Chief Minister Khyber Pukhtunkhwa has agreed in principle to the creation of skill development endowment fund. The objective behind launching of this fund is to impart training to youth in accordance with the demand of the market and enable them to earn their livelihood through self employment. The decision of the previous PTI government like closing institutions of vocational training, delinking the technical colleges and centers from the Board of Technical Education, creation of hooch pooch TEVTA and pursuing an illusive dream of establishing technical universities proved bottlenecks in the skill development. Hence more reliance is upon public relations exercise.
Creation of endowment fund with symbolic grant from the government and then inviting the affluent people for donation to this fund is not the appropriate remedy for building a reservoir of highly trained manpower to meet the future demand of the industrial sector and particularly the now much highlighted Rashakai special economic zone.
Since the devolution of higher education to provinces in 2010 after the passage of 18th Amendment, the already unsatisfactory higher education, particularly pure sciences, engineering and technology have shown fast degeneration in quality. The province is getting more financial resources under the 7th NFC Award but higher education get a big zero allocation in the annual budgets. Instead in the Senates meetings of public sector universities, the Vice Chancellors are told to raise their own resources to meet the expenditure on salaries, pensions, purchase of equipments and chemicals for labs and purchase of books. The worst deal given to higher education resulted in glaring inefficiencies in it.
The issue of bad ranking of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa government universities echoed in the provincial Assembly in March last year when a JUI (F) law maker told the house that not a single university of the province has been able to break into the 10 top universities ranked in the Higher Education Commission (HEC) list. It is pertinent to mention that University of Peshawar is the oldest institution of higher education. It was ranked fourth in the HEC list in 2006 and it has slipped down several rungs of the ladder and is much below the 10th position.
There is acute shortage of equipments in science and engineering labs and the available equipment is obsolete. It is the instrumentation of these labs and development of operational skills of both teachers and students that can be instrumental in producing high quality skilled manpower in keeping with demand of the job market in future. If the provincial government really wants to train the youth for handling the latest technologies it should give priority to the provision of modern equipments and instruments to technical colleges and engineering universities and send students in groups for at least six months training abroad to get command over the use of high-tech equipments. The gimmicks of launching skill development endowment fund will not achieve the desired objective.