VCs 'reject' provincial HEC
Lahore, Mar 29: The dominant view of those tasked with formulating modalities for the setting up of the Punjab Higher Education Commission is that the body cannot be formed without amending the Higher Education Commission Ordinance 2002 that is protected by the constitutional provisions.
The HEC has not been devolved under the 18th Amendment and a Supreme Court judgment says: "The HEC shall continue discharging its functions and duties as it had been doing in the past unless and until a fresh legislation is promulgated."
The judgment had also declared March 31, 2001, Cabinet Division notification having no effect on functioning of the HEC.
A vice chancellor, who attended the all Punjab universities' vice chancellors meeting at the Government College University (GCU) on Thursday, remarked that somebody had given a "wrong suggestion" to the chief minister to set up an independent HEC in Punjab.
Agreeing with this point of view, a Chief Minister's Vice-Chancellors Committee member said that he already knew the HEC's legal status but had to sit in the committee for being nominated by the chief minister.
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had approved the establishment of the Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) in a meeting last weekend. He had also constituted a five-member vice-chancellors' committee, headed by University of Engineering and Technology Vice-Chancellor retired Lt-Gen Muhammad Akram Khan, to formulate modalities for setting up the PHEC.
The other committee members are: GCU VC Prof Dr Kahleequr Rehman, Punjab University VC Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran, University of Gujrat VC Prof Dr Nizamuddin and Fatima Jinnah Women University VC Prof Dr Samina Amin Qadir. The committee had deliberated on Wednesday and invited all Punjab universities' VCs as well as HEC Executive Director on Thursday.
The marathon meeting on Thursday became reluctant to present a model of an independent HEC in Punjab in the presence of the HEC Ordinance protected by the Constitutional provisions.
Sources said the meeting acknowledged that the Sindh government had established its provincial HEC but later faced embarrassment because it was challenged in the court. They said the committee was now planning to formulate a model of an HEC in Punjab that should not clash with the functions assumed by the HEC at the national level. The committee would propose that the Punjab HEC should create endowments for scholarships, establish universities' campuses or look after the colleges in the province, they said. The sources, however, admitted that these functions were already with the Punjab Higher Education Department and the chief minister himself was heading the Punjab Educational Endowment Fund to offer scholarships to needy and merited students.
The sources said the VC's Committee saw the reason after a presentation by HEC Executive Director Prof Dr Mukhtar Ahmad who discussed devolution plan and future role of the commission. They agreed that all the provinces, including Punjab, should first discuss the lessons learnt by the HEC during its past 12 years and then thoroughly discuss the possible plans for setting up commissions at the provincial level.
They said Prof Ahmad had explained HEC's structure, its functions and lessons learnt while making the commission a world-recognised higher education policy-making body in the country. He also explained the HEC's functions after the 18th Constitutional Amendment as well as Federal Legislative List Part-I and Part-II and the Supreme Court judgment that protected HEC functions and duties.
The sources said the HEC executive director, however, recognised provinces' thinking of developing the HECs at the provincial level and suggested that they should not do anything abruptly as it could do more harm than good. Instead, Prof Ahmad said, the respective provincial governments should discuss the University Grants Commission's transformation into the HEC and its accomplishments as well as failures during the past 12 years. He said the provinces should also take into account the world best practices to maintain the country's identity in the world.
Prof Ahmad reportedly stated that the HEC should continue doing policy formulation, working on curriculum, quality assurance and research priorities as well as performing activities identified in the Federal Legislative List I and II.
Meanwhile, the sources said, the HEC executive director suggested that the provinces should constitute taskforces to hold series of consultation meetings at the provincial level and synthesized recommendations should be finalised at the federal level. In order to handle the legislative issues, he suggested that recommendations or systems agreed at national level should be taken to the Council of Common Interests for initiating legislation at provinces level.
In order to protect country's national integrity at international level, Prof Ahmad suggested, that the provinces should constitute commissions but under different names like the Council of Higher Education or Tertiary Higher Education and assume the role of implementation of national policies in respective provinces, monitoring and evaluation and funding to the universities. He also offered commission's all-out services for the capacity building in the provinces as well as supporting the prospective independent bodies in provinces that should be represented in the HEC and be part of making policies, the sources said.It is learnt that the vice chancellors' committee will formulate its recommendations on Friday (today) for submission to the chief minister. Dawn
Punjab HEC against constitution'
Lahore: Pakistan Muslim League-Q Punjab Senior Vice-President and former Provincial Law Minister Basharat Raja has said the legislation by the Punjab government contrary to the Constitution was a matter of concern.
