KARACHI: Adviser Universities and Boards Nisar Ahmed Khuhro at a presser held on Wednesday in the Sindh Assembly committee room announced that the province would continue with the two-year graduation degree programmes, describing the four-year graduation policy of the federal Higher Education Commission (HEC) as an “attack” on provincial autonomy.
“The process of abolishing the two-year degree programmes is an attack on provincial sovereignty. Sindh rejects these federal HEC policies and universities in Sindh will continue with the two-year programme under the Universities Act,” he said.
Mr Khuhro noted that the historic 18th Amendment to the Constitution was never accepted by the people opposing provincial autonomy from day one. The education sector in Pakistan, he said, now came under the provincial jurisdiction after the 18th Amendment on the basis of which the Sindh Higher Education Commission had been established.
“The Sindh Assembly had passed the Sindh Universities Amendment Act in 2018 which accorded autonomy to universities so they could function according to their statues.”
Criticising the federal HEC, Mr Khuhro said the commission was not only violating provincial autonomy, but also the autonomy of universities by interfering in their matters.
He was of the opinion that the recent HEC initiatives, including its associate degree programme and PhD programme, would deprive the middle and lower-middle classes of their right to education.
Referring to the HEC’s policy, he said it would close down two-year bachelor’s programme in arts, commerce, two-year master’s programme and the opportunity to have private graduation.
“We reject all these policies of the federal HEC and all universities of Sindh will continue all their programmes under the autonomy given in the Universities Act.”
He further said the Sindh government would not allow the federal HEC to verify the certificates and degrees issued by Sindh educational institutions and only Sindh’s institutions would verify the degrees and certificates.
“The Sindh government will also take up this issue in the Council of Common Interests. We want to make it clear that the Sindh government will not compromise on the 18th Amendment.”
He said after the abolition of the Concurrent List, the federal government could have only four departments while the rest needed to be transferred to provinces.
“But, the federal government is not ready to accept provincial autonomy. It’s unable to understand that if provinces are strong the country will be strong.”
Mr Khuhro said the establishment of a federal HEC was also against provincial autonomy.
“A conspiracy is being hatched to control the universities of the provinces by setting up a federal HEC. We will not allow the federation to control the sovereignty of provinces.”
Published in Dawn, February 4th, 2021