Even after the expiry of deadline set by the Higher Education Commission (HEC), many ineligible students who were wrongly given laptops under the Prime Minister Scheme have failed to return them to their universities.
The scheme is part of Prime Minister’s Youth Programme for 2013-14 for which the HEC is the executing agency. The education commission had developed the criteria, mechanism, modalities and a roadmap for procurement and distribution of laptops under the scheme.
During the outgoing fiscal year, as many as 0.1 million laptops were distributed under the scheme among the students who were pursuing PhD, MPhil, MS or equivalent programmes and fulfilled the eligibility criteria.
Moreover, eligible students pursuing undergraduate or masters programmes are also being awarded laptops on merit as defined on the HEC website.
But the scheme suffered a blow after news of irregularities in the distribution of laptops surfaced. According to media reports laptops were given to ineligible students who were either already working, employees of the university or had previously received a laptop under the scheme.
The HEC set December 15 as deadline to return the laptops to the universities threatening to take action against those students.
Many universities including the International Islamic University, National University of Modern Languages, Islamia University Bahawalpur, Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology, University of Balochistan have been noted for violating the rules.
In many institutions especially the Islamia University Bahawalpur, students of postgraduate degrees have signed verification papers declaring themselves ‘not employed’.
As per the HEC policy, any person who is employed at any public or private sector organisations cannot avail this facility.
Many students at the Bahawalpur University reprinted the verification form and deleted the section of employment and received the laptops.
Interestingly, students who have received laptops for the second time have done so after signing a disclaimer stating that they had not received laptops under the scheme. “
An official at the IIUI revealed that around 145 laptops have been returned following the notice issued by the HEC warning students that their admissions would be cancelled if they failed to comply with the orders. In total so far we have distributed 2,400 laptops but the figure as to how many of them are employed or double recipients of the laptops is difficult to find out,” he said.
A source in the HEC stated that so far 33,206 laptops have been distributed among the students of public sector universities across the country. Of them, around 125 got the laptops illegal and returned the laptops.
HEC Director Media Ayesha Ikram said they were pursuing the issue and further reminder would be issued to the universities to strictly adhere to the policy guidelines
Published in The Express Tribune, December 22nd, 2014.