Education Testing Council
The Sindh Higher Education Commission and the federal Higher Education Commission are at a clash again, as the latter has started requesting universities to conduct entry tests through the Education Testing Council, a new testing body.
This is a fresh episode in the struggle between the two bodies dating back to the establishment of Sindh Higher Education Commission in 2013.
In the recent disagreement, the Sindh High Education Commission sent a letter to its federal counterpart and senior heads of the bureaucracy in Sindh regarding the entry tests being conducted under the Education Testing Council, the new testing body for which the government is paying a subsidy.
The Higher Education Commission announced the formation of Education Testing Council last year. This year the Council has conducted tests of about 66,000 students in twenty-eight (28) cities for about fifty-four (54) public and private sector universities. Of the mentioned number of students, 34,000 appeared for medical, 30,000 for engineering and the rest for general admission tests. Additionally, about 70,000 candidates will appear for tests in October.
The Higher Education Commission took this decision after it failed to justify in Lahore High Court that holding the ‘mandatory’ tests under the National Testing Service was formally approved by its governing body. The Court, thus, ordered the Higher Education Commission to constitute its own testing service and termed the National Testing Service an illegal body for conducting tests.
The Sindh Higher Education Commission’s deputy director, in its letter to the Higher Education Commission, stated that it had invited students to participate in entry tests for universities in Sindh without consulting them. It called the advertisement issued as “coram non judice” and “not in conformity with the canons of justice and fair play”.
The deputy director added that under the circumstances, the contents of the advertisements are not to be implemented in the universities under the administrative control of the Government of Sindh.
The letter is a serious blow to the Higher Education Commission that is hoping to make it mandatory for all public universities to carry out tests under the Education Testing Council from spring 2018 onwards.
The letter is also alarming because the major universities in Punjab – including the Punjab University, the University of Engineering and Technology, the University of Health Sciences and the Government College University – have already expressed their inability to adopt the Education Testing Council tests for various reasons.
In a bid to resolve the forthcoming crisis, the chairperson of the Higher Education Commission called on the Sindh Higher Education Commission Secretary to inform him of the gravity of the situation.
It was conveyed to the Secretary of the Sindh Higher Education Commission that the Higher Education Commission was sending him a legal notice for stopping it from functioning according to its ordinance.
The Education Testing Council was protected as per the Ordinance and Supreme Court’s 2011 order where it was stated that the Higher Education Commission would function until an amendment is proposed under the Higher Education Commission Ordinance.