A couple of weeks ago, a dear friend from Pakistan contacted to inform me that the government of Pakistan had decided to devolve the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to the provinces under the 18th amendment to the constitution of Pakistan. My friend and I were both in agreement that this would be a disastrous step for the future of higher education in Pakistan.
So, naturally as an academic who believes in the liberatory potential of higher education, I asked my friend as to what could I do. Upon his suggestion, we launched a Petition Campaign on this website. Quite a few of you responded strongly in support of HEC.
I am normally an anti-establishment kind of guy, but the reason I decided to support HEC was that I find its existence to be crucial to the future of Pakistan. No modern nation can prosper without a highly developed higher education system. I am certain that in its existence for less than a decade, HEC has done a tremendous job of revitalizing higher education in Pakistan and in placing Pakistan in contact with hundreds of global partners in education cross the world. The kind of global world that we live in, a centralized, efficient, and transparent institution like HEC is not only necessary but crucial to our survival in the future.
As an academic in the US, I have seen the impact of HEC first hand: the numbers and quality of Pakistani graduate students in the American universities have increased dramatically since the inception of HEC, and this can only improve as HEC is lucky to have a strong cadre of highly dedicated people, some of whom I have met personally and found to be exceptionally competent, kind, and caring.
I have just heard from a few friends that the Pakistani government has reversed its decision to dissolve HEC. If this is true, then this is probably the first reversal by this government–for they have made quite a few disastrous reversals–that I support whole-heartedly. Still, I am not ready to count my chickens yet and urge you strongly to Sign the Petition and participate in the poll below.