Should the HEC live or die?

Published: April 7, 2011

The author teaches physics at LUMS and Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) stands on death row. Appeals for reprieve have been rejected by the commission responsible for implementation of the Eighteenth Amendment. That commission’s chairman, Senator Mian Raza Rabbani, declared that “the HEC act will be revisited and reframed to shed its role as a centralised funding authority.” His logic is that this constitutional amendment requires devolution of several powers to the four provinces. Since education is among them, universities cannot be federally administered. Instead, a brand new commission is to be created under the cabinet division. Other HEC functions would be turned over to various ministries and provincial administrations.

At first glance, disbanding the HEC appears to be a good idea. Its record is less than stellar. From 2002 to 2008, its budget rose by an astounding seven times — a world record. But a good chunk was squandered on various delusional mega-projects that failed spectacularly. Then, although it led to serious degradation of quality, the HEC encouraged the number of universities to double, and then triple. The number of PhD students registered at various universities was also made to explode. When confronted by students and teachers who were unwilling to meet international standards, the HEC backtracked on its quality guidelines.

The maladministration of universities by the HEC makes for a long list. Hyper-inflated salaries, recommended by the HEC, have made higher education more expensive. A full tenure-track professor nowadays can make up to Rs325,000 per month, about 30 to 35 times a schoolteacher’s maximum salary. Many produce only junk research and have poor teaching ability. Even today, the HEC puts out spurious data that mislead the public into believing that there has been some sort of educational revolution.

One might also wish to support the government’s decision from a second angle. After all, self-administration by the provinces is to be welcomed as a general principle. It could be argued, for example, that if a province is now to be in charge of its mineral wealth then it should also run its own universities. But caution should take precedence over legalism and a desire for sweeping changes. The steps to be taken, of which dispensing with the HEC is one part, will have huge consequences for Pakistan’s universities. Therefore, instead of jumping to conclusions, one must take a sober look and discuss the pros and cons.

First, the HEC’s record is not entirely bleak. It sent students to overseas universities, attracted foreign faculty to teach in local universities, created digital library access and took some positive initiatives to encourage research. Although programme implementation was flawed, these represented some progress in a country where good news is preciously short. Moreover, a full balance sheet of the HEC’s good and bad deeds is not essential for answering the question posed in the title. Rather, one must ask: What will be the consequences of the proposed devolution? Will it improve or degrade Pakistan’s higher education system?

Although I have been strongly critical of the shenanigans of the former HEC leadership, in my opinion, the government is headed in the wrong direction. Instant dismemberment or serious disempowerment of the HEC is a recipe for producing chaos. Creating another bureaucracy or handing over the reins to existing provincial education bureaucracies, which are even more myopic and less competent than those at the federal centre, will negatively impact the quality of university education in Pakistan. This quality is already much lower compared to India, China or Iran.

The few checks and balances that currently exist, and which are actually enforced by the HEC, would disappear. Academic decisions would be made by those who have little understanding of how universities should function. This would push the system towards free fall. A wild policy zigzag is the last thing that Pakistan needs. Instead, a responsible and nuanced approach is needed. This means devolving surely, but slowly and carefully. Provincial administrations should be helped to build technical capacity so that they can be properly entrusted with key decisions, such as granting charters to new universities, university admission policies, etc. And while the HEC ought to be slowly downsized, some of its essential functions — such as quality control, foreign scholarships, and donor programmes — must be kept intact under federal control.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 8th, 2011.

Reader Comments (64)

  • Sara
    Apr 7, 2011 - 11:48PM

    Education is the SOUL of any Nation
    and Govt making jokes of it.

    If education become provincial matter, then hate, discrimination, will spread fastly.

    Politicians will use it for their own purpose, and it will ruine the nation.

    There must be Uniformity, and an institution like HEC.

    HEC: Good work of MUSHARRAF.Recommend

  • Apr 7, 2011 - 11:59PM

    if only total education expenditure between 2002 and 2008 had gone up by seven fold…sighRecommend

  • saleem
    Apr 8, 2011 - 12:04AM

    @Author: I love this “HEC should devolve surely by slowly and carefully.”Recommend

  • Awais Khan
    Apr 8, 2011 - 12:06AM

    This article is a very balanced and realistic analysis of HEC’s current situation. Dr.Sahib, keep on writing such realistic articlesRecommend

  • UAF
    Apr 8, 2011 - 12:36AM

    Dr. Sb. this article clearly shows your frustration for HEC(as a professsor) and PAEC (as a nuclear physics expert) as we know about you that you were desperatly seeking positions in these institutes but in vain. so you turned against dr. Atta (HEC) and very much critical about Pak’s Nuclear assets. How could you say that by increasing enrolment in Universities is a compromise to Quality education. HEC budget is still 0.12% of total GDP and maximum it touched upto 2%. I didnt understand your statement that its budge has been increased by 7 times from previous one. after all UGC was a waist. we dont care even HEC budget has increased upto 15 times because lot of international funding was attracted by on its own, by establishing its credibility, by introducing same and updated curriculum. I know million Rs project is running very successfully. Yes there was some loss, due to few bad projects. but research is’nt all about success. Scientists didnt know what will the result of CERN accelerator but they build it and they are unsuccesful till now to get clear result. yes HEC increased the number of universities because they know that the students from small areas also have a right to study and HEC is trying to build their capacities as well.

