tablet to a laptop to a high-end HD videoconferencing in an office," said Randel Maestre, vice president of worldwide industry and field marketing for Polycom, which is in the midst of moving its Pleasanton headquarters to San Jose by the end of May.

"Our vision is to make video collaboration and videoconferencing ubiquitous," he said.

Polycom isn't the only company with that vision.

Last year, San Jose-based Cisco rolled out Jabber, a free downloadable application for smartphones and tablets that allows multiparty videoconferencing as well as access to voice, instant messaging and voice mail for existing Cisco customers.

"Work is not a place you go to -- it's where you are at. You can work if you happen to be at the airport," said Michael Smith, Cisco's senior director for collaborative application marketing. "These mobile devices like tablets now give us the power to do videoconferencing even when we're not in the videoconference room."


http://business-news.thestreet.com/mercury-news/story/videoconferencing-steps-out-the-office-0/1

http://gng.org/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from ICT4E report on South Asia:

A combination of radio, television, and the Internet is used in distance learning institutes in Pakistan. Since 2004, when the government deregulated telecommunication in Pakistan, the sector attracted 54% of the total Foreign Direct Investment (PTA 2006). It is estimated that 10,184 hours of programming are broadcast annually on 3.6 million TV sets; the estimates for radio programming are four times this figure (Iqbal 2004). The Institute of Educational Technology (IET) established in Allama Iqbal Open University is a centre of media production. The educational audio and video content developed in IET is broadcasted on national television and radio channels. Virtual University of Pakistan operates four free-to-air satellite channels on which some of their lectures are broadcasted.
5.2. Major Initiatives
Distance Education in Pakistan is dominated by Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), Asia’s first Open University, which was established in 1974 with a mandate of providing educational opportunities to the masses and to those who could not leave their homes or their regular jobs. In 2000, the Government of Pakistan developed a new initiative—the Virtual University of Pakistan (VUP). VUP was established specifically to create more capacity in the system by leveraging modern information and communications technologies. Even though VUP used ICT to deliver education through a distance learning mode, it was not conceptualized as an “open” university since AIOU already served that market (PANdora Distance Education Guidebook). Together AIOU and VUP serve 750,000 students (with an annual growth rate of 14%), which is three times the student population of all other universities in Pakistan combined (Ansari and Saleem, 2010). Due to the efforts made by the government as well as private and non-government donors, enrollment in distance learning institutes has increased from 199,660 to 305,962 from 2005-06 to 2007-08 (Economic Survey 2008-09).


http://www.infodev.org/en/Publication.892.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET piece on Pakistani universities among top 300 in Asia:

Investments in higher education seem to have reaped dividends as six universities of Pakistan, including the University of Karachi (KU), have won a place among the top 300 Asian universities.

The QS Asian University Rankings 2012 list shows National University of Science and Technology (#108), KU (#191-200), Aga Khan University (#201-250), Lahore University of Management Sciences (#251-300) and The University of Lahore (#251-300) in the top 300 universities of the continent.

Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) is the world’s most renowned and prestigious ranking agency.

A statement issued on Wednesday by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) claimed that the rankings speak volumes about the hard work put in by the management and faculty of these universities.

The HEC has consistently supported the varsities in terms of infrastructure, digital libraries, opportunities for innovative research, collaborative research projects with leading international institutions and participating in international exchange programmes, it was said.

Pakistani universities have produced more PhDs in the past nine years (3,280) – since the establishment of the HEC – than in the first 55 years (3,000) of the country’s establishment.

Research output has grown eight-fold since 2002 (from 815 in 2002 to 6,200 in 2011) which is a remarkable achievement by any world standard. Eighty per cent of these research publications are coming from higher education institutes. The output has more than doubled in the last three years and is expected to double again in the next three.

Around 5,000 scholars from Pakistan have presented their research work at leading conferences of the world and have established academic linkages with their counterparts in every leading university of the world in the US, UK, China, Germany, France, Australia, Korea, etc.

According to the HEC, Pakistani scientists, engineers and technologists are the country’s biggest strategic asset. Till five years ago, they were concentrated in a few strategic organisations, but the higher education revolution brought about by the HEC has ensured that every engineering and science and technology university has started to blossom into a centre of research and innovation.

