By Prof Laeeq A Khan
[This article first appeared in Pakistan Observer on February 12, 2011.]
The Government of Punjab has decided to give autonomy to 26 colleges in the Punjab. The teachers and students of these Colleges along with some of the politically based student bodies are on the streets protesting against this autonomy. It was agonizing to watch on different channels of television, police lathi charge and tear gassing of the demonstrators. Although public memory is normally very short yet I hope that the people at large in Pakistan have not forgotten the Education Policy of the people’s Government in 1972, when the Political Party in power had nationalized all private educational institutions in Pakistan. The educational institutions included even the Primary School run by the Municipal Administrations, District Boards, and other philanthropic organizations.
At that time if you had asked anybody to name the best college in Multan, he would have named Emerson College, Multan; the best college in Sialkot was Murray College; the most prominent college in Rawalpindi was Gordon College; Zamindara College, Gujrat was also amongst the good College; Lahore, of course, had a large number of good college such as Forman Christian College; Islamia College, Railway Road; Islamia College, Civil Lines; Islamia College for Women, Cooper Road; Dayal Singh College; MAO College; Talim-ul-Islam College; MAO College etc. All these institutions were run by independent Boards of Government and were completely autonomous in their administration. Since 1960, the Government of Punjab has already given autonomy to 10 college and 09 school/ public institutes. These include Cadet College, Hassanabdal; Lawrence College, Ghora Gally; Government College, Lahore; Lahore College for Women; Kennard College for Women, Lahore; Government Nawaz Sharif College for Women, Lahore, Queen Marry College, Lahore; Government College Dhobi Ghat, Faisalabad; Government College, Kahuta; and Government Institution of Technology.The schools included Government Central Model School, Lahore; Government Lady Anderson Girls School, Sialkot; Pakpattan; Government Model High School, Bhakkar; Government Boys High School, D.G. Khan; Government Denny’s School, Rawalpindi; Government Institute for the Blind, Lahore; and Government Sunrise Institute for the Blind, Lahore.
When Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto announced the nationalization for all these and other educational institutions, this action was opposed by the teachers, in particular for two reasons. By merging with the government cadre of teachers, a large majority of teachers working in these private educational institutions lost their seniority. Secondly, because of the exception of Islamia Collage, the rest of the institutions were individual setups and therefore, the teachers working in these institutions could not be transferred from those institutions. However, the members of the Board of Governors of these institutions kept an eye on the faculty and demanded maximum output from them. No private academies run by the teachers of these institutions or private tuitions were allowed. The situation has considerably changed after Nationalization. A large number of faculty members of these institutions are running their private academies in the evening or running their own tuition centers. They are subservient to the whims of the District Education Officers who can transfer them to far flung areas of the Province, if he so wishes. Also, the quality of education in the Government Institutions has deteriorated in most of the Government educational institutions because of the lack of competition with the private sector. Nationalization of private educational institutions diverted the contributions from various philanthropists to other sectors than education. The funds for all the private institutions named above were provided by the philanthropists or public at large. Fees constituted a very small part of the Board Funds, which includes grants in aid made by the Government, loans obtained from Government, loans raised by the Board, foreign aid obtained by the Board, fees and other sums received by the Board etc. In addition, the local educated persons were recruited as the faculty of these institutions. The fee structure of these private run institutions was nominal.
It will not be out of place to mention that there are 62 Universities in the Public sector and about 70 in the private sector. All these Universities including the public sector Universities are run by independent Boards of Governors called the Syndicates / Executives Councils / Boards of Trustees / Boards of Governors. Inspite of there being autonomous, the fee structures of these institutions does not have much difference. Some of the colleges have been allowed by the Government to award degrees whereas the rest of the colleges have to seek affiliation with different Universities, so that degree could be awarded by those Universities to their students. Each University, in turn, have a number of conditions for affiliation of different colleges which include a well stocked Library, fully equipped laboratories and prescribed qualifications for the faculty. The Punjab Government has taken advantage of “The Punjab Government Educational and Training Institutions Ordinance, 1960” which is the offshoot of West Pakistan Ordinance XI of 1960. According to this Ordinance the Board of Governors is supposed to have nine members to be appointed by the Governor of the Punjab and one of these members will be the Chairman of the Board, again to be nominated by the Governor of Punjab. The Principal of the College shall be the Secretary of the Board. Infact, the ordinance needs certain amendments particularly regarding the Chairmanship of the Board. Like the Universities in Pakistan, the Principal of Colleges should be the Ex-officio Chairman of the Board on the pattern of the Universities where the Vice chancellor is the Chairman of the Syndicate / Executive Council / Board of Trustees / Board of Governors. The Principals of autonomous Colleges should only the BPS-20 or above Grade employees o the Education Department. The official members should be appointed by designations and should not be below the rank of a Joint Secretary in the Provincial Education Department. The conditions for recruitment and determination of the terms and conditions of service of the members of the staff of the institution and other officers and servants of the Board should not be lower then those prescribed by the Government for its Institutions.
In view of what has been stated above, the students of the Educational Institutions being offered autonomy should not get exploited by their teachers but should consider the autonomy of their Institution with an open mind. [Courtesy Pakistan Observer]
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