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Falling university standards | Balochistan ghost schools

Free-falling university standards
Karachi, June 19: Educators are concerned about the continuous educational and moral decline in universities, and are seeking appropriate ways to arrest this slide. Some are trying to generate an opinion of the reasons behind this decline to effectively plug these loopholes.

Nepotism in educational institutions
The universities, especially those in the public sector, are plagued by the influence of political parties and trade unions as well as student parties and their activists. They are causing a great deal of unrest, and faculty and staff believe that these politicised hoodlums have turned universities into their hunting ground.

Political parties use their influence to get their supporters jobs in the university, even though these people do not have the qualifications and experience needed for the job. They have been placed with the specific purpose of carrying out shady activities for their benefactors. This vicious cycle is continuous and adversely affects the standard of education.

Campus violence
Several news items that appeared in the press from mid-April 2009 to mid May 2009 alone are indicators of the disturbances, plaguing public-sector universities. The following excerpts are a few examples of such incidents:

"The Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology (FUUAST) decided to suspend classes on Wednesday after a firing incident in a tea house located opposite the university. The table boy of the tea house was killed, and eight students belonging to the Pakhtoon Students Federation (PSF) were injured, four of them seriously."

"The University of Karachi (KU) witnessed yet another bloody clash between the activists of the Imamia Students Organisation (ISO) and the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT) on Monday that resulted in three injured, interruption in scheduled classes and created an environment of fear on campus. According to eye witnesses, the clash began after a duel of glaring at each other and an interchange of harsh words. Classes were suspended for two days."

Cheating
Cheating during examinations has become a norm in the current educational set-up, and the University of Karachi (KU) and other universities are not immune to this epidemic. The universities have adopted stringent measures like a fine of Rs5,000 and/or barring the offending students from appearing in any examination for three years. The measures have failed to curb the practice.

Role of teachers
Senior Professors, students and thee parents have expressed their reservations about the role of teachers that, according to them, has declined visibly resulting in the falling of educational standards and deterioration of the teacher-student relationship.

FUUAST Vice Chancellor (VC) Dr Muhammad Qaiser is wary of the teachers' performance, especially their ability to guide and lead students in a fruitful manner. "I have assumed charge (as the VC) for some time, and I am surprised and pained to see that teachers are more inclined towards eliciting maximum benefits from the university or indulging in petty politics, hardly compatible with the noble profession."

Solutions
The KU Faculty of Science Dean and Department of Microbiology Professor Dr Shahana Urooj Kazmi thinks that the standard of education at the universities cannot be enhanced unless some drastic changes are undertaken. "Restoration of student unions, introduction of full-fledged semester system and a change in the attitude of the teachers is essential if we are serious about bringing sanity to our university. Students are not happy because they do not have their representative union, and teachers have failed to create a rapport with the students," she asserted.

The Professor of Medicine Dr Nizamani, currently teaching at the University Technology, Mara, Malaysia, puts the cause of the decline in a nutshell: "The main reasons are corruption, nepotism and appointment of inefficient people to top administrative posts to award them grade 22. This is sheer wastage of money, and a gross injustice to deserving teachers." The News

Downgrading education
It is both shocking and deplorable that the government should be downgrading education, which holds the key not only to the country's development but could also serves as the best antidote to extremism and militancy. The federal and Punjab budgets for 2009-10 have, inexplicably, lowered the allocations for this vital sector compared to the previous ones. Since Pakistan lags behind all other nations in the South Asian region in the literacy rate and falls far short of the targets set under the Millennium Development Goals, one had expected that the political government would spare enough resources for the sector to come up. The axe would only result in worsening the situation.

If we want to get out of the morass of poverty and helplessness, we should have no hesitation in complying with the UNESCO standard of the allocation of funds for the developing countries. But, it is a great pity that as against four percent of the GDP that the UN body stipulates, our allocation is not even two percent. The previous government in the province had started a programme known as Parha Likha Punjab, which although partly used to politically project the incumbent Chief Minister, certainly had some beneficial effect on the state of education. Our situation demands a wide network of schools and colleges that are within reach of the entire population both in terms of distance and financial means. Besides, it is acknowledged on all hands that the standard of education has progressively been going down. There is, therefore, need to review the syllabi and appoint duly qualified and competent teachers.

The low priority that the sector has been receiving since independence has been a major reason for the menace of extremism and bigotry we face today. The need for opening educational institutions to meet this challenge has been recognised by the US and an important component of its aid is to be spent on this sector. Pakistan must immediately revise its priorities and find sufficient financial resources to quicken up the spread of education relating to different fields, technical, scientific, agriculture, etc. The Nation

Your Comments
"News regarding Balochistan Education is very important and indicating a worst condition of Balochistan Education. If you other data regarding balochistan please share."
Name: Hubdar
Email: hbdr_f80@yahoo.com
City, Country: Quetta, Pakistan

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Balochistan has 3,500 ghost schools, says minister
Quetta: Balochistan's Education Minister Shafiq Ahmed Khan has disclosed that there are 3,500 ghost schools in the province.

According to a survey conducted by the education department, the minister said, these schools existed only on papers.

He said notices had been issued to 'missing teachers' and they had been directed to report to the department immediately. But most of them have not responded so far.

The minister's statement came a day after Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani set up a task force to curb cheating in examinations and to improve the standard of education in the province.

Mr Shafiq Khan said there were 45,000 teachers in about 13,000 primary, middle and high schools in the province. "For the last 14 months, the finance department has not given a single penny to the education department. Half of the schools are without roofs and boundary walls, even the girls' schools."

Sources in the finance department said that in the financial year 2008-09 the government spent Rs6.5 billion on salaries and allowances of teachers and Rs550 million was given for development of education sector.

Government schools in many areas of Quetta have no basic amenities.

"We have no toilet, no drinking water and no electricity," said Naimatullah, a student of a government primary school in Quetta.

According to the survey, a number of schools are in rented buildings and the government has no funds to help them have their own buildings.

The minister said that without the support of political parties and the tribal elite it would be difficult to solve the problem of ghost schools. Dawn


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