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Letters to the Editor Dated: April 15,2011 The Editor, Daily DAWN, Karachi Dear Sir, The beneficiaries of the Higher Education Commission, loyalists of the military dictator and supporters of One Unit have all ganged up against 18 th amendment on pretext of devolution of HEC has raised such a rumpus that obscures its real face. Here are some facts about the organization for your readers to judge. Fact No. 1: The HEC came into existence as a supreme regulatory authority, in 2002 on the very eve of the first meeting of the newly elected parliament, through a decree promulgated by the despotic military dictator. The ordinance had never been debated in the elected parliament. The HEC by its very constitution is thus autocratic. It does not advise, it dictates. It does not suggest,, it orders. During the past eight and half years the HEC has managed to usurp academic freedom and University autonomy, consequently the acts through which the public sector universities were established have become redundant. HEC now controls every aspect of university affairs from admissions, curriculum and appointments. The constitution of the HEC had tickled the dictator’s fancy, as it laid great emphasis on compliance and regimentation. The dictator thought it useful to indoctrinate his professed notion of moderate enlightenment. Fact No. 2. The HEC has made a mockery of research by supporting irrationality, abnormality and absurdity in the academic environment. Some of the absurdities are i) ii) iii) iv)

A physics professor publishing 80 research paper during a SINGLE calendar year. A university professor producing 30 Ph.D.’s in two years. A research scientist concurrently supervising 76 Ph.D. scholars And many more examples can be cited

HEC in fact has started a mad race for Ph.D.s and research publications through introduction of productivity allowance for researchers; and that too without a transparent refereeing and evaluation mechanism. This also occurred in western countries during early twentieth century. A German Physicist and Noble laureate Prof. Wolfgang Pauli had took exception to this trend and aptly remarked “I do not mind dear doctor if you think slowly, but I do mind if you publish faster than you think” FACT No. 3: The HEC is guilty of promoting commercialism in higher education by granting recognition to a number ill-reputed institutions; making exorbitant profit on hapless customers. These institutions frequently advertise in Sunday Newspapers offering higher degrees wrapped in fancy packages, such as, Sunday package, Weekend package, Ramadan package, Muharram

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package, Executive package etc.,. You can even get your degree upsized for some extra cost and soon we might be seeing guaranteed success or ‘Buy one, get one free! ‘ type of ads. The saner elements of western academia, people like Noam Chomsky, have appropriately decried the very notion of higher education being a commodity; tradable like banana, potato chips, pulses or fancy cars. FACT No. 4: HEC has very conveniently turned its blind eye on nagging issues that have dogged higher education in the country for many decades, these include rampant cheating in examinations, political interference of students in administrative and academic affairs, hooliganism on campuses, lack of transparency in appointments of officials and faculty, Vice-Chancellors frequently using their discretionary powers in violation to University codes, award of fake or dubious Ph.D. degrees and many other administrative malpractices. The solution of above problems do not require a lot of funds; it only requires a political will and apolitical Vice-Chancellors with sufficient guts to stand up and say NO! to external pressures. In my opinion pumping money into higher education without addressing the above problems is throwing it down a bottomless pit. In the end I salute Senator Raza Rabbani for his principled stance on provincial autonomy. Universities cannot produce desired results of quality education without academic freedom and institutional autonomy; which should be restored immediately. Meanwhile, the Implementation Commission for 18 th amendment must engage the real stake holders , i.e., the professorate, and come up with a workable plan to make higher education a truly truth seeking enterprise. Dr. Abdul Qadeer Karachi

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letter by qadeer  

on hec dissolution and how research has been commodified