islamabad - Senate Standing Committee on Federal Education & Professional Training on Tuesday approved the Quran Education Bill 2017, unanimously.

The bill was earlier approved by National Assembly (NA) and now will be presented in senate for further legislation.

The committee was chaired by Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak. The senate body in its agenda discussed approval of Quran Bill 2017, and consideration of calling attention regarding the granting of equivalence certificates to O and A level moved by Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq.

The Minister of State for Federal Education Baligh-ur-Rehman briefed the legislative body regarding features of the Quran Bill 2017.

The minister said that jurisdiction of the bill will be restricted under the umbrella of federal education ministry.

“The new law will be applicable in the institutes of Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), FATA and the institutes running under the ministry,” said the minister.

The minister also described that it will be applicable for Muslim students and non-Muslim students will be exempted from the law.

Teaching of holy Quran will be implemented in the educational institutes from 1st grade to the intermediate level in two phases.

The minister informed the committee that from grade 1st to 5th Muslim students will be taught to read Quran while from grade 6 to 12, it will be taught with Urdu translation.

The minster also said that provinces have also given the nod to adopt Quran teaching as policy and the private sector schools of the federal capital are also agreed to introduce the teachings in institutions.

Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarian (PPPP) Senator Sehar Kamran stressed on the qualification of teachers for the teaching of Holy Quran as it is being implemented at a policy level.

The minister informed the body after the bill turned into law, the issue of teachers qualification will be addressed in its rules and regulations.

The chair approved the bill unanimously.

On the issue of alleged discrimination with O and A level students in granting the equivalence certificate, the mover of the question Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq briefed the senate body.

She informed the committee that the students have to face problems in getting admissions in medical and engineering institutes because their grades are considered low comparing the matriculation and intermediate students.

The senator said that Inter Board Committee of Chairmen (IBCC) issued the equivalency certificate to O and A level students but their marks are not ‘fairly’ counted.

And the students when appear in entrance exams of the institutes their marks are low counted with the percentage of other students, she added.

Senator Sehar Kamran remarked that this policy discriminates overseas Pakistani students more as they can get admission in other countries on the basis of Cambridge certificates but not in Pakistan.

The minister replied the chair that discrimination is observed in this system; however, the issue should be moved to Inter Provincial Committee (IPC) as it is a proper forum of all provinces.

The chair recommended referring the issue to IPC. The chair also expressed concerns on the performance of Higher Education Commission (HEC) regarding increasing number of PhDs and the link of research held with the industry.

Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak said that PhD and research papers are mostly not linked with the industry; resultantly country is not getting any benefit from the research.

“Relevancy of the courses for research is very important,” he said.

The chairman said that to meet the international standards a transparent criteria must be set based on the requirement of PhD in specific field.

HEC officials briefed the committee that HEC has taken number of measures in improving the standards of higher education in the country.

“Qualification framework has been set by HEC to develop the standard of higher education,” said Executive Director HEC Dr Arshad Ali.

He also informed the body that Technology Development Find (TDF) program was introduced to link academia and industry.

The minister added that HEC has played significant role in capacity building of the higher education and the situation will improved gradually.