The federal government has decided to formally end the autonomy of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and bring it under the Ministry of Education. The PTI-led government has approved the ordinance.
According to the ordinance, the appointment of the HEC chairperson will be for two years and the members of HEC will be appointed for four years.
A senior officer of the ministry told daily Dawn that the summary has in principle been approved by the Prime Minister Office and Ordinance has been issued. When contacted, Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood, confirmed that revised Ordinance has been prepared for making amendments to the HEC’s ordinance.
Asked about media reports that in the new ordinance, HEC has placed under the administrative control of the ministry of education, he said: “There is no truth in such reports.” The minister said only some minute changes were made. He said that even the ministry has no role in the appointment of the HEC executive director.
The HEC was established in 2002 as an autonomous institution to ensure the promotion of quality education without any political interference.
Even though the HEC is based in Islamabad, four of the 18 members of the HEC Commission represent the provinces while two represent the federation. Therefore, curtailing the autonomy of the HEC may harm the growing cooperation between the HEC and provincial higher education set-ups.
HEC Chairman removed
HEC Dr Tariq Banuri has been dismissed before the expiry of his term. Dr Tariq Banuri was appointed in May 2018 by the former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for a four-year term and his tenure was due to end in May next year.
Reportedly, there were widespread complaints against him accusing him of running the HEC on an ad hoc basis. Dozens of consultants were recruited on the hefty salaries of the directors, some of whom were not only retired but also academically graduates.
Recently, the National Accountability Bureau had also launched an investigation against him for corruption, irregularities, mismanagement and appointment of consultants.
A senior member of the HEC board or Executive Director will now be appointed as the acting chairman, after which a permanent appointment will be made to the post by advertising for a permanent chairman.
Dr Banuri’s dismissal is “sad”
Educationists and experts have criticized the government’s move saying it would further damage the already shattered system.
Dr Adil Najam, Dean, Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University, slammed the authorities on his removal and said Dr Tariq Banuri is being bullied out by pygmies for trying to mend a broken system.
What a travesty!!!
Its not just that Dr Tariq Banuri is being bullied out by pygmies for trying to mend a broken system. It is how it is being done: by an ordinance that will further wreck an already shattered system.
Let us hang our head in shame!https://t.co/1CjxmDWgTe
— Adil Najam (@AdilNajam) March 25, 2021
Chairman HEC Dr. Tariq Banuri has been removed from his post before the expiry of his term. Dr. Banuri’s unceremonious departure is regretted.
“What a travesty!!! Its not just that Dr Tariq Banuri is being bullied out by pygmies for trying to mend a broken system.
He said that the ordinance will further wreck an already shattered system
“Petty personal interests and a vile malicious campaign proves again that the greatest enemy of system reform is the system itself,” he added.
This is what I had written when Tariq Banuri was appointed. I was not alone in feeling elated. But our worst fears proved true: the system beat and bullied him down. The greater good is again sacrificed for parochial interests and petty egos.
Let us hang our head in shame! https://t.co/gKkw2psQvQ
— Adil Najam (@AdilNajam) March 25, 2021
Dr. Najam also shared what he had written when Dr. Banuri was appointed. “This is what I had written when Tariq Banuri was appointed. I was not alone in feeling elated. But our worst fears proved true: the system beat and bullied him down. The greater good is again sacrificed for parochial interests and petty egos,” he wrote.