LAHORE: The importance given to education by the Punjab government, especially the higher education sector can be gauged by the fact that the provincial government has yet to appoint permanent heads in 13 universities.
These universities include Punjab University, Information Technology University (ITU) Lahore, University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF), Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi (PMAS-AAUR), University of Health Sciences (UHS) Lahore, Fatima Jinnah Medical University (FJMU) Lahore, Women University Multan, Ghazi University Dera Ghazi Khan, University of Okara, University of Sahiwal, University of Jhang and University of Home Economics, Lahore.
PU, the largest public university, lacks a permanent head for more than a year as the Punjab government and a case pending in the Lahore High Court (LHC) delayed the matter. However, the LHC decided on April 27 that it was in the jurisdiction of the provincial government to appoint vice chancellors in universities of Punjab. The court directed the Punjab government to appoint vice chancellors in four public varsities as per recommendations of the search committees.
These four universities include Punjab University, Lahore College for Women University (LCWU), University of Sargodha (UoS) and Muhammad Nawaz Sharif University of Engineering and Technology (MNSUET) Multan. On May 29, the provincial government decided to appoint vice chancellors at two of the four universities and Dr. Uzma Qureshi and Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmad were appointed at LCWU and UoS, respectively.
The decision puzzled academicians as the court orders were clear to make appointments at all of the four varsities. Adding fuel to the fire, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on June 24 conducted interviews of all the candidates of Punjab University and MNS-UET Multan. Interestingly, this interview lasted for 10-12 minutes only. The chief minister interviewed, all six candidates in 10-12 minutes. However, no appointment had since been made and it had been reported in media that the provincial government intends to re-advertise the posts and will start the whole process all over again.
The indecisiveness of the provincial government despite clear orders of the LHC has created resentment against the Punjab government.
Teachers’ body – the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA), has in strong words criticised the provincial government. The delay has also suspended many of the administrative functions of the universities.
A large number of universities without a permanent vice chancellor shows the dedication of the provincial government about its seriousness to promote education in the largest province of the country and its oblivious attitude is also a cause of distress for the teaching community of Punjab.