|Pakistan Academy for Rural Development (PARD) Peshawar is one of the oldest public sector institutions of the country, extensively engaged in research & training in rural development and administration. It is an autonomous organization of the federal government working under the administrative control of Establishment Division, Government of Pakistan. The Academy was established in 1957 in conformity with the recommendations made in the First Five Year Plan (1955-60) of the Government of Pakistan. According to this plan the Academy was to be the institution for advanced training and was intended to train development officers, administrators, officers of the nation building departments, civil servants and instructors of Village-AID training institutions in the administration of rural development.
The Academy became operational in September 1959 and has come a long way since then. Initially named as the ‘Village- AID Academy’ to focus primarily on providing training support to the Village Agriculture and Industrialization (Village-AID) programme which was the most important development initiative undertaken in the 1950s, the Academy was renamed as Pakistan Academy for Rural Development in 1962 with a broadened and diverse charter to prepare public administrators and functionaries for rural development by conducting research in the field of ‘rural development administration’ and by ‘imparting training in this field to officers directly or indirectly involved in it’. It was also envisaged that the Academy would expand its scope gradually to include the training of personnel of agencies besides government who can influence the process of rural development. Since then the Academy’s training and research activities have evolved in consonance with the changing pattern of rural development in the country and it has carried out a variety of Training, Research and Experimentation projects on issues of rural development, administration and local governance.
Training is Academy’s primary function and it offers training courses on diverse themes of development and administration. Most of these courses are conducted at the Academy campus in Peshawar, however, every year a few off-campus training courses are also organized at various district and divisional headquarters in the four provinces as well as Azad Jamu & Kashmir and Gilgit Balitistan. The Academy also conducts Special training programmes in collaboration with national and international organizations as well as the government departments. Customized training programmes are also organized on request for various projects, national and international organizations.
Research in the Academy focuses on social issues of development and provides practical insight for classroom training sessions. The Academy also publishes an internationally acclaimed and peer reviewed research Journal, the ‘Journal of Rural Development & Administration (JORDA)’. It is a biannual journal aimed at promoting development oriented research. The Academy has a sprawling campus comprising a demonstrative Agriculture farm spread over 12 acres. The farm is run in collaboration with Agriculture research institutes and other organizations working for rural development to display innovative farming practices to participants, especially small farmers, coming from all over the country. Various new initiatives in this regard have recently been taken in collaboration with NIFA, SRSP, ARI, Provincial Agriculture department, Khyber Pakhtunkwa etc.
The Academy also tests and demonstrates the validity of emerging ideas, techniques and processes through its Experimentation and Action research projects. Some of these initiatives, like the Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) Daudzai Project, IRDP German Aided Marakaz, Wara Lasoona (Small Hands) Project, Masjid Maktab and Women Industrial Centre, gained national and international acclaim. The Masjid Maktab schools project for basic education of the needy children, Women Industrial centre for vocational training of poor rural women and the Wara Lasoona project for incorporating co-curricular activities among boys of rural schools have been continued due to their demand and efficacy.
In 1997, recognizing its role in training and action research, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, declared it a ‘Centre of Excellence for Human Resource Development’.
It is an Autonomous Organization working under the Administrative control of Establishment Division, Cabinet Secretariat Government of Pakistan. A Board of Governors (BoG) for the Academy was constituted since its inception. The Board membership has been reconstituted from time to time. The current composition of the BoG is as under:
- Secretary, Establishment Division, Chairman.
- Chief Secretary, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Vice Chairman.
- Secretary, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Islamabad, Member.
- Financial Advisor (Establishment Division) Finance Division, Member.
- Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Baluchistan, Member.
- Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Punjab, Member.
- Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Sindh, Member.
- Vice Chancellor, Agriculture University Peshawar, Member.
- Joint Secretary EAD, Islamabad, Member.
- Nominated Member.
- Director General, PARD, Secretary.