Many administrative officials at universities have fake degrees
Lahore, June 28: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has asked universities to verify the degrees of their faculty members, creating a tense situation.
Last week, the HEC wrote a letter to the vice-chancellors of all the country's universities, asking them to direct their faculty members and administrative staff to submit their terminal qualification degrees for attestation by July 15.
Top university administration officials as well as contractual employees in equivalent positions are also required to submit their degrees for attestation.
Officials: According to sources, the move has created tension among administrative officials who were directly appointed by previous governments. Sources say this is because most such officials are relatives of parliamentarians found guilty of having fake degrees.
During the tenure of the previous government, when a bachelor's degree was made compulsory for anyone wishing to contest an election, many parliamentarians obtained fake degrees. Many relatives of these parliamentarians also obtained fake degrees during the same period and became administrative officials at universities. They were able to obtain their fake degrees from both private and public universities since the authorities did not bother to check these.
According to the sources, certain currently-employed officials received their degrees overnight but no authority had checked them. The sources also said that most fake degree-holders were administrative officials, not faculty members, since faculty members who rise by promotion do not take the risk of using fake degrees.
Now that the HEC has announced its intention to verify degrees, many officials at universities are criticising the move, knowing that many of their colleagues would be exposed by it.
Next step: The HEC has also been checking the degrees of parliamentarians, and has been successful in identifying several fake degree-holders. According to the sources, the HEC decided to take this new initiative as part of its drive to root out fake degrees, and considered the step an important one, since the HEC had gotten several complaints concerning fake degrees held by university staff members.
On the other hand, this move has drawn criticism from organisations such as the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUSA), which is alleging that the HEC, instead of solving real issues, was only creating further problems. Such criticism is to be expected however, since certain elements in society always resist a positive change.
In the past, the HEC's action against plagiarism was also criticised, as a number of teachers in public universities were sacked, but in time, the actions of the commission were proven to be favourable for the state of education as a whole. According to sources, most top officials in the FAPUSA are supporters of the Islami Jamiat Talaba and are in the habit of criticising positive moves such as this one.
A number of educationists and members of civil society appreciated the move by the HEC as they considered it a crucial step for the betterment of education in the country and expected the HEC to complete the process with complete transparency. According to educationists, the fake degrees of parliamentarians were shameful for students being educated in foreign countries as they brought into question the students' degrees as well.
The actions of corrupt politicians have damaged the reputation of Pakistan's educational institutions. The educationists said that the move would help restore the confidence of foreign educational institutions in Pakistani universities, and would help make the system more merit-based. Many faculty members are also asking teachers' groups to avoid getting involved in politics over the issue and to support the move, as it is a positive step.
The educationists also expect that the HEC's verification of degrees will not be limited to universities, and will expand to other sectors and departments.Your Comments
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Tevta to surrender commerce to Higher Education Dept
Lahore: The Punjab government has given the go-ahead for shifting the component of commerce education from the Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (Tevta) to the Higher Education Department.
With this move, all the institutes and colleges offering commerce education under administrative control of Tevta across the province will be handed over to the Punjab Higher Education Department. The move is aimed at empowering Tevta to fully focus technical education and vocational training.
The initiative is most likely to prompt strong resentment by employees of the commerce institutes and colleges, including instructors and lecturers and those serving on administrative posts, as their services would also be handed over to the Higher Education Department. The fresh move also appears strange keeping in view the Higher Education Department's plan regarding the commerce education as a couple of months ago, the department had itself moved a summary to the chief minister, seeking outsourcing of commerce education to the private sector. Though no final word has so far been heard in this regard, the academic circles are critical of the situation, saying it seemed as if the government does not own commerce education at all. At present, a total of 118 institutes and colleges running under administrative control of Tevta across Punjab are offering commerce education from two-year Diploma in Commerce to BCom while some colleges have also started offering MCom programmes. It is pertinent to mention here that presiding over a meeting to review performance of Tevta on Sunday, Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif said that discipline of commerce should be handed over to the Higher Education Department so that Tevta could pay full attention to technical education and training. A participant of the meeting, seeking anonymity, said the idea was floated by the P&D chairman during the Sunday meeting, adding that though the CM had himself expressed the same desire in earlier meetings held to deliberate revamping of Tevta. He further said it had been observed that the commerce stream was not a true part of technical education or vocational training for which Tevta had a mandate.
