Shocked by the government’s inadvisable intention of devolving the HEC, the USAID has refused to release the promised financial assistance of $250 million followed by the World Bank that has also suspended soft loans to the tune of $300 million. This should be taken as a timely warning not to go ahead with devolution which seems to be in retaliation to the commission’s uncompromising stand on the scrutiny of the degrees of the parliamentarians.
There is no disputing Chairman Dr Javaid Laghari’s contention made to Federal Minister for Inter Provincial Coordination Mian Raza Rabbani the other day that since the HEC is regulated by certain provisions of the federal legislative list, there is simply no point in devolving it under the 18th amendment. He got it right that as a result of the dissolution of the HEC, the country would lag behind in education for 10 years. However, he is not the only person who is showing his concern; there has been a barrage of criticism by the country’s leading educationists on the disaster that will ensue in academia as a result of the commission’s devolution. There is unanimous agreement that HEC has been able to make impressive strides and indeed has accomplished feats in the field of education as never before in the history of the country. An example worth mentioning is the quality of research papers and other scientific publications that have been produced by the HEC funded scholars. It is a matter of pride that these have been acknowledged by prestigious universities abroad. Several Pakistani universities as a result of financial support from the commission have therefore improved their global rankings and have even started attracting international students. There is little doubt that with the HEC’s dissolution, this trend will go into reverse.
Meanwhile, the future of 4000 PhD scholars enrolled in various universities abroad has also been put into jeopardy, as their funding has been frozen. It would be a cruel joke to leave these students in the lurch. The government must reconsider its decision. It has no right to play havoc with higher education under the pretext of 18th amendment.