In the name of reforms for the education system of
our beloved country, such drastic changes are being initiated that
are of basic nature and tantamount to changing the public sector
of education that runs in public interest, to profit oriented
private sector. These far-reaching changes have been made without
consulting the stake- holders and without discussing their merits
The issue involved is political and economic and is not that of
administration of education, as it is given out to be. It hinges
on the answer to the question that besides the elite class of
Pakistan any other class, specially middle and lower class
children are to be provided with a basic need like education, or
they are to be deprived of even that. Whatever name may be given
to it, public-private partnership, reforms, or inefficiency of the
public-sector-system, the real question is: is it not the duty of
the state to establish an education system that provides education
to the poor, middle and lower classes children? Though its quality
of education may not be equated with that of LUMS, Agha Khan
University, Chief's College or Grammar Schools. If the military
government is bent upon usurping the fundamental rights of people
through the ruse of Autonomy, Self-support and the poisonous pills
of so called Reforms, then the tax-paying citizens too have the
right to defend and protect their rights.
The teachers, students and doctors, by utilizing their
constitutional right, have been protesting against the government
policies for the last six months, as these are detrimental to
public interest. During this period the rulers perpetrated extreme
state-repression in the form of lathi-charges and imprisonment.
The lady teachers were dragged on roads by clutching their hair.
Tear gas shells were fired. Teachers were dismissed from service.
To suppress the movement, every third rate method was used that
can not be imagined in a democratic welfare or Islamic state.
Serious kinds of cases were framed without any justification.
Unlike other movements in the history of this country, this
organized and peaceful protest movement, run to safeguard public
interest and in which thousands of people participated, did not
damage public property---not a bit. The only crime of the
teachers, students and doctors is that they demand that the
government should do its duty according to the articles 37 and 38
of the constitution and provide the citizens less costly education
and health services. The government seems hell bent on shaking off
this basic and constitutional duty and thus deprive 95% of
population of its right to cheap education and health.
It is the basic and essential duty of the state to provide its
citizens with reasonable education and health services and it is
also an inalienable right of the citizen. The article 37 and 38 of
the constitution directs the state unequivocally:
Article 37-B, Annex-1
"Remove illiteracy and provide free and compulsory education
within minimum possible period."
"Make technical and professional education generally available and
higher education generally accessible to all on the basis of
"Provide basic necessities of life, such as food, clothing,
housing, education and medical relief for all such citizens,
irrespective of sex, caste, creed or race, as are permanently or
temporarily unable to earn their livelihood on account of
infirmity, sickness or unemployment."
In 1998, a World Bank report, in its paragraphs no.128, 130, 132,
the government of Pakistan was pressurized for certain economic
changes and it was called to grant "Autonomy" to some prestigious
colleges so that they may serve as models for corporate management
in education. Under this pressure the government of Punjab granted
autonomy to three colleges, namely, the Government College,
Lahore, the Government College, Faisalabad, and Government Lahore
College, for Women, Lahore and decided to establish boards of
governors in them. The bureaucracy dug out an ordinance of 1960
from the attic room of its record. This ordinance was promulgated
for the army training institutions like Govt. Cadet College, Hasan
Abdal, Lawrence College, Ghora Gali, and Govt. Cadet College,
Kohat. This ordinance was implemented in the above mentioned three
institutions in 1960 and 1962. And according to this very
ordinance of 1960, aforementioned three civilian colleges were
granted partial autonomy and their boards of governors were
constituted. It is interesting to note that this ordinance has
nothing to do with the improvement of the standard of education.
It was issued for some government colleges, (As is apparent from
its implementation in 1960 and 1962 in military type cadet
colleges) during Ayub Khan's Martial Law. This ordinance was
neither for all government colleges nor was it a part of some well
considered and thought out policy. Its objectives are quite clear
from its preamble. It says:
"Whereas it is expedient to establish boards of governors for some
government educational and training institutions in the Punjab for
the efficient management and control thereof."
In the beginning this ordinance was made for West Pakistan. After
the break of One Unit two cadet colleges remained under its
purview while the Cadet College Kohat went under the control of
NWFP. After the laps of 40 years, sudden impositions of this
ordinance on all the government (civilian) colleges of Punjab is
unwarranted and uncalled for. There is not a single sentence about
curriculum in it.
Later the Punjab Assembly, through two acts also granted
degree-awarding status to Government College Lahore and Government
Lahore College, for Women, Lahore. In 1997 four more educational
institutions, Govt. Kinnaird College for Women, Lahore, Govt.
Queen Mary College for Women, Lahore, Govt. Fatima Jinnah College,
for women, Choona Mandi, Lahore and Govt. College, Kahuta,
Rawalpindi were given partial autonomy. Thus these five colleges
are being run under partial autonomy. Under this very ordinance of
1960, the government of Punjab declared autonomy for twelve more
colleges and one school in Faisalabad and established boards of
governors for them.
