KARACHI: A Black Day will be observed at the University of Karachi today (Thursday) to protest against the enactment of the Sindh Universities and Institutes Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018.
This was announced by the Karachi University Teachers’ Society as well as the Joint Action Committee’s (JAC) vice-president, Prof Dr Shah Aliul Qader, while addressing a press conference.
The controversial bill was recently passed again by the Sindh Assembly after the governor had refused to assent to it.
The signature drive initiated by the JAC against the new law was widely supported by teachers and students, Prof Qader said. He lamented that Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah did not fulfil his assurances to the teachers’ representatives that the bill would be revised and teachers’ concerns would be addressed. Due to the law’s enactment, varsities have lost autonomy over their affairs, he added.
The KUTS vice-president said that after the new law, the syndicates of the varsities, which were their governing bodies, had been reduced to a rubber stamp as they would be only carrying out the instructions given by the Sindh government.
The representation of teachers in the syndicate has been reduced to just four, whereas, prior to this, there were six teachers, Prof Qader said, adding that the number of persons nominated by the CM in the syndicate had been increased to 14 while the number of elected persons was seven.
He decried that in the new law, students’ representation in the syndicate had been completely eliminated. “Eliminating students from the syndicate is tantamount to strangling democracy,” Prof Qader said.
Discussing the effects of the new law on the varsities’ admission policies, he said the admission policy was formed by the academic council of a university. Issuance of guidelines and directives relating to admission policy would not only undermine the authority of academic councils but would also damage the internal matters of varsities, the speaker lamented.
The admission policies should remain with the academic councils without any interference, while a judge of the high court should supervise the inquiry committee in case a vice-chancellor is removed, Prof Qader said, adding that the selection of inquiry committee must not be on political basis.
We demand that non-teaching staff be also given representation in the syndicates, he said, requesting Pakistan Peoples Party Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to take notice of the passage of an undemocratic law that aimed to deprive the varsities of their automony.
Prof Qader requested the chief justice of Pakistan to take suo motu notice of the new law. We completely reject the Act and will continue our struggle, he added.
The professor also announced that an all parties conference would be organised soon on the matter. Dr Riaz Ahmed, Dr Usama Shafiq and Muhammad Farhan also spoke at the press conference.