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April 17, 2018

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Civil society demands merit-based appointment in HEC

Civil society demands merit-based appointment in HEC

ISLAMABAD: More than ten academic, civil society and political organisations held a joint protest in front of National Press Club, Islamabad to support six-point charter of demands aimed at transparent and merit based key appointments in higher education sector.

The protest was organised by Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association, Institute of Democratic & Accountability, PhD Doctors Association, Youth Council of Pakistan, Centre for Culture and Development, National Party Pakistan, Students Welfare Society, Islamabad, Working Group on Higher Education Reforms and other organisations.

Addressing on the occasion, the speakers said that the current year 2018 is the year of the key appointments in higher education in public sector, which requires critical attention and objective review. It is noteworthy that the high profile positions in education sector, such as HEC chairman, Vice Chancellors/Heads of Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad, Allama Iqbal Open University, International Islamic University and National College of Arts, have already been advertised and in certain cases, the selection process is at the final stages.

In view of the flaws in the recruitment policies and practices of the past and some serious shortcomings in the ongoing selection process, six-point charter of demands was shared which had been prepared in consultation with concerned stakeholders of higher education sector for attention of concerned appointing authorities/media and general public.

According to the charter of demands, all the appointments in higher education should be made strictly in accordance with the Supreme Court verdicts and prescribed criteria through transparent and merit-based competitive process. The bureaucratic practice of extending the contracts of high profile academic positions has created an extension culture in higher education sector, which should be discouraged to promote merit based, fresh appointments. Given the Supreme Court judgments/guidelines, the candidates for the key positions in higher education, whose cases are pending with NAB or civil courts on charges of illegal appointments, corruption or suspect credentials, should not be considered for any key post, unless cleared by the relevant authorities. The Search Committees, appointed for the scrutiny and short listing of the candidates for the key positions in higher education sector, should be given a free hand in the screening process. The undue involvement of the officials of the concerned ministries should be barred, which in case of selection process of HEC chairman has blemished the credibility and transparency of the recruitment process. An independent, third party audit of the academic performance of the former office bearers, who have applied for the post of vice chancellor or HEC chairman, should be made compulsory part of the screening process by the Search Committees. The criteria for the selection of the high profile positions in the academia, such as vice chancellors or HEC chairman, should be widely circulated. Mandatory, public lectures should be given by the short listed candidates, to be attended by students, faculty, and staff, sharing their performance and demonstrating their vision.

The speakers and protesters appealed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan for taking a suo motu against the non-transparent appointments, undue extensions and irregularities in higher education sector. They also appealed to the prime minister of Pakistan, being controlling authority of HEC to ensure merit during appointment of new HEC chief through avoiding controversial candidates for this important slot.

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