Students, teachers out to save sinking ship of HEC
ISLAMABAD Tuesday, April 5, 2011): Considering protest demonstration as a last straw to stop devolution of Higher Education Commission (HEC), hundreds of university students, faculty members of universities, educationists and officials of HEC on Tuesday held a protest in front of HEC Secretariat.
All voices were requesting Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, who is the controlling authority of the HEC, to intervene and stop the process of devolution in the larger interest of the country.
Holding banners, placards, and Pakistani flags, to show solidarity for a cause to salvage the HEC pride, earned in last decade and its future fragmentation, the protestors raised full throat slogans ‘Save HEC, Save Education, Save the nation’, ‘Stop disintegration of HEC’ and ‘HEC khappay’. They also requested Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary to take suo motu action on this particular issue.
Over 2,000 protestors gathered in front of HEC Secretariat Sector H-9 were of their opinion that staging protests on the roads was the only option left to convince the government to revert its decision of devolution of the commission to provinces.
“There is an impending disaster looming in front of us regarding devolving the functions of the HEC to the provinces that has been decided by the cabinet (on the recommendation of a parliamentary committee on devolution headed by Raza Rabbani) to tear higher education to shreds and hand over the pieces to the provinces,” students maintained with wrath.
On the occasion, senior teaching staff members from QAU, IIUI, NUML, AIOU, NUST, and others said the HEC was created as an autonomous federal regulatory institution with the prime minister of Pakistan as its controlling authority. The composition of the commission reflects a balanced federal structure with representation from each province, as well as the secretary education and secretary science and technology, together with eminent academic and research experts, they said. “All powers and functions of the HEC defined under its legislation are covered and protected in the provisions of the 18th Amendment. But, alas, who cares about what is legal and what is not,” they explained.
The senior faculty members of various universities on the occasion said that Pakistan had made remarkable progress during 2002-2008 in higher education. “There was a 600 % increase in scientific publications in international journals and a 1,000 per cent increase in citations in this period. Today, several of our universities are ranked among the top 500. The University of Karachi was ranked at 223 in the world, NUST at 260 in the world and Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) at 270 in the world, in the field of natural sciences. This is no ordinary achievement after decades of stagnation. The World Bank, USAID and the British Council published comprehensive reports on the higher education sector, applauding it and calling it “a silent revolution”, they maintained.
The protestors pleaded government to stop this suicidal madness. “Something good happened in Pakistan after some 55 years of neglect. Let us not destroy this wonderful initiative,” they added.
HEC should remain intact: PTI:
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) believes that the concept of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) should stay despite devolution of education to the provinces according to the 18th Amendment, said PTI secretary general Arif Alvi at party delegation of educationists here at a party secretariat.
He said HEC should remain as an important directional body that could continue to play a major role in a sector where Pakistan was severely deficient.
Dr Alvi said that it was surprising to note that even appointments of vice chancellors in Pakistan were political and it was not even necessary for the appointee to have a PhD. The result was that such appointees who had no academic excellence ensured that meritocracy in academia was defeated.