Sunday, April 20, 2008

National Textile University Student Strike Against Military VC, APTMA (All Pakistan Textile Mills Association) and for recognition by PEC

Since Feb 18 a wide range of student and workers protests are taking place across Pakistan. Among them is a protest campaign by a large number of students of National Textile University in Faisalabad city largest province of Pakistan, Punjab. They are protesting against maltreatment and denial of engineering council recognition. The following is their press release.

The students have been protesting peacefully before the press club, Faisalabad and before the university administration for more than six years but after April 2nd 2008 incident things became rough when more than 250 students on April 15th held a demonstration before parliament under highly unfavorable weather conditions. They also came before the National press & media by holding a press conference in Islamabad press club the same day. One of the student leaders of the student action committee of NTU told me that one of the senators had agreed to put this issue before the senate and has taken the file about this issue to the senate. He also said that some parliamentarians have also promised to highlight the issue in the parliament.

National Textile university was founded by General Ayub Khan on the 12th October 1959. It was named Lyallpur textile Institute. In 1965 the institute was granted affiliation with the university of engineering & technology Lahore. The first batch of Graduates engineers passed out in 1966. In 1973 the administrative control of the institute was transferred to federal government and it was renamed as National College of textile & Engineering. In 1983 through a presidential ordinance the institute was placed under the control Of Board of Governors which was supposed to consist of the Federal Minister of Industries as its chairman with seven other members from the Federal/Provincial governments and three members from All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA). In 1992 the institute received an aid of worth ¥ 650 million from the Japanese government, through JICA program, in the form of latest machinery & equipment for all departments of the institution.

All this was before September 1993, when the institute was placed under complete control of APTMA, the board of governors was reconstituted. Taking seven out of eleven members from APTMA. The following years carried serious problems for the students and the temperature rose when the temporary accreditation ended in 2002 after which he university Administration proclaimed that re accreditation process is underway.

Meanwhile the federal cabinet on November 15th 2002 upgraded the college as National Textile University. The president of Pakistan is the Chancellor of the university but still no convincing measures taken to recognize NTU as a Professional Engineering Institute.

The simple and only solution to all problems, according to the students is to transfer the Institute’s Management and charge to the federal Government specifically under the regulation of Ministry of Textile Industries, Pakistan and accreditation by Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC).

Concerns of the Students:

Students are seriously concerned and feel that their future is at stake as long as the Management of the university remains in the hands of APTMA which may be an effective business organization but certainly it is not an academic organization and so the university under the control of Federal Ministry of textile and Industry or Ministry of Education. At one of the recent protests I heard one of the students saying “APTMA wants to develop technologists not engineers by concentrating on non-textile basic sciences rather than masters and PhD program in textile subjects so that the students of NTU could be forced to work on minimum wages in Textile mills since they are not officially recognized as engineers”. Students believe that accreditation with PEC is their genuine right that the university Administration has not taken required steps to fulfill PEC requirements.

April 2nd 2008 Student Mistreatment & Harassment:

The students of NTU were under protest right after 2002-03 for their right of accreditation with PEC. This was a constant irritation for university administration which was concentration more on pressurizing students to bring this protest to an end rather than negotiating with the PEC to resolve the issue.

The attitude of the university administration became stubborn, ignorant & irresponsible and on April 2nd 2008 a student of first year fell victim to the heinous behavior of one of the faculty members. The student was physically tortured on a baseless issue injuring him and then blaming him for an offence he did not commit. The enraged the students and re-energized the protests which then came out of the university premises with full force. Unexpectedly University administration started a blame game against students by issuing false press releases blaming innocent students of indiscipline against female students, to weaken the movement.

Demands of the Students are:

Transfer of the university management to Federal Ministry of Textile from APTMA.
Immediate accreditation by Pakistan Engineering Council.
Removal of corrupt Management and non-professional staff from the university so that the confidence of the students on Management can be restored.
Introduction of Masters and phd programs instead of concentrating on non-textile fields.
Officials of the disciplinary committee responsible for student harassment and injustice should be penalized by the laws of disciplinary committee.
Restoration of student unions and provision of basic student facilities as per other reputed universities.
Restoration of scholarships.
Expansion of hostels.
Academic activities should resume from the instant they were boycotted by the students.

In the middle of all activity one must not get carried away with the response of the MNAs as it is not a new practice for them to make promises but fulfilling their promises is a separate issue. The MNAs who have met student delegations have promised to take the issue before the parliament in two days but there is a question…….what if they do not fulfill their promise? Students have exhausted by the activities of last 2 months, especially the students present in Islamabad have been under severe stress due to unfavorable weather conditions. SAC NTU should think of alternate ways so that the momentum and effectiveness of the protests does not break.
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Nasir Jamal said...

Appointment of military officers as the vice chancellors of universities is unfortunate.

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Unknown said...

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