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ISLAMABAD: Senate Standing Committee on Federal Education Professional Training, National History and Literary Heritage passed "The Protection Against Harassment of Students in Educational Institutions Bill, 2020" and "The International Islamic University (Amendment) Bill 2020" unanimously.

The Committee met with Senator Engr Rukhsana Zuberi in the chair at the Parliament House on Tuesday.

The Committee discussed, "The Protection Against Harassment of Students in Educational Institutions Bill, 2020", raised by Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi, in the Senate sitting held on 17th August 2020.

The Committee passed the bill unanimously. The Committee was informed that the bill seeks to ensure provision of education in a safe environment in educational institutions.

It was asserted that as of yet there was no criminal law to register such cases, which would cause unnecessary delay in proceedings.

The bill, it was asserted, would provide a mechanism to ensure speedy justice.

At the school/college-level complaints would be registered with the DC, and in case of universities the Higher Education Commission (HEC) would take complaints and forward to an Inquiry Committee within three days.

The Inquiry Committee report will be submitted within 30 days.

Chairperson Committee Senator Engr Rukhsana Zuberi lauded the bill and the efforts that were put in beyond party lines.

It was asserted that the bill must ensure criminal proceedings and educationists found guilty must not be allowed to serve in the education sector.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed supported the bill, and stated that this was the need of the hour.

Senator Mehr Taj Roghani stressed the need for female representation in the inquiry committees.

While considering "The International Islamic University (Amendment) Bill 2020" raised by Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi in the Senate sitting held on 26th October, 2020, the Committee was informed that the bill sought to ensure faculty representation in university decision-making process.

The laws governing various public-sector universities make it essential to have representation of teachers in their decision making bodies.

However, the International Islamic University (IIU), Islamabad unlike other universities lacks this basic requirement. This Amendment Bill strives to give elected faculty members effective representation in such decision-making syndicates and boards.

Rector IIU Masoom Yasin Zai agreed that the structure followed by the university was different from those in Islamabad.

He asserted that the IIU is unique in nature having a Board of Trustees comprising Rectors of Leading Islamic Universities of the World such as Al-Azhar University, Cairo; International Islamic University Malaysia, and founder members from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan, UAE, Turkey, Sudan, Gambia, Algeria, and others.

He said, that the fact that the roles functions and responsibilities are different from an ordinary university; needs to be kept in view while modifying composition of different university statutory bodies.

Rector IIU also informed the Committee that the inclusion of teachers to these Boards had been recommended by himself in 2017 and with the consent of the Board of Governors was forwarded to the HEC.

He added that the HEC after reviewing the document should have shared amendments with the university instead of referring these to the ministry and then the Senate of Pakistan.

He requested the Committee to allow him to refer this document back to the University Statutory Body before taking a decision on it or else the university will lose credibility. He further stated that the university already has an Academic Council with 90 percent faculty representation; hence the need of being part of the Board of Governors does not arise.

The Committee directed that the university must ensure symbolic representation of teachers to these boards. The bill was passed by the Committee unanimously.

The meeting was attended by Senator Mehr Taj Roghani, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi, Senator Bahramad Khan, and senior officers of the Ministry of Federal Education Professional Training, National History and Literary Heritage, and Ministry of Law and Justice, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) along with all concerned.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021