ISLAMABAD, Dec 2: President Pervez Musharraf on Monday dispelled the impression that education was being privatized but made it clear that the university ordinance promulgated to bring revolutionary changes in the higher education was going to stay.

“The ordinance is the result of a very hard work and open to improvements, but the new government should not give it up, otherwise we will be nowhere,” Gen Musharraf suggested.

The president was speaking at the launching ceremony for the Pakistan Educational Network organized by the Pak Telecom and the National Telecommunications.

“Pakistan needs to move forward in education,” he said. The country had to bring improvements in the higher education and the instant ordinance was one of the instruments through which this goal could be achieved, he said.

He said the ordinance was the result of the recommendations of a steering committee on higher education headed by Shams Lakha. “The ordinance can have problems and can be improved, but it is unfortunate that vested interest are opposing it through strikes and protests on the grounds that the higher education is being privatized,” the president regretted.

“We are not mad to privatize the education to close the opportunities to our poor,” he said, adding the real intent of the ordinance was to revolutionize the higher education.

“Whatever the new system is, at least it is far better than the previous one,” he stressed.

The president maintained that the views of vice chancellors, faculties and students had been incorporated in the ordinance, which, he added, would cover everything, from maximum autonomy of universities to financing. He further said that the ordinance emphasized on improving quality of faculties and depoliticizing the university environment.

“We have increased the budget of science and technology from Rs180 million to Rs6.7 billion to bring improvement (in the sector), but it is not enough. To give more to the sectors of science and technology and education, we need to earn more, for which we have initiated medium-term and long-term policies,” he said.

Appreciating Education Minister Zubaida Jalal’s role, the president said there should be a continuity of policies. He recalled that the education minister had got commitments worth $800 million to be provided by various international agencies as grants during the next five years.

TELECOM: Referring to the achievements made in the telecommunications sector, the president appreciated that 152 projects worth Rs15 billion had been launched by the Information Technology and Telecom Division.

He also appreciated launching of Paksat satellite, Pakistan’s own communication satellite which would start moving from Dec 4.

He recalled that the PTCL had earned a record profit of over Rs19.8 billion: Internet access expanded from 29 to more than 850 cities, while the Internet bandwidth rates slashed form $90,000 per month to $3,800 per month.

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