- By: Dr. Imtiaz Ahmad
The government of Pakistan is actively working towards improving the standards of higher education in the country. To achieve this gole, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) was established in 2002, granting it autonomous status and elevating its chairperson to the worth of a federal minister.
In a 13-page document, the commission was empowered to enhance the quality of higher education, foster a research culture, and establish links with industries for the practical application of research findings. However, HEC’s revised criteria for reappointment of the BPS teachers deviated from Section 10-q of its own ordinance while placing a significant research burden only on teachers.
Consequently, an immature trend of research emerged, leading to the problem of paid research. Billions of rupees were spent to meet the unlawfully imposed promotion requirements, diverting the focus from education itself. HEC’s efforts to produce standard research, launch journals, and establish industry connections were largely unsuccessful. Moreover, HEC failed to implement Section 10-q of its ordinance over the past 22 years, neglecting the service structure of existing teachers and impeding their ability to conduct quality research and maintain teaching standards.
Surprisingly, HEC classified teachers into two groups, TTS and BPS, with discriminatory policies, despite both groups having the same duties and qualifications. The only difference lies in their salaries and pension benefits, causing discontent among teachers subjected to discriminatory rules. Meanwhile, HEC boasts about its numerous published articles, many of which are merely a waste of public funds, as highlighted in my previous article.
The All Public Universities BPS Teachers Association (APUBTA) has raised these concerns with both HEC and the government on several occasions, yet no resolution has been reached. The Ministry of Federal Education, as well as the standing committees of the National Assembly and Senate, have summoned HEC to address these issues. However, veiling behind its autonomous status, HEC has been reluctant to act. Recognizing this situation, the government is considering to make HEC’s autonomy accountable, as it has failed to uphold its own ordinance in true spirit. HEC has been more focused on strengthening its own employees by granting undue incentives under the same ordinance and implementing discriminatory policies, resulting in a plethora of clutches and a decline in educational standards.
Academics remain hopeful that the legitimate fundamental rights concerning the service structure for BPS teachers will soon be granted after or even before amending the HEC ordinance through administrative approval of the Prime Minister being Executive of HEC, as agreed upon with the APUBTA. These amendments, along with retrospective benefits, will help in addressing the seniority imbalance between the two groups of university teachers as TTS has already been granted the complete structure. This will not only restore peace in universities but also foster a culture of necessary research, thereby elevating the standards of higher education.
- The author, Dr. Imtiaz Ahmad holds a PhD from the University of Essex, UK, and serves as an associate professor of mathematics at the University of Malakand.
- The author is also thankful to members of the Core Committee APUBTA for improving this article.