LAHORE: The provincial government has a plan to establish universities in the underprivileged divisions of South Punjab. It would introduce Urdu as the medium of instructions from grade one to five in all government schools by March this year.
Minister for Higher Education Yasir Humayun and Minister for School Education Dr Murad Raas revealed this while responding to questions posed by the lawmakers in Punjab Assembly during the question-answer session.
These answers were provided to a query posed by Pakistan People Party’s (PPP) Syed Usman Mehmood. He asked why South Punjab had been deprived of education and health facilities. He added there was not even a single university in Tehsil Sadiqabad despite the fact that its population was 1.5 million.
Humayun told the house that Lahore was given an edge when it came to the establishment of varsities over the last decades. He bemoaned that as a result, the city had become overpopulated. The minister said the PTI government was going to introduce a policy to establish universities in the underprivileged areas of South Punjab.
When asked by Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari about the specific areas of South Punjab from where the government plans to begin, the minister said it was premature to pinpoint the areas.
“Feasibility will be completed before the end of this fiscal year so that the request could be sent for the next annual development programme,” Humayun said.
However, Usman seemed dissatisfied with the answer of the minister. He remarked that if the government could not provide the people with quality education, it should honour the demand of a separate province so that the people of South Punjab could resolve their own problems.
Humayun replied that the setting up of a new province did not fall under the ambit of the higher education department.
Responding to a question by PTI’s Muneeb Sultan Cheema, Humayun said the government was against the mushrooming growth of sub-campuses and wanted to finish them. Numerous campuses had been set up in the past without giving any consideration to the quality. He also hinted that the government would be closing the sub-campuses gradually.
To another query from PTI lawmaker Shahida Ahmed related to government schools teaching on the pattern of English medium institutions, the Punjab Minister of School Education Dr Murad Raas said the former chief minister wanted to convert all the public schools into English medium. However, the minister pointed out that the standard of teaching was completely ignored.
“We are going to introduce Urdu as the medium of instruction from grade one to five in all government schools by March,” he said.
To another supplementary query, he made it clear that by March 2020, a uniform curriculum would be introduced in primary schools. “We will include “Deen” in our curriculum and we will provide free education to our children at par with any private sector institution,” the minister remarked.
PML-N’s Uzma Zahid Bukhari posed a query from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz on what the government has done to deal with those schools which have reduced fees, but changed school timings, merged classes, started blackmailing parents and finished extra circular activities. Raas replied by saying that the government would form an authority to deal with such issues.
Deputy Speaker Mazari asked Raas to outline the timeframe for the complete implementation on the reduction of school fee. However, the minister said the government could not forcefully direct the private schools to reshape their fee structure.
“We are in contact with them and the matter will be resolved soon,” the minister answered. Another lawmaker Salma Sadia sought the details of those private schools which had been fined for charging an exorbitant fee.
Reading his adjournment motion, PML-N’s MPA Sheikh Allauddin sought a discussion over the pathetic condition of the historical Bagh-e-Jinnah which once was known as Lawrence Garden. He said the national asset (Bagh-e-Jinnah) lost its beauty owing to parking stands, government offices and encroachments. On the request of Minister for Public Prosecution Ch Zaheeruddin, the motion was left in pending till its reply by the department concerned.
Later, the deputy speaker adjourned the house till 9am on Friday (today).