ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday directed the Ministry of Finance to ensure an interrupted supply of funds for the higher education sector.
Chairing a meeting on matters pertaining to the higher education sector, the prime minister said that despite the difficult economic situation of the country, the government will meet the financial needs of the higher education sector to ensure that the country’s youth is not deprived of quality education. “The government wants to make quality education accessible to the youth,” he said.
Speaking about the curriculum, the premier said that the curriculum should enlighten the youth about Islamic values and Sufism. “The curriculum should also focus on eastern values, particularly those of our civilisation,” he added.
He also formed a committee under the leadership of Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood to oversee matters pertaining to the financial needs of the universities, provision of required resources and financial rules and regulations. He directed the minister to ensure the establishment of universities where the youth can attain quality education. He further tasked him to prepare a joint strategy in collaboration with the provincial governments regarding the curriculum and other matters of higher education.
This development comes weeks after the Senate’s Standing Committee on Science and Technology on January 2 urged the federal government to release Rs21 billion to the Higher Education Commission (HEC) in order to avoid closure of universities.
Briefing the members of the Senate committee, HEC officials had said that the commission was facing a shortage of funds for running universities across the country. They had apprised the committee that the commission had been allocated 45 per cent lesser funds by the authorities.
The officials had said that the federal government had been contacted for release of Rs21 billion but it had not responded to the request. They had added that the situation is worsening as the universities were unable to pay salaries to their employees. Moreover, they had said, HEC needs additional funding of Rs10 billion for research purposes.
Senator Gianchand had lashed out at the government, saying it was launching ‘langar khanas’ after cutting funds of the HEC.
Committee Chairman Mushtaq Ahmed had urged the federal government to pay attention to the deteriorating financial situation of the educational institutions that could ultimately lead to the closure of many universities across the country.
He had said that Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had dedicated his property to the Peshawar University, which is now facing Rs600m deficit due to shortage of funds. “It seems that education and research are not a priority for the government,” he had added.