ISLAMABAD - The Senate Standing Committee on Education and Training and Standards on Higher Education has directed the officials of Ministry of Finance to release the remaining Rs2.9 billion to the Higher Education Commission (HEC) within two weeks.

In the meeting Thursday held here under the chairmanship of Abdul Nabi Bangash, the committee took serious notice of non-payment of 20 per cent raise in salaries due to non-release of funds. HEC Executive Director Dr Mukhtar Ahmad informed the committee about the hurdles in executing the different scholarship programmes and projects due to the non-release of funds.

The members also expressed concerns over heavy fees charged from the students who take admissions on self-finance basis in universities.

The committee also directed the government to declare emergency in education for the five years to take stringent measures for increasing literacy rate in the country.

The committee expressed concern over standing of Pakistan among those nine countries, which are having lowest spending on education. The committee recommended the spending on health and education be increased from 2 percent of GDP to 4 per cent.

The committee was informed that the Pakistan Manpower Institute (PMI) Hostel building that was occupied by the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development has been vacated and now it would be utilised for the training purposes.

The committee was also given detailed briefing on National Vocation and Technical Training Commission (NAVTTC). Director General NAVTTC informed the committee that NAVTTC has planned to establish Federal Board of Technical Education (FBTE) to make a connection between the federal and provincial authorities.

He said the NAVTTC would also impart training to the polio victims in coordination with UNESCO. Minister of State for Education, Training and Standards in Higher Education Baligh ur Rehman, Senators including Begum Najma Hameed, Afrasiab Khattak, Muhammad Kazim Khan and other attended the meeting.