Education in 2015: Narrow agendas grapple to sway public policy National News14 HOURS AGO BY HASSAAN AHMED govt-school-480×238 The outgoing year saw many positive developments in the education sector in Punjab, while on other fronts it was largely a slog on the side of government as well as teachers. The year saw protests by the teachers’ community and a long delay in the appointment of vice chancellors of public sector universities of the province. Teachers held demonstrations on Mall Road, Lahore to press for their demands which included permanent pay scale, restoration of teacher-son quota and end of election related duties. On the positive side, the government recruited a large number of lecturers on permanent basis in public sector colleges in the country during 2015. The provincial government earmarked Rs 14.7 billion for higher education in the year 2015. Budget for higher education was increased by Rs 3 billion, as special funds were allocated for the sub-campuses of Government College University (GCU), Lahore College for Women University (LCWU), University of the Punjab and University of Engineering & Technology (UET). PUBLIC/PRIVATE DEBATE: A scuffle between the private schools and government also surfaced in the latter half of the year when the representatives of civil society staged a strong protest against the fee hike in private schools. The government issued an ordinance to rein in the private schools and warned them of strict action in case of non-compliance. Hafiz Abdul Nasir, the central leader of Muttahida Mahaz Usaatza (MMA) – an amalgamation of all teachers unions of the province, told Pakistan Today that the outgoing year was the worst for teachers’ fraternity as government’s highhandedness did not spare them and several teachers were arrested during the year. He said that the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) was planning to give away thousands of government schools to the private sector, a move, he said, which would be strongly opposed by his teachers association. “The government is handing over these schools to the private sector on the pretext that the schools are not giving adequate results. How can a school produce good results when there aren’t enough resources or teachers? There are about 4,000 government schools functioning without even a headmaster in the province,” he maintained. But while the government teachers thought that the government was preparing to hand over schools to private sector, the private school spokesmen repeatedly said that government was gunning for them. All Pakistan Private School Association President Adeeb Jawdani told Pakistan Today that the government had closed more than 10,000 government schools during the year and tried to impose a ban on the private school networks. He was of the view that the private sector was paying a heavy amount of taxes and the government must give them exemptions in this regard as they are sharing the burden of state by imparting quality education. The government must include all stakeholders in forming its policies for the next year to bring good results in school education, he said. “The government is violating the law by sending show-cause notices to the owners of private schools as the court has given us stay over the ordinance of regulating fee mechanism,” he said. The government earmarked Rs 33.1 billion for primary and secondary education during the year. The government also announced to open 500 new primary schools during the year. However, there have been no reports regarding the implementation of the initiative. NEW HIRES: One of the positive steps taken by the government during the year was large scale hiring of lecturers on permanent basis. The process is in its final stage currently with offer letters being given to successful candidates. There was no major tussle between college teachers and the government on any of its policies. Punjab Professors and Lecturers Association (PPLA) President Dr Zahid Shiekh told this scribe that the performance of lecturers had improved during the year as government had introduced a number of reforms in the college sector. He said that the recruitment of 1,850 lectures on permanent basis in this year was a promising step to improve the status of education in the province. He was, however, critical of the privatisation of Gordon College, Rawalpindi and Murray College, Sialkot and saying that he would oppose this move tooth and nail. CHANGE OF GUARD: A number of changes at the top were made during 2015, as seven Vice Chancellors were appointed to universities nationwide. These universities included Government College University Lahore, Bahauddin Zakriya University Multan, Fatimah Jinnah University Rawalpindi, Government Sadiq College for Women University Bahawalpur, University of Education Lahore, Khawaja Fareed University of Engineering and Information Technology, Rahim Yar Khan and Ghazi University of Dera Ghazi Khan. Vice Chancellors in these universities were appointed after a delay of more than one month, which drew a strong resentment from the professors of these universities. It was said that the delay in those appointments occurred due to the government’s plan to decrease the tenure of VCs from four to two years. Associate Professor and former president of GCU Academic Staff Association Dr Hamid Mukhtar told Pakistan Today that the government discarded its plan to reduce the tenure of VCs because of strong opposition from the faculty of universities. He was of the view that the proposed plan was meant to make a VC more dependent on the government as a vice chancellor cannot implement his or her polices in just two years. “The idea to shorten the tenure of a VC is like the murder of higher education in the province,” he lamented. Three more vice chancellors are to be appointed in 2016 in Punjab University, University of Sargodha and Lahore College for Women University.

