Saturday June 22, 2024

CM appeals to PM to restore funding for Sindh’s public universities

By Syed Muhammad Askari
June 04, 2024
This combo of images shows, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah (L) and  Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif (R). —  X/@SindhCMHouse/APP/File
This combo of images shows, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah (L) and  Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif (R). —  X/@SindhCMHouse/APP/File

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has urgently appealed to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to restore and increase funding for public universities in Sindh.

In his letter, he has told the PM that he is writing to express his deep concern over the impending decision to restrict funding for public universities to federal institutions only. This decision has placed a significant burden on the universities in Sindh, adversely impacting the educational outcomes of our students and the overall development of our province.

The CM stated that the Government of Sindh has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to higher education through the Sindh Higher Education Commission (HEC), allocating a recurring grant of Rs22 billion in the current fiscal year. However, the recent decision to halt funding for provincial universities, coupled with a drastic reduction in the Federal Higher Education Commission (HEC) budget from Rs65 billion to a mere Rs25 billion, has far-reaching consequences.

Shah said that by exclusively reserving federal funding for federal universities, provincial public universities find themselves in a precarious situation. They now confront a difficult choice: either raise student fees or curtail essential facilities to offset the funding shortfall. Regrettably, both options jeopardise the very educational standards that our nation urgently requires for progress.

Furthermore, he said, this unilateral action is in contravention of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) decision on 28th April, 2011, which states: “The Council approved that financing for current expenditure of Universities as hitherto would be picked up by the Federal Government till the period of the current NFC Award. The Federal Government would during this period also pick up the development expenditure of the Universities depending upon the resources available with the Federal Government.”

He said higher education is an economic necessity and the state policies may not make it into a luxury for privileged few. Together, we must ensure that it is affordable to every citizen across all provinces and especially in Sindh. “In light of these facts, I earnestly request that the budget for public sector universities in Sindh be not only restored but be also enhanced to Rs. 16 billion. The Government of Sindh remains committed to improving education standards in the province, and your unwavering support is crucial to this endeavor. I earnestly look forward to your positive response to this matter of great public importance.”