    For Phd in Pakistan, there is a criteria to go for examination of GRE (subject) and many universities didnt accept below 3.5 CGP, in europe they dont care about your CGP they only see your Research project.

    The high pays in education sector is for those who was already teaching and getting huge salaries in world’s renowned institutes and its a reverse brain drain. they dont bother they only know that whether its feasible to teach in Pakistan otherwise here we go.

    Come on Dr.sb dont write while sitting in Islamabad. I know how much my university has been changed after that fake UGC. Recommend

  • Saad Durrani
    Apr 8, 2011 - 1:32AM

    How elitist!Recommend

  • A Thinker
    Apr 8, 2011 - 2:22AM

    Dr Hoodboy your article is contradictory in its statements and its prime purpose seems to be to sensationalize news and create a sense of unease in people.

    The knowledge that you possess, is something you would be accountable for when you die. If you mislead people then you should be mindful of that which awaits you in the hereafter.Recommend

  • Dr. Ali
    Apr 8, 2011 - 2:24AM

    I have yet to read anything positive from Parvaiz Hoodbhoy about anything good that has happened in Pakistan. His logic is mostly flawled and his arguments are full of prejudice and lack substance. At the end of the day he is just a physics teacher and has contributed nothing for the betterment of Pakistan othan than his persistent whining about people who have a vision and have done something for this country..Recommend

  • Shahzad Hussain
    Apr 8, 2011 - 2:32AM

    I think HEC is more needed now then ever and wrapping it up in no time will not only create problems for higher education in a country where education is in dismal state but will also derail the process of promoting educational path that we as nation has just taken, I request the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan to kindly not let some silly decisions play with the future of this country by dissolving HEC but rather make it to work for quality education and improvement of university standards so that our future generation may produce Newtons and Einstiens.Recommend

  • Yggr
    Apr 8, 2011 - 3:11AM

    Agreed with UAF I have been hearing Dr. Pervez whining about HEC since the time it was created for no apparent reason, my personal opinion. Yes it NOT the perfect organization but is very much still the silver lining that give us hope. Recommend

  • Tariq
    Apr 8, 2011 - 3:17AM

    Written by this author.
    Will not read a single word as he is always a negative thinker and ……

    Don’t know what he thinks of himself… UnnnhRecommend

  • nayeem
    Apr 8, 2011 - 3:33AM

    yeah i trust professor ata ur rehman more than you. plz highlight ‘junk research’ nuclear wannbe.Recommend

  • Tauseef
    Apr 8, 2011 - 3:43AM

    If such a hard critic of HEC is not in favor of its instant devolution, then Mr Raza Rabbani and others should rethink the idea of a quicker devolution.Recommend

  • Raza Baloch
    Apr 8, 2011 - 4:10AM

    @UAF:
    What are your references that Dr. Hoodbhoy was craving for HEC or PAEC posts… If Dr. Rehman (with 100 maximum citations for one book) can head 5 mega organizations ( ministry of S&T, HEC, Pakistan academy of sciences, HEJ, COMSTECH) like his master Musharraf(Chief executive, Army chief, President) by flattery and fancy presentations why Dr Hoodbhoy can’t, check google scholar if u can’t access Thomsan scientific, compare him to Dr. Rehman then talk about principles of Dr. Rehman….Dr. Rehman was a clever & opportunist who used all dirty techniques to get foot in Mushrraf regime and at that time he didn’t bother about degrees(which were mandatory for that parliament) now he remembers principles…? See what he did for COMSTECH post…He will remain life time chairman of HEJ, COMSTECH and Pakistan academy of sciences and grabbing perks and priviliges of ministers, If one resist he ll do press conferences on prinicples and deliver lectures on ethics and morality….!
    http://forum.pakistanidefence.com/index.php?showtopic=74494

    @author: Brave, balanced, rational and to the point… Neither he benefited from previous leadership not in this structure Recommend

  • Haroon Rashid
    Apr 8, 2011 - 4:50AM

    SIR U WANT TO SAY THAT WE TRIED TO MAKE A MACHINE TO PERFORM A PARTICULAR TASK BUT THE EXPERIMENT DID NOT PRODUCE THE DESIRED RESULTS. AND U HAVE COME UP WITH THE SOLUTION TO MAKE 4 MORE MACHINES AND WAIT FOR THE RESULTS. WELL WHY NOT IMPROVE THE FIRST ONE??? Recommend

  • Ahmad
    Apr 8, 2011 - 4:59AM

    I am amazed … on one side of the argument you believe in “mislead’ or “ill-managed” projects by a “small” group of HEC administrators … and on the other you agree to hand over power to a “large” group of ill-trained, inexperienced, probably more susceptible to corruption, and biased on lingual & ethnic grounds.

