The Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairman Dr Tariq Banuri on Thursday said that the Commission was taking all possible steps for betterment of faculty & students.
He made these remarks while taking note of a statement by Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association(FAPUASA) representatives to boycott online classes.
In a statement issued here, Chairman HEC clarified that teaching online classes is a matter between the university and individual faculty members. Thus far, the vast majority of faculty members has treated this responsibility as a national duty, and has worked hard to prepare themselves for it. To date 23,556 faculty members have trained themselves for online learning. Many of them have reached out to the HEC experts in the Technology Support Committee or Content Identification Committee for information. This support is provided 24/7 to universities and their faculty members, it added.
Much of the FAPUASA statement consists of fake news or personal attacks, which are inappropriate for those claiming to be representatives of teachers.
The issues have been discussed repeatedly with FAPUASA representatives in the past, and can be discussed again. However, the final decisions by the Commission or its Chairman are made after considering all perspectives, and in accordance with HEC’s mandate of enhancing access, quality, and relevance of education and research in the country. This mandate represents the combined interests of students, teachers, and researchers.
In response to the Coronavirus outbreak, HEC has circulated a number of prudential guidelines to protect the health and safety of the students and faculty members as well as the continuity of the learning process. All these guidelines were issued after extensive consultations with Vice Chancellors of public as well as private sector, provincial governments, and accreditation councils.
HEC and the universities have also initiated steps to overcome the difficulties that emerged subsequently, including the connectivity issues faced by students, and the teething problems of delivering good quality education through the new medium of online instruction.
The PTA has worked with telecom operators to develop subsidized data bundles. Discussions are continuing to provide additional subsidies to students.
Regarding online classes as well as examinations, HEC has consistently taken the view that these should not be imposed unilaterally, but should be made available only for those who share the commitment to education and wish to continue to engage in the educational process. Any student who does not wish to study through online means should be allowed to withdraw and freeze his/ her semester. Likewise, any faculty member who feels unequipped to teach online courses should be allowed to go on leave or assigned other duties at the universities’ discretion.
The FAPUASA statement contains inaccurate and false statements about the Commission’s decision regarding the faculty members on the Tenure Track System (TTS). These are based on the long-standing demands of the TTS faculty members. Instead of spreading fake news, they are advised to wait for the formal announcement of the decision.
Likewise, false statements have been made with regard to the decisions taken to improve the quality of Pakistani journals, and the strengthening of the HEC Journals Recognition System (HJRS). The new policy will bring Pakistani research journals at par with the international best standards, and plug holes that encourage gaming and malpractices in research.
There is no disagreement that the slashing of funds for higher education is a disturbing development. HEC has consistently championed this case before the government and will continue to do so.
HEC is a national body with representation of all the federating units/provinces as well as the federation, and its policies are based on comprehensive and extensive consultative and review process by best academicians and experts.
These policies have a common denominator i.e. merit, transparency and reward for excellence on internationally accepted and tested principles. Every interest group has a right to express its opinion. However, HEC’s decisions are made after considering all views and in the larger national interest, not in response to pressure tactics by any of these groups, it concluded.
This news was originally published at urdupoint.com