Establishment of a Regional Center
(POP) for Distance Learning / a
Virtual University at Karachi, Pakistan

Collaboration Title: Virtual University / Distance Learning POP and Internet Service Provider for Research and Development.

Target Partner Expertise Sought - Should be an academic institution of higher learning with expertise in R&D and delivery of courses on distance delivery mode. Should have the expertise of setting up such a system. Should be able to provide a linkage with a software house for which our ALCoS (Action Learning Center for Software Development) software-training program could be tailored.

In this perspective a lead partner is needed to work with us for preparing a proposal for obtaining funding from a donor agency in order to implement the project.

Target Partner Organization Type - Education, Research and Development, Technology Transfer and Software house.

Brief Overview Of Pakistan

Pakistan is very strategically located and can serve as a regional center (POP) for such activities. The details about Pakistan are given in my detailed report and those interested can get a copy from me. I will just mention a few important things concerning Pakistan.


Pakistan stretches from the Arabian Sea to the high mountains of central Asia, and covers an area of 803,944 square kilometer (310,322 square miles), or three times that of the United Kingdom or about a twelfth of the United States. The distance from Southwest to Northeast is 1,800 kilometer (1,120 miles), and the southern coastline along the Arabian Sea is nearly 1,000 kilometer (620 miles) long. From west to east, Pakistan is bordered by Iran, Afghanistan, China and India.

Pakistan consists of four provinces: Sindh, Baluchistan, Punjab and the Northwest Frontier Province (usually referred to as NWFP). Two other regions, the Northern Areas (Gilgit, Hunza, Chilas and Skardu) and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (the upper Jhelum valley), were assigned to India at the time of creation of Pakistan in 1947, but presently are under the administrative control of Pakistan(Azad means free) .


Pakistan has 117 million people distributed at 134/ sq. Km with a growth rate of 3%. The major cities are Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Lahore and Faisalabad. 97% are Muslim. Urdu is the official language of Pakistan and the literacy rate is 34%. English is well understood and is the medium of instruction in most of the educational institutions.


54% are involved in agriculture, 33% services and 13% in industry. Pakistan's economy is heavily dependent upon agriculture, which accounts for 32 percent of the gross national product and employs nearly three-quarters of the country's population. The natural resources are arable land, natural gas, petroleum, coal, iron ore, limestone and hydropower potential.

Textile manufacture is Pakistan's most important industry, followed by light engineering (electrical goods, metalworking, precision equipment), food processing (vegetable oils, sugar, soft drinks), cement, pharmaceuticals, leather and rubber. The abundant supplies of natural gas (particularly in Baluchistan) means that Pakistan has a substantial fertilizer industry, and the Soviet Union has helped to build an iron and steel works near Karachi.

Hydroelectric power is the largest source of energy in the country. There is also oil in the Potwar Plateau, and there have been some new finds in southern Sindh. Nearly half of Pakistan's foreign exchange earnings come from remittances sent home by the country's estimated two to three million expatriates, who work mainly in the Middle East. This money makes a considerable difference to the lives of the poorer families in Pakistan, many of whom have at least one member working in the Gulf. Major trade partners are Japan, the US, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia.

The tourism industry remains almost totally undeveloped, although its great potential is recognized.

Pakistan is considered to have the resources and the entrepreneurial skills to develop rapidly its economy. Therefore, is considering information technology for development and improvement of the quality of life of the masses. Pakistan tries to maintain good relationship with all the countries of the world and, in particular, with its neighboring countries, Iran, Afghanistan, China and Russia. Pakistan has also very long and strong bilateral ties with the International community.

Education In Pakistan In The Recent Decade

Pakistan is introducing a comprehensive educational program in the country, based on the national objectives and aspirations of the people in the light and need of socio-economic development in Pakistan, which includes from eradication of illiteracy of universal primary education to higher education including technical, vocational and Ph.D. to strengthen the country. Education of women, their improvement and arrangements for special handicap people are also considered essential.

Pakistan also believes that in order to provide opportunity of objectives and empowerment to the rural communities the access of education and employment .in rural areas is necessary.

To provide education as referred above a large number of trained teachers are necessary besides a large number of good educational buildings, which is a very costly proposition.

At present there are 110 institutes for training of primary teachers, 100 for secondary school teachers and a large number is trained as private candidate and through the programs of Allama Iqbal Open University. The quality of these programs needs to be enhanced. To improve the quality of existing teachers, in service training can be very well organized through distance learning programs, through non-formal education, teachers resources centers, mobile teachers training, particularly for the female teachers in rural areas and on the job training through learning and cooperation.

