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HEC devolution & University teachers silence

University teachers divided over HEC
Lahore, April 11: The reports on proposed devolution of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has invited strong criticism from different quarters, including political as well as religio-political parties, however, university teachers, the major stakeholders, are almost silent.

The Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) is the sole central body representing teachers of universities across the country. Nevertheless, this forum has reacted softly and that too quite late over the most debated academic issue of the national concern.

It was only on Sunday (April 10) that the FAPUASA held its first meeting over the impending academic crisis in Islamabad and highlighted concerns of the the university teachers in connection with proposed devolution of the HEC.

The FAPUASA s demand, as communicated to the media after the meeting, is simple and not as emotional and threatening as being highlighted by the majority of population.

It demands that if the Supreme Court decides to retain the present status of the HEC, as the commission s status is yet to be decided by the court, there should be certain reforms in the commission. This means the FAPUASA does not fully support and appreciates the HEC in its present form. Secondly, the FAPUASA demands provincial/regional level commissions of higher education with its consultation in case the SC decides the devolution of the HEC. This demand also shows how unenthusiastic the FAPUASA is about the HEC.

It is learnt that the FAPUASA chapters from different provinces remained divided in the meeting, some strongly supporting the federal government s move to dissolve the HEC while others castigating the government for the same. Sources privy to the development said that reaching a unanimous conclusion had become challenging in the Sunday s meeting owing to which the FAPUASA could not come up with a single and strong stance against or in favour of the HEC.

At one point it was feared that the FAPUASA might break up, said a participant while seeking anonymity, adding, It is, therefore, only a relatively soft and mixed response over the HEC that could be developed in the meeting.

The incumbent president of FAPUASA Prof Dr Mahr Saeed Akhtar, who is also president of the Punjab University s Academic Staff Association (PUASA), when contacted, was reluctant to express any concrete opinion over the issue and mostly talked about resolutions passed in the meeting.

Two former presidents of the FAPUASA, namely Punjab University s Dr Mumtaz Salik and Peshawar University s Prof Dr Shafiqur Rehman, who spoke their hearts out against the HEC. They were critical of the HEC, saying that it was forcing a culture of academic apartheid among the faculty by introducing a class system through controversial and unpleasant recruitment policy under the Tenure Track System (TTS) and Foreign Faculty Hiring programme. They also condemned the HEC for what they termed its controversial policy initiatives regarding the recognition of research journals and promotion of university teachers. The alleged overindulgence of the HEC in micro-management of universities, incurring huge costs on establishment and growth of infrastructure and human resource at HEC and its regional centres and extensive local and foreign tours and perks for senior officials of the Commission were also some of major concerns of the ex-presidents of the FAPUASA.

Dr Salik was of the view that instead of focusing foreign PhD programmes, the Commission should focus, support and promote indigenous PhD programmes while investing within the public universities. The news

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Old Ravians oppose HEC dissolution
Lahore: The Old Ravians Union has said the 'dissolution' of the Higher Education Commission will not only adversely affect the higher education in the country but also discourage talented but financially challenged students.

A resolution unanimously adopted at a meeting of the ORU executive committee said instead of its dissolution the HEC should have been strengthened. The meeting was held at the Government College University on Sunday.

"The HEC should have been given the responsibility of curriculum designing and appointing vice-chancellors so that a uniform and integrated national education system could be established," said the resolution.

ORU president and noted nuclear scientist Dr Samar Mubarikmand presided over the meeting which also appreciated the appointment Dr Khalid Manzoor Butt as the head of GCU political science department and hoped that he would advance the research and academic activities in the institution.

Later, Dr Mubarikmand and committee members watched Mumtaz Mufti's magnum opus "Nizam Saqqa", presented by the GCU Dramatics Club. They all praised the performance of the students.

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Mubashar gets 3rd term as UHS VC
Lahore: The Punjab government has appointed Professor Malik Hussain Mubbashar as Vice Chancellor, University of Health Sciences, Lahore, on a regular basis for a term not exceeding four years.

This will be Prof Mubbashar's third term as UHS VC. His last term had ended on March 31. Dawn

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Teachers protest rally on 20th
Lahore: Punjab Teachers Union (PTU) has announced to hold a protest rally on April 20 against the Punjab government for its alleged insensitivity towards schoolteachers.

In a press release, PTU office-bearers including its president Syed Sajjad Akbar Kazmi, Rana Liaquat, Zafar Sindhu and others said the teachers package announced in 2009 for schoolteachers could not be implemented in some districts of the province while many teachers were also still deprived of promotions.

They further said the ever increasing inflation had made the lives of schoolteachers miserable while the government s reforms had made them felt insecure. PTU office bearers said despite strong demand the teachers were not being consulted in policy decisions, alleging a particular group was imposing its own whim ignoring sufferings of the schoolteachers. They further said the April 20 march would start from Nasir Bagh and culminate near the Punjab Assembly where the protesting teachers would also observe a sit-in.

Meanwhile, the Old Ravians Union (ORU) has passed a resolution against the devolution of the HEC, saying that it will adversely affect the higher education in the country and discourage the students.

According to a press statement on Sunday, the resolution was passed unanimously at the meeting of the ORU Executive Committee at the Government College University. The meeting was chaired by ORU President Dr Samar Mubarakmand, noted nuclear scientist. The ORU Executive Committee said the government should have strengthened the HEC instead of dissolving it. The HEC should have been given the responsibility of curriculum designing and appointing vice-chancellors so that uniform and integrated national education system could be established, it added.

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Last day of book fair
Lahore: The five-day 25th Lahore International Book Fair 2011 will conclude at the Lahore Expo Centre, Johar Town, here on Monday (today). The fair attracted people in large numbers on Sunday and proved a great opportunity for them to discover the world of books as over 160 local and foreign publishers have set up stalls there. A number of educational organisations and other firms, dealing in educational and stationery items, have also their presence in the mega educational event. The five-day event has proved to be a favourite place of book lovers after its start on April 7. The news

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