A couple of days ago, a news item appeared in the media proposing to award some marks to the female candidates who wore Hijab, to determine merit of the candidates for admission in the educational institutions. Since then a debate on this issue has started in the media. As a senior educationist I wish to express my views through this email.
A similar situation existed some 30 years ago when in 1986 a directive from the then President of Pakistan, Genereral Muhammad Ziaul Haq, ordered the educational institutions to award 20 marks to Hafiz-e-Qur'an while determining merit of the candidates at the time of admission. All the universities in Pakistan followed the directive except the NED Engineering University, Karachi, because of my initiative, for the reason described in my autobiography - LIGHT HOUSE. In Part X of the book this incidence is described as under:
A Directive from the President of Pakistan
In 1986, a directive was issued from the President of Pakistan, General Ziaul Haq, to all the universities in Pakistan saying that, while preparing the merit lists for admissions in the first year, the Hafiz-e-Qur’an candidates should be awarded 20 additional marks over and above the marks obtained in the HSC examinations. As the admission policy is to be approved by the Academic Council of the university, the then Vice Chancellor, Dr. A.T. Khan, included that item in the agenda for the next meeting of the Academic Council. While introducing that item in the meeting, Dr. A.T. Khan told the members of the Academic Council that the directive being from the President of Pakistan, there was no option but to give a formal approval.
Immediately after the introductory remarks, I spoke and informed the Vice Chancellor and other members that all the universities were autonomous bodies by law and nobody including the President of Pakistan could give any directive for implementation. At the most, the directive could be taken as a proposal from the President of Pakistan and it was the purview of the Academic Council of the University to approve or reject that proposal. I further said that we should have full debate on that item before approving the same. The Vice Chancellor accepted my point and declared the item open for discussion.
I was the first to speak on that item. I opposed the approval of that directive. My main reason to oppose the directive was that in university admissions only the academic merit should be taken into consideration and there should be no other consideration. Other members were convinced by my arguments and when they were asked to speak, majority of them spoke in my favour and opposed the proposal. The item was then rejected and the directive of the President of Pakistan could not be implemented.
After the meeting Dr. A.T. Khan spoke to me and said that, I being a hafiz-e-Qur’an myself, he was expecting me to speak in favour of the directive. I told him that in every matter my consideration has always been the merit and merit alone, and I could not favour any proposal which might distort the merit. All other universities approved the directive and started implementation while, at that time, NED University was the only university in Pakistan which did not adopt that directive.
Prof. Dr. Munir M. Hasan
Former Professor and Vice Chancellor
NED Engineering University, Karachi