A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Federal Education and Professional Training, National Heritage and Culture was held on Friday at Parliament House. The Committee deliberated over the ranking and performance of leading universities in the country and the status of research universities with regards to the criteria followed by them for publication of research papers in journals. The Committee also discussed details of Private Education Institutions Regulatory Authority (PIERA).
Senator Irfan-ul-Haq Siddiqui chaired the meeting; that was attended by Senator Rukhsana Zuberi, Senator Dr. Mehr Taj Roghani, Senator Falak Naz, Senator Fawzia Arshad, Senator Ejaz Ahmed Chaudhary, Senator Mehtab Hussain Dahar, Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmed, Senator Molvi Faiz Muhammad, Senator Mushtaq Ahmed Khan and Senior officers of the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, National Heritage and Culture and HEC.
The meeting commenced with an overview of the implementation status of recommendations made by the Committee during which performance of 91 universities were discussed in detail. While deliberating over the list presented by the HEC, the Committee showed deep concern over low performance of 32 universities that included major seats of learning in the country such as the Liaquat Univeristy of Medical and Health Sciences, Jamshoro, Quaid-i-Azam University, University of Karachi, University of Peshawar, Government College University, Lahore, International Islamic University and the National College of Arts, Lahore. It was asserted that HEC must take note of the issues contributing to low performance of these institutions and devise a plan to address the issues faced by them. Chairman Committee, Senator Irfan-ul-Haq Siddiqui was of the view that despite allocation of humungous funds it was disconcerting to see such prestigious institutions lacking verve and the enthusiasm to make a mark on the educational landscape locally and abroad. He added that HEC must probe the matter in greater detail and investigate the causes for this. He added that solutions must be sought to address this issue minutely so that these prestigious seats of learning may be restored to their past glory.
The Committee while discussing details of research institutions and their publishing criteria in journals constituted a sub-Committee for a forensic audit of the research departments of five major universities namely the Quaid-i-Azam University, the Punjab University, the Peshawar University, the Karachi University and the Balochistan University. A report on the subject will be submitted to the Committee within 15 days. It was asserted that with the declining state of educational institutions in the country it was imperative that a keen eye be kept on the criteria of publication of articles in major journals so that merit prevails and Pakistan makes a mark on the international educational scene.
The Committee, while being briefed on the functions and performance of Private Education Institutions Regulatory Authority (PIERA) lauded the performance of the organization. It was asserted that the dedication through which the Authority was focussing on low funded schools in remote areas is commendable and is the first step towards spreading a network of high performing educational institutions across the country. Members of the Committee asserted that the key to a sound educational system is the teacher and all out efforts must be made to ensure that s/he is well trained.
The Committee heard the grievances presented by the Publishers Association of Pakistan in relation to a single national curriculum. It directed the Association to submit its complaints in writing to the Committee for further redressal.