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Political interference in education sector will not be tolerated: PM

Updated March 15, 2019

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Prime Minister Imran Khan telephones HEC chairman, asks him about instances of political interference. — PM Khan's Instagram account/File
Prime Minister Imran Khan telephones HEC chairman, asks him about instances of political interference. — PM Khan's Instagram account/File

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday expressed concern over reports of political interference in the higher education sector.

A day after Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairman Dr Tariq Banuri’s remarks regarding political interference in the higher education sector, the prime minister telephoned him and asked him to identify all such practices. He assured him of his support for curbing the practice and making the system completely transparent.

According to a statement issued by HEC, the prime minister told the commission’s chairman that political interference will not be tolerated.

It says the HEC chief assured the premier that the commission will play an affirmative role in increasing access to higher education, improve its quality and ensure its relevance to the socio-economic needs of the county.

During a talk with Islamabad-based editors and bureau chiefs, the HEC chairman had on Wednesday reportedly said that political interference in universities has gone up.

He also expressed concern regarding the shortage of funds for the higher education sector.

He reportedly said the syndicates of some universities in some provinces are being chaired by education ministers, which is causing increased political interference and that HEC is faced with pressure in regards to administrative matters of universities.

The Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training also put out a statement saying: “As far as the federal government is concerned there is minimal to zero political interference especially from education minister and the ministry”.

It says the minister has strictly instructed the ministry not to interfere in matters of attached departments, the heads of which were told to follow merit and not extend any favours.

“[The] minister himself never interferes and encourages merit,” the statement says.

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2019