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HEC devolution widely opposed

Teachers oppose devolution of HEC
Karachi, April 07: The majority of teachers at public sector universities have expressed their concern over the government's decision to devolve the Higher Education Commission to the provinces, and roundly criticised the government for initiating steps that will make the universities go further down the hill.

The concern and criticism comes in the wake of the government's plan to keep the HEC under its wings, but the funds would go to the provinces, thus ending its position as an independent federal unit. This step, by all means, will stall the progress in higher education that has been achieved during eight years of its existence as the regulator of the public sector universities.

Secretary Karachi University Teachers Society (KUTS) Dr Shakeel Farooqui said: "It is true that some teachers are angry with the HEC for its strict regime that has been brought about to elevate the standard of teachers and ultimately enhancing educational standards at the universities.

"But there are other things that have been dear to us (the teachers) apart from certain paradoxes that were seen in its (HEC's) actions, i.e. it pumped a lot of money into the universities. It facilitated more research and more scholarships for the teachers and the students and overall, except some hiccups, it had been doing fine. Now the unilateral and uncalled for step by the government is going to wipe out everything that was done during the last eight years."

Dr Rafeeq Alam Khan, professor at the Department of Pharmacology, said it was surprising that despite the protests lodged by the vice chancellors, teachers and students at the public sector universities in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KP) and Punjab the government was adamant to go ahead with the plan.

Dr Khan lamented that the decision of the Implementation Commission on the 18th Amendment to go ahead with the devolution of higher education would result in dissolution of the HEC. He was of the view that if the decision was implemented, it would reverse the progress made in the higher education sector during the past few years.

Dr Tahir Masood, a senior professor at the Department of Mass Communication, University of Karachi (KU), reminded that on November 27, 2010 all the VCs of the public sector universities across the country had unanimously resolved that the HEC's functionality should not be changed and the status quo should be maintained since the HEC had performed exceptionally well and it was covered in the 18th Amendment.

"I am not in favour of the HEC devolution since it will stop the process of research and study at the universities and the glut of funds will bring chaos to the universities that were taking off to compete with the world universities. I am sure the provinces have no infrastructure or human resources to take over this gigantic task," Dr Masood stressed.

Dr Tauseef Ahmed Khan, professor at the Department of Mass Communication, Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology (FUUAST), said that he was in favour of education to be an integral part and responsibility of the provinces but it should be done gradually. "I do not mind if the HEC goes to the provinces but it should be implemented in stages. I have some reservations about the role of the HEC but I know that it (HEC) has done considerably well in promoting higher education in the country."

Another professor at the Science Faculty, who requested anonymity, said that the government was acting like a "narrow-minded and shortsighted businessman" and was only concerned about making more money without any concern about the losses that would follow. "All the universities in the country, except some pro-PPP varsities in Sindh rural areas, are opposing this decision of the government," he remarked.

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"H.E.C is a central controlling department of education and its existence is very necessary for the promotion of higher education in Pakistan"
Name: himayat ullah
City, Country: Rawalpindi. Pakistan

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Students protest plan to devolve HEC Demonstrations staged in Peshawar, Swat
Peshawar: The students at the University of Peshawar campus on Wednesday staged separate protests against the decision to devolve the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to the provinces.

The first protest was organised by the M Phil and PhD students. The protesters gathered outside the Student Teachers Centre (STC) and chanted slogans against the decision regarding the devolution of the HEC. They were holding placards inscribed with slogans such as "No to devolution of HEC."

The protesting students blasted the government decision to devolve the HEC to the provinces and said that this would adversely affect the promotion of higher education. They said that being students of higher classes, they would be the directly affected by the decision.

Later in the evening, activists of the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba also staged a protest near the New Hostel at the University of Peshawar. The campus head of the organisation Mian Sahaibuddin Kakakhel, University of Peshawar Nazim Shah Zaman Durrani and others led the protesting students.

Meanwhile, the activists of the IJT also staged a protest at Islamia College University against the government decision to devolve the HEC. The protesters led by Hafizullah, later gathered outside the Peshawar Press Club and chanted slogans against the government.

Speaking on the occasion, Hafizullah termed the government's decision as unjust. He urged the prime minister to review the decision so that students studying abroad on scholarships could continue their studies.

Our correspondent adds from Mingora: The students of Swat University on Wednesday staged a rally outside the Swat Press Club to protest the proposed devolution of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to the provinces under the 18th Amendment. Carrying banners and placards, the protesting students chanted slogans against the government's decision to devolve the HEC.

Led by Mudassir Khan, the protesting students asked the federal government not to devolve the HEC, as it would have negative effects on higher education. The HEC, the students said, had played a significant role in the improvement of higher education over the last 10 years. They urged the government to reconsider its decision in the larger interest of students.

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Proposed HEC devolution: Hoti to consult VCs on 11th
Islamabad: Khyber Pakhtun-khwa Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti has fixed April 11 for a meeting with the vice-chancellors of universities in the province to adopt a consensus stance on the hot issue of the Higher Education Commission's future.

