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Karachi University retrogressive trends

How retrogressive trends crept into KU
Karachi, Jan 13: Retrogressive trends on our campuses as is usually thought did not sprout during the despotic rule of military dictator Gen Zia-ul-Haq. Their seeds were sown much earlier. The 11-year dictatorship of Zia-ul-Haq only strengthened these trends, making a mockery of Pakistan in the international community to the extent that today not only investors but tourists are reluctant to visit Pakistan and the country is being rated with Chad and Somalia.

I vividly remember that in 1970 when I was a student of first year (Honours) at the Department of Physiology at the University of Karachi, the then proctor issued an "edict" that girls and boys should sit three feet apart in the arts lobby and elsewhere.

However, most of the students simply ignored that "edict". The atmosphere on the campus was pretty liberal. Union elections were held regularly; debates, literary functions, mushairas and other creative activities were the norm.

There were three major student organisations at that time. The National Students Federation (Kazmi group) led by Amir Haider Kazmi, the National Students Federation (Rasheed group) led by Rasheed Hasan Khan and the Islami Jamiat-e-Tulaba.

NSF (Kazmi group) had leanings towards the National Awami Party (NAP), led by veteran nationalist leader Khan Abdul Wali Khan; NSF (Rasheed group) was pro-Bhutto while Islami Jamiat-e-Tulaba had the backing of the Jamaat-e-Islami. A liberal organisation had also emerged but it was not taken seriously.

When new entrants came to the campus for admission both NSF and IJT students would help them out at the Administration Block to gain their sympathies because they were potential voters in union elections.

I remember a very interesting incident. I was assigned the job by NSF leadership to help out girls in getting admission forms and to explain to them how they have to fill them. IJT workers were also there. Suddenly there arrived the proctor and asked me why I was standing so close to the girls. I replied I was helping them out and IJT students were also there next to me.

The proctor asked me to follow him. I did. "Why are you staring at me?" he asked me when we were going upstairs. I replied: "Sir, I am not staring at you. You are staring at me." We reached the fourth floor and the proctor asked me to go away.

I reached the ground floor where the IJT workers were waiting to hear what punishment was meted out to me, but nothing happened. The atmosphere on the campus was then tolerant and teachers usually refrained from punishing students while students had great respect for the teachers.

Even if there was a clash between different student groups there was usually fist fighting or at the most somebody would use a stick. Girls and boys mingled and there were love affairs too and long-term friendships between them. Most of the time there was amiable atmosphere and if a student had a knife he was looked with disdain.

There were only few girls who would wear "burqa" or "hijab" and even the elites sent their children to study at the university. However, the University of Karachi underwent metamorphosis when Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto took the reins of power and money started playing a role in student politics.

Previously, ahead of union elections progressive students would collect funds from their seniors who had graduated and were on jobs, especially from doctors who earned more than the others. Now feudal lords started playing a role and would offer big money to the aspirants in student politics.

But things got from bad to worse when military dictator Gen Zia-ul-Haq usurped power in July 1977 and toppled a democratically-elected government. Curriculum was changed and with the advent of the Afghan War in which Pakistan played a proxy on behest of the United States of America, Kalashnikov culture was introduced on the campus. Ethnicity and sectarian politics was introduced and student unions that were the harbinger of future leaders were banned. Healthy activities such as debates, literary functions, mushairas etc became a thing of the past.

Today the situation on the campus has deteriorated to such an extent that students don't mind thrashing out their teachers and different groups dictate their terms to admit students who do not qualify and even insist that their marks should be increased. Unfair means hurt studious students since they work hard to obtain good marks.

The seeds planted by Pakistan's worst military dictator Gen Zia-ul-Haq have grown into a poisonous tree and most probably it would take decades to undo the wrongs done by him to our future generations. The news

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Postponed KU papers to be held today
Karachi: University of Karachi (KU) Thursday announced that the scheduled papers that had been canceled on Jan 9, due to Urs of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai (RA), would be held on Friday (today) at the same exam centres. ppi

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Orientation classes for KU entrants
Karachi: Karachi University's new academic session-2012 will commence on Monday while orientation classes for new entrants to the university's morning and evening programmes will be held on Saturday.

According to KU sources, around 5,000 candidates about 2,500 each in its morning and evening programmes have been given admission to various departments.

With the latest admissions, the university's present strength of students has increased to over 25,000.

Replying to a question about the stu-dents who on Wednesday staged a demonstration in front of the university's administration block in protest against alleged discrimination meted out to them in admissions, KU officials said that the issue would be resolved amicably by the 'grievance committee' which had already asked such candidates to submit their complaints in writing to the office of the university's students' adviser latest by Jan 16. Dawn

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KU's language departments fail to woo students
Karachi: All the language departments at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Karachi (KU), except the Department of English, have attracted far fewer students this year.