The question is, are we to frame our policies keeping public
interest in view or the dictates of IMF/World Bank? The people pay
taxes to the government out of their hard -earned income so that
the government may provide them some facilities. All welfare
states, particularly an Islamic welfare state is morally bound to
provide affordable education and health services to it citizens.
In order to provide education and cure cheaply to its citizens the
state spends part of the accumulated tax-money on health and
education for the welfare of the people and strengthening of the
state. If the government declines to spend this small amount on
these sectors then 95 % of people will be deprived of their right
to health and education. The future of the present as well as the
coming generations will be darkened. By establishing boards of
governors in the colleges in the name of autonomization. The
government of Punjab is handing over national assets of billions
of rupees to some unscrupulous money -changers that will
ultimately lead to privatization of educational institutions.
Autonomy or Privatization(BOG)
According to the governmental stance, its object is to grant
autonomy to educational institutions by establishing boards of
governors, so that they generate their own financial resources and
free the government of its financial responsibilities. It will
also help in raising the standard of education. While the
teachers, students and the masses consider it to be privatization.
Let us examine the ordinance of 1960 and see if it would serve
public interest and could be instrumental in enhancing the
standard of education. According to section No.8-A of the
ordinance of 1960 the board of governors will have the power:
a) To acquire and dispose off property and generally to enter into
contracts, in confirmity with the purposes of this ordinance.
b) Recruitment and determination of the terms and conditions of
the principal and the other members of the staff of the
institutions and of the other officers and servants of the board.
f) To frame, subject to the approval of the government,
regulations for the conduct of the business of the board
It is very likely that the powers given to the boards of governors
will create more problems than resolve them.
1.. The national property will be bungled, misappropriated and
2.. The powers to determine service conditions will encourage
political interference in the educational institutions.
3.. The powers to frame rules and regulations will facilitate
4.. The powers to enhance fee will increase financial burden on
the poor population and the commoners will be deprived of the
right to education.
5.. According to section 9, as long as a board of governors does
not recruit personnel for its institution, it will have the power
to keep the employees of the Punjab government, and can hand the
services of these employees over to Punjab government as and when
it deems proper. This will create uncertainty amongst the
employees and distract them from their work.
The recruitment of the staff and other officers under present
arrangement is done through Public Service Commission. The
criteria is nothing but merit. The candidates have to compete and
only the best are selected. The recruitment under the board is not
going to be fair, objective and on merit. It will encourage
nepotism and education will become a handmaid of the local
As is proclaimed that the BOGs will be authorized to introduce the
curricula of their own choice. This will add to the already
prevalent divisive tendencies. We are a multi-ethnic,
multi-lingual, people. We are in the process of nation building.
This will compromise whatever uniformity we have at present.
The experiment of the board of governors has been tried before
also. It had failed. In an institution of grand historical
background, namely, the Govt. College, Lahore and the Govt. Lahore
College for Women, Lahore and the Govt. College, Faisalabad the
boards of governors were established in 1989. Before the boards of
governors the academic standard of all the three institutions was
laudable and exemplary. Nine years after autonomy, 1998, the
governor of Punjab, constituted a committee, consisting of four
renowned academicians, who's terms of reference were to assess
Government College, Lahore's development, academic betterment and
success under the new arrangement and determine whether the
institution had achieved the objective for which it was made
autonomous. A brief summary of report of the committee is given
Exorbitant increase in fee, fines and various kinds of funds, have
made education in Govt. College, Lahore almost impossible for the
deserving and the poor students. Any further increase in expanses
will tantamount to closing the gates of this institution for the
poor and intelligent students. The real object for which the World
Bank was insistent to make some institutions self-supporting was
to rid the budget of the expenses on education. This objective
caused the increase in fee from 15 to 20 times. In spite of it the
government grant to the college was increased twice. The object
was not fulfilled.
After this report the government should have desisted from
repeating this failed experiment but in 2002 by establishing
boards of governors in 13 colleges of Faisalabad, it repeated the
same failed experiment. It nominated some notorious money-changers
as members of the boards. Some of them had been the members of the
BOG of Government College, Faisalabad, and had not contributed a
penny but instead became the source of political intervention.
In Govt. College, Faisalabad, though the fee increased four times
yet the standard of education and the level of merit deteriorated.
The institution that was preferred by the students for admission,
now can not fill its seats even by lowering its merit. Hundreds of
seats remain vacant.
Exorbitant increase in Govt. Lahore College for Women, Lahore and
Govt. Kinnaird College for Women, Lahore, has debarred the poor
and middle class girls from taking admission in these
institutions. After five years of autonomy of Govt. Fatima Jinnah
College for Women, Choona Mandi, Lahore, neither its standard of
education nor merit has improved. While in the same area the
standard of education and the level of merit of the Govt. Aisha
Degree College for Women, Timber Market, Lahore is far higher,
though it has not been 'honoured' with the establishment of the
board of governors.
The Establishment of the New Universities.