The vice-chancellors earlier had a meeting with ruling Awami National Party (ANP) Senior Vice-President Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel during which they had strongly opposed the devolution of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to the federating units.

"The chief minister will have a brainstorming session with the vice-chancellors (VCs) of the province so that a collective stance can be adopted on this extremely important issue," said Senator Haji Adeel when approached him on telephone for his party's viewpoint on the matter.

Senator Haji Adeel pointed out that HEC Chairman Dr Javed Leghari had attended proceedings on the thrashing out of the 18th Amendment and proposed that the HEC and the scientific education should be made part of the Federal Legislative List Part-II.

The legislator noted that the panel on thee constitutional amendments had accepted the proposal, which clearly meant that HEC was supposed to be a subject of the Council of Common Interests. He said when other departments were sending their recommendations and proposals to Raza Rabbani-led panel such as the lawyers, why had not the vice-chancellors done so and instead kept silent.

About the funding of HEC if it was to be devolved, the ANP legislator contended that till the next National Finance Commission (NFC) award, the federal government should finance the commission. He noted that when the new NFC was agreed upon, the 18th Amendment was not yet enacted. Hence there was no question of HEC being funded under the existing NFC award, he said, adding: "The centre may release funds to the provinces under NFC award or directly distribute them among the federating units."

The ANP senator said recently a federal government representative had stated that the provinces would have to fund the devolved HEC from their own resources, as the centre had already given them additional Rs300 billion under the new NFC.

Talking to this correspondent, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Deputy Convenor Dr Farooq Sattar, who is also the party's parliamentary leader in the National Assembly, strongly opposed the HEC devolution and said that the commission was a success story of higher education. "There is no doubt HEC has been playing a key role in education sector and considerably improved the country's image abroad so far as higher education is concerned," he said.

The entire world, the MQM legislator pointed out, had acknowledged the new standards of higher education set by HEC, pushing upward Pakistan's rating. "Our models are being copied by others and this is exceedingly appreciable and this shows how important HEC is," he said.

The MQM legislator said today thousands of Pakistani students were studying abroad and thousands of others were doing PhD at home as well. He said that HEC was a strategic national asset, which should continue its functions in its present capacity. Answering a question, he proposed that even if it was to be devolved, its devolution should be deferred at least for five years, enabling the provinces develop the required infrastructure, as presently they were not in a position to run provincial HECs.

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PML-N to stage protest over 'HEC's death'
Islamabad: National Assembly Standing Committee on Education Chairman Abid Sher Ali plans a major protest taking students and educationists along against the planned abolition of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and devolution of education to the provinces.

He said that he has called a meeting of the House body on April 11 to take up the one-point agenda regarding the HEC's dissolution."As we notified the committee members about convening the meeting, the federal government disbanded the Federal Education Ministry to stop us from considering the HEC burial," Abid Sher, who belongs to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said.

He said he has also called the vice chancellors of the universities of the four provinces to the session of the House body to come out with suggestions in order to save the HEC in particular and education from devastation in general.

Abid Sher said he would also call students and academia from all over Pakistan to lead a protest against the HEC disbandment. "We have to stop it otherwise education would be completely torn down."

He said in a recent meeting the committee recommended to the federal government and Raza Rabbani led implementation commission on 18th Amendment to postpone the devolution of the Education Ministry because it would hurt the national unity and cohesion. "When every province would have its own syllabus, it would focus on provincialism and Pakistan would not find a mention in it. This would be disastrous."

Abid Sher said every member of the committee except Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, sister of President Asif Ali Zardari, supported its recommendation against the HEC abolition. He said the representatives of the Pakistan People's Party, PML-Q and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) sitting in the House committee vehemently opposed the transfer of syllabus and curriculum to the provinces.

He said that it was a great injustice to the national integration and unity if education was devolved to the provinces. "We will not be party to such devastation." Abid Sher said unless there was uniform syllabus and curriculum in all the provinces, foundation would be laid to create four countries. "The educational system will be spoiled beyond retrieval," he said and believed that provincialismwould prosper if the federating units were permitted to make their own school syllabus and curriculum.

To a question why didn't the PML-N protest when the 18th Amendment was being formulated and passed by parliament, he said that his party had given a dissenting note to the effect and raised the same points that he and the House body reiterated.

He said the federal government was not prepared to listen the voice raised by the House committee. It ignored the recommendation and dissolved the Education Ministry. "It would be counterproductive to wind up the Education Ministry; and the capacities built over six decades must not be diluted," Abid Sher said. "Several federal parliamentary constitutions all over the world retain education as a federal subject in one form or the other. Thus, the Education Ministry needs to be retained."

He said under different provisions of the Constitution the Education Ministry was responsible for 1.464 million students and 79,744 employees in Islamabad Capital Territory, Gilgit-Baltistan, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Azad Kashmir.

