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September 17, 2019

No academic activities today at public varsities in Sindh


September 17, 2019

The Sindh chapter of the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (Fapuasa) said in a statement on Monday that a decision to suspend university classes in the province was the only option available to the federation to get the attention of policymakers.

The statement came after all public sector varsities in Sindh announced suspension of academic activities on campuses on Tuesday (today). The statement read that at present universities were facing a serious financial crisis, the public varsities of Sindh even hardly paid salaries and pensions, and it seemed they might be unable to pay salaries in the coming months.

The federal government has decreased by 10 percent the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan budget, which has forced the commission to cut the monthly grant of universities. This is why the commission has also stopped paying all kinds of research conferences and travel grants to faculty members.

The statement said that 60 percent of salaries come from the HEC and the remaining amount is generated by the universities from their own sources and sometimes with the special grant from the Sindh government, but no such grant had been issued by the provincial government in the recent past.

“The other reason that we are going to observe a strike on Tuesday is the increase in the tax for every faculty member.” Fapuasa’s Sindh chapter was of the opinion that the government had no plan for the public sector universities where the majority of the students belonged to middle and working class families. For funds’ arrangements, the HEC was asking the universities to increase their fees, which would ultimately affect students, it added.

“The federation believes that such policies of the federal government will favour the private sector universities and will ultimately affect students belonging to the middle class. They will be deprived of getting access to higher education due to their higher fees structure.”

Talking to The News, Fapuasa Central Vice President Prof Dr Naimat Ullah Laghari said that all stakeholders of the public sector varsities in Sindh had agreed to suspend academic activities on Tuesday and observed a black day on campuses. “We are planning to hold another protest on September 24 and 25, after which we will also extend the protest to all varsities across Pakistan with the slogan ‘save universities, save education for poor’.”

Meanwhile, a meeting of the Sindh University Teachers Association (SUTA) was held at the office of the association’s secretary, Dr Arfana Mallah, and resolved that SUTA would fully support Fapuasa’s position and demands for an increase in funding, relaxation of the tax, payment of the house requisition allowance at par with Karachi University for faculty members of all other universities of Sindh.

Karachi University Teachers Society Secretary Ghufran Alam said in a statement that as per the resolution of the Fapuasa Sindh chapter, KUTS supported the suspension of classes today for both morning and evening programmes. This, he said, was to record our protest against the budget cuts and tax rebate reduction, and a united effort in this regard would support the cause of achieving results.

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