    I am amazed …

    I would vote for continuation of HEC but yes with continuous rotation of “managers” … I know my people well and when I say it takes time to change them I know what I am saying … you may disagree but the picture presented here may come in next 25 or so years … but for the time being we need HEC in a controlled, centralized and less spoiled state … Recommend

  • Raqib Ali
    Apr 8, 2011 - 7:20AM

    Doctor Sb has been a severe critic of HEC in the past. I thought he will take revenge and support the decision. I am glad that he is a person of integrity. Thanks for supporting HEC. Recommend

  • Nadeem
    Apr 8, 2011 - 8:03AM

    @ UAF

    You wrote, “after all UGC was a waist”.

    I believe that you are a product of this HEC. Keeping in view that you would be spelling “Waste” as “Waist’, the commission which monitors the standard of education surely deserves to be dissolved. Recommend

  • Junaid Ahmed
    Apr 8, 2011 - 8:30AM

    Dr. Sb’s comments always seems to be coming from a frustrated persons. Whether before the establishment of HEC, the quality of education was better in Pakistan? I don’t think so. Recommend

  • Ali Turk
    Apr 8, 2011 - 9:00AM

    Few questions:

    Was HEC not aware post passing of 18th Amendment that this was going to happen?. and why were they sleeping

    Education is a provincial subjects.Provinces wanted autonomy and with autonomy comes responsibility.They need to raise their resources and fund education.

    Are the Governors of the provinces not the Chancellor of public universities?

    I agree with Dr Hoodbhoy, the quality of research being generated by Pakistan Universities is sub-par. The quality of education is plain and simple bad.Recommend

  • Zahid Hussain
    Apr 8, 2011 - 9:32AM

    @ Sara,
    I do not agree with your stance that it will create sort of hatred and discrimination among provinces if HEC is devolved, but hatred and descrimination is already existing in small provices and with devolution we can overcome it.
    I admit that provinces are not ready to take on this responsibility now, although solution is devolution.

    @UAF.
    Sir, whatever you have written about Dr. Pervaiz it is really shocking to me, since I am one of the fan of this gentleman, however please refrain from such personal comments rather you should have replied with logics as he has.Recommend

  • Apr 8, 2011 - 9:40AM

    @UAF:
    His claims are VALID. You are a part of the problem and wish the status quo of inferior education to continue as the rich get richer and the students get shafted….at best a Masters degree in Pakistan is worth an 8th graed education in the rest of the world. If you would take your blinders off you would see that is a FACT and the reason Pakistan is in the state it is. Keep it going….see what happens…..you really think that the HEC has done ANYTHING but create more beuracracy in a country laden with it?

    If HEC really cared the records would have been computerized from the beginning….it is not as if the technology and the money have not been there. The accountability of the HEC is ZERO and they like it that way. The corruption is pervasive and will not change if they are kept going. The HEC is a BUSINESS….pure and simple…and the “Universities are NOT about education, they are about MONEY and keeping the students happily comming back to keep paying for more substandard education”….I know this for a fact and have heard those EXACT words from the mouths of some VERY high up in education in Pakistani Universities.

    You are only fooling yourselves….the rest of the world knows the truth about Pakistan.Recommend

  • khurram kaleem
    Apr 8, 2011 - 9:46AM

    i think university education be a federal subject .province take care of primary education till college.Recommend

  • Adeel
    Apr 8, 2011 - 9:53AM

    Man…how could someone be so negative like Dr. Hoodbhoy…gentleman has issues with everything…Recommend

  • Abbottonian
    Apr 8, 2011 - 10:23AM

    @TightDhoti:
    Good wish……….. but cant you have a better ID :)Recommend

  • Haris Farooq
    Apr 8, 2011 - 10:26AM

    HEC should have never jumped into the fake degrees case, now they are paying a heavy price. We are counting 7 times increase in the HEC budget but forgetting the immense wastage on other so many institutions like Steel Mills, PIA and Pakistan Railways. Please let the HEC live, reform it if you think it is not 100% correct institution.Recommend

