The Caretaker Chief Minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), Justice (retd) Syed Arshad Hussain Shah, has taken significant steps to address the financial challenges plaguing universities across the province.
In a meeting at the Chief Minister House, the focus was on initiating crucial reforms in the higher education sector. The meeting was attended by key officials, including Caretaker Provincial Minister for Higher Education Dr Qasim Jan, Caretaker Minister for ST&IT Dr Najeebullah, Chief Secretary Nadeem Aslam Chaudhry, Secretary Higher Education Arshad Khan, and higher education expert Anwar Gillani, who participated via video link.
A detailed report on the financial problems faced by universities was ordered by the caretaker chief minister, reflecting a commitment to understanding the root causes of the challenges in the higher education sector.
The meeting delved into various matters, emphasizing the need for reforms, especially in areas such as the financial issues of universities, the quality of education, research projects, appointment procedures for vice chancellors, and improvements in the examination mechanism.
Among the issues discussed, the financial crisis in universities was attributed in part to unnecessary appointments and over-staffing. The participants acknowledged the urgency of halting this trend to alleviate the prevailing financial crunch.
A committee, led by the minister for higher education, was proposed to finalize decisions and proposals from the meeting in consultation with all stakeholders.
To address the shortage of vice chancellors in public sector universities, the CM ordered the activation of a search committee on an emergency basis. He underscored the importance of considering not only merit and legal requirements but also administrative skills when making these appointments.
Furthermore, the meeting emphasized the promotion of research activities in alignment with international standards and market demands. The chief minister stressed the need for concrete steps to make higher educational institutions sustainable and self-reliant, calling for the development and implementation of robust financial plans.
In his address, the chief minister highlighted the critical role of education and research in shaping the future of the younger generation. He emphasized the necessity of aligning higher education institutions with the requirements of the modern age. Acknowledging the linkage between elementary and secondary education institutions as feeders for higher education, the chief minister emphasized the alignment of these levels with the priorities of higher educational institutions.
The meeting, in principle, agreed to improve the appointment procedures for the chairmen and controllers of education boards. However, the chief minister directed the formulation of a final proposal in consultation with stakeholders. Additionally, there was consensus on establishing close contact with relevant authorities in embassies to prepare human resources in line with the demands of modern markets abroad.
In conclusion, the chief minister demonstrated a proactive approach in addressing the challenges facing higher education in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. By focusing on financial issues, appointment procedures, and research promotion, the government aims to uplift the quality of education and ensure the sustainability and self-reliance of higher educational institutions in the province. The commitment to involving stakeholders and seeking consultation reflects a collaborative and inclusive approach to bring about positive reforms in the higher education sector.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th2023.