Talking to the party office-bearers at the Muslim League House here, he said after Local Government Ordinance, constitution of Punjab Higher Education Commission and health and education authorities at the district level were against the spirit of 18th Constitutional Amendment, many provisions of the Local Government Ordinance had been annulled by the court on these being in conflict with the Constitution. This attitude of the Punjab government was negation of claims about good governance and very harmful for the federation.
He said in the Punjab Local Government Ordinance, Article 140-A of the Constitution was ignored and on the other hand, no legislation was being done for the provision of free and compulsory education to children of 5 to 16 years age group under Article 25-A of the Constitution. Likewise, the provincial rulers had bulldozed rules and regulations by establishing LDA, PHA, Transport and other authorities and this could not be ignored, he said and added that in this regard, writ petitions by people and legal circles were sub judice. He said the establishment of the Punjab Higher Education Commission was not only against the Constitution but the Supreme Court March 31, 2001 verdict was also violated. He said the PML Punjab would issue a fact sheet in this context. The news
English flourishing in Pakistan at the expense of Urdu?
Lahore: The English language is flourishing in Pakistan, breaking free from the shackles of its earlier perceived status of being the language of the elite to become the commoners' language.
A one-day policy dialogue on English language in Pakistan, organised by the British Council on Wednesday, agreed that Pakistan lacks a formulated policy on its national language. The dialogue had a thrust on bigger issues pertaining to English both as a medium of instruction and as a common language at workplace, social settings and domestic surroundings. Divergent viewpoints, local and global, were presented to capture a broader perspective on English language's present and future in Pakistan. However, there was one common ground amongst the all the discussants, participants and experts-English language and Pakistan were no longer aliens to each other despite the existing anomalies while the paradox of national language had become global in its nature with Pakistan being no exception.
Does Pakistan really has a clearly spelt out policy vis-a-vis its national language, was the question thrown by Tony Jones, British Council Pakistan's director programmes towards both the audience and the participants of the inaugural panel discussion. Dr Tariq Rehman, a veteran scholar on linguistics and a distinguished English language teacher, revealed that there was no consistent policy paper addressing this larger question yet there were certain documents indicating that Urdu was supposed to be the national language of Pakistan. "There is no uniform policy of national language for every Pakistani child. Both the state and provinces have been pursuing different goals at the same time," he remarked.
Ghazi Salahuddin, a journalist and a writer, was of the opinion that without imparting education to the school beginners in their first language, proficiency in English or any other second language couldn't be ensured. "Your genius can only flourish in the first language. As long as we don't recognize this fact, English will remain a barrier to progress in Pakistan." Prof Chris Kennedy, a research fellow at the University of Birmingham, was in the same stride with Ghazi Salahuddin, stressing the need for initial learning in the first language as suggested even by the worldwide research. John McGovern, a freelance consultant and the fourth panelist, pointed out that there was a great deal of confusion between the national language policy and the actual practice in Pakistan. He cautioned that without a sound policy, all the proposed strategies would prove futile.
Earlier, Dr Shahid Siddiqui, a linguistics scholar, in his welcome address highlighted the historical perspective of language evolution in Pakistan. Stressing upon the connection between the language and the society, he termed linguistic capital as a pivotal force guiding economic, cultural and social capital of any society. "At the time of independence, Urdu became a strong language in Pakistan. And, now the same goes for English," Dr Siddiqui maintained saying he saw a disconnect between mandated language policy and the ground realities. He revealed that 27 out of 67 languages currently being spoken in Pakistan, were endangered.
Stephen Roman, British Council's regional director for South Asian region, said in his address that English language had become a global phenomenon as the United Kingdom no longer owned it as its sole property. Rather, it was owned globally now, including Pakistan. He claimed that English proficiency level amongst teachers in Pakistan was quite poor while 90 percent teachers in Punjab weren't equipped to teach different subjects in English medium. Roman disclosed British Council has been making investment to promote English language through various programmes and initiatives. "Education will be the biggest asset of Pakistan in days to come. UK is fully committed to support Pakistan for all English language initiatives."