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The outgoing year saw many positive developments in the education sector in Punjab, while on other fronts it was largely a slog on the side of government as well as teachers.

The year saw protests by the teachers’ community and a long delay in the appointment of vice chancellors of public sector universities of the province. Teachers held demonstrations on Mall Road, Lahore to press for their demands which included permanent pay scale, restoration of teacher-son quota and end of election related duties. On the positive side, the government recruited a large number of lecturers on permanent basis in public sector colleges in the country during 2015.

The provincial government earmarked Rs 14.7 billion for higher education in the year 2015. Budget for higher education was increased by Rs 3 billion, as special funds were allocated for the sub-campuses of Government College University (GCU), Lahore College for Women University (LCWU), University of the Punjab and University of Engineering & Technology (UET).

PUBLIC/PRIVATE DEBATE:

A scuffle between the private schools and government also surfaced in the latter half of the year when the representatives of civil society staged a strong protest against the fee hike in private schools. The government issued an ordinance to rein in the private schools and warned them of strict action in case of non-compliance.

Hafiz Abdul Nasir, the central leader of Muttahida Mahaz Usaatza (MMA) – an amalgamation of all teachers unions of the province, told Pakistan Today that the outgoing year was the worst for teachers’ fraternity as government’s highhandedness did not spare them and several teachers were arrested during the year.

He said that the Punjab Education Foundation (PEF) was planning to give away thousands of government schools to the private sector, a move, he said, which would be strongly opposed by his teachers association.

“The government is handing over these schools to the private sector on the pretext that the schools are not giving adequate results. How can a school produce good results when there aren’t enough resources or teachers? There are about 4,000 government schools functioning without even a headmaster in the province,” he maintained.

But while the government teachers thought that the government was preparing to hand over schools to private sector, the private school spokesmen repeatedly said that government was gunning for them.

All Pakistan Private School Association President Adeeb Jawdani told Pakistan Today that the government had closed more than 10,000 government schools during the year and tried to impose a ban on the private school networks. He was of the view that the private sector was paying a heavy amount of taxes and the government must give them exemptions in this regard as they are sharing the burden of state by imparting quality education. The government must include all stakeholders in forming its policies for the next year to bring good results in school education, he said. “The government is violating the law by sending show-cause notices to the owners of private schools as the court has given us stay over the ordinance of regulating fee mechanism,” he said.

The government earmarked Rs 33.1 billion for primary and secondary education during the year. The government also announced to open 500 new primary schools during the year. However, there have been no reports regarding the implementation of the initiative.

NEW HIRES:

One of the positive steps taken by the government during the year was large scale hiring of lecturers on permanent basis. The process is in its final stage currently with offer letters being given to successful candidates. There was no major tussle between college teachers and the government on any of its policies.

Punjab Professors and Lecturers Association (PPLA) President Dr Zahid Shiekh told this scribe that the performance of lecturers had improved during the year as government had introduced a number of reforms in the college sector. He said that the recruitment of 1,850 lectures on permanent basis in this year was a promising step to improve the status of education in the province. He was, however, critical of the privatisation of Gordon College, Rawalpindi and Murray College, Sialkot and saying that he would oppose this move tooth and nail.

CHANGE OF GUARD:

A number of changes at the top were made during 2015, as seven Vice Chancellors were appointed to universities nationwide. These universities included Government College University Lahore, Bahauddin Zakriya University Multan, Fatimah Jinnah University Rawalpindi, Government Sadiq College for Women University Bahawalpur, University of Education Lahore, Khawaja Fareed University of Engineering and Information Technology, Rahim Yar Khan and Ghazi University of Dera Ghazi Khan.

Vice Chancellors in these universities were appointed after a delay of more than one month, which drew a strong resentment from the professors of these universities. It was said that the delay in those appointments occurred due to the government’s plan to decrease the tenure of VCs from four to two years. Associate Professor and former president of GCU Academic Staff Association Dr Hamid Mukhtar told Pakistan Today that the government discarded its plan to reduce the tenure of VCs because of strong opposition from the faculty of universities. He was of the view that the proposed plan was meant to make a VC more dependent on the government as a vice chancellor cannot implement his or her polices in just two years. “The idea to shorten the tenure of a VC is like the murder of higher education in the province,” he lamented.

Three more vice chancellors are to be appointed in 2016 in Punjab University, University of Sargodha and Lahore College for Women University.

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