Karachi: Sindh Education & Literacy Department has drafted the bill for establishing Sindh Higher Education Commission (SHEC) and is in process of holding consultation with different stakeholders before sending it to the law department for vetting however a summary containing the proposal submitted to Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah still awaits his approval despite passage of at least four months.
“By the time the SHEC proposal gets nod, the entire process of consultation and vetting of draft bill would be finalized to table the bill in Sindh assembly for approval,” official sources in Sindh Education & Literacy Department told PPI.
The provinces were to establish Higher Education Commissions of their own after devolution of education ministry from federal government to the provinces under 18th amendment of the 1973 Constitution. The Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa has already setup its own Higher Education Commission while Punjab and Balochistan are also going ahead with similar plan.
The sources viewed that the delay in approving the SHEC proposal could be the immense resistance from different circles including certain lobbies at federal level and heads of universities in public and private sectors.
“The Higher Education Commission of Pakistan and certain lobbies at that level had been opposing the establishment of SHEC arguing that Sindh lacks the capacity to govern higher education institutions while the administrations of universities were opposed to the proposal for fear of increased intervention in their affairs,” sources confided.
According to the draft bill, Chief Minister will be the controlling authority and will be supervising the affairs of SHEC. As far as composition of SHEC is concerned, it would be headed by a chairman while the secretaries of education, information technology, planning & development and finance departments, chairman of Chief Minister’s Inspection & Enquiries Committee, Director General of Colleges have been proposed to be members from government side besides six other members to be nominated–three of whom would be of international repute, a Rector or Vice Chancellor of public sector University and two eminent persons from private sector.
The SHEC shall have the powers to formulate policies, guidelines and priorities for higher education institutions, monitor and evaluate their performance, prepare plans for research and development of higher education. Setting up accreditation committee and advise the government on proposals for granting charter to award degrees in both public and private sector institutions.
The SHEC shall have the powers of recognizing degrees, diplomas and certificates. It would also collect information and data on higher education and institutions in the province and provide guidelines to ensure quality of higher education.
Another important responsibility of SHEC would be to review and examine the financial requirements of public sector institutions. The SHEC would also establish an endowment fund.
The sources said that after the devolution of education ministry, the provinces are sole authority to formulate syllabus and curriculum for the higher education while another great benefit would be awarding foreign scholarships for higher studies to the candidates of Sindh. “Previously, discrimination and injustice had been done to candidates of Sindh while awarding the foreign scholarships,” they said.
Sources said the education department would soon undertake work on financial aspects of the SHEC.
As regards role of existing Higher Education Commission of Pakistan in future, the sources said it would have the role of coordination and controlling only those institutions still held by the federal government.