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ISLAMABAD: Senate Standing Committee on Federal Education and Professional Training, National Heritage and Culture slammed the Higher Education Commission (HEC) on Tuesday for its failure to take action against unauthorised education institutions offering degree programmes while also expressing strong reservations over the performance of Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training (MoFEPT) regarding implementation of Single National Curriculum (SNC).

“It is very disappointing that in the presence of FIA (Federal Investigation Agency) and other investigation agencies, action is not taken against unauthorised education institutions that are selling degrees,” remarked Committee Chairman Irfan Siddiqui, presiding over the Senate panel’s meeting.

“A lot needs to be done and HEC should take a leading role in order to discourage such practices. There is complete lack of coordination among public institutions and students are suffering due to this. Supervision and oversight is responsibility of HEC,” he added.

The committee categorically questioned, if anything, the HEC has done to stop unauthorised educational institutions from selling degrees.

“What HEC has done to stop this practice and save the future of students?” Siddiqui asked.

The seemingly embarrassed HEC officials replied that HEC published a list of approved institutions on its website and “students or parents should go through the list before applying for admission.”

The HEC, they said, also issues alerts and advisories from time to time and blacklists the institutions which do not fulfill the criteria set for accreditation and recognition of degree programmes.

However, the committee rejected the HEC explanation and expressed its disconcert on the performance of HEC in this regard.

The committee observed that HEC needed to improve its performance to “save the future of the students of Pakistan.”

HEC officials informed the committee that Pakistani students going abroad for studies took admission on their own, and admitted that there was no mechanism to stop these students from taking admission in unrecognised foreign universities/colleges.

Committee member Mushtaq Ahmed recommended that a system be developed to register students going abroad for education.

The MoFEPT gave a detailed briefing to the committee members on SNC.

To different queries posed by the committee members, the officials admitted that there was no plan to introduce uniform examination system “keeping in view the diversity and lack of facilities for students of far-flung areas of Pakistan.”

The chairman committee asked, “How can introduction of same book for all the students provide same environment for students? Students of public schools lack basic facilities — how can they compete with students of elite private schools?

The ministry officials replied that single book is not being introduced. Guidelines have been brought in to make curriculum more inclusive keeping in mind the diversity of Pakistani society, the officials said.

The committee asked the MoFEPT to present the “model book sets” to all the committee members before next committee meeting.

The MoFEPT officials said that all the provinces were taken on board except Sindh. Some 400 experts from all over the country from different school of thoughts prepared the SNC, the Senate panel was briefed.

The committee sought details from MoFEPT regarding examination system under SNC.

Another committee member Jam Mehtab Hussain Dahar said that “whole political spectrum” should be taken on board regarding SNC.

The committee deferred the discussion on SNC till next meeting. It asked Dahar to coordinate with Sindh government regarding their reservations on the implementation of SNC.

Apart from that, Mushtaq Ahmed briefed the committee about service structure for technologists.

“There is no service structure for technologists. Every year about 10 thousand degree-holders are passing out and there is uncertainty regarding their future. This issue has been raised multiple times in different standing committee meetings and nothing has been done so far. Taskforces and committees were established to solve the issue but to no avail. Technologists have been suffering due to this. Pakistan Engineering Council has played a negative role in this regard. National Technology Commission Act should be passed as soon as possible. Equivalence accorded to technologists bringing them at par with engineers should be reinstated which was cancelled unilaterally by a former chairman HEC without any proper consultation or deliberation,” he said.

The Senate panel sought from HEC and MoFEPT a briefing in the next meeting regarding justification of withdrawal of equivalence accorded to technology degree-holders.

The committee recommended that equivalence should be restored as an interim relief until the issue of separate service structure for technologists was resolved.

Other committee members including Dr Mehr Taj Roghani, Ejaz Choudhary, Falak Naz, Rukhsana Zuberi, Dr Sikandar Mandhro, Shaheen Khalid Butt, Molvi Faiz Muhammad and officials from HEC and MoFEPT attended the meeting.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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