LAHORE: A minister’s “proposal” making it mandatory for government college girls to wear a hijab and offering them “extra” marks for covering themselves up created an embarrassing situation for the Punjab government.
“Observance of hijab should be made mandatory for college girls,” Punjab Higher Education Minister Syed Raza Ali Gilani said while addressing divisional directors of the Lahore board on Tuesday.
He added that hijab-wearing students, who fail to fulfil the attendance requirement, would benefit from the education department’s decision, as five per cent grace marks would be accorded to them.
Besides, the minister also directed that morning assembly should be resumed in colleges and added that students should be sensitised about different Islamic concepts for character building.
The statement created a furore in the media and the Punjab government moved quickly to reject the minister’s assertion.
Information Secretary Raja Jahangir said: “No such summary has been received by the provincial cabinet from the Higher Education Department.”
He said the Minister could not make such rules on his own without getting the approval from the cabinet and added that it was “beyond his competence to make a policy decision without the government’s approval”.
According to a handout issued by the DGPR, which was later withdrawn, the minister said that observance of hijab be made necessary for college girls, adding that five per cent grace attendance should be accorded as consolation in case of any shortage in the minimum required attendance.
Moreover, some 721 colleges attached with the Higher Education Department in 36 districts of the province would be given sufficient resources for their necessary development works in the upcoming budget 2017-18.
“For that purpose, development proposals have already been solicited and new development budget would be designed in such a way to ensure necessary resources for best educational and research facilities.”
“We are committed to providing world-class education to the students as it’s the basis of knowledge economy,” the DGPR said.
The minister directed to initiate auction of rundown vehicles as well as submission of a summary for giving honoraria to hardworking staff.
He directed that 7,000 vacant teachers’ posts in the department should be rationalised to benefit students.
He asked to identify suitable pieces of land for the construction of buildings for colleges established in rented premises.
Similarly, divisional directors should also give priority to different schemes, including construction of boundary walls, provision of furniture and setting up of science and computer labs.
The minister further directed to update the record of officers and officials, and added that deputationists be recalled.
He sought the lists of officials on ex-Pakistan leave or those who have been illegally away from their duties for adoption of a proper strategy.
“Different colleges should launch their websites and keep them regularly updated along with the facility of one-window operation, so that issues of students can be solved amicably.”
“Our service delivery mechanism should be efficient and fast,” the minister said.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 15th, 2017.