Tag Archives: regions

HEC: Planning New Institutions

by Dr. Azhar A. Shah

When asked why almost all the federal universities are located in Islamabad and why there are thick clusters of public sector universities in the capital cities while other regions of each province have been deprived of both provincial or federal public universities; the beneficiaries of the centralized Higher Education Commission (HEC) claim that it is the fault of the politicians who are not interested in the education of their local people and that HEC has nothing to do with the location of the universities!

Can we ask these supporters of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to kindly read what HEC claims on its website:

“Since its inception, HEC has established about 31 new universities and more than 50 sub-campuses of the existing universities in public sector throughout the country. As a step forward, Planning and Development Division has prepared a map to get the clear view of geographical areas where there is a potential for new institutions.”

This said, the website continues:

“The Division is planning to identify the potential areas where new institutions for higher education can be developed. In this regard P&D Division is acquiring the discipline wise data of students appeared in higher secondary examination from all the education boards of the country from 2005 to 2009. On the basis of that data P&D division will identify the potential areas where new institution may be developed.”

(http://www.hec.gov.pk/InsideHEC/Divisions/FPD/Pages/GoalsObjectives.aspx)

One really wonders which statistics and criteria did HEC use for the establishment of its 30 universities and 50 sub campuses? How much expenses were incurred on each university/campus? Will it be possible for HEC to make the list of these new universities along with their expenditures available on its website? This list is essential to see where the returning thousands of PhDs will be inducted in!

From what we can see on its website, we can observe the severe failure of central planning and development that is being advocated by Prof Attaur-Rahman and others. It has made over-provision of higher education services to the a few big cities, ignoring the bulk areas/ regions of our country. Universities are the agents of social change and we should have at least one comprehensive public sector university in each city/ town so that the development, the change, gets shared homogeneous across the regions and across the country!

PS: Please compare the central planning of Pakistani much acclaimed Higher Education Commission (HEC) with that of Indian UGC to see how Indian central universities are dispersed throughout the country (http://www.ugc.ac.in/inside/centraluni.html).

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, April 15, 2011.

BELGIUM and THE QUESTION OF IDENTITY

By: Abdul Khalique Junejo.

Holding of general elections and subsequent formation of government, some times coalitions, is just a routine matter and a normal course of life in the countries of Western Europe. But not so in the case of Belgium, the country considered and called to be the ‘Capital of Europe’ since it provides headquarters for European Union and the NATO. The recently held general elections in this tiny country of about 10 millions people made bigger and eye-catching head-lines in the world media; not for any ‘Landside Victory’ but because of a split mandate, a mandate that threatens to split the country. For example the news paper carried the headlines; “Separatists claim victory in Belgian election”. These developments have generated extraordinary interest in this part of the world as many regions /peoples here are encountering the problems of similar nature.

Belgium, being situated between France and Holland, is a bi-lingual country comprising the French-speaking Wallonia people and Flemish-speaking Flanders. For many years the emphasis on the linguistic identity has been on the rise and recently quite vociferous voices have been heard for the dissolution of Belgium and creation of a separate country for the Flemish-speaking people of Dutch origin. New Flemish Alliance, the party advocating for separate country, has emerged as the largest party, not only among the Flanders but in the country as a whole. This has given an exceeding impetus to the demands for the parting of ways between the Flanders and the Wallonia.

Pakistan was created by conjoining of different peoples with their own distinct identity based on history, language and culture. After creation of the new country, these peoples (Bengalis, Sindhis, Balochs etc) started demanding recognition of their identity and asking for the promotion of their culture and language. In response the state-organs used the force of gun and the state-intellectuals used the force of pen to suppress such demands and, instead, promote and impose ‘single identity, single language and single culture’. This ‘strategy’ created strong reaction which manifested itself in the shape of mass movements for the ‘restoration’ of different identities.

One of these movements, Bengali, culminated in the ‘split’ of Pakistan and creation of a new country. Bangladesh while Sindhi and Baloch movements are getting fiercer by the time.

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