High time to bring in more positive energy through professional relationship
By Shabbir Sarwar
ISLAMABAD: The ‘cold war’ between Higher Education Commission (HEC) Pakistan and Provincial higher education commissions (PHECs) – started after 18th Amendment in the Constitution of Pakistan due to lack of a mechanism on devolution of power in higher education – has turned ‘hot’ as both are trying to let down each other on various issues and ‘interests’.
The case is pending with the Council of Common Interests (CCI) and awaiting its fate while some stakeholders are of the point of view to take the issue to the apex court before the waste of more ‘positive’ energies into ‘negative’.
Recently two mega events of social sciences held in the capital city on the same day (Feb 24) and both the sides tried to attract more vice chancellors. Some vice chancellors were confused where to go and where to not due to extreme level of polarization.
According to reports, with the support of the National Testing Services (NTS) and others, the Khan Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan and Haripur University organised a two-day ‘International Social Sciences Expo and Conference’ on February 24-25 at Pakistan-China Friendship Center in Islamabad. PHEC chairman Dr Nizam was also supporting it as a participant of the conference, although he couldn’t attend the event due to his ex-Pakistan leave. As many as 34 universities participated in the event. However, HEC chairman Dr Mukhtar was not there.
On the same day (Feb 24) HEC organised the “National Symposium on Thematic Research in Social Sciences”. Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Balochistan Govt Adviser Dr. Kaisar Bengali and Fatima Jinnah Women University Dr. Samina Amin Qadir addressed the event. BZU VC Dr. Tahir Amin, Dr. Rasul Bakhsh Rais (LUMS), Dr. Najma Najam, Dr. Pervaiz Ahmed Memon (IBA Sukkur), Dr. Fauzia Maqsood and Dr. Sami Ullah (UoG), Dr. Asma Manzoor (KU) and Dr. Ijaz Hussain (BNU) were also there. On this occasion Dr. Mukhtar announced establishment of the Social Sciences Council of Pakistan and to provide special funds for it. Allegedly both sides tried their best to make other’s event a failure by inviting and attracting more VCs and others. AIOU VC Dr Shahid Siddiqui and UoE VC Dr Rauf-i-Azam managed to attend both the events. If we really wants a solution to the power devolution issue, there is point of agreement between HEC and PHECs – working on one of the ignored sector of higher education – colleges. PHECs should focus on colleges until clearity and consensus on their area of working.
The PHECs should not challenge the authority of HEC and must continue to recognise it as the supreme body of higher education. At the same time HEC should accept PHECs with a big heart because provincial governments are fully supporting them. The sooner we accept it is better. The Educationist aims to play its role to help establish professional relationship of HEC and PHECs. Through this platform Dr Nizam had sent a message to Dr Mukhtar that he was like his elder brother and he wanted to work with him. Dr Mukhtar had also sent ‘Salam’ to all PHEC chairmen through an interview published in The Educationist. Focusing on colleges will be the begining of a new relationship.