Devolution woes: Centralising education subjects not on the agenda

Federal education ministry demands control of 22 bodies.

Riazul Haq July 12, 2014


The government is still grappling with the devolution of the subjects of the former education ministry devolved to various departments under the 18th Amendment in 2010.

The ministry has been demanding control of 22 bodies related to education which were handed over to different ministries and divisions following the devolution.

A committee meeting of federal secretaries on Thursday once again deferred the request by the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training till the next meeting. All four points on the agenda were about the transfer of devolved functions to either the education ministry or the Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) Division.

Some secretaries argued against switching control of the bodies, “lest it should open another Pandora’s box,” while others favoured handing them over to the ministry after taking the provinces on board.

An official of the ministry, who did not want to be named, said the secretaries’ committee is dilly-dallying on the important issue of deciding the fate of devolved subjects.

Minister of State for Federal Education Balighur Rehman said the committee would discuss the agenda again at its next meeting. He dispelled the claims that the committee was deliberately delaying the issue.

“Actually, they are waiting for the report of another committee headed by Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal which is looking into the devolved subjects under several ministries and divisions. The committees will be able to resolve the issue after the report is complete,” he remarked.

The list of 22 bodies includes the Federal College of Education, Federal Directorate of Education (FDE), Department of Libraries, National Language Authority, Urdu Dictionary Board, and functions such as international exchange of students and teachers. At present, the Cabinet Division, IPC Division, Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs are in charge of these subjects.

The meeting, chaired by Cabinet Secretary Akhlaq Ahmad Tarar, recommended creating a new body to look after the Directorate General of Special Education, National Council of Social Welfare, and National Institute of Rehabilitation and Medicine. The three institutions are currently working under CADD.

The committee also agreed to hand over girl and boy scouts, youth activities, welfare of Pakistani students abroad and education attaches’ offices in Pakistani missions abroad to the IPC Division.

The next meeting of the committee is expected to take place after the Eid holidays.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2014.


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