KARACHI: Amid protest and boycott by the opposition, the Sindh Assembly on Thursday passed a bill that enabled the provincial government to promote students of matriculation, intermediate and technical boards without taking examinations in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Sindh Board of Technical Education and the Sindh Boards of Intermediate and Secondary Education (Amendment) Bill, 2020, presented by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla, was passed with opposition parties — the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and Grand Democratic Alliance — protesting against the immediate consideration of four government bills.
The speaker carried out the business amid the protest of the opposition members who shouted slogans against the government and later boycotted the proceedings.
The bill empowered the boards to grant certificates and diplomas to the candidates promoted without examination.
The bill reads: “There is no provision in the existing laws of Technical Education and General Education for promotion of the students of different level classes in order to enforce the decision of the steering committee, it will be expedient in the public interest to make suitable amendment in the Sindh Board of Technical Education Ordinance, 1970 and the Sindh Boards of Intermediate and Secondary Education Ordinance, 1972.
‘37,000 posts of schoolteachers lie vacant across the province and their appointments were delayed due to litigation’
“The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted lives of the people of the country as well as the province of Sindh and has affected every sector of life, including the education sector. The Steering Committee of School Education and Literacy Department of Sindh formed its sub-committees on May 16, 2020 which suggested that the holding of examination of all classes at school and college level has become almost impossible due to pandemic and proposed promotion of the students in accordance with the standard operating procedures approved by the government.”
Following the passage of the bill and opposition’s boycott, Education Minister Saeed Ghani rose to point out that the existing laws did not allow promotion of students to next grades without examination being done. He said the federal and provincial governments through deliberations had decided to promote the candidates in the wake of the novel coronavirus. “It was the Sindh government that suggested amendment to the law,” Mr Ghani said, wondering why the opposition boycotted the proceedings.
Coming down heavily on the opposition for staging a walkout, he said they (opposition members) did not even read the bills and started protesting.
Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani also expressed his displeasure over the attitude of main opposition and parties saying “they always make hooliganism but I will not allow that”.
The assembly also passed The Sindh Teaching Hospitals (Establishment of Management Board) Bill, 2020 for the establishment of an independent management board to provide foolproof mechanism to control teaching hospitals.
Likewise the assembly also passed The Ziauddin Medical University (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and the education minister said now the university could open its new campus abroad as well.
Two other government bills passed during the sitting included The Education City (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and The NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
Two government bills — The Sindh Evacuee Trust Properties (Management and Disposal) Bill, 2019 and The Sindh Wildlife Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management Bill, 2020 — were presented by Minister Chawla and the same were sent to the standing committees concerned for further deliberations.
Earlier, Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal member Syed Abdul Rasheed moved a privilege motion against the public relations officer of the Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Medical College for using “abusive language and levelling baseless allegations” against him.
The speaker formed a three-member committee to look into the matter and submit its report by Monday.
Later, the house was adjourned till Friday, which would be observed as a private members day.
Earlier, the provincial assembly was informed that 37,000 posts of schoolteachers were lying vacant across the province and their appointments were delayed due to litigation.
Replying to lawmakers’ written and verbal queries during the Question Hour session in the house, Education Minister Saeed Ghani said the associations of teachers had moved the high court against the appointments. “Following the court’s orders, rules have been made for recruitment process and sent to the law department for vetting,” he said, adding that teachers would be appointed soon.
In reply to written and verbal supplementary queries of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf member Rabia Azfar Nizami, the minister said that more than 8.5 million children were getting education in public and private schools, madressahs, and other places across the province.
He said around 3.5m children were out of school in Sindh as there were 12.5m children in the province.
Conceding the absence of secondary schools in several areas in the province, the minister said that primary schools constituted around 90 per cent of the total 42,383 government schools.
Answering another question, he said 1,262 teachers were recruited in schools and colleges on the deceased quota during 2017-2018.
He said the number of subject specialists (grade-17) in the province was 791 while 1,148 posts were vacant in that regard, adding that the Sindh Public Service Commission had been informed in writing to start selection process.
He said the provincial government had started work on 9,000 schools in the province with a target of 80 per cent enrolment. “This project will be completed by 2021, after which 80 per cent of the students in the province will get basic education,” the minister said.
In reply to a question by GDA member Arif Mustafa Jatoi, he said as per Annual School Census 2015-2016, 5,384 schools were closed — 4,123 closed temporarily and 1,261 permanently. “However, a total of 3,216 schools were reported dysfunctional, of them 1,495 temporarily, in the 2016-2017 census,” he added.
In reply to a question by PTI’s Ms Nizami, the minister said there were 6,567 schools in dangerous buildings and the provincial government had already taken an initiative for their reconstruction and rehabilitation.
Published in Dawn, July 24th, 2020