The academic staff of public sector universities across Sindh observed a full day strike on Tuesday to protest official delay in revising the Sindh Universities Law Amendment Act, 2013.
No classes were held at the Karachi University, NED University of Engineering and Technology, Sindh University, University of Agriculture, Tandojam, Quaid-i-Awam University of Engineering and Technology, Nawabshah, Mehran University of Engineering and Technology, Jamshoro, Shah Abdul Latif University in Khairpur and its Shikarpur campus.
The strike call was given by the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (Fapuasa)’s Sindh chapter.
“We are going to hold a general body meeting of teacher associations in the second week of March in Peshawar to evolve a consensus on a countrywide indefinite strike if the Sindh government didn’t revise the controversial act as per our demands,” said Prof Dr Syed Jamil Hassan Kazmi at a press conference at the NED university on Tuesday.
Steps to curb autonomy of universities were not restricted to Sindh only, he said, adding that there were indications that the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) government in Khyber Pakhtunkhaw planning a similar legislation and setting up of a higher education commission of the province.
“Therefore, there is a need to broaden our agitation,” he said.
Prof Kazmi told newsmen that the academic staff at the universities in the rest of the country also observed a two-hour strike in solidarity with the Sindh Fapuasa,” he said.
He reiterated teachers’ demands — the word ‘control’ should be removed from the Act’s preamble; the age-limit for appointment of vice chancellor should be 65 years and he should be chosen through a search committee comprising credible educationists; a pro-vice chancellor should be from the three senior most professors of the university; the appointment of registrar, controller of examinations, bursar, chief accountant and resident auditor should be made through the respective university syndicates; only one pro-vice chancellor (main campus) should be the syndicate member and the university academic council should be authorized to do admissions; vice chancellors should be delegated powers to issue no-objection certificates to faculty members who intended to travel abroad to attend academic events.
In reply to a question regarding establishment of provincial higher education commission, Prof Kazmi said that though the matter was not discussed in the Fapuasa meeting, he was personally opposed to the ideas as higher education was a federal subject and the Supreme Court had already ruled against such a body at the provincial level.
He called upon the government to focus on the financial crisis being faced by universities instead of indulging in undemocratic and anti-devolution acts.
All academic activities remained suspended on Tuesday in response to the Fapuasa call with the only exception being the Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences (LUMHS), Jamshoro.
Students made it to their respective universities only to see teachers boycotting classes. However, there were no rallies, protest demonstrations or token hunger strikes at any of the universities.
According to Sindh University Teachers’ Association (SUTA) office-bearers Dr Azhar Ali Shah, Umed Ali Rind, Saad Nizamani, Dr Arfana Mallah, Dr Hyder Nizamani and Jamshed Chandio, the strike remained effective in all public sector universities of Sindh.Dawn.