The delay in setting up the National Technology Council (NTC), aimed at mainstreaming technology education, is taking a toll on B-tech and other technology graduates.
In November 2012, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) issued a notification stating that in light of its August meeting, it will establish the NTC for registration of B-tech graduates and graduates of other technologies such as medical technology, BS IT, etc besides improving and standardising the quality of engineering technology education offered by different institutes.
The HEC said the NTC will also safeguard interests and rights of technology graduates as they have been facing problems in getting jobs in public departments and promotions due to undefined status of their degrees. The Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) also does not recognise B-tech graduates as engineers, making it difficult for them to apply and find jobs.
Soon after the HEC announced to set up the new body, the PEC raised objections on its formation and a few of its bylaws. Later, HEC officials held a meeting with PEC members and both agreed to amend the bylaws.
After a passage of eight months, the minutes of that meeting were shared with HEC’s governing body in April 2013, which deferred it stating all stakeholders would be taken on board before the body was established.
Again, HEC and PEC officials met in January 2014 and both agreed to enhance the scope of the would-be council. In September 2014, both bodies suggested that it will cover and comprise 14 degree programmes proposed under six diversified technologies.
In May 2015, the higher education regulatory body approved formation of the NTC with the amended bylaws but since then no headway has been made in this regard.
Cause of delay
On November 6, on a question raised by MNA Asad Umar on the assembly floor about the delay in appointing chairperson and other members of the council, the HEC submitted a written reply stating that it was changing the scope of the council from engineering technologies to all technologies covering six diversified disciplines.
“After formal approval and notification from the Gazette of Pakistan, the process to appoint its chairperson, council members and staff of NTC’s secretariat will start,” the HEC stated.
“It is expected that the entire process would take approximately 10 to 12 months from now onwards including confirmation of the council’s bylaws to its functioning,” it further said.
The Senate has also directed the HEC to finalise the process by the end of the year. Ministry of Science and Technology has also urged the HEC to broaden the council’s scope to cover food, textile and other technologies.
When contacted, HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed claimed that “all is set to launch the NTC as funds have also been allocated for it after amendments in bylaws were published in Gazette of Pakistan”.
“We have asked different bodies to suggest names for members of the new council and it will be made functional before the deadline set by a parliamentary panel,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 17th, 2015.