PESHAWAR: The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Higher Education Department (HEC) on Monday barred public sector universities in the province from fresh recruitments and from signing agreements with international organisations for the next six months.
Orders in this regard were issued on the directions of K-P Governor Shah Farman, to the vice-chancellors (VCs) of 11 public universities of the province including the University of Peshawar, University of Engineering and Technology Peshawar, Kohat University of Science and Technology, University of Science and Technology, Bannu, University of Haripur, Islamia College University, Bacha Khan University Charsadda, University of Technology Nowshera, and the Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan.
The letter warned that strict action will be taken against all those VCs who fail to abide by the orders.
Meanwhile, the order was termed a clear violation of the K-P Universities Act.
UET Representative Organisation President Dr Feroz Shah and General Secretary Dr Sadiq Ali argued that the law granted autonomy to vice-chancellors in managing the affairs of their institutions and that directions from the governor were a violation of that law.
They warned that teachers and students will stage protests if the notification is not withdrawn.
Last week, a government audit of higher education institutions of the province had shown that more than Rs20 million had either been embezzled or misused at some of these institutions within a brief period of two years.
K-P Governor Shah Farman had taken notice of reports of the financial irregularities in universities across the province and had directed the higher education department to provide a detailed report on the issue.
The issue of universities struggling financially has become pronounced this year after the federal government slashed funds for the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and directed varsities to raise their own funds. This had prompted the University of Peshawar (UoP) to ask the provincial government for a bailout, noting that it was struggling to even pay the salaries and pensions of its employees. The government finally relented and on February 3, it approved the release of Rs250 million for the varsity but as a loan. The funds, though, came with advice from the provincial finance minister to curb recruitments and unnecessary expenditures.
Merging management with teaching cadre
The provincial government has decided to merge the management cadre with teaching cadre in its education department.
Sources told The Express Tribune that Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Education Minister Akbar Ayub Khan has prepared recommendations in this regard.
The sources disclosed that the former adviser to the chief minister on the Elementary and Secondary Education Ziaullah Bangash had sent recommendations for this purpose, however, the government has yet to take any action in this regard.
The sources further said that the recommendations sent to the provincial government during Bangash’s tenure will be dismissed, while recommendations to be sent by the current education minister will be considered.
The sources have further said that relevant officials were divided over the decision to deploy the teaching cadre on administrative posts which was affecting the administrative issues in the education department. However, the government took notice of the situation and has directed the related minister to prepare recommendations.
An official of the education department confirmed that the recommendations in this regard have been prepared. The sources further said that there were chances that the notification for replacing the district education officers (DEOs) of Mansehra and Abbottabad, who were deployed on teaching cadre, will also be annulled.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2020.
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