  • neel
    Apr 8, 2011 - 10:37AM

    a very balanced and realistic analysis by doctor shb as always. i do aggree with him that devolution of this autonomous body is needed for making the provinces self adminsitered under the decentralization and provincial autonomy process, but when it comes to an issue of education, the government needs to look into the capacity of the provinces if they are in a position to deliver. certain questions raised by different segments of the society are required to be answred before devolving it. the government needs to get feedback particulary from the educationists who would better guide them what road to be taken such that further choas can be prevented.Recommend

  • SaudiRules
    Apr 8, 2011 - 10:45AM

    @UAF..u sound more like someone from PAF :)
    As far as how much ur university has changed after UGC can be clearly deduced from ur statement that … I didnt understand your statement that its budge has been increased by 7 times from previous one. after all UGC was a waist. ur dam right! it was a giant 60 inches waist (waste) LOL!!Recommend

  • MUDASSAR SALIM
    Apr 8, 2011 - 10:46AM

    Great article doctor sahib…As always you made a lot of sense. HEC should not be killed like that rather it should be reformed and devolved slowly after careful planning and preparation.
    As far as the role of HEC is concerned, i agree with Dr. Pervez that it was a mixed bag. Dr. Ata really converted it into some kind of his own fiefdom with little care of quality. Universities mushroomed all over and dubious professors with little teaching ability and flair started getting huge salaries just because they have a Phd from any corner of the world. University education became a roaring business and many petty businessmen with little credibility jumped into the behti ganga.
    HEC was only concerned with numbers-thusands of new Phds and M.Phils in only five years..Is this what we wanted??? I know several teachers trying to get Phd degree from local universities so that they can get the promotion to next grade. Research is the last thing on their minds. Many so-called universities are available to cater to the needs of such desperate teachers…Just imagine that many local universities which should not have been allowed to run even a degree college are having hundreds of Phd students on their rolls. where was HEC quality controls when these universities were admitting these students from all over?
    Unfortunately we have become fond of artificial and bogus shortcuts to progress. In a country where primary education and even degree level education is in a mess, we are trying to have a culture of research and Phds at the top? HOW IS IT POSSIBLE. We need to understand the importance of basic level education and its prime role in producing a curious mind which is then can be converted into a good scholar at the university level. With abysmal physical conditions of work at the pimary level and an embarrassing level of salaries of teachers at primary and secondary levels, we can not expect a revolution in education in even decades to come. Yes we will have more gimmicks of people like Dr. Ata and like in future too where we would create more fake revolutions to progress.. Recommend

  • Apr 8, 2011 - 11:15AM

    @UAF : I think you did not get what is being said in the article. I will request you to analyze the piece carefully which I believe is extremely balanced and sounds like a plan rather than any knee jerk reaction. Hoodbhoy is a rare personality in this part of the world , and even if he is not correct every time , he has a great vision with noble and humane intentions.Recommend

  • Sajjad
    Apr 8, 2011 - 11:25AM

    I was really waiting for Pervez Hoodbouy opinion on this issue. As every one know that he has always been great critic of HEC but with this article he clearly express that we against the working or role of HEC but never against education. I strongly believe that Dr. Pervez critics on HEC and government action against HEC has nothing common as Dr. Pervez always critics for the betterment and improving quality of research and education but unfortunately it is and will be not the case with our illiterate, illvision and hypocrate leaders. They dont want any improvement they just meant their business. I really salute persons like Dr. Pervez who are always honest to this great nation and its people.Recommend

  • Nakamura
    Apr 8, 2011 - 11:37AM

    Dr. Sahib! You started very negative and then turned some what positive about HEC. I am surprised, I thought you would have done the other way around. Speaking of the HEC, it should not only continue but more resources should be dedicated to it. Not only this, without further delay, we should also make anational commission of undergraduate commision and assign it the responsibility to improve standard of undergraduate education. Look! What has happened to our under graduate education after 1971 when it was devolved to provinces? Actually quality of undergraduate, graduate and post graduate studies go hand in hand. So if you think HEC is not doing well, we can make it do well by providing it with better under graduates.
    Such strong federal institues, as HEC, are present every where in the world. Even in US, though universities are independent, fedral governemnt oversees a lot of things and award of federal grants ( e.g National Institue of Health) is done through a very tranparent mechanisim and no matter whether it is harvard or whether it is Umass, every institue respects and follows fedral laws and institues.Recommend

  • Rayyan
    Apr 8, 2011 - 11:46AM

    @A Thinker,
    Pervez Sahib doesn’t believe in the life hereafter. So he doesn’t care…..Recommend

  • well wisher
    Apr 8, 2011 - 1:30PM

    Dear All,

    Professor Atta-ur-rahman is great man but remember he is political man. He know how to lobby for his cause. He is very fond of praises and titles. His being great scientist can be judged from his low level or research papers. what he learnt at Cambridge he never applied here. There are far more great scientists who are silent contributors. Dr. Atta has placed his people around himself whom he gave great favour in life. Some were appointed on personnel basis. Very few people know his scientific reality.It was Musharaf who wanted change..he brought money and his part was honest toward education.

