University Teachers Announced Strike On 22 September Against Minister’s Refusal
The Federation of the All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Associations (FAPUASA) has announced a complete strike on September 22 to protest against the refusal of Finance Minister Dr Hafeez Sheikh to increase the funding for higher education.
It also appealed to teachers of all the universities in the country to make the protest successful. The FAPUASA also warned to expand the protest if the government did not force the top financial authorities to realise their duties to the nation.
These announcements were made in reaction to the attitude of the finance minister, who after listening to the vice-chancellors at the Higher Education Commission (HEC) here on Thursday refused to listen to the heads of universities and instead proposed to them to put the belongings of their respective universities on sale to generate the funds. As many as 68 VCs threatened to resign by the 20th of this month if the Finance Ministry did not increase the funding.
Strongly condemning the finance minister’s statement, Dr Mahr Saeed Akhtar, President FAPUASA, and General Secretary Prof Kaleemullah Bareach asked the government on Friday to dismiss Abdul Hafeez Sheikh forthwith “who does not know that education is a pre-requisite to progress, development and prosperity”. They said that most of the students coming to public-sector universities belonged to poor and middle classes. They observed that Dr Hafeez should know that 70 percent people in Pakistan not only belong to villages but are also living below the poverty line.
The FAPUASA office-bearers said that it was in the knowledge of everybody that the development of countries only depended upon higher education and research and the differences in nations was because of the value accorded to higher education. They also criticised the HEC administration, which “deliberately showed laziness and incompetence in providing funds to the universities”.
While talking to The News, Prof Bareach said that the HEC was unnecessarily paying hefty salaries to teachers in the name of the Tenure Track System and universities could save substantial amounts by putting an end to this controversial scheme and divert the funds thus saved to improve the financial position of higher education sector.
The Academic Staff Associations of Quaid-i-Azam University, International Islamic University, Allama Iqbal Open University and National University of Modern Languages also expressed their support to the stand adopted by 68 VCs and the FAPUASA call for the strike.