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Waheeda Mahesar: Strengthening Technical & Vocational Education in Pakistan

Posted: 25 May 2018

Pakistan, Experience, Impact,

Australia Global Alumni

Through an Australia Awards Short Course, Waheeda developed her understanding of industry engagement models as well as gender equality in vocational education and training – vital to her work in Pakistan.

Waheeda Mahesar is Director of the Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST) ZABTech Institute of Technical & Vocational Education, the largest TVET provider in Sindh, Pakistan.

She holds a Masters in Computer Science and Public Administration and has experience working in various positions in the development sector as well as in academia.

In 2017, Waheeda was selected for a three-week Australia Awards Short Course in ‘Supporting the Strengthening of Technical and Vocational Education and Training; Policy and Management’ at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane.

“It was my dream to be a part of Australia Awards, to obtain a new qualification and learn in Australia’s beautiful cities like Brisbane and Canberra,” she says.

Waheeda found the Short Course to be very relevant to her job as Director of SZABIST ZABTech. Furthermore, the course was aligned with the Pakistan National Skills Strategy, which aims to create a paradigm shift from a supply-based system to demand-driven models through the collaborative efforts of training providers, the industry, and employers.

The Short Course gave her an understanding of industry engagement models, stakeholder engagement, community programs related to training and employment, as well as gender equality in vocational education and training.

It also provided her with a broader perspective on developing policies to support and strengthen human resources in the TVET sector. This helped her draw on what she learnt from the Australian TVET systems, to benefit SZABIST .

“Taking part in Australia Awards was an excellent academic learning opportunity and a wonderful and memorable experience,” she says.

Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Ms Margaret Adamson with Waheeda Mahesar

Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Ms Margaret Adamson with Waheeda Mahesar

During her Short Course, she had the opportunity to visit a number of businesses and training providers, including TAFE Queensland SkillsTech, Hutchinson Builders, the Gold Coast School of Construction, the Motor Trade Association Institute of Technology and the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA).

She has drawn on learnings from her Short Course by introducing Institute Management Committees (IMC) at SZABIST ZABTech where employers are given a leading role.

Since her return to Pakistan, Waheeda has been nominated by The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) as a member of the Provincial Advisory Forum for the TVET sector, representing the private sector.

In the future, she plans to establish a demand-driven training system in Pakistan to make the most of employment opportunities for youth in local and overseas job markets. She also intends to pursue a PhD in TVET systems.