Education Based On Internet

Education can, indeed, be used as a tool for developing countries to improve quality of life of underprivileged communities; in turn help the globalization process for the entire world. For this purpose, it is necessary to have a unified educational system able to cater for the entire underdeveloped population. This educational system should be of a better standard compared to the present conventional system and should commence right from infant age to the highest educational level, including adult education; and also at an affordable cost.
Considering this scenario, the type and quality of education has to be decided through research and consensus for a particular region. So far as the mode of education is concerned PLANWEL is convinced that at the present stage of development Virtual and laboratory format using Internet is the most suitable mode for the region. As through this system quality education can reach to the underprivileged masses with least number of highly qualified instructors from around the world at an affordable cost.


PLANWEL is the acronym for Association of Planning Professionals for Social Welfare Work. This was created in 1990 by a group of like-minded professionals in the fields of Planning and Development. PLANWEL is duly registered with the Government of Sindh, Pakistan vide registration number DSW(582)-K of 1990.

PLANWEL has been awarded the status of an ALCoS business partner jointly by the University Grants Commission and the Pakistan Software Export Board with the responsibility of establishing an institute for training software developers of international standards which will assist the Software export program of the government of Pakistan.

This Institute has been equipped to train software developers on a laboratory and lecture format for 30 students. However, we now intend to upgrade and modernize the educational delivery and gradually convert this Institute to a distance learning/virtual university POP.

The members of the Board of Management of PLANWEL are a highly motivated group of professionals belonging to various fields of, computer software developers, telecommunications, engineering, design, architecture, city and regional planning, management, accounting economics etc. and are assisting Third World Countries in providing quality educational services by setting up training centers in information technology and building of data bases for the government industry, trade and commerce. It is merely a direct enactment of the ethical commitment of professionals towards the quality of underprivileged masses in the Third World Countries under the changing scenario of Globalization.


As per government of Pakistan 2010 programme, the private sector is being encouraged to establish universities and graduate schools in the newly emerging field and applied sciences. PLANWEL, therefore, believes that the following should be the concept of a good education program:

To economize in the cost; the educational system shall be such that only small number of teachers can cope with the problem. The above policy and program is only possible through adopting modern technology; i.e. distance learning, In this case the syllabus may be decided first and through the use of information technology it can be disseminated to the masses. In this case less teachers will be needed, the educational program will be economical and it will be possible to provide a uniform type of education to all.

To meet the above objectives, PLANWEL has established a virtual site (POP) for R&D at Karachi with suitable infrastructure and hopes to provide a good testing ground for the Institutions of higher learning of the International Research Community. Once certain about the quality and reliability of transmission and receiving at our end, it can be replicated all over the city, the country and in the region.

Mission Of PLANWEL

PLANWEL's mission is to promote education and research in the region such that quality education could reach underprivileged masses globally. Education can, indeed be used as a tool for developing countries to improve quality of life of underprivileged communities, and in turn help the globalization process for the entire world. For this purpose it is necessary to have a unified educational system able to cater for the entire underdeveloped population and translated globally.

Translating this objective Planwel Institute of Science and Technology; an institute of higher learning established under PLANWEL; focused on research and development. The institute has been awarded and recognized as an ALCoS business partner by the Pakistan government to set up specialized training institutes in the region; for imparting quality manpower training and skill enhancement in computer software in accordance to the needs and requirements of the international software market in targeted developed countries.

PLANWEL will train trainers of international quality in all disciplines, both at Karachi, and at Mehran University of Engineering and Technology, Jamshoro, Pakistan. These trained personnel will enter the market equipped with skills and engineering theory, basic management concepts, business communications, knowledge of the internet, a brush of English as well as plenty of experience in their own areas of expertise. These graduates will be formidable candidates for employment in the most challenging environment possible. The PLANWEL program has the power and the flexibility to make all this happen.

In order to provide quality education to the masses, PLANWEL is desirous to take assistance from Institutions and members of the International Community, particularly those who are using the most advanced technology which could economize quality education for underprivileged masses and make it possible to educate more and more people with minimum number of instructors incurring minimum cost. This has now become possible through the distance learning process - conducted by the Virtual University using Telematics/Internet2.

Information technology has brought a revolution not only in computer but also, in all aspects of life. The concept of dissemination of information can become an asset for underdeveloped regions of the world. Globalization will be a demanding factor for both developed and underdeveloped regions; if proper infrastructure is not in place. Therefore, it is essential that developed countries play their role for this massive development. Though it is not an easy task but think of the opportunity when companies from developed regions will be able to deliver their goods without any hindrance and will be able to reach the masses one on one. New markets will open up, health care could be delivered and similarly education could be provided to all at an affordable cost.

