The Federal Government has transferred five ministries, including the Ministry of Education, to the provinces under the devolution plan in the 18th Amendment. The ministries of Education, Social Welfare and Special Education, Tourism, Livestock and Dairy, Rural Development and Culture have been transferred to the provinces. The Commission for Implementation of the 18th Amendment has also approved a plan for the transfer of three federal ministries, including Sports, Women Development and Environment, to the provinces in the third phase.
The Higher Eduction Commission is also being devolved to the provinces under the 18th amendment plan.
There is a hue and cry over the devolution of HEC to the provinces. It guarantees more provincial autonomy as well as efficiency and transparency at the same time. How come the Capital Students whip support to block the implementation ? Who very recently suggested ‘It’s too hot for a Revolution’.
One has to look into the performance of HEC in the past few Years and understand the need to de-centralize higher education.
1- What worse would happen to the Higher Education in Pakistan if HEC is devolved to provinces? Was it doing miracles when it was based in Islamabad?
2- Why is it so that whenever something is devolved to the provinces the question of capacity is instantly raised? Is the HEC in present shape is more capable to ensure quality, develop monitoring system and help develop research culture at Pakistani universities?
3- Isn’t it something unconstitutional to resist the devolution of HEC on the pretext of quality and monitoring?
I am personally more confident that HEC Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Balushistan and Punjab might be more capable to perfom its prescribed tasks than the HEC Islamabad.
Ayesha Siddiqa: Military Education
In a rather strange move, the education ministry has made an odd proposal to the government regarding amendments to the charter of the National University of Modern Languages (NUML). The proposal pertains to command and control of the university, specifically proposing the replacement of the president of the country as the chairman of the university’s board of governors with the Chief Of Army Staff (COAS). Furthermore, against the principles of the Higher Education Commission (HEC), the new ordinance makes it compulsory for the chairman of the university’s board of governors, whom they now hope will be the COAS, to appoint only senior serving or retired army officers as Vice-Chancellor (VC) and rector of the university.Full Article
Former HEC Chairman Dr Ata ur Rehman has once tried to prove that he a is remnant of a dictatorship and has asked Army chief to save HEC. Interestingly Pakistan’s most recognized scientist is also staunch supporter of HAARP theory and beleive HARRP can cause earth quake and floods.
Excerpt from Dr Muzaffar Iqbal article
Who knows how the General decided to establish the Higher Education Commission (HEC) in September 2002 through his Ordinance (No. LIII), but we all know that Dr Rehman became the blue-eyed boy of the general. This can be judged from the fact that often the commission seemed to enjoy authority which was greater than even that of the ministry of education.
Inherent in the very establishment of the HEC were all the problems of superstructures and super-performers: such institutions assume that the slow, organic process of institutional development in the country has no meaning whatsoever and that one man (or woman) has all the wisdom it needs to work wonders. A superstructure is also established to bypass and divert resources from existing governing bodies of the state; it creates outrageous benefits for some, it treats the employees of the existing institutions as second-class citizens, and it creates frustration and despair in the hearts and minds of those who cannot board the new boat. All of these ills were born with the HEC.
Nothing speaks more than facts, hence if one were to objectively see the wonders worked by the HEC chairman in six years, all one has to do is look at the state of higher education before and after the commission’s inception. If one wants to actually see where the missing billions went, one only has to get the actual amount spent on foreign tours from the accounts of the HEC. But such objective analysis of the functioning of the commission is unlikely to happen because we live in a culture where covering up each other’s tracks is a norm, but one must hope that there is some accountability in this case because we are talking about huge sums (an amount of Rs26 billion has been quoted in this newspaper, in fact).
The issue, however, is not merely one man’s performance, or the lack of it. The real issue is the mindset that created the HEC and gave its chairman draconian powers to do what he wished. Behind these issues is the issue of criteria of judging. In his rejoinder to Dr A Q Khan’s comments on his years at the HEC, Dr Rehman has listed his achievements and supported them with reports from USAID report, the British magazine Nature, the World Bank, the British Council, and other foreign organizations. That, in itself, is indicative of a colonial mindset: the stamp of approval is coming from the white man. Full article
Under the 18th Amendment there is no such need for a centralized HEC. It is notable that students from smaller provinces will now avail foreign and domestic scholarships at their doorstep and in a grater number than ever in the history of Pakistan. If we look back into the performance of HEC, one notices a strange trend. All new Universities have been established within the corridor from Lahore to Islamabad ! HEC has been unable to deliver to the students from smaller provinces. No HEC institutes were established in Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan, Sindh or KPK. Devolution of HEC to provinces will enable the students of far flung areas to not only get better higher education, but it also guarantees a better primary set-up in the provinces.
Out of 10,000 HEC Scholarships; Sindh receives 892, KPK around 1200, Baluchistan less than 100 while Punjab receives more than 8000
It should be the right of Provinces to decide whether they want to allocate funds for basic schooling or Higher Education – Why Baluchistan, Sindh and Seraiki Waseeb need higher education funding while they do not have students at schools? Govt’s priority should be basic education, not the higher education for urban elite!