Community Colleges in Pakistan – A Conference on the Concept at IBA Sukkur University, Jan 09, 2018
President ECOSF participated in the Round Table Discussion
Sukkur IBA University in partnership with Johnson County Community College, Kansas USA organized a conference on the concept of Community Colleges. The prime objectives of the conference were to, understand the US model of Community Colleges; discuss and propose community colleges model for Pakistan; understand role of Community Colleges in skilled workforce development and quality basic education and to strengthen industry-academia relationship. The conference provided a platform to officials from academia and industry, both from Pakistan and USA to come together and discuss about the model of Community Colleges that fits Pakistan workforce development needs in alignment of HEC Vision 2025. Speakers included Vice Chancellors of notable universities across Pakistan, Executive Director HEC Dr. Arshad Ali, President ECO Science Foundation Prof. Dr. Manzoor Hussain Soomro President of Johnson County Community College, Kansas USA and many others from academia and industry. It is worth mentioning that Sukkur IBA initiated Community Colleges in 1990s, which is considered as a successful initiative. HEC under its 2025 vision is considering expanding Community Colleges under the patronage of universities. HEC plans to open up to 150 Community Colleges, to address the needs of community with a particular reference to education, technical and vocational trainings and skill development.
Honorable Minister for Education & Literacy Government of Sindh Mr. Jam Mehtab Hussain Dahar was the Chief Guest in the conference. In his talk he highlighted the importance and role of Community Colleges specially for Pakistan. Earlier Vice Chancellor Sukkur IBA University Prof. Nisar Ahmad Siddiqui opened the conference with his welcome note and shared the reasons why they began the Community Colleges. Johnson County Community College, Kansas USA Prof. Dr. Joseph M. Sopcich made a power point presentation on the “US Community Colleges Model, its role in workforce development and higher education. Subsequently Vice Chancellors of various Universities and ED HEC spoke on the models of Community Colleges and their plans.
President ECO Science Foundation Prof. Dr. Manzoor Hussain Soomro was invited to speak in a Round Table discussion during the conference, with a particular reference to inquiry based learning in formal and non-formal settings. The panel discussion included academia, industry and civil society representatives. Dr. Soomro in his intervention emphasized on the concept and importance of inquiry for learning and shared his experience of training school teachers and pupils as well as the members of the community that he had been engaged under the FAO-UN programme of Farmer Field School (FFS) approach for capacity building of even illiterate farmers.
Dr. Soomro also emphasized on having each community college a unique and somewhat separate model rather than replicating the existing. “Since the concept of Community Colleges in to address the issues and gaps of knowledge and skills in a community, the issues could also be different in one community from the other”, he noted.
The daylong conference highlighted the best practices in different settings in the US and Pakistan and concluded that before opening community colleges the need assessment must always be done and programmes to be decided accordingly. It is pertinent to mention that CEO and GM CSR of Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) also spoke during the conference and shared the intention to open Community Colleges in Thar Desert around the Thar Coal reserves as part of the Thar Foundation’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of SECMC.