The HEC declared that it has been able to break the elitist myth of availability of talent only in large cities by providing scholarships to talented students belonging to the middle class and poor segments of the society.

Currently, the education commission is focusing on expansion of facilities for biotechnology and genetics, immunology, robotics and automation, nanotechnology, superconductivity, photo-optics and lasers, electromagnetics and nuclear fusion for energy, it was stated.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/386574/ku-lands-in-bottom-half-of-top-300-asian-universities/

http://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings/asian-university-rankings/2012

Riaz Haq said...

Here are the names of 6 Pakistani universities among top 300 Asian universities ranked by QS 2012:

#108 NUST Islamabad

#191-200 University of Karachi

#201-250 Agha Khan University Karachi

#201-250 Univ of Engg & Tech (UET) Lahore

#251-300 Lahore University of Management Sciences

#251-300 University of Lahore

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a News story on US help for university administrators in Pakistan:

The US government, through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), is sponsoring a two-week study tour for 27 deans and faculty members from Pakistani universities nationwide as well as provincial secretaries of education at Columbia University, New York. The tour is designed to enhance these Pakistani education professionals’ capacity for strategic planning and policy development. A pre-departure orientation reception was held here on Thursday under USAID to bid farewell to these participants.



USAID Deputy Mission Director Ms. Karen Freeman, while speaking on the occasion, said it would be a great opportunity for the participants to interact with their counterparts so as to how they can make the education more relevant, more accessible to students, discuss policies etc. “It would be a wonderful opportunity equally for them to learn from you that how you are improving the standard of education in Pakistan and how HEC is bringing about reforms in the country. Pakistan and the United States have enjoyed a long and close cooperation in higher education that spans more than 50 years and covers a variety of disciplines from science and medicine to teacher training. This USAID-funded study tour is yet another expression of the US government’s long-term commitment to Pakistan and is having a transformational impact on teacher education,” she said.



Additional Secretary for Inter-Provincial Coordination Furqan Bahadur Khan appreciated the efforts of the US government for improving the quality of education across the country. Earlier, study tour participant Ms. Marium Rab from FJWU and Sindh Department of Education Parvez Ahmed Seehar shared their expectations and views about the tour.


http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-6-111897-US-strengthens-teacher-education-in-Pakistan

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET story on the man who drafted Pakistan first IT policy:

The man who drafted Pakistan’s first IT policy, Dr S M Junaid Zaidi, has been awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree by Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, said a press release issued on Tuesday.

Dr Zaidi, awarded the prestigious Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 2007, is the founding rector of the Comsats Institute of Information Technology (CIIT), which was chartered by the government in 2000 and has grown to have campuses in seven cities, over 20,000 students and 2,500 faculty members.

Dr Zaidi’s professional experience spans 36 years, said the press release. His expertise ranges from devising Build-Operate-Transfer mechanisms to Technology Commercialization and Utilization, Project Planning & Management, Industrial Information Networking, Operations Research, System Designing, Technology Policy Analysis, Technology Monitoring & Forecasting and Technology Transfer.

He holds a doctorate in Optimisation of Algorithms on Networking from the University of Birmingham in England. Before CIIT, Dr Zaidi served in many distinguished high profile positions at the United Nations (UN) and in the Government of Pakistan, said the press release.

In his time with the UN, Dr Zaidi served as an adviser to the Malaysian government and later at the UN ESCAP Asia and Pacific Centre, where he was part of advisory missions to Fiji, Ghana, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand and Vietnam as a UN expert on IT and helped them establish their technology transfer and industrial technology information systems.

He also wrote two concept papers for the government and Comsats, which led to the establishment of the Virtual University and Comsats Internet Services.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/412598/for-man-who-drafted-pakistans-first-it-policy-an-honorary-degree/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET report on telecom growth forecast in Pakistan:

The mobile phone subscriber base is expected to cross 160 million mark and broadband subscribers to cross 19.5 million by 2020, according to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s ‘Telecom Vision 2020‘ report.

