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Devolution of Higher Education Commission to provinces

Implementation Commission all set to devolve HEC to provinces
Islamabad, March 25: Making a somewhat tricky move, Implementation Commission has decided to devolve Higher Education Commission (HEC) to the provinces and have started consulting with provincial governments without taking HEC on board.

According to well-placed sources, Implementation Commission has approved the devolution of HEC despite the fact that it exists in the Federal Legislative List (FLL) while under 18th amendment only concurrent list is supposed to be devolved.

It has been learnt reliably that the Implementation Commission in its last meeting reviewed the HEC law for almost five hours after which they had decided to devolve it without taking HEC into confidence.

"The plan has been prepared very carefully. Federal government is trying to save its money by handing over HEC to provinces. In this way they would save money in the upcoming budget and would ask provinces to run HEC from the money they would get from NFC award," a source said.

On the other hand, the source said, provinces are having a misconception that they would get extra money as HEC budget. "The federal government has committed World Bank that it would allocate sufficient amount in higher education sector to meet Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Once HEC would be devolved, the commitment would automatically come to an end," he added.

Meanwhile, provinces have been visited by the members of Implementation Commission to check their preparedness to take the responsibility. According to a member of the Implementation Commission, they have received positive response from the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhawa so far.

According to the sources, HEC has written a letter to Implementation Commission a month ago in which it was asked to brief them about its status and also to provide them an opportunity to give presentation on their role in the progress of higher education sector in the country. "There was no reply from Implementation Commission. It is now again that HEC has written a letter to the Implementation Commission to provide them an opportunity to present their achievements. Saturday is the date that has been decided for the meeting," said the source.

The source also revealed that they were not sure if HEC would get chance to give presentation. "We are simply clueless. We have prepared our presentation, but not sure if we would be allowed to present it, as Implementation Commission has already decided the matter," he said.

The education experts believe that the subject of higher education has close, deep and multidimensional links to national policy and planning, economic growth, scientific and technical research, defence production, industrial growth and national innovation system.

"Higher education is not a subject that is confined to national boundaries since it is imperative to have international recognition of degrees for which adherence to international quality assurance benchmark is a necessity," said a source.

Former HEC chairperson and Education Task Force Chairperson Begum Shahnaz Wazir Ali said that the 18th amendment has added key provisions to the Federal Legislative List (FLL), which include all regulatory authorities established under a Federal Law, National planning and national economic coordination including planning and coordination of scientific and technological research, standards in institutions for higher education and research, scientific and technical institutions, inter-provincial matters and co-ordination. "The federal role of HEC is inevitable for the policy, planning and coordination and it exists in FLL," she said.

She said that the role of provinces was already exists in higher education sector as Governor of any province is the chancellor of universities of that particular province and is an authority to hire Vice Chancellors of the universities. "What would be criteria of evaluating PhD degrees when every province would be having different standards to evaluate it," she said.

Terming it a disaster, HEC former chairperson Dr. Atta-ur Rehaman said that the decision would reverse back the tremendous growth that HEC has made over the last decade.

"Look at the progress HEC has made. There has been 600 percent increase in our publications in over the last decade. We have produced a number of Phd scholars in 10 years that have not been produced in last 60 years," he added.

He informed that he would be holding a press conference over this grave issue on Friday and would tell people that the devolution would have an adverse impact over the higher education sector.

It is pertinent to mention here that the vice chancellors of public and private sector universities visiting UK under 'leadership development training' took cognisance of the possible devolution of the HEC to the provinces. They have issued a resolution in which they stated that the HEC must continue in its current form, devolving HEC to the provinces and experiencing with the proposed model will cause devastation in higher education sector, after devaluation higher education sector would have the same fate as school and colleges under the provinces have suffered by the similar cavalier policies before us.

The resolution has been passed by 11 VCs that included the names of Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) VC Dr. Nazir A Sangi, Behria University VC Vice Admiral (r) Mohammad Haroon, KPK University of Engineering and Technology VC Engineer Syed Imtiaz Hussain Gillani, University of Balochistan VC Professor Dr. Abdul Nabi, Gomal University VC Professor Dr. Mansoor Akbar Kundi, Hazara University VC Professor Dr. Sakhawat Shah, Kohat University of Science and Technology VC Professor Dr. Nasir Jamal Khattak, KPK Agriculture University VC Professor Dr. Khan Bahadar Marwat, Government College University Faisalabad Dr. Zakir Hussain, Sarhad University of Science and Information Technology VC Dr. Salim-ur-Rehman, Isra University VC Dr. Ghulam Qadir Qazi and UET Taxila VC Prof Dr Muhammad Abbas Chaudhary.

HEC Executive Director Dr. Sohail Naqvi when contacted said that they haven't received anything officially till now. "We have just heard that the future of HEC has been decided. Our meeting in this regard with Implementation Commission is scheduled on Saturday," he said.

He said that after 18th amendment, HEC has become a subject that comes under Federal Legislative List (FLL). "It's not simple as in case of schools and colleges. The 80 per cent work on science and technology is conducted in universities. The federal role of HEC is inevitable for inter-provincial coordination of the research work being conducted in the universities," he said. The news

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To school without books
Islamabad: Students of the government-run and -aided schools in the city will start their new academic year on April 1 without textbooks all because of a tangle between the Ministry of Education and the National Book Foundation (NBF).

Legal minds start arguing in the Islamabad High Court on Friday how to clear the mess. Informed sources said the NBF was supposed to have the books for Class 1 to 10 printed by March 15 but alleged that ill-advised orders from the ministry created a legal mess and stalled the printing process.

