PA approves bill for new university in Gujrat
By Qamar Jabbar
LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly adopted a bill on Wednesday to build a new university in Gujrat, Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi’s hometown.
The University of Gujrat Act 2003 was adopted after a clause-by-clause reading and after all the amendments moved by the opposition were rejected. According to the act, the university will offer compulsory Islamic and Pakistan studies courses at Bachelor’s level. Non-Muslim students can do ethics and Pakistan studies instead.
The Government College in Gujrat, the Government Degree College for Women on Railway Road, the Fatima Jinnah College for Women and the Government College for Women, Marghzar Colony, will be reconstituted as the University of Gujrat in accordance with the provisions of the act.
The act says all employees serving in these colleges, except employees on deputation, will be transferred to the university. The university can make provisions for teaching, training, research, demonstration and development of technologies in the arts, science and applied disciplines at undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate levels.
The university can establish sub-campuses and frame and prescribe courses of studies to be taught by it and the affiliated and constituent colleges. The university will include faculties of arts, science, social sciences and technology, Islamic and oriental learning, management and administrative science and faculty of engineering. The Punjab Assembly also continued to debate the Punjab Education Foundation Bill 2003. If the bill is approved, the Punjab Education Foundation established under the Punjab Education Foundation Act 1991 will be dissolved and the assets and liabilities created under the repealed will be transferred to the Education Foundation.
According to the bill, the board of directors of the foundation will consist of fifteen directors including the chairperson to be appointed by the government. The finance, education, literacy and non-formal education, social welfare and planning and development secretaries and eight people from private organisations including three women from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), philanthropists, technocrats and academicians will be members of the Board of Directors of the Education Foundation. The non-official members will elect the chairperson for a three-year term.
The Education Foundation would provide financial assistance for the establishment, expansion, improvement and management of schools; promote public-private partnerships relating to education; and provide technical assistance to schools for testing policy interventions and innovative programmes for replication. Opposition members including Ehsanullah Waqas, Samiullah Khan and Tahira Muneer protested that the bill called for the expulsion of public representatives from the foundation’s board of directors and handing it over to NGOs. They claimed most NGOs were “defaming Pakistan internationally”. They demanded the education minister and four assembly members be added to the foundation’s board of directors.
Education Minister Imran Masood said the main purpose of the bill was to restructure the foundation. He said that the foundation would provide loans for the establishment of pro-poor schools in rural areas. He said the induction of non-official directors would enhance the performance of the foundation. He said the Punjab government would give the foundation funds to loan to the private sector for schools in rural areas.