Lahore: The Punjab government seems to have left one of its most important departments, the Higher Education Department, at the mercy of God as most of the top slots in the department and its attached bodies are awaiting regular incumbents.
At present, some of these slots are vacant while most of the key positions are being looked after on additional charge basis as a “temporary arrangement” for the last many months exposing the Punjab government’s tall claim of “good governance”.
Those who have to visit the department and its attached bodies with the hope to get their issues resolved have to return disappointed owing to absence of the “competent authority”.
The Higher Education Department deals with the management and reforms relating to the college sector education, including universities of the province. The slot of the Higher Education Department secretary is vacant these days after Farhan Aziz Khawaja relinquished the charge as the secretary on October 7. Before relinquishing the charge he had been on leave for quite some time, on various occasions, and the department’s affairs were being looked after by Special Secretary Sohail Shahzad.
Similarly, the post of the Additional Secretary (Academic) is waiting regular incumbent for almost months now.
At present, a Deputy Secretary, Ijaz Minhas, is having additional charge as additional Secretary (Academic).
It is pertinent to mention that this wing looks after all the public and private sector universities of the province.
Sources in the department said many of the posts of section officers (SOs) in various wings, including SO (Boards), were adjusted on temporary basis. They said these officials were drawing salaries from their respective colleges while performing duties in the department.
The sources said many of the SOs were newly recruited lecturers who failing to find place of their “choice” to teach, used their connections and got posting at the department. They said such “abundance” of inexperienced staff was never witnessed in the department in the past.
The Directorate of Public Instructions (Colleges), which falls under the administrative control of the Higher Education Department, has been waiting for a regular incumbent against the post of Additional DPI since January this year. While the posts of Director (Admin) and Director (Planning) at the Directorate are also being looked after on additional charge basis since May this year.
Likewise, many Boards of Intermediate & Secondary Education (BISEs) which are under administrative control of the Higher Education Department have been waiting for regular incumbents on various top slots.
The posts of Controller of Examination and Secretary at the BISE Gujranwala are being looked after on additional charge basis since March and August respectively while the post of Controller at the BISEs Rawalpindi, Faisalabad and Multan have also been waiting for regular incumbents for several months.
Similarly, regular incumbents are awaited at the topmost slot i.e. Chairman, at the BISEs Faisalabad (since July), Sargodha (since September) and Rawalpindi (since September). Presently, the posts at these boards are being looked after under “temporary arrangements”.
It is also important to mention here that the posts of chairman at BISE Sahiwal and BISE Bahawalpur will fall vacant following tenures of the incumbent officers complete at the end of October.
According to sources, dozens of colleges across the province, including Islamia College, Civil Lines Lahore, are without regular principals for quite some time now. They said senior faculty members at the colleges were working as “acting” principals in absence of regular incumbents.
An official of the department seeking anonymity said a committee headed by the Chief Secretary, Punjab, had recently conducted interviews of candidates for the post of chairmen of different boards but had failed to find any suitable candidate.
The News could not reach Punjab Minister for Education Rana Mashhood Ahmed Khan for comments despite repeated attempts on his cell phone.
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