Higher Education in the Islamic World
Saturday 17 November 2012 14:56
The COMSATS Institute of Information Technology in collaboration with the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), Higher Education Commission, Pakistan, and the Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of Pakistan, and Federation of the Universities of the Islamic World (FUIW) organized a 2- Day Vice Chancellors’ Forum on “Higher Education in the Islamic World: Challenges and Opportunities”. The Forum was held on June 11-12, 2012 at Islamabad, IR of Pakistan.xml:namespace prefix = o />
For this matter, we arranged an interview with Dr. Mahdi Javanmard, head of Inter Islamic Network on Virtual Universities (INVU), to know his comments about the issues discussed and the results of this international meeting.
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Mahdi Javanmard. I am a faculty member of Payam Noor University (PNU) and currently, the head of Inter Islamic Network on Virtual Universities (INVU). I attended there as the representative of PNU and head of INVU.
Please explain more about INVU and its relation with PNU.
To find out complete information about INVU you may visit our portal http://www.invu.ir/but briefly I would say that proposed Feasibility Study of INVU (including open, distance and virtual, that are based on technological infrastructures and knowledge engineering and management) was prepared by PNU. The proposal was approved according to the Fourteenth General Assembly Meeting of the Standing Committee on Scientific and Technical Cooperation (COMSTECH) under the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held on January 11-13, 2010, at Islamabad, Pakistan. Based on that proposal, the Network is an autonomous, non-political, non-profit organization, with international approach, which works under the support of COMSTECH. It is established with the aim of the realization, monitoring and evaluation of its statute objectives. INVU was officially opened on Sunday, 8th of January 2012 by H.E. Professor Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman, the Coordinator General of COMSTECH at PNU which is the permanent secretariat of the Network.
What countries were attended at this international meeting?
It was expected to be attended by over 300 Vice Chancellors/Rectors/Presidents of universities/higher education institutions of the OIC member states. In fact, 134 delegates from Pakistan universities, 111 of heads and deputies of the Islamic Universities, 87 representatives of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) such as Malaysia, Jordan, Kuwait, Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE and some representatives of the Islamic Center of London, United States, the Union of International Islamic University (FUIW), Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in South (COMSATS), the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Culture Organization(ISESCO) and the Executive Committee of COMSTECH attended this meeting. The secretary general presented a report about using information technology and new learning methods in classes, necessity of changing in teaching methods, new types of research and using the data bases and internet for research and presentation. For more information you can refer to the website of meeting at http://heiw.org.pk.
In what level Islamic Republic of Iran attended the meeting and how you assess the Iranian delegates presence?
Representatives of our country were Hodjat-ol-Eslam Abolhassan Navab, assistant director of international department of the Islamic Development Organization and chancellor of University of Religions and Denominations of Qom, Hojdat-ol-Eslam Haj Abd-ol-Karim Biazar Shirazi, chancellor of Islamic MAZAHEB University, Dr. Mohammad Fathian, director of education of Iran University of Science and Technology, Dr. Ramin Rahmani, chancellor of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources University of Gorgan, Dr. Ali Haghighi Asl, chancellor of Damghan University, Dr. Mohammed Bidhendy, vice president of Isfahan University, Dr. Abdul Ali Bassiri, head of scientific and international cooperation of Damghan University, Dr. Hadi Khorrami Shad, manager of scientific and international cooperation of Iran University of Science and Technology and I as the head of INVU. I believe Iranian’s attendance at the seminar was very impressive. Dr. Mohammad Fathian was the chairperson of one of the panels and I was the Invited speaker of another panel. Coordinator general of COMSTECH, representatives of United States and United Kingdom, head of COMSATS, representatives of FUIW, ISESCO and several of Pakistani’s officials delivered speech too. The meeting was opened by the prime minister of Pakistan. News agencies of Pakistan, Malaysia and Iran like IRNA and Press TV properly covered the meeting well and I appreciate them. The attendance of our embassy in Islamabad was also good.
Please explain about achievements and results of the meeting.
At this meeting, Pakistani’s officials, heads of the universities and students met our officials and heads of universities closely so that they could resolve ambiguities regarding Iran's academic issues. They welcomed to learn more about our scientific achievements. This makes us to be more determined to attend other international meetings of Islamic countries.
Signing of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with Pakistan’s Universities in a bid to
increase academic cooperation between the two neighboring was another achievement of the meeting. This will accelerate the exchange of students, science and technology. As you know, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan have very strong relations in education, in fact, cooperation between Tehran and Islamabad on higher education starts by an agreement between relevant ministries of the two countries since 2002 with the aim of promoting science and technology. These agreements, increase cooperation between Islamic countries in education sector with this aim, to bring lasting peace and stability in the region. In general, regarding to the current situation, I proposed to enable the private sector and NGOs to develop higher education and that was welcomed. Some of Pakistani’s officials underlined we should believe that all the activities of Islamic governments as cultural or educational are executed by the private sectors and if this continues, we hope that cooperation between Islamic countries would be easier.
Was there any discussion about the Inter-Islamic networks which are acting in Iran now?
Yes, it was. Due to the general aspect of participants to joint activities in Islamic countries, the subject of Academic Networks of Islamic Countries was posed. In fact, introducing INVU as one of the Iran’s activities in science and technology was the pivots of my speech. This speech was welcomed particularly for Haj Navab, chancellor of University of Religions and Denominations of Qom and Hojdat-ol-Eslam Haj Abd-ol-Karim Biazar Shirazi, chancellor of Islamic MAZAHEB University. Narration of our research and scientific activities in such meetings should increase national pride for all Iranians, especially for academic society. I also talked about Network of Women Scientists of the Islamic world.
Did Iranian representatives achieve any agreement with Pakistani government too?
Yes, they did. As there is ability for scientific and educational development between Iran and Pakistan and that they intend to develop their cooperation with Iran, some agreements were signed by the officials of two countries, as I mentioned before.
We hope by signing these agreements, relations between two countries extend especially in scientific and educational activities and NGOs. Participating in academic meetings and giving the report of our progress will persuades the universities of all Islamic countries to cooperate with our universities in all respects particularly science and technology.
Dr. Javanmard thank you for the time you gave us
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