LAHORE: Confusion has persisted at several education institutions special regarding quotas for admission a month after the Governor House issued a statement that all public educational institutions would uphold merit while admitting students.
On June 18, following a meeting of the board of governors of the Aitchison College, it was announced that merit would be upheld at the college in particular and at all public educational institutions in general.
The decision was made in the light of the chief minister’s directives for ensuring merit at educational institutes.
Another meeting of the board held at Aitchison College on July 1 decided that all admissions will be made according to the merit criteria suggested by the management.
Several media reports on ending quotas have since left many students confused.
Maham Mukhtar, a second year intermediate student at Kinnaird College, told The Express Tribune clarity was needed on the quota system.
“First we heard that kinship admissions had been abolished at Aitchison. Later, we heard that all quotas would be abolished. What is the government policy now?”
Talking to The Express Tribune, Government College University registrar Dr Mohammad Akhyar Farrukh said while there were media reports regarding quotas being abolished, no one had received official instructions.
“We await government directives in this regard. When, and if, they are issued, they will be implemented,” he said.
Punjab University Registrar Mohammad Amin Athar said a notification by Governor Chaudhry Sarwar ending quotas had been received by them last week.
However, Athar said, the notification was unclear.
“We are still debating which quotas the notification is about,” he said.
There are 600 seats allocated under various quotas at the PU.
These quotas include seats for athletes, disabled students, overseas Pakistanis, staff quota and for areas including Gilgit Baltistan and Balochistan.
Athar said 100 seats were allocated for Balochistan, 150 for athletes and 150 for children of employees.
Higher Education Department Secretary Abdullah Sumbal said no notification from the department on abolishing quotas from public sector universities had been issued.
Sumbal said the department had sent vote to the governor in which apprehensions regarding compromise of merit were communicated a month ago.
“We were talking about upholding merit,” he said. “We didn’t use the term abolish quotas.”
He said kinship was specific to Aitchison College. He said kinship was not devoid of merit.
He said the debate on kinship admissions was underway when the note from Higher Education Department (HED) was circulated.
He said the governor, also the chairman of the BoG at Aitchison College, agreed that upholding merit was essential.
Commenting on ambiguity regarding quotas, he said the policy directive from the governor may have been communicated to educational institutions leading to various interpretations.
He said educational institutions were approaching the HED for its interpretation.
He said the HED believed quotas were essential to the education policy.
Higher Education Commission former chairman Dr Attaur Rahman said academic seats should be based on merit alone.
“Having a quota system in academic programmes detracts it from merit,” he said.
He said there was no denying that there was need for special attention in the education sector for areas including Balochistan and the FATA.
He proposed special academic programmes and special teacher training for them.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2014.