LAHORE - The government has put an ambitious plan of empowering principals and academic councils of government colleges in the cold storage. Following successful experiment of autonomous colleges, the education department pursued a policy to give some administrative and financial autonomy to respective principals and academic councils to offload burden on the department as well as to facilitate smooth working of the colleges for quality education and redressal of teachers grievances. For this purpose, the higher education wing of the department constituted a committee comprising six senior academicians headed by the then principal Government Science College, Wahdat Road. The committee held series of deliberations to finalise a draft recommendations and the extent of powers to be delegated to the principals in financial and administrative matters. The time frame was also given as the year 2008 for its implementation but the February 18 elections changed everything and buried a number of useful proposals. Nobody had the courage to re-open these issues including autonomy to the principals and academic councils instead of concentrating powers in the education department which otherwise could be amicably solved at the college level. It was considered that 50 per cent of the teachers problems could be resolved through this mechanism while at present teachers are frequently visiting the education department instead of concentrating on their teaching assignments. For example cases of leave applications can well be decided by the principals if the incumbent is given some administrative powers. With the approval of academic councils, they can use college funds lying useless since years under intimation to the secretary education and finance. The seniority fixation cases or any anomaly in seniority list should be redressed at colleges. Similarly cases of re-imbursement of funds and inter-departmental promotions could be forwarded by the principals while at present 'permission from employer condition means intervention of secretary who is employer and not the principal in case of lecturers. In case of assistant professors, associate professors and professors, cases are referred to the chief secretary and chief minister. Similarly job applications for posting in other departments are also forwarded by the secretary. But the principal who is controlling authority of the teachers has nothing to do with all such issues. It is paradoxically embarrassing that cases of teachers in Secretariat are decided by a section officer in Grade 17 and not by a principal in grade 20. Similarly NOC, passport applications and GP fund drawing is not dealt by principal but secretary finance. The secretaries role must be supervisory but the principals and the academic council may decide a number of matters which neither create administrative nor financial problems.