Academia to observe strike in govt universities across Sindh from today

Key demand of teachers from govt is amendment of Act which they argue deprive govt varsities of autonomy

Z Ali January 31, 2018

HYDERABAD: The teaching community of Sindh's public sector universities will embark on an indefinite strike from today (Wednesday), as the Sindh government allegedly procrastinates amending the law regulating the province's higher education institutions.

The reappointment of Dr Asim Hussain on Monday as the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Sindh chairperson for a second term has earned the ire of teachers.

"We strongly disapprove of Dr Asim's continuity as the HEC Sindh's chairperson," said Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (Fapuasa) Sindh chapter President Prof Naimatullah Laghari at a press conference. He contended that Dr Asim's appointment violated the law and that he lacked credentials necessary for the post.

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Fapuasa gave January 30 as the deadline for acceptance of its charter of demands to the provincial government after observing a teaching boycott in around a dozen universities in Sindh on January 24.

However, so far no government representative has contacted the association asking them to withdraw the call or invite them for negotiations, Laghari told The Express Tribune.

Moreover, Dr Asim's selection as the HEC Sindh's head is being interpreted as signifying the government's reluctance to agree to the teachers' standpoint against Sindh Universities Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, and other issues.

Teachers to continue protest despite cabinet approval

Fapuasa's key demand is amendment to the Act which the teachers argue deprived the universities of autonomy. The enactment of the Act stirred protests by the teachers. But over the last four years, the government kept the association engaged in several rounds of negotiations, assuring them that an amendment in the act based on their recommendations would be tabled in the Sindh Assembly.

Fapuasa Pakistan General Secretary Prof Dr Minhon Khan Laghari said immediate approval of the hardship cases, housing schemes for the university teachers, enhancement of PhD allowance and universities' budget, removal of non-PhD vice-chancellors and retired officials are among their other demands.

The teaching boycott, according to Fapuasa, will be observed in University of Karachi, NED, University of Sindh, Mehran University of Engineering and Technology, Sindh Agriculture University, Quaid-e-Awam University of Engineering, Science and Technology, Shah Abdul Latif University and others.

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Meanwhile, Fapuasa Secretary-General Dr Shakeel Farooqi advised the chief minister to call the Fapuasa's Sindh leadership and settle the issues with them before it turns too late. He urged the CM to take prompt action to save the higher education in the province.

It is critical to have an apolitical chancellor's office and the CM's office by essence is not meant for this purpose, he said, adding that the political role of the governor not only hampers the progress of the universities but also jeopardises the tranquility, security and smooth functioning of the university.


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