The Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association has expressed serious reservation over temporary appointment of the Punjab higher education secretary as chairperson of the Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC). In a press statement, FAPUASA Central President Dr Mahboob Hussain, FAPUASA Punjab President Dr Hamid Mukhtar and other executive have said that the temporary appointment of HED secretary as PHEC chairman was based on malafide intention of bureaucracy, as it wanted to bring higher education system under its clutches.
They said the appointment of a non-PhD person as chairman of Punjab’s apex higher education body showed the level of seriousness of the government regarding higher education sector. They said the government should appoint any member of PHEC commission who could meet basic eligibility criteria for the post of PHEC chairman according to PHEC Act. The statement added that teachers of all the universities in Punjab had expressed disappointment over government’s decision, since it was humiliation of teachers because a non-PhD junior bureaucrat would chair the meetings in which senior PhD faculty members, internationally acknowledged academicians and vice chancellors of universities, who serve in scale equal to grade 22, were members. FAPUASA maintained that the government, instead of giving respect to teachers and ensuring autonomy of higher education system as promised, had taken a step to strengthen bureaucratic control over higher education institutions, which would have drastic consequences.
The members said the controversial appointment would make PHEC non-functional for another three months, adding that universities were the only institutions in Pakistan that were rapidly making progress at national and international level in the past 15 years only because they remained free of political and bureaucratic influence.
FAPUASA called upon Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and Higher Education Minister Raja Yasir Humayun to immediately withdraw the appointment of a non-PhD person as PHEC’s acting chairman and appoint any person meeting the basic eligibility criteria out of senior members of the commission.
It also demanded the government immediately advertise the post of PHEC chairman so that the seat could be filled in a regular manner and appropriate steps could be taken to improve higher education sector in the province.