Five most important study centres without proper status

Five most important study centres without proper status

ISLAMABAD: Despite the passage of over six years, the status of five of the most important study centres in the capital has not been decided yet, Daily Times has learnt reliably.

There are five study and research centres including the Centre of Excellence in Gender Studies, National Institute of Pakistan Studies (NIPS), National Institute of Psychology (NIP), Area Study Centre (ASC) for Africa, North and South America and National Commission on Historical and Cultural Research (NCH&CR). These have been established under constitutional acts and function under the Federal Ministry of Education.

As per details, after the 18th Constitutional Amendment, the Federal Ministry of Education with dozens of other federal ministries was devolved to provinces in 2010.

While the status of these institutions could not be defined yet despite several meetings and drafts, a proposal has been prepared. Nobody knows which ministry or monitoring body like the Higher Education Commission (HEC) is overseeing these centres.

Although a parallel ministry created in the place of the Federal Ministry of Education which is known as the Ministry of Education and Professional Training in July 2011, the fate of these centres could not be decided even by the newly created education ministry.

The Centre of Excellence in Gender Studies was established under the centre of excellence act August, 2004 for promoting gender studies in the country. As per act, it was totally an autonomous body which was to function under the education ministry. A board of governors was also set in the centre headed by the Vice Chancellor Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) and funded by the HEC.

The centre offers the masters and bachelors level programmes with the affiliation of the QAU. Its Director, Farzana Bari, admitted non declaration of the actual status of the centre. She said that several meetings were held in this regard but still in vain.

She said that the centre provides unique kind of education/discipline to its students particularly in the country and such education was very integral for females while ignoring this fact by the authorities concerned is beyond understanding and surprise, Bari added.

An official of the centre termed it as the inefficiency of the authorities concerned including the ministry and the HEC.

Another centre, the National Institute of Pakistan Studies (NIPS), was established in 1983. The institute was an autonomous organisation with the affliation of the QAU. Its Director, Chaudhry Muhammad Azam, was not available to comment regarding this scenario.

However, an official of this centre who wished not to be named confirmed non declaration of the centre though a proper legislation platform. The NIPS offers various programmes in Masters, M.Phil and PhD studies.

Like the above institutions and centres, the National Institute of Psychology (NIP) is also deprived of the attention of the authorities concerned. It was established in 1976 through a constitutional act.

The Director NIP, Anila Kamal, told this correspondent that the issue of pronouncement of the centre is still hanging in the balance. "However, we have affiliation with the QAU and the degrees of all programmes are issued by the university", Kamal added.

An official of this institute said that several meetings were held to resolve this issue but except paperwork nothing of consequence had yielded so far. He added three bodies including the Ministry of Education and Professional Training, the HEC and the QAU are respectively intended to take over absolutely these institutions as they consider it a matter of power.

The NIP provides education in MSC, M.Phil and PhD in various disciplines of psychology.

Area Study Centre (ASC) for Africa, North and South America, was established under the Area Study Centres Act 1975. Like other centres this entre was an autonomous entity, and was to function under the supervision of the then ministry of education.

It offers PhD studies in different programmes including social sciences, biological sciences and natural sciences. The degrees provided are under affiliation with the QAU.

Waqar Shah, who is also Dean at the QAU and is appointed as Director ASC, by VC Javed Ashraf, was not available for his comments on the issue. However, recently the issue was raised in the senate standing committee. Committee member senator Farhatullah Babar expressed serious concern over the issue. He also said that as per act, the VC had no power to interfere in the centre's matters. He quoted as an example the appointment of Waqar Shah as director.

The National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research (NIH&CR) came ito being in 1973. The autonomous entity is also deprived of obtaining supervision of any body after the devolution of the Ministry of Education.

Its Director, Syed Umer Hayat, was not available to comment on this. However, an admn officer of the institute said that the centre presented the exact history of Pakistan, so it should not be ignored. Both the minister Balighur Rehman and the HEC's chief Mukhtar Ahmed could not be reached to comment regarding this issue. Mukhtar Ahmed was is in an important meeting and asked for contacting spokesperson Aayesha Ikram but she also could not be approached.