Relating this vision into practical terms seems like a dream, since it requires access of technology to the underdeveloped masses where living day to day is an effort, where monthly wages for a family is lower than a days wage of an individual in the developed regions. Where the per capita income of a family is lower than yearly gas bill of a family in the developed region.

The developed nations are spending trillions to improve their communication systems so that they can reach new markets and be able to deliver more at a less cost and time but it is a dilemma that the new markets they want to reach are devoid of any resources, the masses have no means to accept this new technology since firstly they can not afford it rather they have more to think about as how to sustain their families and secondly they do not have enough literacy to use this technology.

This gloomy scenario can be diffused with careful planning and co-ordination among the private sectors of the developed and developing nations. Although this will not be an easy task, since most of the developing nations use top down planning, and the private sector is not invited into any development activity. Here the role of international agencies come into play as; how they can foster productive bonds between these private sector groups, and educational institutions to increase literacy and eventually eradicate poverty.

Education can, indeed, be used as a tool for Developing Countries to improve quality of life of underprivileged communities; in turn help the globalization process for the entire world. For this purpose, it is necessary to have an unified educational system able to cater for the entire underdeveloped population and disseminated globally.

To make all this work there has to be an educational system that could address issue in realistic terms, thus the objectives of PLANWEL are to promote education and research in the region such that quality education could reach underprivileged masses globally. Here the role of distance education through the use of Internet is an opportunity for underdeveloped countries to prepare themselves for the next millenniumfs technology based communities. This has now become possible through the concept of Virtual University.

Coming to the question of virtual university, yes they have now become reality as we can refer to few; California Virtual University, Western Governors University and the Virtual University of Malaysia, but these are reality only for the developed nations where individuals can afford computers and the infrastructure is in place; but unfortunately, in Pakistan the underprivileged masses are still living under miserable conditions. Even if the structure is put in place still individuals will not be able to afford computers or the line rents.

PLANWEL believes that in order to make the Virtual University a reality for globalization of education it is essential to open up delivery POPs for these Virtual Universities in each and every community of underdeveloped nation with the help of local private sector. These POPs will act as catalyst for development and diffusing disparity. In reality the Virtual Universities will host researchers and Professors from around the world; while the POPs will be their class rooms all over the developing world. These researchers / professors can be part of the Panel from around the world so it will be a true virtual forum, disseminating their knowledge through the POPs around the GLOBE. This is what PLANWEL'S goal is;


The Project

Under phase 1 of the project, PLANWEL wishes to collaborate with organizations, initially for R&D; to prepare, plan, design, implement and run distance learning center (POP) in Pakistan. This would include conducting such graduate courses, which are ready for delivery in areas such as computer science, engineering, management, environmental town planning, health care, and library sciences etc.

The phase 2 of the project would entail setting up a distance learning center (POP) based on the results of R&D conducted in phase 1 of the project following the concepts of Internet; making it possible to truly act as The Virtual University POP site. The concept will be to deliver collaborating university courses through different media to this center which on the other hand will be equipped with receiving equipment and state of the art Information technology.

This eventually would cater for research on the Internet Program in the underdeveloped region. Once this system has been tested then this could be replicated in the region in health care and various other sectors. Which in turn could be quite affordable at that point; since just as an example a panel of top surgeons from around the world can provide life saving operating instructions to a local surgeon in some remote health center in a third world county. This project is tailored to underprivileged regions of the world. This will prepare the communities for the next millenniumfs Technology Based Communities. These POPfs could be maintained and operated by local communities while at the same time can be used for various other Information Technology related services like telemedicine, e-commerce, telebanking etc. In return providing needed facilities and generating money. These centers will be the true reflection of PLANWEL's vision for "BUILDING TECHNOLOGY BASED COMMUNITIES". These POP's will be the new community centers of the next millennium. Where at one end it will be the gateway to the world by providing choices and opportunities to the remote and desolate communities; on the other it will induce sense of community delivering a message "FOR THE PEOPLE AND RUN BY THE PEOPLE".

