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HEC: a plea for equality

May 15, 2013

I THINK the Higher Education Commission is doing a commendable job and is surely a jewel in the crown, being an institution handling all higher education affairs in Pakistan. I have two suggestions for the HEC. First, attestation of documents for submission to foreign institutions for getting admission has become an HEC job. Initially Rs200 for each original and Rs100 for each photocopy used to be charged. Now it is costing Rs800 for each original and Rs500 for each photocopy, which is unbearable for a disabled student like me.

I am unable to understand how this huge fee is going to help in attracting students towards higher education.

Second, in an interview, the chairman disclosed that the HEC is strictly observing provincial quota for awarding scholarships. Observing quota, and not merit, means a less competent student from any province with more seats is more likely to win scholarship than a deserving student from another place with a fewer seats.

My question is: if every kind of quota is observed, then why the quota for disabled persons is not observed. When I asked an HEC official on email about the quota for the disabled, after many reminders he replied that the HEC is an equal-opportunity institution.

It is astonishing that the HEC thinks of equal opportunity when it relates to the disabled quota and relaxations like age or else but at the same time even jobs in the HEC are given on a provincial quota basis. I did my post-graduation from the University of Karachi and passed my examinations with distinction (stood second). My precious years of life were wasted in going daily to the Civil Hospital for physiotherapy.

Now when it comes to society for helping me, I am not eligible for even applying in open competition for recent overseas scholarships on the ground of being overage, though I lost my precious years in rehabilitation due to the casual behaviour of hospital staff who was on strike while the blood loss resulted in paralysis.

This too was not my fault. This is the story of every disabled student who fortunately made to higher education.

I request the HEC chairman and other authorities concerned that if a separate quota cannot be reserved, then 10 years of age relaxation be given to disabled persons to enable them to sit in open competition. Also, the HEC should reduce this huge amount of attestation fee.