THERE has been a recent onslaught against the Higher Education Commission by certain vested interest groups which do not wish education to flourish in Pakistan. False allegations are intentionally brought up to tarnish the image of the HEC which has built up the reputation amongst the people and educated youths as being among a few government organisations in Pakistan which work on merit and in a transparent manner.

The HEC is known and respected globally whose team, including the chairman, enjoys an untarnished image as being upright, principled and meritorious.

Most allegations are false, incorrect, done with a malicious intention and are based on a deliberate smear campaign rather than on reality. A very recent one against the chairman was his membership in the Islamabad Club. This was proposed and approved by the board of governors of the HEC, way back in 2009 and is not something approved recently or done in a discretionary way, and has been through various audits as well.

Another onslaught brought out in the parliament recently was the ‘refusal” of the chairman to respond to a call-attention notice and the matter was, therefore, referred to the privileges committee. The chairman, being a former senator, understands and respects parliament and the urgency in responding to call attention notices. However, in this case the notice was not even referred to the HEC before it was discussed on the floor and, therefore, the question of refusal does not even occur. The notice was received later that evening and was responded to immediately.

There are then false allegations of corruption and irregularity in scholarships. The HEC takes pride in its merit-based procedure in which the economically deprived youths and those from the middle class and from underdeveloped areas of Pakistan are able to avail themselves of scholarships, including for PhDs, at some of the leading universities of the world.

Already over 7,500 scholars are pursuing their higher studies, awarded through a National Scholarship Management Committee (constituted by the prime minister and composed of representatives of all provinces) who were interviewed by foreign experts/professors. Also, over 2,200 have already completed their PhDs and joined local universities, institutions and organisations to contribute to the country’s development.

While none in the upper middle class would send their children to public schools, the same would prefer to send them to public universities for their education speaks volumes of the quality, though not the best in the world, that is maintained at the universities.

The HEC has now improved the procedure for hiring a vice chancellor through search committees, though there is still room for improvement. Moreover, it is developing the performance-based evaluation of serving vice-chancellors.

Statutory bodies regularly meet and all appointments of the faculty, as well as admissions, are made on merit. All verification and attestation of degrees is done according to a developed procedure which leaves no room for any irregularities. All these merit-based and above-board procedures are perhaps what the vested interest groups are not able to swallow.

All HEC reforms are now becoming the envy of other countries in the region. While Turkey already has a similar commission, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are in the process of replicating the HEC model, and India is going a step further and establishing a supra-HEC with far-reaching consequences to position itself as a regional leader.

The World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report indicators on higher education and training, technology readiness and innovation have shown a consistent improvement over the last three years for Pakistan, much more than many other countries. This is a clear proof that higher education reforms are paying off.

Pakistan has achieved a critical mass and reached a point of take-off. For this phenomenal growth to continue, it is important for the government and other stakeholders to support and further strengthen the HEC as a national institution and protect its autonomy, instead of downgrading it.

If this upward momentum continues for another 10 years, Pakistan is certain to become a global player through a flourishing knowledge economy and a highly literate population. The HEC will continue to work for the youth of Pakistan.

JAVAID LAGHARI Chairman, HEC Islamabad


Do you have information you wish to share with Dawn.com? You can email our News Desk to share news tips, reports and general feedback. You can also email the Blog Desk if you have an opinion or narrative to share, or reach out to the Special Projects Desk to send us your Photos, or Videos.

More From This Section

Terrorists’ sanctuaries

AS a horrofic national tragedy has happened, serious questions need to be raised. If the masterminds are in...

Delayed action

THIS putative plan of action that all politicians have sworn to frame through a committee required the death of 146...

Comments (9) Closed




sami
Jan 28, 2013 09:21am
Well done Sir.
KHURAM
Jan 28, 2013 08:55am
Dear Chairman, We (The HEC scholars studying abroad) can feel the pressure you must be facing at this stage. There are no doubts about the performance of HEC and its internationally recognised contributions for the betterment of Pakistan. You and your team are doing a great job and I assure you that we will not let you face this all alone. We are with you and Insha Allah will continue to support your courageous policies. Few corrupt and illiterate senators and NA members are frightened by the great performance of HEC. Please never give up and don't let them play with the feelings of this nation anymore. Supreme Court must take actions against such conspiracies happening against HEC.
Husain Jan
Jan 28, 2013 07:36am
During these times of extreme nepotism who will believe Chairman's claims that all is well and that all news and reports appearing in media highlighting the ills of HEC are mere propaganda. The effort of the Chairman to defend HEC via this letter can easily be termed as failure as few, if any, would be convinced.
Condemned
Jan 28, 2013 04:30pm
Dear Husain, HEC's numbers speak for themselves. Also, you should not doubt the words of a competent man like Dr. Laghari unless you have solid proofs of nepotism against him. Stay blessed!
Arbab Zahid
Jan 28, 2013 06:50pm
Shame on you people, this is against the journalistic norms to highlight the opinion of a single side. Pity on you and on those who claim Dawn to be the most credible news source.
Plagiarism Hunter
Jan 28, 2013 07:12pm
We are unable to understand why Dr. Laghari is working against Govt. The appointment of Dr. Naqvi for third time was termed as illegal by the Supreme court. The so called MP scale DGs are involved in favoritism and nepotisim. Why HEC is not disclosing the Scholar lists according to the province and discipline wise. How much R&D funds are spent on smaller provinces? How much trainings are held at far flung areas for teachers? How much projects are awarded to the Universities of three other provinces? Why Islamabad Capital has Universities in every sector whereas in provinces even Divisions have no campus. What are the objectives of introducing TTS, Foreign Professors, Distinguished National Professors, Professor Emeritus, Professors Meritorious, BPS professors and Adjunct Professor? We are unable to understand logic behind holding ranking with sham parameters and without involving third party. Transparency and Fairness is not exercised in accreditation and other affairs of the HEC. There are more than 300 absconders in Scholarship schemes according to the HEC website. There are people who are declared best teachers and same time they are called plagiarist. There are policies which are circulated by one division and nullified by the other. What the hell Dr. Laghari is doing there? The DGs at HEC are working without PhD and actual intellectual input. The University of Engineering Project was declared as failure. The Approach of the HEC remains idealistic without realizing the ground realities. People are compelled to do plagiarism by forcing them to complete research publications. There are no proper research facilities at Universities. It is time to revisit the HEC and its objectives needs to redefined.
misha
Jan 28, 2013 02:02pm
Kindly, Mr. LAGHARI, reduce HEC's Degree Attestation Fee. It is insane to pay an exorbitant amount of Rs. 800 for a stamp on each Original Document and Rs. 500 for each Copy. It is almost impossible to manage for poor students, including the courier charges/ charges for in person visit to Islamabad. It is a crucial issue which needs an urgent consideration. Please don't convert HEC, from an education facilitating institution, to a commercial entity. Thanks
AZA KASI
Jan 28, 2013 01:47pm
Status of HEC is not more than one-eyed in the midst of blinds. Like other government offices this body is also marred with red-tapism and inefficiency - though enjoying an autonomous position. In spite of being over-crowded with excessive employees you would hardly hear any voice in the opposite side if you dial the official landline numbers. Replying the email of any student is something beyond reality. In a single department there are multiple officers holding same job title and same job descriptions. Though i admit the meritocracy in awarding scholarships, but once the student is enrolled they have no coordination mechanism with the concerned offices of that university. Students have had to wait years after the completion of degree for the release of stipends. Despite of numerous lapses this body should be left autonomous.
Malveros
Jan 28, 2013 05:47am
HEC is an excellent Institution and the way forward for Pakistan.