Islamabad-Religious seminaries representatives on Tuesday met chairman Higher Education Commission to discuss the implications of two years bachelors and masters programmes for ‘madrassa’ students.

A statement issued by the HEC said that a delegation comprising representatives of different boards of ‘deeni madaaris’, led by Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rahman, President, Tanzeemul Madaris Ahle Sunnat, called on Dr Tariq Banuri, chairman Higher Education Commission, at the HEC Secretariat on Tuesday. Other delegates included Maulana Haneef Jallandhry, Maulana Abdul Malik, Dr Atta-ur-Rahman and Allama Afzal Haidri. The meeting discussed the implications for madrassah graduates of the closure of 2-year BA/BSc and MA/MSc programmes. Currently, the HEC treats ‘Shahadatul Alia fil uloomal Arabia wal Islamia’ and ‘Shahadatul Almiya fil Uloomal Arabia Wal Islamia’ as equivalent to BA and MA, respectively.

However, HEC has now discontinued the certification of BA and MA degrees. Instead, a new 4-year BS degree as well as a two-year associate degree has been introduced. The objective of the change is to ensure that graduates from Pakistani universities possess three types of competencies, namely general education, subject specialization, and practical skills for participating effectively in the economy. These competencies are just as relevant for madrassah graduates as for university graduates. Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman appreciated the HEC for strengthening the graduate programme and making much-needed changes. He said that the representatives of the madrassahs were fully supportive of the central role of HEC in strengthening higher education, especially after the 18th Amendment.

He also said that he and his colleagues wish to make sure that the recent changes in HEC policies do not affect the future of madrassah students adversely. Chairman HEC appreciated the delegates for anticipating future changes, and agreed to set up a joint committee with representatives of madaaris to assess how the equivalence system could be adapted to the changes.