Overlooking the representation of Sindh’s College Education Department, the provincial education minister has convened meeting of the steering committee of the School Education Literacy Department on June 16 to decide the ongoing academic session and future plan of actions with the consultation of all stakeholders.
The steering committee is the highest decision-making body that decides dates of admissions in educational institutions across the province, fixing holiday schedules or formulating strategies for examinations for lower education.
Following the schedule, the SLED has sent a formal invitation to officials, officers, private school associations, and others. Once again, however, the College Education Department has been ignored. And high-ranked officials of the department have not been invited to attend the meeting.
The department has invited 32 members of the committee including the director of elementary education, director of secondary education, directors of higher secondary education and other officer working in six regions of Sindh.
On one hand, the steering committee is dominated by the officials of the school education department who also decides the future action plan of around 300 colleges, on the other it overlooks to give proper representation to the officers belongs to college education department. Despite, the committee is inclusive of several officers and a dozen of directors belong to the SLED. Likewise, the non-official members of the committee are over-represented.
“Interest point is that the Additional Director Teachers Training Institutions Hyderabad is also one of the steering committee members. However, the said officer has nothing to do with the admissions, holidays and examination dates of schools and colleges,” said an officer of the college education department.
He said that the representation has been given to the officers belong to SLED. But the administrative head of 150 government colleges—the Director Colleges Karachi who deals with all matters falling under the purview of the steering committee, has no representation in the committee.
At present around 400000 students across the province are studying in more than 300 state-run colleges while the same number of private colleges are also operating across the province. However, colleges have no representation in the committee.
It’s been around 5 years since the Sindh government divided the education department into the College Education and the School Education and Literacy. They both have the status of separate of departments, but so far neither a separate steering committee of the College Education Department has been formed nor college education department in the existing steering committee was given proper representation, the officer pointed out.
He said that the officers of the College Education Department are also silent over legitimate representation in the steering committee. And the college teachers’ unions have also maintained a meaningful silence. No voice is being raised against the steps taken by the Sindh government.
He said that as a part of lower education college education department is playing an important role to prepare students for higher education. “The door to higher education opens from colleges. Colleges prepare students for admission to higher education institutions. But colleges of Sindh have no representation in the decision-making process”.
Educationist Zahid Ahmed says that the importance of education at the college level is obvious, but when it comes to decision-making on issues related to colleges, this most important stakeholder of the education sector has been ignored. Two and a half years ago, the education department had proposed to form a separate steering committee for colleges. However, no tangible steps were taken in this regard.
Ahmed said that this proposal was given to the then Secretary College Education Department with which he also agreed. However, this proposal has not been implemented so far.
The decisions about the admissions in colleges, holidays, examinations, timetable, syllabus duration, and such other important academic decisions are being made in the steering committee of the SELD. But the committee does not seek the opinions and suggestions of directors of colleges.
“Not a single director out of 6 regional directors of colleges has been invited to attend the meeting of the steering committee while all the directors of the school side are permanent members of the committee”.
Commenting on the issue, the leaders of Sindh Professor and Lecturers Association were of the view that a separate steering committee for college education should be formed so that they could decide academic problems being faced by the colleges.
If the Sindh government is facing difficulties in setting up a separate steering committee, then at least 3 representatives of 6 regional directors of colleges, directors private colleges and a member of SPLA should be made part of the existing steering committee so that the stakeholders of college education department can also participate in the decision-making process.