    Dr.Hoodbhoy is a honest man, His critics has been taken up by HEC although they oppose him on media.The week but positive aspect with Dr. Hoodbhoy’s personality is his non political approach toward education. He has his own idea and genuin opinion and should be accounted in decision makings.
    One very disastrous act of HEC is the epidemic of Ph.Ds.If anyone carefully look at the research papers its not more than trashs except few organisation where a handful of people are doing honest research.Recommend

  • shehzad
    Apr 8, 2011 - 1:37PM

    @Nadeem:
    At that level such personal kind of arguments are not appreciateable, language is only a tool for communicate your thinking. If you understand what he want to say than its OK. “Waist” OR “Waste” doesn’t matter. Critics are always welcome but plz adopt a positive way. Recommend

  • mmtahir
    Apr 8, 2011 - 1:56PM

    If currently it has shown some bad reputation somewhere, de-centralization/devolution will make it worse. It will be difficult to maintain uniform standards and quality education all over Pakistan. Difficulties in synchronizing with intarnational Universities. More difficult to act as an autonomouse body and more vulnurable to political influences.Recommend

  • Talib Haider
    Apr 8, 2011 - 2:40PM

    What I don’t understand is that why does Prof Hoodboy; an aged man, forget the times when he had to take HIS higher education? There was no HEC at that time, and guess what? If you managed to get into a university, you were among the few elite who had such liberty.

    If you take secondary or intermediate education as an example, the lack of federal control has literally destroyed the education system. And do I really need to mention as to who is in control of this education? Its not any federal institute, its the provinces who have destroyed education in this country. Even in the case of secondary and intermediate boards, the federal board offers the best brains.

    Dr. Hoodbhoy has a problem with the salaries of university professors while his own salary at LUMS, I’m sure is more than the figure he mentioned initially. If you are such an education lover and believe that the HEC is a complete waste, Mr Hoodbhoy, why don’t you teach at some public sector university instead of LUMS, where you would hardly get Rs. 100,000? …which btw is enough to feed 16 families who earn about Rs. 6000 a month.Recommend

  • The Patriot
    Apr 8, 2011 - 2:57PM

    Its a shame that you wrote this article sir , i have seen you thrashing every thing about Pakistan on tv be it our nuclear program, our religion and now higher education . People and families like you earn money by sending students abroad how on earth we can think you would want good Higher Education in this country ….
    I dont know why we give importance to people like him

    WHAT IS YOUR ACHIEVEMENT ????

    so all the institutes of country whose budget has gone up from 2000 to 2008 should be dissolved……

    Your personal budget must have also gone up in these years….

    Get a life Mr. Recommend

  • Mahdi Raza
    Apr 8, 2011 - 3:03PM

    @Talib Haider:
    Bhaiyya, Dr Hoodbhoy is in QAU Islamabad as permanat employee not in LUMS, Recommend

  • yar jan
    Apr 8, 2011 - 3:53PM

    If its the only job of HEC to trace out degree’s validity its so expensive !!!
    what its role if 76 lakh children are going without education?Recommend

  • Apr 8, 2011 - 3:56PM

    I generally don’t agree with the comments of Prof Hoodbhoy on HEC for years, but I think having another opinion balance out for the right direction, especially for prestigious institutes like HEC. On HEC devolution, his remarks are also extremely important, (and I was desperately waiting to hear from him) looking at the pro and cons of this decision. However, I find contradiction, in his opinion, the government is headed in the wrong direction, and than he said ‘devolving surely, but slowly and carefully’ and ‘some of its essential functions must be kept intact under federal control’.

    If this mean finding a mid way between the Government current stance and the people who are against HEC devolution, than I think he is still consistant with his thoughts that HEC is a useless organisation. While the people who want to see HEC in current format have different opinion.Recommend

  • Canzeon
    Apr 8, 2011 - 4:07PM

    Dr.Hoodbhoy merits kudos for his dispassionate and objective analysis. HEC is indeed a white elephant feeding the greed of the unscruplous elements among the country’s academecia. It should, instead, have fed the flame of the intellectual yearning of the students and teachers at large. Recommend

  • Talib Haider
    Apr 8, 2011 - 4:15PM

    @Mahdi Raza
    Sorry, for the earlier comment. It said in the begining:
    “The author teaches physics at LUMS and Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad”

    I’m still sure that Mr. Hoodbhoy earns more than Rs. 325,000/- a month. Be it a lecture at LUMS or any other gathering. His point about higher pays for university teachers is baseless. Recommend

  • Tariq
    Apr 8, 2011 - 4:59PM

    Corrupt leaders are united to destroy the Pakistan. But people of Pakistan are still fighting each other. It is the time we should wake up.Recommend

  • Abid Ali
    Apr 8, 2011 - 5:38PM

    Dr saheb. The only point that was attracting me to resign my position in a research institute and join a university in Pakistan was the higher pay Rs. 3,00,000 plus. I am getting almost double here but I thought let me go back and serve my country. But, if my country cannot pay me a handsome amount of money that could cater the needs of my family then let it be another brain drain. I will wait for the time when the Government will realize that it is important to get the brains of country back to Pakistan.

