PM House to be converted into Islamabad National University in 72 months, bill tabled in Senate
According to the law meant for converting PM House into Islamabad National University), which has already been enacted by the National Assembly, the project would take 72 months to complete once it is started.
However, the Khan-led PTI government is working hard to have the bill enacted by the Senate as quickly as possible so that the university could begin providing admissions in the following spring term in any rented building.
On instructions of the Prime Minister’s Office, officials from the Higher Education Commission and the Capital Development Authority (CDA) visited the Sir Syed Memorial Society building in G-5 last year. The HEC and CDA eventually shared a report with the PM office, giving a go-ahead for establishing the much-awaited university.
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Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan introduced the University of Engineering and Emerging Technology Bill 2022 in the Senate on behalf of Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood.
The bill was forwarded to the Senate Standing Committee on Education for consideration by Chairman Mohammad Sadiq Sanjrani.
The law was authorized by the NA standing committee in October of last year, and it was enacted by the National Assembly last month along with the mini-budget and a few other bills.
According to the working paper provided to the NA committee last year, the university would have seven centers of excellence, three of which will be located in the PM House and four in Kuri, where federal land is available. The committee was told that the project would take six years to complete and that the government has already set aside Rs23 billion for it.
When asked about the three-year backlog in approving the university’s charter, officials from the Ministry of Education stated that the ministry had nothing to do with the project previously and that the Ministry of Science and Technology was looking into it.
The initiative was referred to the Ministry of Education in October of last year.
“Within one month after taking over the project, we got the bill approved from the National Assembly. And today, the bill was tabled in the Senate,” stated an education ministry official who also predicted that the bill will be approved by the Senate soon.
There are now 141 public sector universities in Pakistan, 15 of which are for engineering and technology universities. Universities in the public sector have been complaining about a lack of finances. The government, on the other hand, is set about establishing a new university.
During a recent Senate Standing Committee on Education hearing, vice-chancellors from many institutions said that they were experiencing a funding crisis. One of them stated that they did not have enough money to acquire chemicals for the university’s laboratory.
Government’s efforts in reforming the education sector
Imran Khan, the prime minister of Pakistan, has been vocal about reforming many sectors noteworthy of which are the judiciary, health, and education.
Even before coming into power in the 2018 General Elections, Imran Khan has criticized what he describes as “English medium for elite and Urdu medium for poor”.
In his statement during the inauguration of the Single National Curriculum (SNC), he stated, “it has been my vision for the past 25 years that the core syllabus for the country would one day be one.”
“This(SNC) was considered impossible,” he said, adding that “the ruling elite had their kids studying in English medium educational institutions for whom all the jobs and opportunities were reserved.”
“Growing up, everyone wanted to go for civil service & civil service is not accessible to anyone who ha not studied in English medium schools,” Imran Khan further said.
Aside from the Single National Curriculum, the Pakistani government has announced the decision to award 6 million scholarships to eligible students who are struggling to afford higher education. Rs47 billion has been allocated for the scholarships.
Last August, Federal Minister of Education Shafqat Mahmood announced 50,000 scholarships through the Higher Education Commission under the Ehsaas program (HEC).