Number of Pakistan chairs in foreign universities reduced

Published January 14, 2019
Sources say budgetary constraints behind education ministry move to fill just 6 of 14 vacant chairs abroad. ─ DawnNewsTV
Sources say budgetary constraints behind education ministry move to fill just 6 of 14 vacant chairs abroad. ─ DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Education has decided to fill only six of the 14 vacant Pakistan chairs in foreign universities.

The ministry recently stopped the process of sending shortlisted candidates to represent Pakistan in 14 foreign universities. The candidates were finalised by a committee headed by Senator Syed Muzafar Hussain Shah last year.

The education ministry now has decided to advertise the entire process afresh.

“We are going to re-advertise these positions within two weeks and in the first phase we will make appointments on four to six chairs instead of 14,” said the ministry’s Joint Education Adviser Rafiq Tahir.

He said in the first phase appointments would be made in important countries.

Education ministry says it will fill only six of the 14 vacant chairs abroad

Sources said because of budgetary constraints the ministry had decided to reduce the foreign chairs. Last year when the selection was finalised, there was a budget of around Rs50 million which was recently reduced by the federal government to Rs15 million.

The process to select candidates for the positions faced delay for the last around a decade. Pakistan has chairs in 14 foreign universities, including Germany, Turkey and China, which have been vacant for six to 10 years.

The chairs were set up on reciprocal basis and their holders used to deliver lectures aimed at promoting Urdu and the culture and history of Pakistan.

Earlier, the Cabinet Division used to deal with the issue but last year the function was given to the ministry of education.

A senior faculty member of Quaid-i-Azam University said chairs at international universities were a tool to build the country’s image.

“These chairs play an important role in promoting Pakistan’s culture and image. The appointees are academic ambassadors but unfortunately our bureaucrats are not taking this important issue seriously.”

He said India had almost 300 chairs in world’s top university where its scholars were playing an important role to promote their country’s interest.

A Pakistani scholar, who was shortlisted by the committee last year, said after a number of meetings he was selected but so far the education ministry has failed to complete the process.

“Now, we are being told that the process is going to be re-advertised which is unfortunate and a joke with scholars,” he said.

Last year, 28 scholars, two each against one post, were finalised by the committee. He said instead of reducing the number of chairs, the government should appoint more scholars to promote the country’s soft image in the world.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2019

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