The number of fixed line subscribers is expected to remain in the range of five million, the report added.

The broadband connections have increased from 1.49 million in June last year to 1.92 million and this increase is mainly attributed to continuous aggressive launching of products like EvDO, WiMax, FTTP in the broadband arena by telecom companies at affordable price.

It said broadband will be the main medium of personalised communication from which users will be able to effectively and affordably access any service from any device or network. In the next ten years, 4G technology will usher the usage of new applications such as IPTV and Web-TV.

In the future, PTA will be concentrating on re-farming of spectrum to cater the increased demand of broadband and wireless technologies, envisioning telecom to become the communication highway for sharing of knowledge as well as reaching out to a large segment of population in education and health services delivery.

The report further said that the telecom roadmap for 2020 is likely to witness 100 per cent infrastructure development wherein a wide range of services will be available on converged infrastructure platform.

Talking to APP, an official said on Wednesday that Rs 1.13 billion have been earmarked for SUPARCO, SCO and Ministry of IT to execute 16 approved projects worth Rs 11.1 billion.

The important projects that will be executed this year include construction of Cross-Border Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) for alternate international connectivity and laying of OFC to connect remote areas of Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK.

He added that SUPARCO would develop various laboratories for National Satellite Development Programme in Lahore. The other projects are development of Compact Antenna Test Range (CATR), Satellite bus development facility (Phase-I), development of a Satellite Assembly Integration and Test (SAINT) and Altitude & Orbital Control System (AOCS) Center.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/413152/cell-phone-users-to-cross-160-million-broadband-to-19-5-million-by-2020-pta/

http://www.pta.gov.pk/media/final_vision_2020_booklet.pdf

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Express Tribune on rapid growth of broadband Internet access in Pakistan:

The current global economic recession has had a spiral effect worldwide and only a few segments have been able to resist its impact. However, the amazing growth of broadband in the last decade is an outstanding national success story. High-speed internet streaming is revolutionising the way people learn, communicate, work and do business. Broadband internet is now the backbone of corporate services and even small businesses.

Owing to their own limitations, some telecommunications operators are making misleading claims about the state of broadband penetration in Pakistan by incorrectly linking it with the country’s economic situation. Contrary to such ill-informed claims made in haste, the country has witnessed a 70 times increase in broadband proliferation in the last six years. The numbers speak for themselves.

According to the Pakistan Telecommu-nication Authority (PTA) data, the number of broadband internet subscribers in Pakistan increased from less than 27,000 in 2005-2006 to more than 1.9 million in 2012. One website, Internetworldstats.com, puts Pakistan’s total internet users at more than 29 million with a population penetration of 15.5 per cent. The total number of fixed phones and mobile phone subscribers stand at 3.1 million and 118.3 million, respectively. The PTA data further reveals that broadband internet put up an impressive growth rate of 28 per cent from June 2011 to March 2012, surpassing a mobile growth rate which stood at nine per cent for the same period. Given these facts, conveniently blaming the economy to cover operators’ own institutional limitations and lack of infrastructural capacity are tantamount to a disservice to the nation.

Broadband services were first introduced in Pakistan in 2001, by installing equipment on existing copper lines used for provision of telephony services. Initially, DSL broadband services were only provided to a small consumer base of high-end users in the big cities. But progress was slow and penetration was negligible. In response, the Government of Pakistan introduced the Broadband Policy of 2004, revising backhaul bandwidth charges downwards to propel broader penetration.

Broadband growth has been achieved during recession years, where the average GDP growth rate has remained less than four per cent per year. Today, broadband internet is a household product and one connection serves an entire family.

Pakistan is ranked among the top few countries to have registered high growth in broadband internet penetration in recent years. According to global broadband tracker Point Topic’s 2011 report, Pakistan stood in fourth place in Asia with 46.2 per cent growth in subscriber base whereas Sri Lanka and India were placed at number 11 and number 14, respectively. The tremendous potential of broadband internet in Pakistan can be gauged by analysing the last four years’ progress through the PTA’s data. Broadband internet penetration was less than one percent per household in 2008. In 2012, it has reached seven per cent. This mammoth growth has fuelled a broadband revolution, resulting in an increase in customer base and also helping wireless broadband technologies to expand setting the economic wheel in motion.

