SAHIWAL - Hundreds of teachers of the Government Postgraduate College Sahiwal reacted strongly to a proposal by the provincial Higher Education Department to convert the college into a private university.

They called the move a sort of privatisation of the college, and not its up-gradation. The teachers gathered at a meeting called by the divisional chapter of the Punjab Professors and Lecturers Association, Sahiwal here the other day.

Divisional PPLA President Prof Abdul Salam Dola told this scribe that a seven-member action committee had been formed to launch a public movement in consultation with parents, political parties, elected representatives, civil society, chambers of commerce and lawyers against the move.

He said so far the HED had converted these four colleges into universities after promulgation of acts by the Punjab Assembly including Sadiq Women’s College Bahawalpur; Government Women’s College, Chona Mandi, Lahore; Government Women’s College, Multan, and Government Women’s College, Rahim Yar Khan.

Dola said that the government now planned to promulgate the conversion of 26 colleges into universities. He said that with the passage of law, regular college teachers from grade 17 to 20, who were employees of the Punjab government, would be on deputation (in universities).

“It will up to the university management to keep them or send them to the surplus HED pool,” he said. “By converting the college into the university, tuition fee will increase manifold and education will be out of reach for those who get admission on merit,” Dola said.

He said such developments had already been witnessed in the Government College University, Faisalabad, Government College University, Sargodha and Government College University, Lahore.

Local PPLA unit president Tahir Islam said they were not against the formation of new universities but converting public colleges into universities by changing signboards.

Speaking on the occasion, Ittehad-i-Asatza Punjab Divisional President Mirza Moeen said that 19,000 college cadre teachers were convinced that the Punjab government was privatising public colleges. He said if it was interested in improving the quality of education, the Punjab government should allocate more financial resources for four-year BS programmes besides making new independent universities in Sahiwal division and other parts of the Punjab.

Prof Ikhlaq, Prof Asad Waheed, Prof Shahzad Rafiq, Prof Imran Jaffar and Prof Mukhtar Khan also addressed the meeting.

The meeting said the previous Shahbaz government (2008-13) had announced the formation of board of governors in 26 colleges of Punjab. When the PPLA protested the move, the Lahore High Court took suo motu and called all stakeholders. After negotiations, the Punjab government withdrew its BOG move and accommodated PPLA concerns in its education policy.

“It seems that the government is hell-bent on privatising the higher education,” said Dola. The meeting also passed a resolution against the move.