Pakistan Chapter of Talloires Network was created at NUST on July 1st, 2013. It was suggested by heads of all member institutions to convene a conference to decide the way forward. The First PCTN member universities’ VCs ‘ Rectors’ Conference was held at NUST, H-12, Islamabad on 19th November, 2013. Heads and representatives of 16 universities attended the conference. The conference was chaired by Rector NUST, Engr. Muhammad Asghar and ED HEC, Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad.
The conference opened with the welcome remarks by rector NUST who welcomed the guests. ED HEC in his opening remarks emphasized the importance of community service especially in the present circumstances that our country is facing. Focal Person PCTN, Dr. Irtiza Ali Shah gave an overview of Talloires Network and PCTN. Chief Coordinator PCTN, Mr. Mahmud Bajwa moderated the discussion on the agenda points. It was decided to set up a steering committee of 6 members headed by Chair PCTN, Engr. Muhammad Asghar (Rector NUST). The 6 member elected for a two year term included Dr. Mansoor Akbar Kundi (VC Gomal Unuversity), Dr. Talat Naseer Pasha (VC University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences), Dr. Zakir Hussain (VC Government College University, Faisalabad), Vice Admiral Shahid Iqbal (Rector Bahria University), Dr. Nisar Ahmad Siddiqui (Director Sukkur Institute of Business Administration), and Dr. Najma Najam (VC Karakoram International University).
A decision was made to hold steering committee meeting every six months to review programs, activities and policies. Approval was taken to establish a PCTN secretariat at NUST. It was decided expand the membership of PCTN. A quarterly newsletter and an annual journal of civic engagement will be published. PCTN will also hold conferences, seminars and workshops to train students, faculty and staff in the area of civic engagement. It was also decided to give out recognitions and awards to the best community engagement project of member universities, detailed modalities of which will be decided by the steering committee in their next meeting. Each university was asked to designate a focal person (in charge of community service/ civic engagement department) who could be the point of contact for PCTN secretariat.
The conference attendees resolved to expand community service in their respective universities. It was decided to forge a collective vision and to advance in the fields of community engagement. Emphasis was laid on strengthening the community-university relationship by undertaking projects of use to communities in close locality of the university and by making the project sustainable. Many of the attendees present told about the exceptional community service work being carried out by their respective institutions and how community service has been made an essential part of the curriculum at some member universities.
In his concluding remarks ED HEC, Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad told the participants that HEC and British Council are working together to make civic engagement a part of curriculum in all universities of Pakistan. He also informed the house about HEC’s plan to allocate funds of Rs.500,000 to universities with exceptional community engagement proposals.