Balochistan is being cheated out of its share by HEC

According to the Constitution backward areas of Pakistan, which includes Balochistan, should get more than their share till the time they reach the same level as other areas in terms of socio-economic development

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) was established in 2002 and replaced University Grant Commission. The mandate of the HEC is to regulate higher education in the country and provide grants and assistance to public sector universities. Since its inception, HEC has consumed Rs. 176 billion and claims to have awarded more than 10,000 scholarships across the country. Just like the majority of the federal bodies, HEC is not behind when it comes to depriving Balochistan of its due rights.

A detailed study of recently released HEC’s Annual Report 2012-13 proves the point that Balochistan is cheated out of its due share in scholarships and grants. A general study of the report proves that the share of Balochistan in HEC scholarships and grants is not more than 3 percent, which is half of Balochistan's constitutionally mandated quota of 6 percent.

According to the aforementioned annual report, there are different categories of higher education scholarships which have been awarded to university students across the country. In the year 2012-13 HEC provided 2,895 PHD scholarships. Balochistan only received 30 scholarships which make up only 1 percent of the total. Under the category of Foreign and Indigenous Scholarships Balochistan and FATA combined got 12 out of 8,317 scholarships offered to university students. This means that joint share of Balochistan and FATA in those scholarships was just 0.14 percent, which is a travesty of justice. Likewise, HEC offered 5,524 Indigenous Scholarships in the year 2012-13 and the share of Balochistan was just 2 percent.

Moreover, National Research Program for Universities (NRPU) is an HEC Program which provides financial grants to scientific projects of university teachers. The basic aim of this program is to promote scientific research and innovation in higher education institutes. Unfortunately Balochistan only got 2.62% of the grants in the year 2012-13 and so far it has gone unnoticed.

Seminars and conferences are an integral part of higher education and therefore HEC has a program where it funds such events. HEC provides support to universities in organizing symposiums, training workshops, seminars and conferences to disseminate their scientific works to concerned people the world over. HEC spent Rs. 52.117 million on sponsoring 130 such events. It would be nothing less than a shock to reveal that only 1 such event was sponsored by HEC in Balochistan. 46 events were sponsored by HEC in Islamabad alone.

Another place where Balochistan has been cheated is the Development Grants section. HEC provides development grants for establishment or expansion of universities in the country. In the year 2012-13 HEC released Rs. 12.014 billion and Balochistan only managed to get 4.09% of these grants. Given the plight of universities in Balochistan, the share of the provinces should have been much higher but it’s not the case.

As stated earlier, the share of all of HEC resources is at least 6 percent. Aforementioned statistics prove that Balochistan is hardly getting 3 percent of HEC resources on overall basis. In fact, Balochistan should have got more than 6 percent of the share. Why? Because the Constitution of Pakistan says so.

Clause A of Article 37 of Pakistan’s Constitution reads, “promote, with special care, the educational and economic interests of backward classes or areas.”  Clause C of the same article states that, “make technical and professional education generally available and higher education equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.”

This simply means that backward areas of Pakistan, which includes Balochistan, should get more than their share till the time they reach the same level as other areas in terms of socio-economic development. However, HEC is clearly violating the Constitution of Pakistan by providing Balochistan with even less than its constitutionally mandated 6 percent quota, which is condemnable.

Moreover, there is another policy decision of HEC which systematically and purposefully prevents students of Balochistan from taking advantage of HEC scholarship opportunities. HEC requires that only those students can get foreign scholarships that do not have a single 3rd division in their academic careers. It’s one of the major reasons that students of Balochistan do not qualify for HEC scholarships, because  given the educational standard of Balochistan it’s common for students to have at least one third division. In fact, foreign universities only require TOEFL or GRE tests for admission and the “No 3rd divisions” condition has been imposed by HEC for unfathomable reasons.

Clearly, the aforementioned policy of HEC results in rewarding the privileged students who get to study in high quality institutes and score good grades. This is against the essence of government expenditure, which is based on helping under-privileged classes not rewarding already privileged ones.

HEC is cheating Balochistan from its due share. However, there is no one to speak against this injustice, because incumbent provincial government and parliamentarians are not aware of these issues. Their ignorance, coupled with lust for power and privileges, allow people in HEC to get away with what they do with students of Balochistan. Until and unless parliamentarians of Balochistan and civil society do not rise up in protest, HEC will keep on violating Constitution of Pakistan by cheating students of Balochistan.

Adnan Aamir is Editor of Balochistan Voices; Balochistan’s premier English-Language online newspaper. He is also a freelance journalist contributing for national newspapers. He can be reached at Adnan.Aamir@Live.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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