LAHORE - Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Sunday that it had been decided in principle that National College of Arts (NCA) would be given the status of a university, and it would stay with the federal government even after the devolution of Ministry of Education under the 18th Amendment. Addressing the 12th Convocation of the NCA at Expo Centre here, he said decision to this effect had been taken since the College drew students from all the four provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and FATA. Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khan Khosa, College Principal Prof Bashir Ahmed, faculty members and a large number of renowned artists were also present on the occasion. Gilani said that in recognition of the immense contribution made by the NCA to arts and art education, it had been decided to elevate the college to the status of a university. I am pleased to witness a new generation of men and women steeped in the finest traditions of enlightened learning, who, undoubtedly, will make our country proud in times to come, he said, adding that the NCA graduates would live up to the tradition of excellence in their respective fields and earn name at home and abroad. The Prime Minister said since 1970s, when the NCA was granted federal status by the government of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, it had established itself as a fine example of the working of this egalitarian idea. He added that the NCA represented the finest expression of the values espoused by PPP and we have always struggled and raised our voice against tyranny, dictatorship and oppression. Quaid-i-Awam Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto believed that political empowerment of the people was not possible without the environment that allowed the flowering of art and culture, he said. Gilani said Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed used her two terms in office of Prime Minister to reclaim cultural space, liberalise the media, and offer renewed hope for creative expression in Pakistan. Given this history, Pakistans democratic government is committed to supporting the development of the arts in the country, he maintained. While expressing his pleasure over the NCAs achievements in the fine arts including contemporary miniature painting, visual arts, musicology, multi-media, architecture and design, the PM said the people associated with the NCA had dominated in their respective fields. He hoped that the NCAs Film and Television Department would help revive Pakistans film industry. Gilani said, It is heartening to learn that NCA has established link programmes for exchange of students and faculty with worlds leading institutions such as the Ecole des Beaux Arts, France, and the Princes School of Arts, UK. He said that President of Pakistan on his state visit to Sri Lanka in November 2010 had signed an agreement of cooperation between NCA and the University of Visual and Performing Arts Sri Lanka in the field of Art and Creative Studios, asserting, such linkages promote further excellence in research and promotion of art education. The Prime Minister said that PPP governments policy was to regularise the services of ad hoc and contract employees, and it gives me great pleasure to announce that the services of all the contractual employees of the college, according to a policy decision of the government, have been regularised. Gilani said, It has been decided that ban imposed on recruitment of jobs be specifically relaxed for the NCA so that it can carry forward its recruitment without suffering any more on academic score, while additional posts would be sanctioned both in the teaching and non-teaching positions. The NCA Allowance to the highly qualified faculty of the college has now been restored, he added. Since the college was facing financial difficulties to meeting pension liabilities, the Prime Minister said that seed money of Rs10 million has been allocated for setting up of Pension Fund for the college, asserting, it would help in releasing a substantial chunk for NCAs academic programmes. The PM also announced the provision of Rs10 million to be added in the Rs244 million NCA Endowment Fund, specifically for the award of scholarship to students on need/merit basis for Rawalpindi and Lahore campuses.