Despite hollow claims, the truth is that the growth trajectory of broadband is not the same for all operators. A sluggish economy and power crisis is not the reason for this stark dichotomy. Rather, it depends on an operator’s network, infrastructure capabilities, investment size, business model and growth strategy. Technology takes time to grow but once the wheel is set in motion, the effect is viral.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/416535/broadband-growth-dont-blame-the-economy/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting letter to Financial Times from two Pakistani readers:

High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email ftsales.support@ft.com to buy additional rights. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ed95f842-29d4-11e2-9a46-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz2C4VgKQYR

It can, of course, be argued that quality and institution-building will take some time. However, with the initiatives of some of the best American universities, the pace of reform can be quickened. Initiatives such as MIT Open Courseware (OCW), Open Yale Courses (OYC) and EdX now require just an internet connection and a laptop to access this world-class education. The word needs to be spread so that as many people as possible take advantage of this.

What American universities are doing is the beginning of a global reform in higher education. In our recorded history, no civilisation has ever opened its most advanced knowledge for others to benefit. We believe that nothing but the essence of real knowledge can truly transform our country.

It is with this faith that we meet every weekend on the outskirts of Lahore and try to gather as many people as possible to tell them what new opportunities have opened up in the shape of OCW and OYC, and how they can use those to transform themselves and society.

We also help underprivileged students understand the OYC lectures. We believe that these opportunities being offered by world-class universities can truly transform not just Pakistan but every country in the world.

Such initiatives need to be highlighted on broader and bigger forums as they represent far better opportunities than what is being offered by the profit-oriented education providers in Pakistan and other countries.


http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/ed95f842-29d4-11e2-9a46-00144feabdc0.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of an ET Op Ed on education in Pakistan:

.. Thomas L Friedman wrote in an article recently, “nothing has more potential to lift more people out of poverty — by providing them an affordable education to get a job or improve in the job they have. And nothing has more potential to enable us to reimage higher education than the massive open online course, MOOC, platforms that are being developed by the likes of Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and companies like Coursera and Udacity.” Within one year, the coverage provided by Coursera has increased from 300,000 students taking 38 courses taught by Stanford professors and a few other elite universities to 2.4 million taking 214 courses from 33 universities, including eight international ones.

There were reports that Pakistan was already one of the beneficiaries of the exponential development of the MOOC. A story on the 2013 Davos World Economic Forum singled out for special mention the presentation given by Khadija Niazi, a 12-year girl from Lahore, who may not have been the youngest speaker ever at the forum but was certainly captivating. According to this account, “hundreds of the conference’s well-healed attendees listened intently as Ms Niazi described her experience with massive online courses known as MOOC that are spreading around the globe … Her latest enthusiasm is for astrobiology because she is fascinated by UFOs and wants to become a physicist.”

According to another assessment, “enterprising academic institutions have taken the lead in online learning. Harvard and MIT, for instance, worked together to introduce EdX, which offers free online courses from each university. About 753,000 students have enrolled, with India, Brazil, Pakistan and Russia among the top 10 countries from which people are benefitting.” What seems to be happening is that while the government continues to neglect education, a variety of private initiatives are helping to fill some of the gaps that have been left.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/502152/education-problem-has-deep-roots/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of a News Op Ed on online education by Dr. Ata-ur-Rehman Khan:

The national focal point of this distance learning initiative selected by the HEC is the Latif Ebrahim Jamal Science Information Centre located at the University of Karachi. Over 2,000 lectures from professors based in the US, UK, Europe and Australia have been delivered through this mechanism during the last three years.



A major advance in distance learning was the availability of MIT OpenCourseWare free of charge to the world. This provided over two thousand excellent undergraduate and postgraduate courses in various disciplines delivered by the MIT faculty. There are about 20 million website visits by students from 215 countries to benefit from these courses annually and an astonishing 100 million users have benefited from them so far.



