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Senate panel berates govt for underspending on higher education

Senate Committee on Devolution criticized the government’s perception of education spending as a loss, juxtaposing it with substantial payments to Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

The Senate panel highlighted the significant disparity in funds allocated for capacity charges to IPPs compared to the budget for Higher Education Commissions.

The Senate Functional Committee on Devolution held its meeting on Monday under the chair of Senator Mushtaq Ahmed at the Parliament House to deliberate on key matters pertaining to the transfer of powers and handing over the functions and facilities to the provincial government with a particular focus on the education sector.

During the session, Senator Mushtaq Ahmed underscored the committee’s commitment to redirecting state resources towards engaging the youth in activities that safeguard Pakistan’s future, emphasizing the need to prioritize such initiatives over counter-terrorism investments as investing in youth education and employment will counter the terrorism.

A comprehensive briefing was provided by the chairman HEC on the transfer of powers to the provinces, specifically concerning the posting/transfer of vice chancellors of universities under the 18th Constitutional Amendment.

The committee learned that 42 universities in Pakistan are currently functioning with acting vice-chancellors.

Administrative procedures for appointments in Islamabad involve a search committee appointed by the President of Pakistan, while provincially chartered Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) fall under the governance of their respective provinces’ Higher Education Departments. The HEC officials raised concerns over the potential hindrance to education access for the underprivileged due to the privatization of educational institutions.

Senator Mushtaq Ahmed expressed dismay over the escalating recruitment in universities, coupled with a decline in education quality.

The committee noted that universities are offering courses with limited employment prospects.

Senator Taj Haider inquired about the GDP allocation for education, revealing that the current spending is only 1.77 percent of the total GDP, falling short of the manifesto’s target of 5 percent for education and 1 percent for research.

Addressing the Pakistan Girls Guide Association, officials from the Ministry of Education reported on rule changes in 2021, clarifying that the organization is not a government department.

Senator Mushtaq drew attention to the alarming number of youth addicted to drugs in Pakistan and urged a reallocation of funds from counter-terrorism to youth welfare. The committee also discussed the Pakistan Sports Board owned entities in provinces.

The DG Sports Board highlighted a 41 percent reduction in funds in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).

Senator Mushtaq Ahmed emphasized the pivotal role of education, employment and sports in countering terrorism. He expressed concern over the deteriorating conditions of hockey and tennis federations.

The Committee also decided to formulate a sub-committee to find out the real situation pertaining to the federally owned sports facilities in provinces.

Title : Senate panel berates govt for underspending on higher education
Author : The News
Type : News
Role Performer : Corporate Author
Subject : Senate committee critiques govt's education spending and advocates youth-centric resource allocation
Publisher : The News
Publication Place : Islamabad
Date : 2024-01-02
Language : English