As many as 21 students are enrolled in the graduate programme, while only three students have enrolled in the master's programme in the Department of Sindhi for the year 2012. Additionally, eight students would attend the classes of the honours programme while only two would attend the master classes in the Department of Persian.

Not a single admission was taken in the graduate programme in the Department of Bengali and only one student is enrolled in the master's programme in the same department.

Around 19 students expressed interest in an honours programme in the Department of Arabic and seven students are to complete their studies in the Arabic master's programme. Except for the Department of English, the enrollment for all language departments is decreasing every year. According to some senior teachers, there is shortage of English language teachers at the O and A Level at other educational institutions in the city. "This is one of the major reasons that more applicants are applying in the Department of English. Additionally, all non-English language departments are not job-oriented, which is also a major factor in the low enrollment numbers," they said.

"The KU administration and the Academic Council should understand the ground realities: they need to divide the Faculty of Arts into a Faculty of Social Sciences and a Faculty of Linguistics or Languages," they advised.

"The admissions for the departments of Business Administration, Public Administration, Commerce, Pharmacy, Food Sciences, Microbiology, Chemistry and few others have shown steady increase in the past few years," they added.

The above departments are primarily job-oriented and have managed to establish important links with industries and the private sector. This is a major attraction for many students," they added. "There is a general consensus that students want to be admitted into departments that are held in higher value by employers, which would explain the increasing number of applications in these departments over the last few years," a senior teacher at Department of Food Sciences said.

On the other hand, the departments of Mass Communication and Computer Sciences, both of which are job-oriented and are in high demand around the globe, have yet to establish a proper link between the institution and the private sector. There is a need to develop this link between the market and these departments so that graduating students can find jobs with relative ease," said a senior official of Faculty of Science.

He believes that students have not shown much interest in the field of Computer Science over the last few years, primarily because there are few companies working in this field in Pakistan.

"The market for computer science graduates has not developed as per expectations, and only a handful of students have managed to go abroad for studies or jobs," he further said.

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DUHS in crisis as dejected faculty start quitting
Karachi: Hundreds of faculty members of the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) - from lecturers to assistant and full professors - are still awaiting a 15 percent increase in their salaries six months after it was announced by the government.

There is a great deal of concern among the faculty of the university as their salaries have not been increased since June 2011. Many of the teachers, who were either serving on the main campus or at the OJHA Institute of Chest Diseases, have left the university out of sheer frustration and joined other educational institutes that are mostly in the private sector. These institutes offer better salaries and benefits.

Several departments of the DUHS - known for their renowned and competent professors - are now on the verge of running into serious trouble as faculty members have decided to move onto greener pastures. Neurology and general surgery are among the affected departments.

These faculty members, who are among the most qualified and respected members of society, cannot even raise their voice as they probably fear incurring the wrath of Vice-Chancellor Masood Hamid.

Several faculty members on condition of anonymity, claimed that there were not being paid the increased salaries announced by the government in the budget last year, but could not raise the issue, fearing an angry backlash from the university administration. "I'm an assistant professor who joined the DUHS for my professional development and growth, but after serving for the last four years, I feel it was a wrong decision. Many of my seniors have left the university and I'm applying for jobs locally as well as internationally to free from myself this concentration camp called DUHS," an aggrieved faculty member said.

The level of concern among many other DUHS faculty members and even heads of departments was the same, but none of them, except for the head of the eye department, was willing to speak on record, fearing vindictive action from the administration.

Dr Idrees Adhi, president of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Karachi, confirmed that there was a "suffocating" environment and many faculty members wanted to leave the university.

"Many departments of the university have been ruined by the current administration, which is investing in new courses, buildings and starting fresh diplomas, but is unwilling to spend a penny on the growth, better remuneration and training of its faculty," he lamented.

Citing various examples, Dr Adhi said many senior professors had left the DUHS and were now serving at private medical educational institutes as they were given their due respect and status.

Other faculty members pointed out that even other government-run medical educational institutes were offering better packages and a flourishing environment. These institutes include the Karachi Medical and Dental College (KMDC) and the Liaquat University of Medical Sciences (LUMS).

"The most concerning issue at the moment for the faculty is the non-payment of the increased salaries, which are being paid to BPS-16 employees of the DUHS, but those from BPS-17 to 22 are being deprived of the raise. Perhaps the faculty's well-being is not on the agenda of the DUHS vice chancellor," said another faculty member, requesting not to be named.

Pro Vice Chancellor DUHS Prof Umer Farooq confirmed that faculty members from BPS 17 to 22 were not being paid the raise as the government had not increased the university's recurring grants.

