Pakistan cannot prosper unless it makes education its foremost priority. This was one of the points in a joint declaration issued at a seminar titled ‘Save HEC, Save Pakistan’ at F-9 Park on Thursday.
MNA and member Standing Committee for Education and Training Noorul Haq Qadri said, “Those attacking the Higher Education Commission (HEC) want to destory this institution and propel the country into darkness.”
Former HEC chairman Dr Attaur Rehman, in a video message, stated that a recent attempt by the Sindh government to form a provincial higher education commission is an attempt by politicians and bureaucrats to share in the Rs48 billion budget and thousands of external and internal scholarships.
Through a joint declaration the participants appreciated the HEC’s contributions and endorsed its autonomy, which is fully protected under the 18th Amendment. They said provincial higher education commissions’ functions should not conflict with the HEC’s.
They demanded that a task force on higher education proposed by the HEC be formed at the earliest.
Participants also said that the education budget be increased to 4% of GDP as per UNESCO standards. They called upon all political parties to give priority to education and an autonomous HEC in their manifestos. The conference was jointly organised by representatives of civil society, academics and students’ organisations.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 15th, 2013.