In a front page article for The News on Saturday, Jang Group editor Ansar Abbasi once again deals in rumour, speculation, and misrepresentation – this time regarding devolution of the Higher Education Commission (HEC).
According to Ansar Abbasi,
The HEC is facing the wrath of the parliamentarians after it had refused to accept any pressure for the verification of the MPs’ degrees, more than 50 of which have already been declared invalid whereas above 200 degrees were termed suspected.
Though holding the title ‘Investigative Editor’ of The News, Ansar Abbasi produces no investigative research or evidence to support his claim that somehow 342 parliamentarians have overcome all political difference in a united conspiracy against HEC .
According to MNA Raza Rabbani (PPP), changes to education funding come as a result of devolution required under the 18th Amendment.
“The HEC act will be revisited and reframed to shed its role as centralised funding authority because under the ‘new state structure’ emerging in the aftermath of the 18th Amendment, there is no room for such a role,” the commission’s chairman, Senator Mian Raza Rabbani, said at a press conference here on Tuesday.
Actually, it is not only HEC that is being affected by devolution. According to the report in Dawn
The ministries being devolved are: education, social welfare and special education, tourism, livestock and dairy development and culture. The portions include lotteries, capital gains tax and GST on services from the finance ministry, navigation and inland water wing from the ports and shipping ministry, arms act (issuance of arms licence, except banned bore) from the interior ministry, wills and testaments, trusts, arbitration, bankruptcy and insolvency from the law and justice ministry and a portion of the commerce ministry.
Ansar Abbasi further claims that devolution of the 18th Amendment threatens $250 million assistance under the Kerry-Lugar Act. His only evidence comes from anonymous “informed government sources”. It should be noted that earlier this year a three member Judicial Commission termed Ansar Abbasi’s sources ‘incorrigible liars’.
Former Federal Minister for Education Ahsan Iqbal (PML-N) is now serving his third term representing the people of Narowal as a Member National Assembly. In a paper published last month as part of the ‘March for Education’ programme, MNA Iqbal describes the problem of funding education – including the HEC – as a complex set of challenges involving devolution under the 18th Amendment, the need for a national education policy that serves all parts of society, and a number of ‘structural deficits’ in the budgeting system. In addition to these structural challenges, the role of international aid is also termed significant, but “what that role is has never been fully or clearly articulated”.
Article 25a of the Constitution terms education as “a fundamental right”. It is imperative, therefore, that the government work transparently and honestly towards the goal of developing a revitalized education system that serves all the people. In a democratic system, it is required that both ruling party and opposition MNAs must work together to develop this system for the good of the nation. In order for this to happen, media must inform the masses with the facts and not use this fundamental right as a weapon to score political points.