Educationists, intellectuals and public representatives at a book launch on Thursday called for instituting extensive reforms in higher education institutions as a precursor to improve academic standards. Reconstituting existing search committee for appointment of vice-chancellors, completely curtailing the authority of the Sindh governor in these appointments and rectifying the role of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) were among the recommendations.
The book, titled ‘Need of Reforms in Universities in Sindh,’ was launched at an event held at Sindh University (SU), Jamshoro. It is authored by Professor Dr Azhar Ali Shah, former vice-president of the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association and incumbent president of the SU teachers’ association.
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“The meetings of the [university] syndicate are being convened only for promotions of teachers, to seek approval for their financial benefits, grant study leaves and extensions in leave,” lamented MNA Dr Nafisa Shah. She added that no proposals or recommendations for the improvement of academic and research standards have ever been placed before such meetings. She emphasised that the teaching community ought to think why the graduates of the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi get employment within six months of their graduation unlike their counterparts in government universities. She said high-quality research being conducted at the universities and urged the PhD faculty to dedicate themselves to research-oriented education.
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“On August 19, 2013, the Sindh Assembly passed the Sindh Universities Law Amendment Act, 2013 in just four minutes without holding a debate … it proves that dictatorship is alive in the form of democracy,” he noted in the book.
By seizing the authority of appointing the registrar, controller of examination, resident auditor, bursar and chief accountant, the provincial government paved the way for political intervention, he argued. According to him, the Sindh Universities Law Amendment Ordinance ,1980 and 1982 and Sindh Universities Law Amendment Act, 2013 and 2014 failed to bring autonomy of the universities on a par with global standards. “Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government should restore the 1972 law for universities and revoke the amendments which were introduced by the dictator [General Ziaul Haq],” he said. He compared Sindh’s laws with Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) laws, praising their higher education institutions for creating an academic and research environment.
He gave reference of the search committee formed in K-P in April, 2015, which consisted of former HEC chairperson, vice-chancellor (VC) of Lahore University of Management Sciences, former HEC executive director, former State Bank governor and director of IBA Karachi Ishrat Hussain among its five members. In Sindh, the same committee comprises political representatives, he added.
Dr Azhar questioned how a 65-years-old educationist was eligible to be appointed as vice-chancellor of a public sector university in Sindh when the retirement age in the province is fixed at 60 years.
SU VC Professor Dr Fateh Muhammad Burfat said that the book provided him with an insight into the issues confronting universities. “The most significant step towards improving a university’s ranking is by engaging the faculty in research,” he added.
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Educationist and writer Professor Inam Shaikh, Sindhi Adabi Sangat’s (Literary Fraternity) Ahmed Solangi, Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences Professor Dr Anila Attaur Rehman and Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association’s Dr Shakeel Farooqui, among others also spoke at the event.
Correspondent. Book launch: ‘Need of Reforms in Universities in Sindh’ launched at SU. The Express Tribune, October 20, 2017.