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Event Title: Senator Mushtaq Ahmed, Chairman Senate Functional Committee on Devolution Presiding over a Meeting of The Committee at Parliament House Islamabad

Event Date: 2024-01-01

The Senate Functional Committee on Devolution, presided over by Chairman Mushtaq Ahmed, convened today at the Parliament House to deliberate on key matters pertaining to the transfer of powers and handing over the functions and facilities to the Provincial Government with a particular focus on the education sector.

During the session, Chairman Mushtaq Ahmed underscored the committee's commitment to redirecting state resources towards engaging the youth in activities that safeguard Pakistan's future, emphasizing the need to prioritize such initiatives over counter-terrorism investments as investing in youth education and employment will counter the terrorism.

A comprehensive briefing was provided by the Chairman of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) on the Transfer of Powers to the Provinces, specifically concerning the Posting/Transfer of Vice Chancellors of Universities under the 18th Constitutional Amendment. The committee learned that 42 universities in Pakistan are currently functioning with acting vice-chancellors. Administrative procedures for appointments in Islamabad involve a search committee appointed by the President of Pakistan, while provincially chartered Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) fall under the governance of their respective provinces' Higher Education Departments.

HEC officials raised concerns about the potential hindrance to education access for the underprivileged due to the privatization of educational institutions. Chairman Mushtaq Ahmed expressed dismay over the escalating recruitment in universities, coupled with a decline in education quality. The committee noted that universities are offering courses with limited employment prospects. Senator Taj Haider inquired about the GDP allocation for education, revealing that the current spending is only 1.77% of the total GDP, falling short of the manifesto's target of 5% for education and 1% for research.

Chairman Mushtaq Ahmed criticized the government's perception of education spending as a loss, juxtaposing it with substantial payments to Independent Power Producers (IPPs). He highlighted the significant disparity in funds allocated for capacity charges to IPPs compared to the budget for Higher Education Commissions.

Addressing the Pakistan Girls Guide Association, officials from the Ministry of Education reported on rule changes in 2021, clarifying that the organization is not a government department. Chairman Mushtaq Ahmed drew attention to the alarming number of youth addicted to drugs in Pakistan and urged a reallocation of funds from counter-terrorism to youth welfare.

The committee also discussed the Pakistan Sports Board owned entities in provinces. The DG Sports Board highlighted a 41% reduction in funds in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). Senator Mushtaq Ahmed emphasized the pivotal role of education, employment, and sports in countering terrorism. He expressed concern over the deteriorating conditions of hockey and tennis federations.

The Committee also decided to formulate a sub-committee to find out the real situation pertaining to the federally owned sports facilities in provinces.

In attendance were Senators Nuzhat Sadiq, Taj Haider, and Muhammad Akram, along with senior officials from relevant departments.