NCA struggling for survival under politicians’ reign

LAHORE: The National College of Arts (NCA) has been struggling for survival ever since its control had been given to the politicians by the Musharraf government instead of letting the Higher Education Commission (HEC) handle the college like other institutions, say sources in the Federal Education Ministry.The first art college of the country has suffered another blow with the dissolution of the Federal Education Ministry, and as a race has been initiated between the federal and local politicians and bureaucrats regarding the college’s ownership.The college used to be the biggest haven for arts in the country under the University Grants Commission, but the former federal education minister, Zubaida Jalal, ordered the education department to directly take over the institution instead of handing it over to the HEC. The college started getting funds from the education ministry instead of the Commission, which remained insufficient to match the pace of development according to modern grounds and public interest in the institution.According to ministry sources, the outgoing federal minister for education has nominated two people for the post of the college’s principal, namely Jamal Shah and Maliha Agha by not only bypassing the standard procedure but also rejecting the applications of those who had previously applied for the job in January, which include four senior faculty members of the NCA, namely Qudoos Mirza, Zafar Iqbal, Maqsood Pasha and Murtaza Jafry.The sources added that the standard procedure for appointing a principal for the college involves announcement of the post, seeking applications in the mainstream media, and considering the applications of those who had already applied for the post.The minister not only cancelled the previous interviews and applications but also announced the names of the other two candidates without holding any interviews in presence of academicians, people from the establishment division and the finance department.

The sources said that the minister also declared the federal secretary education as a member of NCA’s board of governors (BoG) in his personal capacity despite the fact that the secretary education was already a declared member of the board. This move enables the secretary to cast two votes if it comes to the crunch to decide the fate of this college through the BoG.Meanwhile, the NCA faculty members say that the college has suffered an enormous blow due to the discrimination by the politicians. They added that the college faced the biggest problem in building new faculties due to a lack of budget along with other developmental projects. The college administration was allocated only Rs 116 million in the last year’s budget against a requirement of Rs 224 million.Senior academicians: The senior academicians believe that NCA should be made a centre of excellence under the federal government instead of handing it over to the Punjab government.They also said that the students were given an opportunity to join this historic alma mater from far flung areas of the country including FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan, interior Sindh, Balochistan and many other places. All these people will be deprived of admission in this institution on equal terms if it becomes a provincial institution – Dailytimes