    Come on, Dr. saheb, be positive. Would you please let us know how much you are making in a month?Recommend

  • Mahdi Raza
    Apr 8, 2011 - 8:44PM

    @Talib Haider:
    And how much Dr. Rehman earns…? In Mushharraf tenure he was heading 5 mega organizations, Ministry of S&T, HEC, Pakistan academy of sciences, HEJ, COMSTECH (for which he was paid in dollars plz refer http://forum.pakistanidefence.com/index.php?showtopic=74494 ), beside being researcher and professor ..Is it morally justifiable..How much justice he could have done to any of 6 posts…Even now he is occupying 4 (Pakistan academy of sciences, HEJ, COMSTECH , professor in KU)…How do u know Dr. Hoodbhoy is getting more than 3 lakhs…Even if he what is wrong he is not sucking poor’s blood as well as giving lectures on principles, patriotism and honesty…?Recommend

  • Shamsher Ali
    Apr 8, 2011 - 8:59PM

    Dear Dr. Hoodbhoy
    Don’t bring your personal conflicts to national debate. You could have your reservations with Prof. Atta or his way to see the world but he has contributed. One should talk on the basis of contribution NOT one their LIP SERVICE. Including myself, I know more than 50 of my HEJ fellows who are working at MIT, NIH, Harvard, Oxford and Standford. We all came from the system you always condemn through your LIP SERVICE and never came up with a creative idea. I am a fresh man compared to you and your experience, go to my FB page and check out how many ideas I alone have put forward to change the narrative of this country’s education. Be positive and come up with something creative. With all due respect, how many Ph.Ds have you produced in your career? If you are mentioning of quality, lets start counting your contribution first. Who told you that all the Ph.Ds produced by MIT, Harvard, Oxford or Cambridge have the same level of creativity and have contributed at same level in their country’s progress? This is very obvious, in a class of 50-60 only few are outstanding and make their way to success that is visible to common. Many of them have to play their role in areas where they didn’t want to go. Why you expect that every single Ph.D. produced in Pakistani universities must be NOBLE prize winner, Ph.Ds are required for this country to progress, to make lives of others better with their knowledge not make only scientific discoveries.
    Once these Ph.Ds will make their way to Parliament, PM office, Presidency, leaders of the main stream political parties, picture of this country will be much much better than what it is today in the presence of LIP SERVERS

    Wahts wrong in it if a Prof. in a remote university of Gilgit or Quetta receives a check of few hundred thousands, s/he is serving in an area where you don’t bother to stay a day at least. Everywhere in the world governments offer attractive packages to educationists so that they could go and built the nation.

    Why do you expect a new born baby to behave like an adult? Your thoughts are pathetic, I have been a fan of you during my school days but after meeting you at Peshawar university back in 2000-2001 during CHEM CON-2001, your thoughts and dual nature forced me to change my mind.

    The most important thing yo have always been misleading the nation, aren’t you taking advantage of all these packages? Have you the courage to say no I am not going to take this offer as it is not fair and I don’t agree to what HEC has been doing? No, LIP SERVERS can’t do this. Any one including yourself have all the rights to object any of Prof. Atta or HEC’s policies’ but not being prejudiced and at the cost of nation’s progress. Prof. Atta is human and could have made wrongs in his life. HEC is baby institution at this day, lets forget our personal conflicts, lets work with a positive attitude, creative ideas and a mind set that how can we the people in universities could bring up role model institutions where Pakistani nation should look always for solutions to their problems before going to seek help from politicians and government

    With Best Regards

    Ali
    Harvard School of Public Health,
    665-Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA,
    USARecommend

  • rahim
    Apr 8, 2011 - 8:59PM

    This should be the attitude of a scholar as that of Pervez sb. but the reality is that the provincial govts. are unable to facilitate universities or to keep some standard(international standard in that case will only be an imagination)Recommend

