ISLAMABAD: Experts and academicians on higher education unanimously resolved to ensure culture of transparency and accountability through openness, merit based appointments and effective participation.
These measures were discussed at a meeting of a working group in higher education. Presided by former secretary Election Commission of Pakistan Kanwar Muhammad Dilshad on Tuesday at National Democratic Foundation (NDF) secretariat in Islamabad.
Meaningful engagement of relevant stakeholders in higher education governance at all tiers including higher education commissions and varsities and to end illegal occupation of university land and separation of functions of quality assurance, ranking, funding and internal administration at the level of individual institutions were also reviewed.
The stakeholders also decided to monitor key appointments including chairperson(s) of federal and provincial HECs and vice chancellors of public sector universities through formation of a special committee comprising reputed representatives of different stakeholders including civil society, federation of All Pakistan universities academic staff association, media and private sector at large.
The participants were unanimous of the view that without ensuring transparency and accountability in higher education, desired results of improving quality of teaching and research would not be achieved. They emphasized that there is a dire need to create certain checks and balances in role and responsibilities, especially at the level of federal and provincial higher education commission, through revision of respective acts of federal level in the context and provisions of 18th constitutional amendment which is matter of grave concern and disappointment as left unattended throughout the political governance over the past 8 years.
In order to ensure merit and transparency in selection process, the search committee of key appointments in higher education sector, should be free from any external influences and all the members of search committee should be notified in order to maintain their neutral and impartial role. The said committee should employ a public demo method for selection of candidates through open door process, in front of relevant stakeholders.
In his concluding remarks, Dilsahd appreciated the contribution and keen interest of newly formed working group on higher education. It was also decided that a reference on transparency and merit in higher education sector would be sent to the president and prime minister of Pakistan and respective provincial governments.
The meeting was attended by Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) Dr Kaleemullah Bareach Council of Social Sciences Pakistan Vice President Dr. Nadeem Omar Vice President Salman Abid Senior Analyst, Shehzad Iqbal former senior joint secretary federal ministry of inter provincial coordination, Dr. Naazir Mahmood columnist and educationist, Dr. Naazir Mahmood President FAPUASA Islamabad, Dr. Shehzad Ashraf National Coordinator Inter University Consortium Muhammad Murtaza Noor, Kanwar Javed Iqbal Pakistan Social Services Partnership Kanwar Javed Iqbal a network of 85 civil society organisations and others.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2018.