PESHAWAR: Chief Economist Planning and Development Department Khyber Pakhtunkwha Ali Aghar aimed to finance ideas of the university students to enable youth to contribute into the development of Pakistan.
He was addressing as a guest of honor at the conclusion of a three-day conference on “Promoting Peaceful and Tolerant University Campuses” organized by the Community Resilience Activity – North (CRA-North) here on Friday. The conference witnessed the presence of esteemed Vice Chancellors and representatives from more than 30 renowned public and private universities and institutions from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) including the Newly Merged Districts of KP, Punjab, Balochistan, Sindh and Islamabad for three days.
Syed Ali Musa Gillani, Member of National Assembly and President of Young Parliamentarian Forum at National Assembly attended the concluding ceremony and said that “theme of the conference to promote peaceful and tolerant university campuses is the dire need of the day and being a member of national assembly we can present a bill on the subject to counter violent extremism in university campuses”, he also strongly suggested to have inter province students exchange programs to provide a different culture to the youth of Pakistan.
The three days conference Under the theme of “Unity through Diversity: Embracing Differences,” addressed critical issues pertaining to campus environments and student interactions. The event emphasized the significance of peaceful coexistence, understanding, and mutual respect among students, faculty, and staff from diverse backgrounds.
Distinguished speakers, including renowned educationists and experts, delivered thought-provoking keynote addresses, and participated in the panel discussions.
They highlighted the importance of creating safe and friendly spaces and promoting dialogue to bridge gaps among individuals with varying perspectives, capacity development of the faculty, update curriculum on peace building and tolerance, investment on science and technology to produce skilled youth, strengthen the link between the administration and students, development of peace societies, use of campus radios and social media of the universities for community awareness, and promote academic exchange between the students from newly merged district and rest of the country.
Panel discussions during the conference provided a platform for Vice Chancellors and participants to share successful strategies, policies, and best practices in their respective institutes. Topics ranged from fostering intercultural competence to addressing bias and discrimination within university settings. Vice Chancellors from more than 30 participating universities and institutions shared their respective initiatives that have successfully contributed to building peaceful and tolerant campus environments. The exchange of ideas served as an inspiration for all attendees to implement positive changes within their own institutions.
Professor Safia Ahmad Vice Chancellor Benazir Bhutto Shaheed University Peshawar stressed upon revisiting the curriculum. She said that “Curriculum inclusive of tolerance, peace building knowledge, and acceptance of difference of opinion can help our youth in reshaping society where opinion of everyone is respectfully listened and understand” she also added that the critical thinking must be practiced in evaluation and examination process to ensure peaceful campus environment.
Project Director PD Pir Roshaan Institute of Progressive Sciences & Technology Miranshah, North Waziristan Professor Jamil Ahmad emphasized that “every university and educational institute should have a complaint redressal mechanism so that the students can discuss their issues on a dedicated and right platform” he also suggested to “Involve tribal leaders and youth to set values for their nearby university, specially the one located within the newly merged district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa”.
Vice Chancellor Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) University, Prof. Muhammad Jahanzeb Khan said that “establishing trauma and psycho support centers in every university could help students to be counsel on various issues that can lead to a major disaster for the society and the institute. He requested public and private universities of other provinces to start virtual institutions to engage future of Pakistan so that they can be a beneficial part of this country.
Vice Chancellor Agriculture University Peshawar Professor Jan Bakht shared his views on the subject that “to achieve peaceful and tolerant university campuses we need to engage youth in a way to contribute positively into the society by doing research that can be utilized by the community. Moreover, universities alone might not be able to achieve this goal but together they can.” He also stressed upon the revival of book reading culture in the campuses by strengthening libraries.
Rector National Institute of Modern Languages Islamabad Retd. Maj. Muhammad Jaffar encouraged representatives and VCs of the University of KP and NMDs to develop students exchange mechanism so they will get opportunity to meet and share their knowledge and issues with the youth of other region, this will help in creating social cohesion and will decrease the disconnect. Director General KP Center of Excellence on Countering Violent Extremism shared the success of CECVE on establishing resilience centers in public universities of KP on divisional level.
Ms. Mio Sato, Chief of Mission, International Organization for Migration (IOM) Pakistan, expressed her gratitude to all the Vice Chancellors, speakers, and attendees for their active participation and invaluable contributions to the conference. She stated that, “It is our shared responsibility to ensure that these young minds are prepared to embrace the qualities of empathy, respect and open mindedness and we want to support our partners in their effort to cement Universities as beacons of inclusion, understanding, acceptance and learning; so that we can inspire critical thinking, broaden horizons and bridge divisions.” CRA-North is committed to continuing its efforts in promoting peaceful and tolerant university campuses through ongoing collaborations, research initiatives, and support for the implementation of best practices.