Abid Sher said for the cause of national integration and cohesion, the subject of school curriculum needs to be retained in Part-1 or at least Part II of the Federal Legislative List (FLL). The core curriculum up to higher secondary level must be within the federal jurisdiction and Islamic education and centre of excellence, numbering 12, need to be with the federal level. The news

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Altaf urges PM to withdraw decision of abolishing HEC
Karachi: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain has strongly urged upon Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to take back the decision to abolish the Higher Education Commission (HEC) as it will adversely affect the system of higher education in the country.

Altaf said the HEC is a very important institution and the hasty manner in which it is being dissolved is a cause of serious concern. He said in other parts of the world there are separate ministries for the promotion of higher education and here in Pakistan instead of giving proper attention to the education sector we are abolishing a highly functional institution in a ruthless manner.

He said that the abolishing of the HEC would close the doors of higher education and vistas of acquiring modern scientific knowledge to the Pakistani students.

He strongly urged upon the federal government to take back the decision about abolishing the HEC and avoids wreaking havoc with the system of higher education in the country. Daily ties

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Dissolution of HEC irreparable loss: Pervaiz
Lahore: Terming dissolution of the Higher Education Commission an irreparable national loss, PML central leader Ch Pervaiz Elahi has said the government decision is tantamount to closing doors of higher education on thousands of deserving Pakistanis, calling for immediate withdrawal of the decision. In a statement issued here on Wednesday, Pervaiz Elahi said the objective of the HEC was to provide equal higher education opportunities to all the four provinces. Pervaiz Elahi said that the HEC was considered as a catalyst of change in the country and harbinger of a silent revolution in Pakistan. Pakistan's growth and development were directly related to the promotion of higher education, he opined.

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JI to resist HEC's dissolution
Lahore: Jamaat-e-Islami chief Syed Munawwar Hasan has vowed to resist the dissolution of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) or its handover to the provinces for being an anti-education step.

He condemned the government's move in this regard and said the HEC was, in fact, being punished for pointing out the fake degrees of politicians. He said there was no provision in the 18th Constitutional Amendment that required the dissolution of national institutions like the HEC.

Enumerating the achievements of the HEC, Syed Munawwar Hasan said the HEC had upgraded the education standard in the country to international level and facilitated the education of thousands of talented Pakistani youth in the top most universities of the world. The HEC's services for improvement of the educational system at the federal level were commendable, which brought the Pakistani nation at par with the developed nations in the field of education, he said.

The JI chief said that with the HEC's dissolution, thousands of Pakistani students, obtaining PhD degrees abroad, won't return to the country and would prefer to work in other countries, which would obstruct the advancement of education in the country and darken the future of brilliant students.

He said with the devolution of the HEC to the provinces, the universities and educational institutions would be reduced to regional entities and regional prejudices would increase and the provinces would not be able to maintain the higher standard that had been achieved by the HEC within a few years.

He said the need of the hour was to increase the grant of the HEC to improve its performance. He called for immediate release of scholarships for the students, studying abroad. The news

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HEC's ongoing scholarships programmes to continue: Mian Raza Rabbani
Islamabad: Chairman Implementation Commission on 18th Amendment Mian Raza Rabbani said Wednesday the ongoing scholarships programmes of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) would not affect despite the commission was being devolved as per spirit of the 18 Amendment.

Talking to media men at inauguration ceremony of the Parliament's refurbished members cafeteria, the senator said though the commission's Act was being amended in light of the 18th Amendment in order to devolve it to the provinces but there is going no change in ongoing scholarships.

Thus he added, " let me clear it yet again that those students who have been studying under the existing the HEC's scholarships would continue their studies."

He also dispelled the impression that HEC devolution plan would also affect foreign funding for the commission, he said the foreign loans were always released to a government that is to decide its executing agency or organization.

Replying to another question, he said those subjects did not exist either on current list or federal legislative list, were under the law, controlled by the provinces.

"The provinces have the constitutional rights to decide on the items that did not exist on current or federal legislative list and the federal government shall not legislate on such things.

He said those who were criticizing the devolution plan were against the 18 Amendment and raised hue and cry that devolved ministries's employees would affect.

But, he added, the landmark piece of legislation of 18th Amendment was successfully done and now these elements were criticizing the HEC devolution and the employees were not going to be affected at all.

Meanwhile at the ceremony, the Interior Minister Rehman Malik told media men the courts had issued non-bailable warrants against Pervez Musharraf.

Replying to a question the minister said, while the issuance of Red warrants fell under the domain of the Interpol after pursuing certain formalities.

He said that the extradition treaty had been discussed with the Britain officials but it was not finalized as yet.

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IHC moved against HEC devolution
Islamabad: The devolution of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) under the 18th Amendment has been challenged in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

M Kokab Iqbal, making the federation and the cabinet secretary as respondents, filed a petition in the IHC on Wednesday challenging devolution of the HEC on three point controversies. He said that the HEC was created through an act of parliament and it was not a subordinate department of the Ministry of Education nor was a part of the concurrent list, therefore, it could not be devolved into the provinces. The petitioner alleged that the HEC was being devolved because of its role in the verification of the degrees of parliamentarians. He maintained the devolution of HEC would reverse the higher education system. app

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