LAHORE: The Punjab government is yet to fill vacancies of chairmen of the seven boards of intermediate and secondary education (BISEs) with permanent incumbents with few days to go in the expiry of its five-year term.

Officials say the chairmen of boards will be appointed soon as the process is under way.

The Higher Education Department (HED) had advertised the posts of chairmen of BISEs of Bahawalpur, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Multan, Rawalpindi, Sahiwal and Sargodha and set May 8 deadline for receiving the applications. The department received more than 100 applications for the posts and started the scrutiny of the candidates.

The Punjab government had earlier planned to seek services of bureaucrats to run the education boards by offering them MP-1 scale. It had twice advertised the posts of chairmen of the BISEs but could not bring in bureaucrats during the past 10 months or so.

The government had also conducted interviews of the shortlisted candidates on Dec 15 and 16 last after which there was no progress. It gave an additional charge of seven education boards’ chairmen to the commissioners of Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Sahiwal, Multan, Bahawalpur and Sargodha divisions five months ago as a stopgap arrangement -- a move that drew criticism from the education circles who expressed concern over transparency of the matriculation and intermediate examinations with ‘non-technical’ officers as chairmen.

Several discrepancies were found in the matriculation examination conducted under the supervision of divisional commissioners and these included paper leak in the Rawalpindi board and missing answer-sheets in Gujranwala. The Sahiwal board question papers were also allegedly available on WhatsApp before the examination.

It is learnt that the Sahiwal commissioner had requested the government in black and white that he might not be entrusted with the sensitive duty because he would be busy in supervising many development programmes besides working on the improvement of education and health facilities as well as performing other important assignments and duties.

He stated that it was not possible for the commissioner to give proper time to the BISE and it could affect his basic duties and functions. He suggested that the additional charge of the board chairman be entrusted to some other suitable officer.

The Punjab Professors and Lecturers Association (PPLA) also protested against the government for not appointing the regular chairmen of the boards.

Punjab Higher Education Department Secretary Nabeel Awan said they had completed the scrutiny and shortlisted 40 candidates for the posts of seven chairmen of the BISEs. He said the authorities would shortly interview them for final selection.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2018