This magnet of development "THE POPs" itself will induce enough movement to bring the needed changes for socio-economic improvements. In projects like these where long term planning is involved immediate results are not reflected; though the projected implications will be vast. Now just by taking higher education as an example; if a student leaves Pakistan for higher education she/he spends USD $20,000 at least for a year for the education outside Pakistan but if the same education is provided through the Virtual University POP's it could be easily imagined how much money could be saved by these families. Further this concept will provide a student enrolled in the program a wider spectrum of knowledge on the subject being taught, since, the student will have access to resources and professors from around the world. Thus it will not just benefit the student itself but it will have long term impact on the community and at the same time these POP's will stimulate research and development and provide a local research base for the developed world.

This eventually will provide opportunities to refine the capabilities and programs of both the developed and developing nations; and to improve the system for globalization and commercialization.

This in turn would be a great opportunity for the researchers in the field of Telematics/Internet to get first hand experimentation in a developing country, which is truly distant and has no built infrastructure for this purpose. Although once developed it could be replicated in the region and globally.

The following may be the responsibilities of both the parties in Pakistan and member of International Community:

Responsibilities Of PLANWEL

Responsibilities Of Institute Of Higher Learning

To assist PLANWEL virtual site and other similar sites, developed and managed by PLANWEL to perfect this technology and mode of education through Internet or other electronic means.

Under phase 2 of this program of the globalization, commercialization and establishment of business models with collaborating institutions will be implemented. Details of this will be separately worked out.

Implementation Plan

Mr. Shahab A. Khan Director, PLANWEL and his staff under the guidance of PLANWEL board of Directors will work along with the Director of the Institute in the developed country and will provide the following:

Outline Proposal For Funding As Conceived By PLANWEL

An outline proposal for funding the operations in both the developed and developing countries needs to be prepared for implementing the following activities:

The following may be the major head of expenses:

Board Of Management

Dr. Qamrun Nisa, Ed.D Advisor
EX Chairperson (Education), All Pakistan Women's Association - APWA Founder member, Treasurer and Director Training, Pakistan Voluntary Health and Nutrition Association - PVHNA President - PLANWEL. An eminent educationist with a Doctorate in Education and degrees in business and commercial education.

Mr. Aftab Mohammad Khan, Engineer/Architect and Chartered Town Planner Consultant
President, Aftab & Associates - aa Chairman, National Association of Consultants of Pakistan - NACOP Chairman, Pakistan Institute of City and Regional Planning - PICRP Vice-President - PLANWEL. A senior professional with years of experience of managing and running various educational programs.

Eng. Shahab Khan, B.E. (Elect.), M.S. (Ind. Engg. USA) Director
Holds about twenty years of project management and administrative experience and expertise in computer application and Information Technology. Set up and established reputed Institutions in the private sector with collaboration from international education institutions.

Eng. Rukhsana Haq, B.E. (Engg. U.E.T) Treasurer / Secretary
Has many years of teaching and administrative experience. Arch. Arif Khan, Assoc. AIA, MCRP (USA) Director (Operations), PLANWEL Inc. Stationed in USA with expertise in Internet Communications. Assisting PLANWEL in acquiring technology transfer and collaboration with Institutions of higher learning.

Dr. Uzma Saleem, MBBS Health and Women Development Co-ordinator
Rizwan Inamullah Qadri, Business Management

Academic Board

The board constitutes of prominent academicians, professionals, and technocrats having years of experience in their respective fields. The present Board consists of the following eminent scholars.

Prof. Dr. Fazle Karim Khan
Prof. Dr. Irshad Ali Khan Afridi
Dr. Qamrun Nisa
Dr. Mohsin Burney
Azfar Moazzam
Zaffar Moazzam
Zaffar Tahir
T. A. Jaffery
Abdul Hai Khan

Shahab Khan
Planwel University
Planwel Institute of Science and Technology (PLANWEL)
A-1, L.C.H.S
Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Block-20
Karachi. 75290, Pakistan
Phone: 011-92-21-811-5851
Fax: 011-92-21-811-6178

Sponsors: PLANWEL
Executing Agency: Planwel Institute Of Science And Technology
Project Managers: Aftab And Associates
Contact Address:
A-1, L.C.H.S. Block-20,
Karachi-75290 Pakistan
TEL: (+92-21)811-5851, (+92-21)811-5094
FAX: (+92-21)811-6178
Contact Person:
Shahb Khan
Director, Planwel Institute Of Science And Technology
TEL: (+92-21)811-5851, (+92-21)811-5094
FAX: (+92-21)811-6178

Reformatted from the University of Tampere,
Finland file of EGEDL
conference documents
Edited by
Steve McCarty, updated on 17 January 2003
Kagawa Junior College, Japan
Return to the Global University System Asia-Pacific Framework