Sindh Assembly passes landmark bill to revive student unions

In a historic step, the Sindh Assembly on Friday unanimously passed a bill to revive student unions in universities and colleges across the province, finally ending a long wait of 38 years.

Student unions had been banned in the country’s public sector universities and colleges in 1984 under the military regime of General Ziaul Haq. The Sindh Students Union Bill 2019 allows for the establishment of student unions in universities and their constituent and affiliated institutions in the public and private sectors. The House passed the long-awaited bill after its review by its Standing Committee on Law and Parliamentary Affairs and Human Rights.

The bill defines the student union as “a body or association of students of any educational institution under whatever name called upon to promote the general interests of its members as students in matters of academic, disciplinary , extracurricular, or other matters related to student affairs. in educational institutions”.

It stipulates that a student union will consist of seven to 11 members elected by the students of the educational institution concerned. The educational institution will organize elections each year to choose the members of the union.

It further specifies that each educational institution will have at least one student union candidate elected to its union, senate or council. Each educational institution, within two months of the promulgation of the law, will formulate regulations and procedures for the establishment of the student union.

The bill also states that each educational institution will establish a student harassment protection committee, which should be gender-balanced and have at least one elected student union representative.

While calling the passage of the bill a historic development, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah recalled that the system of student unions was abandoned under the rule of a former dictator. He expressed his gratitude to the opposition political parties in the House for their support in passing the bill. He said Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also provided guidance in the process of passing the landmark legislation.

He mentioned that the provincial legislature had decided to pass the bill after long deliberations in order to maintain democratic traditions. The CM recalled that he was among the last groups of students who witnessed the functioning of student unions in educational institutions in the country, but later the system was banned by the autocratic regime.

Shah hoped that the revival of student organizations would create a culture of healthy activities, including cultural and sporting events, in educational institutions.

He said every precaution had been taken to ensure that student unions, after their re-establishment under the system envisaged by the new law, would operate in a regulated manner. He stressed that their activities should not disrupt academic activities or disturb public order on campus.

Chairman of the Standing Committee on Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Pir Mujeeb-ul-Haq, said that all stakeholders, including political parties, their allied student associations and other student organizations in the province, had been duly consulted by the committee in the context of an in-depth investigation. consultation process before finalizing the bill.

He said that the dictatorial regime of the past made a mistake by completely abolishing the student union system which represented adequate representation of students in a democratic way instead of rectifying the problems with the functioning of elected unions.

Comments are closed.