We set up a mirror website of the MITCourseWare in Pakistan to facilitate downloading when I was chairman of the HEC. These Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are also being introduced by Stanford and other universities. One such initiative, ‘Udacity’, was initiated by a Stanford professor last year and attracted 160,000 students to register for the course on artificial intelligence.



The fastest growing distance learning initiative, ‘Coursera’, was started by two Stanford professors of computer science and has already enrolled more than two million students worldwide. Harvard University has also followed the same path, teaming up with MIT to start online courses under a programme termed ‘edX’. These will be available free for developing countries.



Apple-iTunesU also offers access to websites of the leading universities in the world including Cambridge, Oxford, Yale etc, where free video lectures are available. The Khan Academy based in California has been providing school and college level materials for many years, many of which are dubbed in Urdu by a group based in NED University, Karachi.



Recently a meta search engine has been developed at the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences at Karachi University to quickly search through all these materials, and arrangements have been made to make these materials available to students and academics in Pakistan free of charge through internet and television.



The Latif Ebrahim Jamal Science Information Centre is the HEC designated national focal point for the video conferencing and distance learning programmes. The formal inauguration of educational TV is expected to occur within a couple of months. This will be a huge leap forward for education in Pakistan, and I am thrilled to be a part of this exciting initiative to help bring quality education to the doorsteps of some 100 million youngsters of Pakistan who are below the age of 19.


http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-161624-Education-at-the-doorstep

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Daily Times on AIOU campuses in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD: Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) has prepared a comprehensive plan to construct its own buildings across the country, especially in the far-flung regions to facilitate students, providing them with “best quality education at their door-step.”

The new buildings will have all possible facilities including video-conferencing system, digital library, computer & science labs and classrooms, this was stated by AIOU vice chancellor, Prof. Dr. Nazir Ahmed Sangi while inaugurating new campus building in Abbottabad on Wednesday. It is the twelfth AIOU academic building constructed during the last three years for providing access to quality education and electronically connecting students with the university’s main academic network.

Prof. Sangi urged philanthropists and the public representatives to help in acquiring suitable land for the construction of the AIOU infrastructure.

“We can start the construction as soon as suitable land is made available on volunteer basis,” he said adding that necessary funding for this purpose could immediately be provided.

He also urged the general public to help the university in establishing open-schooling System in the country.

The AIOU has planned to set-up one hundred thousand open schools in the country within the next five years and for this purpose it will seek services of about ten thousand tutors and trained students to educate the male and female population at the primary and middle level. A reasonable stipend will also be provided for this purpose.

The Open Schooling System inaugurated by President Asif Ali Zardari last week will lay a strong foundation for improving literacy rate in the country and providing excess to quality education across the board.

He announced that AIOU’s study centres would soon start working in Kohat and Batagram. The university’s building for its regional campus in Mianwali has almost been completed, whereas its buildings in Khudabad, Methi in Sindh will also be completed within the next six months.

The university has already acquired free land in Bannu, DI Khan, Lakki Marwat and Mardan where the construction work will start soon. The construction work for the AIOU’s own buildings is also in progress in Lora lia, Noshgi, Mastung, Mandi Bahauddin, Toba Tek Singh, Kalat, Jhang, Gawadar and Sibi for running its study centres.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013%5C05%5C09%5Cstory_9-5-2013_pg11_5

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a critique of current college education:

Colleges and universities are indecisive, slow-moving, and vulnerable to losing their best teachers to the Internet.

That’s the shared view of Google (GOOG) Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former Department of State official and until this month a tenured professor at Princeton University. They explored the problems of higher education on Friday in a one-on-one conversation sponsored by the New America Foundation, where Schmidt serves as chairman and Slaughter is the new president.

Colleges have the luxury of thorough, democratic deliberation of issues because “they never actually do anything,” Schmidt said during the event. He cited Princeton, where he graduated in 1976 and once served as trustee, which spent six years deliberating over whether to change its academic calendar—and in the end did nothing. “Don’t get me started on that,” Slaughter laughed.

STORY: Seriously, How Much Did You Learn in College?
Schmidt was more positive about the un-Princeton-like Khan Academy, on whose board he serves. He said the academy, which offers free online video tutorials on dozens of topics, has begun to analyze students’ answers to figure out which questions do the best job of assessing mastery of a topic.