Richard Weyers, the area director for British Council Punjab, stressed upon the need on part of all the stakeholders to speak as one voice for promoting English language in Pakistan. He informed that just three percent population of the Pakistani students at the school and college level had access to private schools imparting proper English language while the rest 97 percent were at the mercy of the state-run schools with no paraphernalia to teach them in English. The area director disclosed that British Council's library in Lahore will become fully functional again by the end of this year.
Mussarat Shahid, British Council's director English, shared the key findings of a research conducted on behalf of her institution, informing the participants that the percentage of English speakers in Pakistan had risen to 49 percent of the total population by 2014. She pointed out that the existence of pseudo English medium schools in Punjab was rampant. Daily times
English - more than a subject
Lahore: The teaching of the English language in Pakistan is class-based as the country's education system is programmed to provide different levels of English teaching to people belonging to different economic status.
Those who afford go to elite private schools and access better learning material, authentic environments and well-trained teachers whereas the poor and low-income families miss out on the opportunity to learn English up to the standards assumed by society.
This is one of the key findings of a research report on "English language in Pakistan today: Class, the workplace and the shift in language use," conducted by the British Council. The council on Wednesday launched the summary findings of the report at a local hotel; the full-fledged report would be launched in a couple of months.
The report said the existence of pseudo English-medium schools was rampant in Pakistani society, which claimed to have English as a medium of instruction but the entire conversation and communication between the students and teachers was in Urdu.
It said English was not being taught as a language but rather as a subject, confined to the 40-minute class sessions. It said there was a wide urban-rural divide in the standard of English teaching as people in urban settings had much more choice and better quality of teaching and learning facilities available compared to the rural areas.
The report said English was deeply penetrated into the Pakistani society as it had one of the largest English-speaking populations of the world and claimed that 49pc population (88.69 million people) could speak English.
Speakers at the policy dialogue said English was flourishing in Pakistan and serving as a window to the outer world.
Dr Tariq Rehman, dean of Education Department at the Beaconhouse National University, said there was no uniform policy of national language for every Pakistani child. He said the state and provinces had been pursuing different goals at the same time.
Prof Chris Kennedy, a research fellow at the University of Birmingham, stressed that initial learning should be imparted to children in their mother tongue.
Freelance consultant John McGovern identified that there was confusion between the national language policy and the actual practices in Pakistan. Without a sound policy, he said, all the proposed strategies would prove futile.
British Council's Regional Director for South Asian Region Stephen Roman said the English language had become a global phenomenon as the United Kingdom no longer owned it as its sole property. He said English was now being owned globally including Pakistan.
He, however, said the English proficiency level amongst teachers in Pakistan was quite poor while 90pc teachers in Punjab were not equipped to teach different subjects in English medium.
Roman said the British Council was making investment to promote the English language through various programmes and initiatives. "Education will be the biggest asset of Pakistan in the days to come. The UK is fully committed to support Pakistan for all English language initiatives," he asserted.
British Council's Punjab Director Richard Weyers stressed the need to speak as one voice for promoting the English language in Pakistan.
He said just three per cent population of the Pakistani students at the school and college level had access to private schools imparting proper English language while the rest 97pc were at the mercy of the public schools with no paraphernalia to teach them in English.
Weyers said the British Council's library in Lahore would become fully functional again by the end of this year.
Journalist and writer Ghazi Salahuddin said proficiency in English or any other second language could not be ensured without imparting education to the school beginners in their first language. He said children's genius could only flourish by teaching them in their first language. He said English would remain a barrier to progress in Pakistan until this fact was recognised.
Dr Shahid Siddiqui, a linguistics scholar, discussed historical perspective of language evolution in Pakistan. Stressing the connection between the language and society, he termed linguistic capital a pivotal force guiding economic, cultural and social capital of any society.
At the time of independence, he said, Urdu became a strong language in Pakistan and now the same was true for English.
Dr Siddiqui stated that 27 out of 67 languages currently being spoken in Pakistan were endangered.
Earlier, British Council's Director English Mussarat Shahid shared the key findings of the research and vowed that the council would go the extra mile to bridge the gap between the ever-increasing demand for the English language and the supply of fully-equipped institutions in this regard.
She also highlighted the salient features of the Punjab Education and English Language Initiative (PEELI) launched by the British Council. Dawn