Sindh should follow Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s example and announce formation of Sindh HEC

By Khalid Hashmani

It is time for the Government of Sindh to immediately announce creation of a Higher Education Commission of Sindh (HECS) and appoint a suitable person to head the HECS. Too much time has already been wasted in trying to protect an institution that has failed Sindh, Balochistan and the rest of country. Any hesitation on the part of the remaining provinces to form their higher education bodies will simply prolong the delay in the implementation of 18th Amendment. The current managers of HEC should stop their delaying tactics and work for an orderly devolution of HEC in the larger interest of the country before people of small provinces loose their trust and hopes in the democratic process that allows vested interests to sabotage duly passed constitutional amendments. If the centralization of HEC is maintained, history will record it a violation similar to the tyrannical actions of General Zia-ul-Haq and General Musharraf who violated the constitution so violently.

Going through some of the material on the devolution of HEC, it is shocking to see the extent of miss-use and miss-allocation of 800 billion rupees in the last nine years of the existence of HEC (2002 to 2011). In an article by Professor Mohammad Waseem of LUMS in today’ Dawn (http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/23/hec-at-a-crossroads.html) says “Scholarships have been doled out in plenty. It was not uncommon to see winners of HEC scholarships perform badly in the interview for admission in a university department.” The professor goes on to mention how universities have been pressured by HEC to give prior appointments to HEC scholarship holders.It is an utter disappointment to see how a  pseudo “open merit criteria” being used to siphon away the fair and equitable share of a common asset from Sindhis and in particular from rural Sindhis. Almost one billion dollar (80 billion rupees) were looted through the tool of HEC. Someone said that selection was based on GRE scores. HEC’s own document http://www.hec.gov.pk/InsideHEC/Divisions/HRD/Scholarships/ForeignScholarships/ISSIP/Pages/results_16_meeting.aspx contains a list of recently approved scholarship candidates and asks the candidates to send their signed “Scholarship Acceptance letter” by November 13, 2010. For almost 70% of candidates, the document states the condition that those candidates must pass Qualify GRE (international subject) or GAT Subject test within next two months.” My question is where did they get their GRE marks, which is stated to be a pre-requisite for scholarship to be selected? I doubt these folks even had confirmed admissions without GRE scores.
It is obvious that some leaders of HEC who are vigrously fighting to protect proponenents HEC centralization are receiving dishonest briefings from HEC staff. These briefings are full of lies aimed at selling their case of un-devolution of HEC to Sindhis and international organizations. Just imagine the impact of such false statements can have on others who not familiar with how centralization works in Pakistan. The same document gives a list of scholarship recipients containing names, the schools they are going to attend and conditions still to be met. Let me summarize the shocking findings from this one single document:

Approved Candidates – Agriculture & Veterinary Sciences
Total selected: 19
Agriculture University Faisalabad (13)
University Of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore (2)
Quaid-i-azam university Islamabad (2)
Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences Islamabad (PIEAS) (2)

Approved Candidates – Biological & Medical SciencesTotal selected: 18
Agriculture University Faisalabad (9)
University Of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore (1)
University of the Punjab Lahore (2)
Quaid-i-azam university Islamabad (6)

Approved Candidates – Physical Sciences
Total selected: 14
University of Peshawar (4)
Quaid-i-azam university Islamabad (9)
The Islamia University of Bahawalpur (1)

Approved Candidates – Engineering
Total selected: 6
University of the Punjab Lahore  (1)
University of Engineering and Technology Taxila (1)Agriculture University Faisalabad (1)
Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences Islamabad (PIEAS) (3)

Approved Candidates – Social Science
Total selected: 4
University of the Punjab Lahore  (1)
Bahauddin Zakariya University (1)

University of Karachi (1)
University of Peshawar (1

Another claim was made on this forum that almost all of the successful candidates who get HEC scholarships go to the world’s top universities such as Harvard, Cornell, and Oxford. Of the sixty one (61) candidates listed in the above referenced document, only 4-5 scholarship receivers were listed as going to such top schools and the rest of fifty six (56) or so went to universities such as Washington State University, North Carolina State University, USA, University of Miami, University of Kentucky, Lexington, University of Cincinnati, University Of Hull, Kyung HEE University, University of Calgary, Rutgers University, USA, University of Reading London, University Of Minnesota, RRI (Philippine), etc.
Now let us look at the province-wide statistics of number of new universities that were increased after HEC (I believe this table was created by SaeeN Dr. Azhar Shah using data from the following two sourc

Source1: Before HEC: http://www.hec.gov.pk/MediaPublication/HECPublication/Documents/Task Force on Improvement of Higher Education in Pakistan – Report.pdf

Source 2: After HEC: http://app.hec.gov.pk/UniversityFinal2/RegionUniversity.aspx

  1. Please compare the increase in the number of public sector universities in Islamabad and Punjab with that of Sindh!
Area

Before HEC

After HEC

Azad Jammu and Kashmir

1

2

Balochistan

2

6

Islambad

8

14

NWFP

8

13

Punjab

12

21

Sindh

10

13

Now let us look at the track of dishonesty by the past HEC officials through the following example:

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Regional/Islamabad/31-May-2010/Irregularities-unearthed-in-HEC-process-of-recruitment

According the reports several irregularities in the process of recruitment and awarding scholarships to students in Higher Education Commission (HEC). The report also says  “salaries worth of million of rupees were paid to 10 employees including Executive Director of HEC, Dr. Sohail Naqvi without getting the approval of their appointment on special scale. ” On Scholarship irregularities, the report says “scholarships were awarded on the basis of favoritism. The commission also spent million of rupees on the foreign visits of high officials of the commission.”

The more we drill down into actual facts, more we find the unparalleled rein of tyranny that was bestowed on Sindhis and Baloch in the areas for which HEC was responsible. It seems certain that even in South Africa during the days of discrimination and inequality, that country would have done that much cruelty to blacks in the context of scholarships.

The writer is human rights activist and engaged in advocacy activities on behalf of rural Sindhis.

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, April 23, 2011

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