HEC gets degree-verifying status back
Islamabad, May 16: The blame game between the Ministry of Education and Training (MET) and Higher Education Commission (HEC) has finally come to an end.
The caretaker Minister of Education and Training Sania Nishtar told the HEC chairman on Wednesday that her ministry respected the autonomy of the commission, an initiative which was appreciated by the chairman.
She made a telephone call to the HEC Chairman and assured him that the commission would continue verifying degrees and that the ministry would not interfere in this regard.
The recent dispute between the ministry and the commission arose after the issuance of a notification by the government on May 9.
According to the notification, standards of higher education and external examination including equivalence of degree and diploma had been transferred to newly established Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination (MNHSRC).
Besides, Ministry of National Health Services was instructed to get all the relevant record transferred from the HEC to its office.
She then sent an Email to chairman HEC which said that there was misunderstanding due to an inadvertent lack of clarity in the notification.
On the other hand, former HEC chairman, Dr Atta-ur-Rahman has decided to move Supreme Court for the commission's autonomy, Dawn has learnt.
An officer of HEC requesting not to be identified said because of the previous experiences the HEC took that notification seriously.
He said HEC Chairman Dr Javaid R. Laghari, written a letter to Prime Minister Justice (R) Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, on May 13, stating that notification was against the rules and also contempt of court.
The official said although the government had established the HEC as an autonomous organisation, three futile attempts had been made since 2010 to bring the HEC under a ministry. Supreme Court and Sindh High Court had come to the rescue of the HEC, he added.
The minister in the email said: "To give you a background, the
caretaker government decided to consolidate health functions at the
federal level under a unified division and renamed the National Services
Regulations Division (NRS) as the National Health
Services, Regulations and Coordination Division (NHSRCD) on May 3.
"When the division was renamed, it was noted that there were three businesses under the new NHSRCD, which did not belong to health and therefore they were moved out from this ministry.
"These included film censor board, external examination and equivalence of degrees, and commission for standards of higher
"The censor board was given under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division and the latter two businesses were moved from NHSRCD to the education ministry," she said.
"Since the mandate of 'higher education' and 'degree equivalence' is already with the HEC, and HEC is presently attached to the Ministry of Education, there is no change in the status. Let me reiterate that we respect HEC's autonomous status," she said.
While talking to Dawn, Ms Sania Nishtar said that she made a phone call to chairman HEC and said that HEC would continue
verifying degrees and its autonomy would not be disturbed.
Dr Atta-ur-Rahman told Dawn that he respected the intention of the minister for education but the fact was that the Cabinet Division had approved to hand over the department of degree verification to MNHSRC so she (minister) could not do anything about it. Dawn
Dr Atta urges suo moto by SC on HEC issue
Islamabad: Expressing grave concern over caretaker government's shocking move to withdraw degree verification powers from the Higher Education Commission (HEC), noted scholar and founding former Chairman of the Commission Professor Attaur Rahman has appealed to the Supreme Court to take suo moto notice of the issue
In his application to the chief justice of Pakistan, a copy of which is available with The News, the former HEC chairman maintained that the caretaker government's notification is not only a violation of the Supreme Court orders but also against the provisions of HEC Ordinance 2002.
The noted scholar urged the apex court to revoke the government notification and all such orders and communiqués of the ministries and divisions that interfere with the autonomy and functioning of HEC in a manner other than prescribed by the Supreme Court. He also called for action against those responsible for defying the apex court orders.
The former minister said the move is aimed at stopping the HEC from verifying degrees of politicians as the commission had exposed dozens of fake degree holders in the former Parliament. "Misinterpreted and unwarranted rearrangement has been added to the prevailing uncertainty and perplexity looming over this premium and proven public sector organization," he said.
The Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination issued an office memorandum (OM) on May 9 regarding transfer of degree verification function from the HEC to the ministry and creation of another body named Commission for Standards of Higher Education.
According to Dr Rehman, the caretaker government's move was in violation of a Supreme Court order dated April 12, 2011, which says that HEC's functions could not be allocated to another organisation until a fresh legislation is promulgated.The apex court has also declared that HEC is the only body in the country which can verify the veracity of educational degrees.
Apparently unhappy with the HEC for exposing fake degree holders in Parliament, the former government of Pakistan People's Party had also tried to clip the HEC's wing by a similar move, but the same was challenged in the Supreme Court.
The apex court in its order dated April 12, 2011 under CP Nos 33-35 of 2011 directed that "HEC shall continue discharging its functions and duties as it has been doing in the past unless and until a fresh legislation is promulgated". But the caretaker government has ignored this clear order and modified HEC's functions without any amendment moved in Parliament.
In his application, Attaur Rahman said the OM issued by the government regarding HEC's autonomy is clearly in conflict with the section 10 (o) of HEC ordinance which explicitly says that the function of determining the equivalence and recognition of degrees, diplomas and certificates awarded by institutions within the country and abroad to the HEC.
The Government of Pakistan established the Higher Education Commission in 2002 as an autonomous organisation under Ordinance No LIII of 2002. Under the ordinance, the prime minister is controlling Authority of HEC and the Commission's chairman has the status of a federal minister.
In view of its self-governing status, it is neither an attached department nor a subordinate office of any ministry or division. The previous attempts by the government to undermine HEC autonomy had been strongly opposed by vice chancellors and faculty associations of various universities throughout the country. The news
AIOU schedules exams from 22nd
Islamabad: Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) has scheduled the final exams for PGD, MA and M Sc level programmes for the semester Autumn, 2012 which will start from Wednesday May 22 across the country simultaneously.
The schedule was announced by Controller exams Dr Hamid Khan Niazi. The Roll no. slips, he said, have already been sent to all the enrolled students. The students who have not received their roll no slips so far, are advised to contact the nearest regional office of the university or Deputy Controller exams Abid Hussain Satti.
For duplicate roll no slip students are required to bring two attested passport size photographs. Roll no slips along with date sheet have also been available on AIOU website for the convenience of students. All students are also advised to read the instructions mentioned on roll no. slip carefully before entering into the examination centre.
OUP event to promote reading habit
Karachi: The Oxford University Press (OUP), Pakistan, will organise a programme "Dosti Kitabon Sey" here on May 17.
An official of OUP Pakistan said here on Wednesday that the event is meant for youngsters in the age group of four to 10 years and aimed at promoting reading habit among the children.
The programme would be held from 4.30 pm to 6.00 pm at the Oxford Bookshop, Park Towers, in Clifton.
It includes story telling, book readings, story-building games, singing songs with stories and puppet shows. Daily times