Senator Irfan-Ul-Haque Siddiqui, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Federal Education and Professional Training Presiding over a Meeting of the Committee at Parliament House Islamabad

Islamabad, June 08, 2023 (PPI-OT): The Senate Standing Committee on Federal Education and Professional Training convened on Tuesday, unanimously passing a resolution condemning the incidents that occurred on 9th and 10th May. Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmad moved the resolution, demanding legal action against those allegedly involved and their conspirators. Chairman of the Committee, Senator Irfan Siddiqui, emphasized that these recent incidents have exposed a lack of tolerance, cultural norms, religious understanding, and democratic values within society, particularly among the youth. Expressing concern, Senator Siddiqui lamented the job-oriented nature of the current education system, emphasizing the need for a character-oriented approach. He proposed the introduction of short courses or syllabi at various levels to strengthen cultural, religious, and democratic values. In light of this, he directed the Secretary of Education to develop a plan and present it before the committee.

During the committee meeting, extensive discussions took place regarding the introduction of reforms inspired by the Japanese Educational Model at the Playgroup, Montessori, and KG levels. Dr. Ikram Ali, the Director-General of the Federal Directorate of Education, shared that a project worth Rs. 7.4 million has been included in the PSDP 2023-24. This project aims to introduce Montessori classes in 192 primary schools, along with the advertisement of posts for Montessori Teachers and Helpers once funds are allocated. However, Senator Jam Mahtab Hussain Dahar raised concerns about the shortage of trained Montessori teachers nationwide and suggested implementing Montessori Education in a limited number of schools within the Federal Capital Territory, rather than introducing it across all schools.

The committee also received a briefing on the joint venture between the Federal Education Ministry and the Universal Service Fund, which resulted in the establishment of 226 computer labs and the selection of 202 trained female IT teachers in various female institutions. Dr. Ikram Ali informed the committee that a PSDP was initiated to secure funding for the project’s smooth functioning after it was handed over to FDE in January 2022. However, the salaries of the IT teachers have not been released by the AGPR, citing the recruitment process as the reason.

The Secretary of Education informed the committee that a petition has been filed with the Wafaqi Mohtasib for adjudication, and it has been forwarded to the President of Pakistan to address the grievances of teachers who have been working without pay for the past 15 months. Dr. Ikram Ali clarified that the allegations raised by the AGPR hold no legal standing since the teachers were selected after a thorough scrutiny process, fulfilling all prerequisites, and possessing considerable experience in their respective fields. In response, the committee unanimously decided to write a letter to the AGPR, requesting clarification on the allegations and summoning relevant officials if necessary.

The committee discussed the issue of examinations faced by law students of Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan. Prof. Dr. Muhammad Ali, the Acting Vice-Chancellor of BZU, informed the committee that the examination date would be announced based on their direction. He emphasized the need for sufficient time to scrutinize the eligibility of the candidates and stated that the committee directed him to announce the Date Sheet before Eid holidays and conduct the examination before mid-July 2023.

Furthermore, the committee addressed a public petition regarding the non-payment of civil works in the International Islamic University. The petitioner, Sajjad Ali, highlighted that a cost of 46 lacs was incurred on civil works, but only 16 lacs has been paid so far. Representatives from the International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) explained that the petitioner had previously approached the Wafaqi Mohtasib, who directed the university to form a committee to reassess the work done. During the re-measurement process, a discrepancy worth 33 thousand was identified. Senator Irfan Siddiqui directed the university to submit a comprehensive report on the project within the next 10 days.

In addition, the committee discussed a public petition regarding the abysmal state of education in Behlolzai Badaber, a suburb of Peshawar. The Secretary of Education informed the committee that education is a provincial subject, and a letter has been written to the KPK Education Secretary for necessary action. The committee also decided to refer the matter to the provincial government for further action and the resolution of the petitioner’s grievances.

Another public petition was addressed, highlighting the issue of fake degrees among employees of the National Commission for Human Development. Waseem Ajmal, Secretary of Education, reported that the Ministry has formed a committee comprising members from HEC and the Establishment Division to investigate the matter. The committee requested that the ministry submit the report as soon as the proceedings are concluded. Regarding a public petition alleging discrimination in the recruitment process for the Assistant Director of Social and Digital Media and Reporting, advertised by HEC, the matter was disposed of due to the absence of the petitioner.

Senator Prof. Dr. Mehr Taj Roghani raised the issue of the “Independent Council of Technologists,” noting its delay without any valid reason. The Secretary of Education informed the committee that the Council of Common Interest (CCI) had determined that the issue does not fall under its jurisdiction and has forwarded it to the Cabinet for approval.

Regarding the status of vacant chairs that have remained unfilled for fourteen years, Secretary of Education Waseem Ajmal shared that the interview process for the Urdu Chair in Tehran and the Pakistan Studies Chair in Kazakhstan has been completed, and the finalization of appointments is underway.

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