The second day of the Capacity Building workshop organized by Asia Europe Foundation (ASEF) in association with World Access to Higher Education Day (WAHED) was held on the 25th of November at the Outreach Center in Edinburgh.
The first session of the day was an overview of the trends and developments in global practice surrounding access and success in higher education. The two-hour session compared and contrasted different institutions across the globe and the programs they facilitated in their individual capacities.
The general consensus of this session was that year-round facilitation of mentorship and tutelage for students between the ages of 8-16 improved their access to higher education, and their success rates once in the higher education.
A group discussion followed this particular session that sought to analyze what exactly constitutes a successful university initiative. A strong sense of belonging, and the presence of cultural capital was identified as being imperative to a productive program.
This session was followed by a presentation by Ms. Nishat Riaz, the Director of Education of British Council Pakistan, which looked at Understanding practices in Asia. This presentation brought a cultural context to the discussions that were being held; and facilitated an interesting discussion about the concepts of equity, not just equality, and discussed the additional barriers faced by women and people with disabilities in Pakistan. Representational access and equality mindfulness were discussed, with special attention to discuss the resource allocation that is imperative to this program.
Ms. Riaz also expressed her view that budget allocation for defense and education must be reversed. “Currently, Pakistan allocates only 4% of its budget to higher education, but 40% of its budget to defense. I believe that if they allocated 40% of the budget to higher education, we would not feel the need to spend as much on defense.”
Post this session there were working group discussions that sought to address questions about solving access problems, with the groups presenting their plans in the third day of the conference.
Image: Ellen Blair