By Peer Muhammad in The Express Tribune, July 14th
ISLAMABAD: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) might be denied a grant of US$100 million from the World Bank because it has failed to achieve certain set targets, due to reduced government funding.
The World Bank signed an agreement with the government last year under which the bank committed to provide $300 million to Pakistan in three equal annual instalments. The agreement was signed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs & Statistics and the World Bank, with representatives of the HEC and finance ministry also present.
The “Tertiary Education Support Programme for the implementation of Higher Education Medium Term Development Framework II” project was approved by the World Bank’s board in March 2011.
The objective of the project is to improve the conditions of teaching, learning and research for enhanced access, quality and relevance of tertiary education.
Under the agreement, the bank committed to provide the funds as long as the HEC met 10 disbursement link indicators (DLI). Those indicators are moving farther out of reach every day due to reductions and delays in HEC funding from the finance ministry, according to HEC officials.
HEC Human Resources Management Adviser Riaz Hussain Qureshi, who also deals with the commission’s financial matters, admitted that non-availability of necessary funds had left the HEC unable to meet the performance targets.
Even in 2011, the commission got just $46 million of the $100 million that it had to get, because it only managed to fulfil four DLIs. “Under the programme, we should have gotten $100 million by [March 2012],” Qureshi said, while noting that under the agreement, the bank will not release the remaining funds unless the HEC meets all 10 indicators.
The HEC has been facing a tremendous financial crunch due to the finance ministry’s refusal to release its full budget allocation over the last two years, with some Rs9 billion of its allocated budget from the fiscal year 2010-11 alone remaining unreleased.
Even after recent directives from Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to release Rs6 billion, the finance division only released Rs2 billion.
Accordingly to HEC officials, Rs4.6 million is required for salaries at 74 public sector universities, and non-release of the pending Rs9 billion would have a serious impact on higher education.
Disbursement link indicators
Allocation and timely release of recurrent and development funds to HEC under the agreement.
445 scholars to be awarded under the indigenous postgraduate scholarship programme in the first year of the programme.
849 teachers to be recruited on Tenure Track System.
All affiliated colleges need to meet the minimum quality standard set by the HEC.
Provision of enhanced quality education at Masters level for external students.
Enhancing research, innovation and commercialisation performance.
Improving equitable access through the establishment of an effective student financial aid system.
Introducing a scorecard-based system for performance assessment of quality enforcement cells in public technical education institutes.
Number of higher education institutes (HEI) assessed (management)
Improved strategic management planning and accountability in public HEIs. http://tribune.com.pk/story/408016/missing-targets-hec-may-lose-out-on-250m-wb-grant/