They said the NBF posted a tender for the purchase of paper for printing the books on its website, and that of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA), on December 22 last year as the All Pakistan Newspapers Society had placed a ban on publishing the advertisements of the Education Ministry because the ministry owed its members over Rs190 million in back payments.

Only two bidders responded to the NBF tender but one of them who had a running dispute with the NBF withdrew from the bidding and lodged a complaint with the then education minister, Sardar Aseff Ahmad Ali.

The minister formed a committee which consumed 17 days to inquire into the complaint. The minister ordered re-tendering on the basis of the findings of the inquiry, although the PPRA had meanwhile ruled that a purchase order could be placed even if there was only one bidder.

Pressed for time, the NBF's paper procurement committee immediately set for re-tendering.

It sought advice of the PPRA on hastening the process of procuring the paper but found that it was not possible to meet all the codal formalities for re-tendering in the short time left.

In desperation, the committee requested the pre-qualified printing presses on the NBF list to arrange the paper themselves and start printing the books. Half of the 50 registered printing presses agreed to use their own paper and print the books at the existing rates.

Surprisingly, while the printing was in progress, the Ministry of Education on February 17 wrote letters to the Director General Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) and Chairman Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (PIERA) to purchase books directly from the Punjab Textbook Board.

Deputy Secretary Mohammad Ayub Paracha signed the letter with the note that it had been approved by Secretary Education Athar Tahir. Mr Tahir has previously served as Chairman Punjab Textbook Board.

Those printing the books for NBF challenged the directive in the letter in the Islamabad High Court which granted a stay against it on March 4. The case is to be heard today (March 25) but there is no chance of the books reaching the students on time.

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Student composes book on Benazir
Rawalpindi: A student of A-level is all set to make history as her book on slain prime minister Benazir Bhutto is in the final stages.

Saria, resident of Rawalpindi is studying in A-level part 1 and her book titled 'Blood in the Terrain' throws light on the political efforts of Ms Bhutto, her contribution to the Muslim world and finally the treatment meted out to her by extremist elements in the country on her arrival.

In the book young Saria has paid tributes to Ms Bhutto for her tremendous services in projecting the soft and liberal image of the Muslim world while at the same time the young author has lamented the tragic assassination of Ms Bhutto in poetic verses.

The young student in her book has foresighted insurgency and a regime of dictators as she thinks that the kindle of liberty (Ms Bhutto) was no more on the face of the planet."I stare around and see an insurgency. Opposed to democracy and committed to slay it," she writes.

Saria said that she was inspired by the personality of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto who even after knowing so many threats to her life continued her political struggle.

"I used to see Ms Bhutto on internet and read her articles in newspapers. When she was assassinated, I was determined to writing a book on her life after she was mercilessly assassinated in my native town but my mother wished that I should concentrate on my studies," she said. Dawn

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RSS director gets 'Tamgha-i-Imtiaz'
Islamabad: Lecturer of Economics at Advanced Level and Principal/Director Roots School System (RSS), Khadija Mushtaq, was conferred with 'Tamgha-i-Imtiaz' in the field of education in a ceremony at Aiwan-e-Sadr.

Khadija Mushtaq's students' achievements in national and international examinations have earned them placements in world top universities on scholarship and that raised the image of Pakistani youth and Pakistan. As a result of their achievements, doors of opportunities are opened every year for these brilliant students to acquire higher education in different fields. To be able to compete at world level for admission in world top universities, it requires tremendous motivation, inspiration, hard work, competence, direction, skills, attitudes and abilities to qualify from amongst thousands of brilliant students worldwide.

Khadija Mushtaq was honoured for shaping the career paths of Pakistani youth to meet the challenges of 21st century and contribute for a better and prosperous Pakistan.

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Shaheen School System graduation ceremony held
Islamabad: As many as 100 students were given prizes at the graduation ceremony of pre-school students held at Shaheen School System, PAF Complex, E-9. Students from different classes presented dramas, dress shows, national songs and skits. Speaking on the occasion, the chief guest, Group Captain (r) Tahir Mehmood, appreciated the performance of students and lauded teachers for polishing their abilities in a right way. Principal Group Captain (r) Muhammad Ashraf Mughal said that hard work is the only key to success. "Young people are the future of the nation. We are trying to give quality education to students," he said. The chief guest distributed prizes and certificates among students and teachers for showing good results. The news

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IIUI to hold int'l seminar on Sirah
Islamabad: A 3-day international seminar on "Modern Trends in Sirah (Prophetic biography) Writing" is scheduled to open here at International Islamic University's Faisal Mosque Campus on Saturday. Islamic Research Institute (IRI) and Iqbal International Institute for Research and Dialogue (IRD) are jointly organizing the event.

Throwing light on the background of the seminar, Dr. Zafar Ishaq Ansari, Director General IRI said historians and scholars had started writing on the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) during the first century of Hijrah. The tradition of Sirah writing that continues to date, has led built up a tremendously rich mass of literature on the Prophet (peace be upon him) in various languages. The last three centuries were remarkably productive in this regard and have witnessed a phenomenal development of the subject.

The 3-day moot will draw distinguished scholars from a number of countries including Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, UK, USA, Canada, Germany, and South Africa, who will be discussing different approaches to Sirah writing, will take a critical look at the major works of this period and try to visualize the vistas of future studies in the field. The present seminar will focus on Sirah works in three languages Arabic, English and Urdu. Daily times

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