ISLAMABAD – A parliamentary panel Wednesday gave approval to reduce the tenure of Chairman of Higher Education Commission (HEC) and its governing commission members and to withdraw the status of federal minister from him through legislation.
The Higher Education Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2012 aims to amend the HEC Ordinance 2002 to bring out administrative changes in the body.
During the meeting, the members were briefed that the bill proposes to amend the status of federal minister granted to the HEC Chairman under the ordinance as the number of other Chairmen of different commissions, authorities like WAPDA, National Tariff Commission, NEPRA etc., do not enjoy the status of federal minister. The committee members unanimously approved the amendment saying that the disparity among different institutions should be brought to an end and when the Commission has been attached to the Ministry of Education and Training so the appointment of two ministers in one ministry cannot be justified.
The members also approved to curtail the term of chairman, executive director and the members of the governing commission from four to three years. “We will not support personalities but the institutions. Our people have so much potential and new people should be given the chance,” Chairman Committee Shaikh Rohale Asghar said.
HEC Chairman Dr. Javaid Laghari apposed the amendments. He was of the view that ‘the HEC is not a part of the ministry as it’s an autonomous body that works under its controlling authority that is Prime Minister’.
The committee also approved an amendment according to which the government would fund the universities on the recommendation and approval of the HEC directly to the higher education institutions. Another amendment proposes that the Commission shall make rules with the prior approval of the controlling authority.
Committee Chairman Shaikh Rohale Asghar also directed the HEC Chairman strictly to submit the record of scholarships from 2008 to 2013 granted by the Commission during the last five years till Monday to the Committee. The Chairman also sough the details of the perks and privileges entitled to the Chairman and the details of rules according to which the membership fee of Islamabad Club was paid by the Commission for HEC Chairman.
Yasmeen Rehman withdrew another amendment conditionally in which she had proposed that the ranking of universities should not be done by the Commission as it gives accreditation to the universities and distributes funds among them that creates a conflict of interest. It does not happen anywhere and ranking should be conducted by an independent body according to international practices, she said.
Chairperson Rohale Asghar also constituted a four-member subcommittee to probe the alleged nepotism and mismanagement in appointments at Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (FBISE).
The Chairman informed that he wrote a letter to the ministry on October 18 to report on the issue highlighted by the media and then on November 16 he sent a reminder to the ministry to report. ‘But till today I have not received any response from the ministry. My privileges as a member of a parliament and the chairman of the committee has been breached and for this FBISE Chairperson Shaheen Khan should be removed from the post till the inquiry completes’.
Later on, on the request of other members he withdrew the decision of Shaheen Khan’s removal and the final decision would be taken on the findings of the committee. The committee will submit report with in three working days. The committee members Rafiq Ahmad Jamali, Rubina Saadat Qaim Khani, Tasneem Siddiqui and Noor ul Haq Qadri will submit the report within three working days.