  • Javed Malik
    Apr 8, 2011 - 9:07PM

    Dr. Hoodbhouy have no experience of conceiving and implementing educational reforms at the system level. A rationalist with a Marxist bend, he always wanted to serve Pakistan but could never carve a role for himself which could have effectively influenced public policy. He should have restricted himself to his broad interests, ideological wars, extremism, human rights and science education. Sadly he could never differentiat between big and small. Perhaps his missionary decision to come back to Pakistan after his Phd from MIT (a great achievement even by todays standards) always haunted him, making him self righteous, arrogant and dismissive for any thing he did not agree with. An articulate teacher with a penchant for limelight and cotroversercies, many of them irrelevant for larger larger social reality of Pakistan, he found himself always at the wrong side of popular opinion. Even his rationality did not allow him ever to respect public opinion. Always disrespectful of local academia, he really got furious when every other student was admitted in universities abroad, many outside Cambridge area ( the only place he has some respect), and coming up with their papers and thesis. He term an average Indian colleges better than any university HEC pick for scholarships. He is now eating his words and pleading for reversal of this decesion from a governing where many of his old comrade are serving a stinkly corrupt and ineffocemt government.Nothing can you give you as much pleasure as seeing a stubborn man finally confronting a moment of truth. Recommend

  • Irfan
    Apr 9, 2011 - 12:01AM

    I think provinces are not capable of handling universities. They have failed so for even in promoting and implementing policies at primary and secondary levels then how one can expect from them to run universities..It would be rather a blunder to devolve HEC and pass on the reign to provinces.
    Though criticizing HEC in terms of research work is acceptable to a certain level but one can expect better results as time progresses.
    Indeed the need of the hour is to give more attention and funds to primary and secondary schools so that they can produce some result oriented individuals…
    the better the primary and secondary education,the better the higher education… Recommend

  • Shahid Jatoi
    Apr 9, 2011 - 12:17AM

    i think Dr Pervaiz has said absolutely right…and the devolution of HEC is just the first step for the decentralization of power in pakistan and it is started with education that can also bring change in the mind set.Recommend

  • village_idiot
    Apr 9, 2011 - 12:21AM

    I know at least five friends of me attained HEC scholarships and went to Austria, New Zealand and Australia. Now they are near to finish their Ph.D. All of them are and were very fine students; well deserving cases to get HEC scholarship. I know for sure, as they acknowledged; If HEC had not been there, they were not suppose to get Ph.D. ever. As for this article is concerned, Professor pointed out institutional fall backs and inefficiencies of very institute, which I am not much concerned with and not qualified to have any say on it. But amazingly I have noticed that a bright person like Professor Hoodbhoy is happy to align himself with the fraudulent, and intellectually bankrupt PPP government’s decision on this issue.

    As he wrote, ” Senator Mian Raza Rabbani, declared that “the HEC act will be revisited and reframed to shed its role as a centralised funding authority.” His logic is that this constitutional amendment requires devolution of several powers to the four provinces. Since education is among them, universities cannot be federally administered. Instead, a brand new commission is to be created under the cabinet division.”
    Professor endorsed in next paragraph saying,” At first glance, disbanding the HEC appears to be a good idea. Its record is less than stellar. From 2002 to 2008, its budget rose by an astounding seven times — a world record.”

    Honestly, as for I know Pakistan and other provinces; it is dead of logic to give educational system in the hands of provincial governments. I would only say at the end …..goodbye good times.Recommend

  • IZ
    Apr 9, 2011 - 8:50AM

    Finally a balanced view amidst all the hyperbole.Recommend

  • Ramzan Luhur
    Apr 9, 2011 - 3:51PM

    In my opinion:

    Increase in the amount of universities was/is a good decision of HEC to provide education at the door step. Quality always comes slowly.
    If few projects resulted in failure, no matter, lot of projects went successful. Starting some thing new with the hope to get 100% success always, could be a dream but not practically possible. Losses can be minimized but not totally eliminated. If this would have been possible, there had been no bone in the meat.
    Good salaries attracted the talent…this is part of tools to improve the quality of education.
    I support HEC in its existing position. Cutting down a grown plant and bowing a new seed, can lead you 8-10 years back to be ready for fruit. However I support the necessary reforms in existing HEC.
    Recommend

  • Apr 9, 2011 - 4:07PM

    I agree with most of Dr. Hoodhbuoy’s concerns yet I fully support Devolution of Higher Education. The new system that replaces the current centralized one must address the weaknesses of the HEC and must improve on that. I think Dr. Hoodhbouy should put his mind to suggesting how to erect that system at provincial level as well as how the role that remains with the federation will be performed by a restructured HEC or a new federal body.
    More universities have been created as a result government ofr Government policy, HEC is not a university creating body. similarly more enrollment is a direct result of more money becoming available as result of US interests after 9/11 and not due to HEC.
    Devolution and de centralization always results in better governance and so better quality. The issue is how to go about it not to stop it due to apprehensions some real some ill foundedRecommend

