Vice-Chancellor Award winners announced ahead of Pakistan Graduation

  • Date

    Fri 3 Feb 23

Two outstanding alumni are set to be recognised during the University of Essex’s inaugural graduation ceremony in Pakistan.

Nasira Habib and Nasiruddin Mirza will both receive Vice-Chancellor Awards during the historic event, which is being staged in Islamabad in March.

Nasira graduated from Essex in 1990 with an MA in Practical Reasoning and has gone on to set up Khoj – Society for Peoples Education.

The non-profit organisation helps provide access to relevant and gender-just education for Pakistan's women and children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

She has revolutionised a cluster of crime-hit and underserved villages in Sheikhupura. Nasira has earned international acclaim for pioneering an alternative approach and method of literacy and education.

She is also spearheading a safe food campaign that promotes the health and safety of life on earth, with the Food and Agricultural Organisation awarding her a medial in recognition of her services in 1998.

As part of the 75th anniversary of the Independence of Pakistan last August, Nasira received the Punjab Governor's Certificate of Recognition for being an outstanding citizen worthy of esteem for her community and the nation of Pakistan.

The award was in recognition of her services in education and the environment.

Nasira said: “It is humbling but energising to receive an award from my alma mater.

“Essex exposed me to the world and gave me a deeper understanding of life. Thank you for motivating me to work harder."

Nasiruddin Mirza graduated from Essex in 2005 with an LLM in International Human Rights Law.

He has gone onto hold a number of roles at different organisations, including Joint Secretary for the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage, Secretary, National Commission for Human Rights, Additional Secretary/Special Secretary Establishment Division and Special Secretary, National Health Services - a post he still holds today.

Nasiruddin’s work has seen him team up with the likes of UNESCO to preserve tangible and intangible cultural heritage in Pakistan.

He is credited with expanding the number of tangible sites from 18 to 24 on tentative List and inscribing ‘Nauroz’ Festival and Kalash tradition of ‘Suri Jagek’ on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List for Humanity.

Away from his heritage and cultural work, Nasiruddin held the post of secretary for the National Commission for Human Rights of Pakistan and has helped to monitor and investigate allegations of human rights abuses, as well as reviewing existing and proposed legislation concerning human rights principles.

Nasiruddin said: “I am deeply honoured on winning the prestigious University of Essex Vice Chancellor’s Award.

“My education at the University of Essex imbibed me with the necessary skills and knowledge that I used throughout my career to help promote and protect the rights of the disadvantage groups in Pakistan.”

Both Nasira and Nasiruddin will be personally presented with their awards by Vice-Chancellor Professor Anthony Forster.

Professor Forster said: “I am delighted to announce the winners of the Vice-Chancellor Awards ahead of our very first graduation ceremony in Pakistan.

“Nasira Habib and Nasiruddin Mirza are inspirational members of our alumni community who have demonstrated the Essex Spirit by making a real difference in the world.

“Their work has expanded educational opportunities for women and children, and enhanced human rights.

“Our first ever graduation ceremony in Pakistan promises to be a truly special day which will bring our University alumni community together to share their successes and achievements with their families and friends.”

The graduation ceremony takes place at the Islamabad Serena Hotel on March 4.