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Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training, Shafqat Mahmood has assured that loan of $400 million by the World Bank would be spent on higher education to help universities modernise standards of faculty and teaching.

The minister said this during the 14th meeting of Inter-Provincial Education Ministers Conference in which the representatives from four provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir participated. He said the Higher Education Commission (HEC) is going to establish the highest standards of testing service which will be launched soon.

He said the convenience will also be assured and online attestation of certificates has been introduced by the Inter-Board Committee of Chairmen (IBCC).

Shafqat Mehmood also highlighted the agreement between the Ministry of Federal Education and seminaries, adding that all possibilities for the registration of seminaries at the federal level came under discussion.

It has also been decided with consensus that the grade-8 exam will be conducted through board across the country and it will be a milestone in the journey of unified education. The 10th class and 12th class exams will also be conducted through boards while 9th and 11th class board exam will be excluded.

The meeting also decided that all the boards will announce results of intermediate before Aug 15, just to bring uniformity in the academic calendar.

The minister highlighted the apex court's fee decision regarding private schools and stated that it is the foremost responsibility of the government to enforce it across the country, adding that strict action will be taken against any violation of the decision by private schools.

The HEDP project was successfully negotiated between the HEC and the World Bank in May 2019, for a $400 million IDA credit support. Subsequently the project was approved by the World Bank Board in May.

The component-2 of the project, supporting decentralized HEIs for improved teaching and learning aims, will improve the quality of education delivered by tier-2 universities and affiliated colleges through strengthening affiliation systems and technological interventions. The objective of the component-3 is to leverage technology to improve the teaching, learning and research environment in Pakistan and strengthen the existing IT resources available to institutions for research and higher education in Pakistan.

The component-4 is related to higher education management information system and data driven services and it aims to improve the collection and use of data for national level policy-decisions, while automating business processes in higher education institutions.

The fifth component will support the HEC in strengthening its core functions of regulation, capacity building and funding of Pakistan's higher education sector through strategic and targeted technical assistance, including establishment of the National Higher Education Academy.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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