‘Pakistan develops search engine for free online courses’

Published October 8, 2013
Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman presenting a shield to Pakistan's eminent cosmologist and mathematician Dr. Asghar Qadir at the second National Conference on Space Sciences at Karachi University. — Photo by Muhammad Umar/Dawn.com
Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman presenting a shield to Pakistan's eminent cosmologist and mathematician Dr. Asghar Qadir at the second National Conference on Space Sciences at Karachi University. — Photo by Muhammad Umar/Dawn.com

KARACHI, Oct 7: Pakistan will become the first country to offer top-quality education on an integrated online platform that will include free online courses from hundreds of top universities around the world, claimed Dr Prof Atta-ur-Rahman, the former chairman of the Higher Education Commission, at the Second National Conference on Space Science on Monday.

Speaking to Dawn on the sidelines of the first day of the conference, he said that the search engine had been developed. He added that the Hussain Ebrahim Jamal (HEJ) Institute of Chemistry would launch the integrated platform for the best available free online courses like MIT open courseware, Coursera, Udacity, Khan Academy, Virtual University of Pakistan and other courses next month.

Dr Rahman said that the lack of trained faculty was a major hurdle in educating the masses especially in developing world. And joining hands with world’s top varsities such as MIT and Harvard to deliver excellent academic material would greatly help Pakistan and other developing countries, he added.

According to the former HEC chairman, Pakistan will be the only country to have brought together the great wealth of educational material from around the world on one single platform.

Some 60 research presentations and papers will be presented at the two-day event being organised by the Institute of Planetary Astrophysics (ISPA), the University of Karachi, to celebrate the ‘World Space Week 2013’.

The first day of the two-day conference brought together scholars and experts from Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco), Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Institute of Space Technology, ISPA and other institutes.

The official topic of this year’s Space Week celebrations is “Exploring Mars, Discovering Earth”.

In an interesting presentation, Salman Zubair from the department of Geography, Karachi University, shared his findings about road designs and accidents, which according to him, could be curbed using the help of satellite imagery and Geographical Information System.

He also urged road planners to consider the mass awareness about the new road facilities and GIS planning while designing major roads, a lack of which was responsible for 34 per cent accidents directly or indirectly.

Mr Zubair said that Karachi ranked fourth in the world when it came to road accidents.

In another lecture, Mohammad Shafique from the National Centre of Excellence in Geology, the University of Peshawar, said that Pakistan witnessed 138 major disasters over the past 30 years. He said remote sensing and satellite imaging could be used as an important tool in disaster mitigation and management.

Other scholars presented their findings in cosmology, theoretical physics, renewable energy, Mars explorations and other topics related to Space Science, technology and cosmology.

NCSS-2013 has been organised with the collaboration of Suparco, HEC and Pakistan Science Foundation.

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