The Google boss also had kind words for EdX, a nonprofit created by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that lets students take “interesting, fun, and rigorous courses” for free. Google and EdX announced this week that the tech giant will host a platform called Open EdX in a bid to make it easier for anyone to create online courses. “The fun will start,” Schmidt said, as new ventures smash up against incumbents that resist change.

Slaughter agreed that traditional colleges and universities, with their high fixed costs, are at risk. “They’re going to lose their top talent,” she said. “We can become global teachers. The best people can become free agents.”

BLOG: Wharton Puts First-Year MBA Courses Online for Free
Speaking from the audience, BuzzFeed President Jon Steinberg said he doesn’t think his young children will need to attend college. “I don’t want my kids to go to college unless they desperately want to be scholars.”

That was a bridge too far for Schmidt. He said college “just produces a better adult.” While acknowledging that Google’s college recruits aren’t equipped to contribute immediately, he said, “They are phenomenal employees after the training program.”

Schmidt said entrepreneur Peter Thiel, who pays young people to launch startups instead of studying in college, “is just fundamentally wrong. We want more educated people.”


http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-09-13/googles-eric-schmidt-and-ann-marie-slaughter-agree-college-kinda-stinks

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a News report about access to Ivy League school courses in Pakistan:

Any student sitting in Pakistan within the comfort of his bedroom or the ease of his armchair having a smartphone or a personal computer and an internet connection will now be able to access courses taught in the classrooms of Harvard, Yale, Stanford and MIT universities.

The Latif Ebrahim Jamal National Science Information Centre of the Karachi University (KU) launched a website, which will connect students in Pakistan to video lectures of professors at Ivy League universities of the world.

The web portal called the LEJ Knowledge Hub will hold thousands of full courses (0.5 lecture hours), skill development modules, research-based lectures and online mentoring lessons for school and university levels. All of this will be for free.

“Pakistan is among the first few countries of the world to launch such an initiative. History is being written right now,” said Dr Iqbal Chaudhry, the director of KU’s International Centre of Chemical and Biological Sciences, at a ceremony hosted at the Governor House on Thursday. President Mamnoon Hussain was the chief guest.

Students who log onto the website can choose if they want to be accredited for these courses or not. “I ask all educationists in the public and private sector universities to use this facility and include these internationally recognised courses in their curriculum,” Chaudhry said.

Schools can also access the portal as video tutorials from the Khan Academy have also been accommodated in the website.

Dr Atta-ur-Rehman, a former chairman of Higher Education Commission (HEC), said the website would bring about a new paradigm for Pakistan. “Universities are not about beautiful buildings, they are about beautiful minds,” he said. “Education is the only means of survival and our country has 40 percent children out of school.”

He shared a presentation titled “Higher Education: an Imperative for Social Development”, in which he highlighted what was lacking in Pakistani universities. At MIT, he claimed, graduates have started 4,000 new companies which employ 1.1 billion people. In Korea, only 5 percent of youth had university degrees till the 1960, but by 2010, 95 percent of its youth had attained higher education. Their imports increased over 350 times.

He was also hopeful that the status of the HEC would be restored, as in all countries higher education was a federal subject.

Philanthropist Aziz Latif Jamal, whose father established the LEJ centre, said: “We are one of the first countries to launch a website like the LEJ Knowledge Hub, but Pakistan has a lot of challenges ahead. Our literacy rate is a sorry 56 percent, we have untrained teachers and professors and a single digit education budget. If we are not ready to address these challenges then we are merely paying lip service to the cause of education at a time when our youth bulge is drifting towards militancy and crime.”

The president advised educational institutions to increase their pace of development so that it quenches the thirst for knowledge present in the youth of Karachi. “There was a time when business families of the city tried to outdo each other in their service to education. That is why we had the Ayesha Bawani Academy, Adamjee College and Dawood Engineering and Technology College. I pray those times return to Karachi.”

The government, he added, would resolve the pending status of the HEC and “salvage it from being ruined”.


http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-4-219774-Harvard-Yale-MIT-All-are-now-just-a-