"It is like wasting efforts," he said, adding that the commerce component was related to general education and was managed well by the Higher Education Department. A senior Tevta official said the authority was overburdened while focus was also missing, adding that it was unfortunate that no-one bothered to notice this aspect over the years. He further said new chairman of Tevta Saeed Ahmad Alvi had never been comfortable with the authority offering commerce stream and had conveyed his concerns to the chief minister with the view that if the same was handed over to the Higher Education Department, much better results could be achieved by focusing only technical education and vocational training. Talking about the future of employees of Tevta's institutes and colleges offering commerce education, the official said the modalities were yet to be finalised. He, however, said it was likely that the services of regular employees would be absorbed in the Higher Education Department while those on contract would continue serving on contract mode under their new department. The official said that to meet the challenges of emerging technologies and demand-driven courses, revamping and development of curricula was need of the hour and added that technical and vocational streams of Tevta were being revamped with the help of different foreign bodies. He said Tevta was also engaged in creating linkages with international bodies to seek accreditation and equivalence and for this purpose, multiple options were being considered.
Technical education lifeline: CM
Lahore: Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has said technical education is the lifeline of the country and poverty and unemployment can be overcome by imparting skills to young generation.
Presiding over a meeting to review the performance of Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (Tevta) here Sunday, he said the Punjab government had allocated record funds for the promotion of vocational education besides a Youth employment Fund had also been set up to generate job opportunities.
He said not new and stately buildings but latest technology and a highly trained faculty were of key importance for the promotion of technical education. He directed that the syllabus of vocational institutions should be harmonised with market needs and demand of modern age so that young generation could play its due role in national development besides earn foreign exchange for Pakistan by serving in the Middle East and other countries.
Members Provincial Assembly Zaib Jaffar, Dr. Saeed Elahi, Rana Tajammal, Ejaz Shafi, Chairman Planning and Development, Chairman Special Initiatives Haroon Khawaja and other senior officers were present. The Tevta chairman briefed the meeting about steps taken for the promotion of technical education in the province. The chief minister said that the dream of national development and prosperity could not be realised without imparting modern education to the youth. He said it was a fact that developed countries owed their progress to technical education. He said that keeping in view the fact, the Punjab government was attaching top priority to the promotion of technical education. He said Tevta had been made a proactive and vibrant institution and a sum of more than Rs. 6 billion was allocated for the sector in the next fiscal year. He said the Youth Employment Fund was a revolutionary step of the Punjab government to help skilled men and women earn their living in a respectable manner.
He directed that all schemes of Tevta should be reviewed and projects should be completed on priority which could benefit the youth while wastage of funds on useless schemes should be checked. He said the purpose of allocation of funds for vocational education was to impart skills to the youth to overcome poverty and unemployment, therefore, optimum utilisation of funds should be ensured.
He said a highly trained faculty played a vital role in the education and training of the youth, therefore, posting of able teachers should be ensured in vocational institutions. He said the brotherly Islamic country Turkey had expertise in the sector and was willing to help Pakistan, therefore, negotiations should be held with Turkish authorities for acquiring services of trained teachers.
He said that six centers of excellence would be established in the province where training in leather, industrial, textile technology, IT, ceramics and woodwork would be arranged.
The chief minister said that reforms in the technical board were inevitable and the sector should be completely rid of politics in the interest of promotion of technical education. He assured the Tevta chairman of his complete cooperation. He said there was a need for working as a team for promoting technical education and to achieve desired results as early as possible.
He directed that discipline of commerce should be handed over to the Higher Education Department so that Tevta could pay its full attention to technical education and training. He said that implementation of an apprenticeship programme was the responsibility of the corporate sector and it should arrange practical training for the youth. He said organisations in the corporate sector which were not implementing the apprentice programme should be identified and a comprehensive report should be submitted.
He also directed that Tevta institutions should arrange financial and physical audit by reputed firms. He also directed the District Coordination Officers to assess the performance of Tevta institutions in their respective districts and submit a report within 14 days. He said that keeping in view the importance of technical education, he would preside over a monthly meeting of its board of directors. He also ordered formation of a special committee headed by the Chairman Planning and Development to review Tevta schemes and other affairs and submit a report within seven days. Earlier, Tevta Chairman Saeed Alvi apprised the meeting of measures taken for the promotion of technical education. The news