Higher Education Commission (HEC) ignores social sciences for award
Lahore: In what could be termed an apt example of social sciences being ignored at the national level, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has failed to select any social sciences scholars from Pakistan to confer National Distinguished Professor awards advertised in 2011, it is learnt.
On the top of it, since the launch of HEC’s National Distinguished Professor (NDP) programme, almost a decade ago, the awards have been conferred on 41 distinguished professors and among them only two are from language and social sciences.
The HEC announced the positions of NDPs in social sciences in 2011 and it is learnt senior academicians from all over Pakistan applied for these positions. However, the positions were re-advertised in 2012 due to the reason best known to those at the helm of affairs and the applicants were asked to re-apply.
However, the HEC authorities failed to make any decision again and the positions were once again advertised in 2013 with last date to submit applications till July 31, 2013. Unlike previous two advertisements which were specifically for social sciences scholars, this advertisement was for scholars of every field. Nonetheless, this advertisement met the same fate and the prospective candidates are still waiting for the “awards”. According to the sources, the relevant file is moving from table to table without any outcome. The News talked to a number of applicants who were unanimous in saying the delay and apathy on part of the HEC was adding to the agony of prospective candidates who had applied for this prestigious opening.
“The HEC needs to promote social sciences in universities for which academicians and researchers in this area need to be acknowledged and encouraged,” said a dejected applicant.
Another applicant said research in social sciences within Pakistani universities was already in dismal state, adding “Fact of the matter is that many public sector universities have not published any research article in social sciences during the last couple of years.”
It is pertinent to mention here that National Distinguished Professor (NDP) was launched with an objective “to acknowledge the services rendered by outstanding senior Professors and Scientists in Universities and R&D Organisations and to utilise their services in national organisations.”
According to the HEC last advertisement, available on its website, “The HEC Distinguished National Professor will be entitled to a fixed emolument of Rs100,000/- per month as Honorarium and Rs50,000/- per month for Research grant/Institutional share. The appointment shall be made for a period of two years on contract depending on satisfactory performance.” Chairman of the HEC’s Committee for Development of Social Sciences Dr Muhammad Nizamuddin, who is also Vice Chancellor, University of Gujrat, talking to The News said he had tried to follow the process of documentation but the Commission somehow could not focus on this task.
When contacted, the recently appointed HEC Chairperson Prof Dr Mukhtar Ahmed said he had asked the staff to put all the pending issues, adding decision about National Distinguished Professor in Social Sciences would be made within next two to three weeks. He said the HEC had not ignored social sciences as many initiatives for the promotion of the same by the Commission were evident, including 30 percent scholarship allocation for social sciences and special window for research funding as well as establishment of Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) etc.