The establishment of the universities is a serious matter. Serious
thinking and planning by experts and academicians is needed prior
to sanctioning a degree-awarding status to an institution. Lest it
becomes a laughing stock if its degrees are spurned as phoney.
Without highly qualified staff, better service conditions,
laboratories of high standard, well provided libraries and
research centers, declaring a college to be a university by a
military command is not a reasonable proposition. The colleges
that have been declared to be universities do not fulfil the
above- mentioned standard. They have neither the highly qualified
staff nor better service conditions, standard laboratories,
libraries and research centers.
Govt. College University, Faisalabad, and Govt. College
University, Sargodha, three months prior to their newly acquired
status of the university were refused affiliation with Punjab
University by the PU Affiliation Committee for Masters in Punjabi
and Economics. The committee observed that since highly qualified
staff and the library facilities for the subjects was not
available so the affiliation could not be granted. Thus both the
colleges were refused affiliation. But the Punjab government has
granted them the degree-awarding status by declaring them
universities. Is it not a very cruel joke? Will not the
credibility of their degrees be questioned?
On one hand the government takes the position that degrees of
public universities including the Punjab University are not
accepted abroad on the other it has resorted to declaring those
colleges universities who were refused affiliation for post
graduate courses as the they lacked the infrastructure for this
purpose. If for argument's sake, we accept the argument of the
government, then, if the degrees of the oldest and biggest
university of the country are not accepted abroad then how could
the degrees of those college-universities that were refused
affiliation three months ago, be accepted? Would it be proper to
give them university status while they do not have qualified
staff, laboratories, libraries and research centers etc? Would
their degrees have any credibility? Will their degree holders be
able to win good jobs even within the country? Would they be able
to compete with candidates against credible degree-holders?
Without the provision of requisite facilities for universities, to
grant three colleges the status of universities and allow them to
award degrees is the negation of government's own stand.
The government of Punjab, in order to patronize a favourite
individual, declared DSD( Directorate of Staff Development, an
institution that provides training to teachers from primary to
college level), was awarded university status. Sixteen education
colleges and thirty-six elementary schools were made part of it.
The peculiarity of the Education University is that it has been
established, but its charter has not been issued. Till now the
purpose of its establishment has not been expressed. Forty- two
institutions have been extricated from the public sector and made
part of this so- called university. According to a recent press
report the government has recanted and declared that these
forty-two institutions would be affiliated to the university and
not be constituent institutions as was notified earlier.
There is no example, anywhere in the world, of establishing a
university for one subject. Besides it, in the PTC level
institutions, B.Ed courses have been started without requisite
staff and facilities, The fee, in these institutions have been
increased exorbitantly. The staff of these forty-two institutions
will be at the mercy of the vice-chancellor. The university will
recruit its own staff and till then, for the interim period, the
vice-chancellor will allow the employees of the government of
Punjab to function according to his whims and will have the powers
to hand their services over to the government as and when he
Some days ago, the Education University announced to initiate Ph.D
in all the subjects. All the students who applied for admission
were granted admission. The ludicrous thing is that the Education
University has neither the staff for any subject nor libraries,
laboratories, research centers etc. According to the university's
announcement the duration for Ph.D would be two years but for
exacting heavy fee the duration was increased to four years. The
candidates were told that they should search for their own guide,
libraries and laboratories etc. Later it was announced that the
science degree would be theoretical so that the laboratory would
not be needed. The candidate was allowed to choose a guide from
any subject if he intends to do his Ph.D in English. This happened
in the Govt. College of Education, Lower Mall Road Lahore. Nadeem
Aziz who is a candidate for Ph.D in English chose Dr. Asif Iqbal
as his guide, who is a Ph.D in Philosophy, . The university has
allowed this arrangement. More examples can be quoted where the
guide's subject and the aspirant candidate's subject are not the
same. The candidates have been asked that they should deposit
their theses after the completion of specified time and if they
have paid their fee they will be 'bestowed' with the Ph.D degree.
Thus the relationship of the university and the student will be
confined to payment of fee and receiving a piece of paper
Recruitment on Contract.
Recruitment on contract is poisonous for the educational system.
In an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty the process of learning
and teaching can not go on smoothly. The experience of ad-hoc
lecturers is with us. The recruitment on contract opens the way
for exploitation and above all the experiment of recruitment on
the basis of contract for grade18 and 19 has failed miserably. So
it is a must that in educational institutions recruitment be made
on permanent basis and not on contract.
Ours is a poor country. More than 40% of our population lives
below poverty line. It is difficult for them to make both ends
meet. Often one earning member has to feed many. The nation as a
whole can get out of this abyss of destitution only through
education. We request the Commission to prepare its
recommendations keeping the economic plight of our masses in view.
It is not a problem of some teachers, students and doctors. It is
the problem of coming generations. We hope that the Commission
will prepare its recommendations in the national interest and earn
good wishes of Pakistani nation.
Raja Mahboob Hussain
Joint Action Committee Pakistan