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Protesting University Teachers March to HEC Secretariat

FAPUASA leaders meet Federal Education Ministry officials to get assurance for mediation and withdrawal of anti-teacher policies   

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: The ongoing protests against HEC policies up-scaled Wednesday when hundreds of teachers reached outside the Higher Education Commission Secretariat early in the morning on the call of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) to press their demands regarding relaxation in new anti-teachers’ policies of the Commission.

The protestors were holding placard inscribed with slogans in support of their demands including relaxation in post-PhD experience, formulating a service structure, and promotion system for BPS faculty.

However, HEC Chairman Dr. Tariq Banuri was in Lahore to attend a meeting of the Council of Common Interests with Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar. HEC Executive Director Shaista Suhail and other representatives invited the leaders of the teachers for talks, however, due to a trust deficit the FAPUASA leaders went to Federal Education and Professional Trainings Ministry for a meeting, sourced told The Educationist that.

The ministry official sought a one-page demands brief from the Federation representatives and later the same was sent to the HEC. These demands comprised immediate, medium-term, and long-term solution to BPS and TTS related issues of the university faculty.

The teachers’ movement got more strength after the press conference of HEC chairman Dr. Tariq Banuri, who apparently rejected all their demands made at separate university level protests demonstration on the call of FAPUASA leaders.

On Tuesday evening after the analysis of HEC chairman the press conference the Federation decided to hold their united protest demonstration outside the HEC secretariat in Islamabad.

The HEC spokesperson also issued a press conference regarding the BPS Faculty Delegation meeting with Chairman HEC. According to the HEC official statement, Mr. Banuri asked them to translate their demands into a concrete proposal for the formulation of draft BPS Statutes. At the request of the Association, it was agreed that HEC will obtain the services of a qualified expert in administrative law to provide technical assistance to the Association for the drafting of the statutes. The HEC secretariat will review and refine the proposals before submitting their recommendations to the Commission for a decision. This work could be completed within a period of three months.

When contacted FAPUASA Punjab chapter president Dr. Mumtaz Anwar Chaudhry, who is also PU ASA president, said around 400 university teachers from all parts of the country have reached HEC Secretariat for their rights. He said their meeting with the Education Ministry officials remained very positive and they have submitted one-page demands on the advice of Ministry officials. “We do not want to meet HEC officials because of a trust deficit, rather we will prefer the education ministry to mediate and help resolve the teacher issues, who have come to Islamabad from all parts of the country.”

He said the meeting between the HEC chairman and BPS faculty was actually held one day earlier on Tuesday and its press release was issued on Wednesday to sabotage their campaign and divide the faculty.

He said their protest would continue until the demands of teachers for their genuine rights were are accepted and anti-teachers’ policies are withdrawn.

Following is the text of HEC Press Release Dated October 21, 2020

BPS Faculty Delegation Calls on Chairman HEC

Islamabad, October 21, 2020: A delegation of All Pakistan Universities BPS Teachers Association (APUBTA) called on Chairman HEC Tariq Banuri at the HEC Secretariat and apprised him about the problems and challenges faced by the BPS faculty of public sector universities.

The meeting was also attended by Executive Director HEC Dr. Shaista Sohail, Member (Operations and Planning) Dr. Fateh Marri, Adviser (Administration and Coordination) Mr. Awais Ahmed, and Director (Quality Assurance) Mr. Aqeel Akhtar Khan.

The APUBTA representatives said that BPS faculty members comprise 88 percent of the entire faculty in public sector universities, but were facing a systematic and multi-faced discrimination. They demanded that HEC should set up a service structure for BPS faculty, including promotion rules, performance-based incentives, and relaxation in the post PhD experience. They said that BPS faculty is laboring under a sense of deprivation and demotivation because of the absence of such rules, inadequacies in benefits, and the burden of additional administrative work.

Chairman HEC assured the delegation that HEC’s role is to serve all faculty members, both BPS and TTS. He said that this was the first time that they had approached HEC, and that HEC will work closely with them to resolve the problems they faced, in order to promote the quality of teaching and research on an equitable basis.

Mr. Banuri asked them to translate their demands into a concrete proposal for the formulation of draft BPS Statutes. At the request of the Association, it was agreed that HEC will obtain the services of a qualified expert in administrative law to provide technical assistance to the Association for the drafting of the statutes. The HEC secretariat will review and refine the proposals before submitting their recommendations to the Commission for a decision. This work could be completed within a period of three months.

The Chairman also urged them to undertake consultations provide ideas on other critical issues, including the challenge of bringing about a convergence between the TTS and BPS into a single system, and how to encourage the best people to adopt teaching as a profession.

On the issue of post-PhD experience, the Chairman requested Association members to provide concrete data so that a decision could be made after considering all relevant factors.

The APUBTA members expressed strong support for the range of initiatives introduced by the HEC to enhance the quality of education and research, including the new policies for undergraduate and graduate education, the new system for financing and promotion of research, and the new classification of research journals.

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