A delegate from the community colleges of the United States visited Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) on Wednesday and met with the senior management of PHEC and principals from five existing community colleges of Punjab.
The visit was facilitated by the American Institute of Pakistan Studies (AIPS) / Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) and included representatives from Montgomery College Maryland, California Lutheran University, Sauk Valley Community College, Mesa Community College, Northern Virginia Community College, Spokane Community College, Gadsden State Community College, and Seattle Central College Washington. The delegate was welcomed by PHEC Director General (QA & Accreditation) Zia Batool. A detail orientation on Community College project was given by PHEC Director Zainib Siraj.
At this occasion, Zia Batool briefed the delegate that PHEC in collaboration with the Higher Education Department (HED), Government of Punjab launched the Community Colleges project following the successful model employed at the United States of America. The program offers 2-year associate degrees in practical and employable fields of studies to prepare students to enter the job market and produce a skilled workforce. “The model offers high-quality education with technical expertise at a low cost. The education is being imparted in the market-oriented disciplines, with a core focus on the job-ready skills of the students in order to meet the growing needs of the industry as well as bridging the industry-academia gap” Batool added.
She said as per the vision of the Government of Punjab, PHEC was ardently working to enhance access and affordability to high-quality education for the students through these community colleges. “Currently we have established five community colleges in five districts – Lahore, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Multan, Bahawalpur- in Punjab. Punjab Minister for Higher Education Raja Yassir Humayun Sarfraz has showed keen interest in the project and pledged the fullest support of the provincial government in expanding this project to all nine divisions of Punjab” informed Batool. She further said the Associate Degree programme of Community college was the best alternative as the two-year conventional BA was phasing out.
Zia Batool further added that the sharing of experience and expertise in the field of curriculum development, faculty development, introducing new subject streams, and credit hour management will benefit the community colleges project in Punjab.
The delegates also shared their experiences and pledged support to PHEC to successfully run the project. Later, the delegate visited Community College established at Government Township College Lahore and interacted with faculty and students there.