"We are paying increased salaries to lower staff by minimising our expenses, but we can practise austerity to a certain limit. Of course, we are pressing the provincial government to increase the grant so that we can pay enhanced salaries to the faculty," he claimed.

When asked from where the university was covering costs for the establishment of new departments and new buildings and renovations of its existing infrastructure, he said that the DUHS met 70 percent of its expenses from the revenue generated by medical students. The news

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Students decry medical college decision
Sukkur: The third, fourth and final year students of the Ghulam Muhammad Mahar Medical College, Sukkur, held a demonstration and staged a sit-in against the decision of the college administration to conduct their examinations through Chandka Medical College, Larkana.

Talking to reporters, the protesting students demanded that they should be given an opdon to appearin papers to be conducted by the Liaquat Medical University, Hyderabad.

Hundreds of male and female students boycotted their classes on Wednesdayand marched on different roads of the city and burnt tyres, resulting in suspension of traffic for several hours.

The protesting students said that earlier they had appeared in the examination conducted by the Liaquat Medical University while now they were being asked to appear in these examinations under the Chandka Medical University, Larkana.

If the administration did dot change its decision, we would challenge it in the court of law, they said.

Meanwhile, police reached there and persuaded the students to end their protest. The students dispersed peacefully.

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Controversy over Sindh varsity body decisions
Karachi: A number of decisions taken at a Sindh University 'syndicate' meeting on Thursday became controversial after the Sindh University Teachers' Association said the syndicate did not exist and described the holding of the meeting at the election commission office in Karachi as an illegal act on the part of the vice chancellor.

The term of most decision-making bodies of the university, including the syndicate, senate and academic council, had already ended in November last year and their elections were scheduled for Feb 20, according to the teachers' association, which warned that they could challenge the move in a court of law.

Academic activities at the Sindh University have been suspended since Jan 2, when students' affairs director Prof Bashir Ahmed Channar was shot dead on the main Jamshoro campus. The university teachers have been agitating for the arrest of the killers.

The 'syndicate' authorised vice chancellor Dr Nazir A. Mughal to take disciplinary action against two agitating assistant professors, Dr Azhar Ali Shah and Dr Arfana Mallah, for what it described as their 'non-academic attitude'.

Appreciating steps taken by the vice chancellor for the bereaved family of Prof Channar, the syndicate approved Rs1 million for the heirs as a financial assistance.

The participants in the meeting expressed deep sorrow over the death of Prof Channar, strongly condemned the killing and offered Fateha.

They also expressed grief and offered Fateha for Pir Pagara.

They approved the actions taken by the vice chancellor, including naming the department of microbiology after the murdered professor; offering two jobs to his children and waiving full fees of his two daughters.

They thanked the governor of Sindh and chancellor of the university for taking note of the incident and accepting a request made by the vice chancellor to hold a judicial inquiry into Prof Channar's murder.

The meeting was attended by retired Justice Hamid Ali Mirza, Mumtaz Rehman, Dr Nelofer Sheikh, Dr Asad Ali Larik, Dr Abdul Sattar Ansari, Dr Mumtaz Bhutto, Dr Parveen Shah, Dr Anwar Ali Shah, Dr Imdad Ali Ismaili, Advocate Jhamat Jethanand, Prof Ahmed Ali Sheikh and registrar of the university Akhtar Ahmed Memon, Aftab Inayat and others.

In a statement, the Sindh University Teachers Association (SUTA) expressed surprise over the holding of the meeting of a syndicate which it said did not exist.

"Until the elections, scheduled for Feb 20, are held, these bodies do not exist and are incomplete." The teachers' body said the move would be challenged in court and warned top officers of the university, including the pro-vice chancellors, registrar and the director finance, that any decision taken by such a 'fake syndicate' not be implemented, otherwise they would be responsible for the consequences in the light of court decision.

Dr Shah and Dr Mallah also expressed surprise on the conduct of the chancellor's secretariat, "which was busy in providing undue and unfair cover and support to the vice chancellor" though they said most Sindh University teachers, including pro-vice chancellors, deans and directors, as well as Sindh chapter representatives of the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association's (Fapuasa) were repeatedly seeking his immediate removal along with implementation of other three demands.

Despite an official request by the Sindh Fapuasa president to the chancellor's secretariat for arranging a meeting with the chancellor to discuss SUTA demands, no response had yet been received, they said. Dawn

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FUUAST gets donation
Karachi: The FUUAST has received two gold medals as donation from a son of former principal of the institution. The medals would be named after the former principal of the Federal Urdu College late Prof Khalilullah. Khalil, a son of the late professor, said during a meeting with Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Muhammad Qaiser on Thursday that these gold medals would be given to the position holders of the Department of Islamiat and Political Sciences. The news

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Updated: 14 Oct, 2014
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