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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Federal Education, Vocational Training, National History and Literary Heritage recommended on Tuesday that the education budget should be increased to four percent of the GDP for the promotion of education in the country.

The committee met under the chairmanship of Senator Engr Rukhsana Zubair. Regarding the non-participation of the Federal Minister for Education, Vocational Training, National History and Literary Heritage in the meeting of the Standing Committee, the secretary Federal Education informed the committee that he was busy in the Cabinet meeting.

Regarding the national curriculum, the federal minister himself wants to provide details to the standing committee. The committee deferred the matter till the next meeting.

On the issue of public importance raised by Senator Muhammad Ali Khan Saif in the Senate session on March 4 regarding equal recognition of BTech degrees, Saif said the matter has been raised in the Senate for a long time, but could not be fixed.

Degrees of BTech students should be recognised. "When they go for a job, they face problems."

He said it was also asked to set up a National Technology Cell, but it was not made, and a draft was also not prepared. The BTech degree is recognised in other countries. The Higher Education Commission (HEC) should inform the committee that why this has not happened in Pakistan, he added. Senator Jamaldini said there is no service structure for BTech students. Thousands of post-graduate students are facing difficulties. Why the future of these children is being destroyed? he asked.

Senator Behrmand Khan Tangi said that this is a very important agenda. The HEC chairman needs to attend the committee meeting and provide details. The majority of BTech students are from poor families. The committee was informed that the chairman HEC is out of the country.

The issue of BTech degree dates back to 1973 and no regulatory framework was developed for it. The committee was informed that there is a significant difference in the work of technologists and engineers. Whatever the committee decides will be implemented.

Representatives of BTech also briefed the committee in detail on the issue under consideration. The Standing Committee decided to form a sub-committee comprising the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, the HEC, BTech delegation and other concerned, and should submit a report to the standing committee within a month.

The sub-committee was formed under the chairmanship of Senator Engr Rukhsana Zubair and Senators, Behrmand Khan Tangi and Gul Bashara included as members. A report will be prepared after review in the sub-committee.

The issue of public importance raised by Senator Dr Jahanzeb Jamaldini in the Senate session on July 15, was discussed in detail about the difficulties faced by students from Balochistan in obtaining scholarships. He said the issue of scholarships is very important for children from remote areas.

The committee should be informed how many children across the country were given scholarships for their education, local and abroad, and how much merit has been taken care of. The committee should also be informed that how many of the Pakistani students in China belong to Balochistan.

The HEC officials briefed the committee about the details, and told that Balochistan and other provinces have quota for stipends, and each province gets stipends according to the quota. Students are selected through entry tests while their previous marks are also considered.

Final lists are verified by the relevant DC. Senator Usman Khan Kakar said the right of children from Balochistan is killed by making fake domiciles, and therefore, it should be confirmed. The HEC needs to assist children in obtaining foreign scholarships and enroll them in the world's top 500 universities.

The committee reviewed in detail the issue of insulting content in the curriculum against the issue of public importance raised by Senator Mushtaq Ahmed in the Senate session on July 20. Ahmed said the GABA publishers have added ridiculous material against Pathans belonging to Buner, and especially quoting, Yousafzai tribe, which constitutes 50 percent of the population of Pashtuns.

This is a criminal negligence. In the next meeting, GABA publishers and related agencies should be called to review the matter. He said that Pashtuns were a brave people who had fought against Alexander the Great and the British. Committee chairperson Engr Rukhsana Zubair said not to disturb the minds of the children; notices should be issued to all the text boards to remove such negative messages from the syllabus immediately.

The issue of establishment of Forest University in Ziarat area of Balochistan Province and Livestock University in Musa Khel was reviewed in detail on the issue of public importance raised by Senator Muhammad Usman Khan Kakar in the Senate session on July 22, 2020.

Kakar said that the provincial government has provided land for the establishment of these institutions of higher learning but the work could not be done due to lack of funds. The issue has been raised for three years.

The committee was informed that letters have been written to the provincial government for the establishment of these institutions but no project can be started without a charter and land. The provincial government has to provide a charter.

The Standing Committee also recommended that the budget of the Ministry of Education be equated to four percent of the GDP for the promotion of education in the country.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020