Pakistan Launches Virtual University

March 25, 2002

ISLAMABAD: President Pervez Musharraf inaugurated the Virtual University to

make education on information technology available to a wide group of students

throughout the country via electronic media.

In a press briefing Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman, Federal Minister for Science and Technology

said that the university will start its operations on March 26 throughout the

country. Initially 1000 students will be enrolled. The goal is to increase the

number of students to 25,000 by 2003. Dr. Atta continued, the launching of Virtual

University would help the country to develop its much-needed human resources

and solve the critical shortage of high quality IT faculty. The idea behind

the Virtual University is to bring together a critical mass of quality faculty

to provide world-class education in the IT sector to a very large number of

students located in major cities as well as remote areas of the country. The

University will use a combination of television and the Internet to reach students

who will pay 1440 rupees per month to enroll.

President Musharraf described the University as another step forward in information

technology and said this Virtual University concept is not only unique to Pakistan

but the whole region. He said "Information technology is at the heart of

economic revival plan of Pakistan. The country has tremendous potential in IT

infrastructure, which has even surpassed many countries of the region and in

certain areas we are far ahead of India."

In a related development, Pakistan announced that it will launch its first

communications satellite by the end of this year. Inaugurating the international

conference on the use of new information technologies in the teaching of science

here, Dr. Atta said things are moving smoothly for the launching of the satellite.

"This will provide a great opportunity to boost our communication technologies

and allow further developments in this field."

Atta said that 47 foreign faculty members have been hired in different institutions

of the country. Over 12500 science teachers are presently getting training and

by the end of this year 25000 science teachers will be trained in IT field.

The objective is to train 200,000 teachers in three years, he said. He expressed

the hope that the conference will yield positive results and the foreign and

local delegates will be able to develop programs, which may be mutually beneficial.

He said Pakistan government will be happy to support joint inter-country projects

in specific fields.

Delegates from eleven countries are attending the two day conference, which

aims to foster the creation and dissemination of knowledge for better learning

in engineering, mathematics and sciences.