ISLAMABAD: The implementation commission on the 18th constitutional amendment has turned down a request to retain the federal education ministry, saying the move would be deemed unconstitutional after the passage of the landmark piece of legislation.
The commission’s chief Senator Raza Rabbani refused to entertain the education ministry’s plea and listed reasons for its devolution to the provinces.
The commission stated that the 18th Amendment Act 2010 has deleted the concurrent legislative list, and continuation of any function mentioned in the list by the federal government would be considered unconstitutional.
Moreover, the executive authority of the federation extends only to the subjects enumerated in the federal legislative list as provided under Article 97 of the constitution.
The commission noted that the decision had been taken after considering all aspects of the matter and subsequently the recommendations were approved by parliament.
It contended that any review in the amendment is the prerogative of parliament and unless it approves the restoration of entry in the concurrent list, the subject does not fall under the executive powers of the federal government.
The commission stated that retaining provincial subjects at the federal level would be in violation of the constitution.
The ministry, in its letter, had argued that the devolution of the ministry would lead to non-uniformity in the curriculum of the provinces. This, in turn, would result in deterioration of education standards and would create multiple education systems in the country.
The commission replied that the development of the curriculum and syllabi had always been with the provinces and the federal government was only vetting and providing ‘No-Objection Certificates (NOCs)’ to the curriculum developed by the provinces. It further stated that no extraordinary capacity was available with federal government institutions to determine these matters, adding that the provinces have the required capability to take over the responsibility to safeguard the national interest.
In response to the point that federal ministries existed in foreign countries, the commission contended that every country has its own constitution and many international practices envisage no role for the federal government in primary and secondary education. The commission also cited that a good number of developed countries do not have education ministries at the federal level.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 25th, 2011.