  • Maira Amber Khan
    Apr 9, 2011 - 5:25PM

    Hmmm well maybe or mabe not HEC should remain or not dont knowRecommend

  • Copper
    Apr 10, 2011 - 1:09PM

    Sir, how many scientific articles have you published in last year?
    Do you think that the students obtaining PhDs from European universities are less capable? or is is just personal animosity against HEC?Recommend

  • Dr. Ijaz A.Bhatti
    Apr 11, 2011 - 8:19AM

    Dr hoodbhouy is living, earning and beeficiary of Pakistan but always has openion about this country and the society. If he is so uncomfortable then he should live in that very society where he would feel comfortable and work for that. I am sorry he does not understad and feel the sensitivity of the issue.Recommend

  • Imran Usman
    Apr 11, 2011 - 6:22PM

    I liked the style and formation of the argument by Dr. Hood Bhai. He is a real expert of fancying facts. But, to my impression, I feel it is compulsory to highlight some things, misleading otherwise:
    1. Prof. Hood Bahi, we are astonished that you are unable to produce a just comparison of Higher Education with Lower Education. When comparing the salaries, you have taken the highest rank (Professor) in higher education, and compared it to the lowest rank in primary education. Quoting your words, “A full tenure-track professor nowadays can make up to Rs325,000 per month, about 30 to 35 times a schoolteacher’s maximum salary. ” A school teacher’s maximum salary nowadays is not between 9000-10800 (30 to 35th of 325000). Rather it is much higher.
    2. Where were you at the time of UGC? Were we producing quality education at that time as you always focus on quality education. An improvement is always in the forward direction. Has things improved during the past 10 years regarding higher education ? All of us know, obviously, it is a YES.
    3. What in your opinion is the sure yard stick which is telling you that devolving HEC is the need of time and should be done like that, whether gradually or abruptly? As a matter of fact, provincial assemblies are full of and are always prone to be full with people with those very famous Fake degrees.
    4. Criticizing the quality is very easy. What QUALITY actually is in your views ? Can you do one thing, and we all promise we will be by your side if you could. Can you clap and everything (Quality, standards, infrastructure) is instantaneously assured? No, i guess. So keep it in mind things change gradually. Its the only safe constant. Things have improved and they are improving more. This is the time to harvest the crop we invested in 8 years back. We have sown seeds of very rich in fruit trees. Be patient and let the time go by. Else, come up with some instant solution. I have never heard you speak for Pakistan. There is no Magic that can all of a sudden give you YOUR quality.
    5. I see things are improving a lot. Quality is improving a lot, quantity is improving a lot. Yes there is mismanagement in some areas. Only positive criticism can resolve it.
    6. What facts are misleading by HEC? we would like to know.
    7. What, practically, is your contribution in this nation other than doing a job and speaking against Pakistan on every national and international forum?Recommend

  • HM
    Apr 11, 2011 - 7:45PM

    You are Mir Jaffar of Today.Recommend

  • Apr 12, 2011 - 10:23AM

    If HEC live we pakistanis will survive or else we will die.
    this is the era of Technological warfares and strategies where there is no seat for our ignorant political leader ship to exist.Hence they strive to kill our talent by dissolving HEC.Recommend

  • Bakshoo
    Apr 13, 2011 - 4:12PM

    Our education is crap. It does not develop analytical skills, knowledge and wisdom but makes people parrots just like Talibs of madrassas and fills them with information which students dont know how to use. Dr. Saheb has always voiced for the betterment of this sector. in its 9 year, what HEC has achieved so far? Does anyone see any change in society? What all this has given to the common people of Pakistan? Students study sciences but can not make their thinking approach scientific. My wife is studying M.Phil and in her exams her TEACHERS checks her memory power. So pity. Dr. Saheb has the the only rational voice among our educational culture where people are obsessed with the names of big degrees but have no wisdom for the common good. Recommend

  • Shahid
    Apr 14, 2011 - 1:16AM

    I think it was HEC devolution will be a greatest loss to Pakistan and Dr Hadood should have defended it more boldly instead of confusing the readers and leaving skepticism. Recommend

  • M A
    Apr 17, 2011 - 7:42PM

    The moral to the story is “Grapes are sour”. Dr. Sb is probably interested to have a position at higher level like Dr. Atta had. But I think educated community Pakistan understand what is right and what is wrong. Your article is enough to degrade your status further.
    Your personal prejudice against someone compelled you to write this article otherwise there is no reason to justify your baseless statements.
    Professors are always being graceful people in the world having very positive attitude. I hope you will rethink about your personality and compare this written is suited you or not.
    HEC is a success story in Pakistan and you may not be able to degrade it by such articles.Recommend

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