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Is there any practical use for science practicals?

SSC practical forms
Karachi, May 10, 2008: The Board of Secondary Education Karachi on Friday announced that the forms of SSC part-I and II, Science and General groups (regular) practical examinations-2008 could be submitted from May 10 to June 25 with a late fee of Rs1,500. PPI

LUMHS announced MBBS results
Hyderabad: The controller of examinations, Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences Jamshoro, here on Friday announced results of second professional MBBS annual examinations, 2008, of LUMHS, Chandika Medical College Larkana, Nawabshah Medical College for girls and Ghulam Mohammad Mahar Medical College Sukkur.

According to the results, Sharjeel Noor son of Noor Ahmed Channa, seat No502 has secured first position by obtaining 677 marks while Bushra Abbasi daughter of Abdul Malik Abbasi, seat No236 and Maria daughter of Ghulam Ali Memon, seat No628 have shared second position by obtaining 671 marks each.

Vicky Kumar son of Gurdas Mal Hindu Talib, seat No521 bagged third position by obtaining 669 marks. Dawn

Is there any practical use for science practicals?
Karachi: Archaic syllabuses, obsolete equipment and substandard chemicals in the science laboratories available to the Intermediate students are hardly enhancing the students' knowledge of science. Teachers are usually at a loss when it comes to finishing the formality in the laboratory that is called a 'Practical.'

M.B. Chughtai, Principal, D.J. Government Science College partially agrees that the practical has become obsolete and delivers nothing to the students. "Yes, I agree that the syllabus is about half a century old and the opening of new vistas in science has made them obsolete. However, the intermediate level examination system has changed. The new system allots 85 per cent marks to theory while only 15 per cent of the marks remain for the practical. This has been done to discourage people using influence to get maximum marks in the practical examinations", he explained.

Moreover, Chughtai also denied the common perception that there are shortages in chemicals, equipment or specimens in the Physics, Chemistry, Botany and Zoology labs. However, Jawed Abbasi, Assistant Professor of Zoology, disagrees, saying, "Yes, we are dissecting earthworms for identifying its nervous and digestive systems while frogs and cockroaches for nervous systems only. But most of the colleges have no such facility even. However, sometimes we have shortages of earthworms and frogs and I am sure that if all the colleges start dissecting the frogs, they will be extinct." He further expressed that the important practical has now been discontinued and students are only shown the specimens (on paper) to memorise their morphology and anatomy.

Professors Pervez Ali Shaikh, Ghulam Haider Rizvi and Shamsuddin Abro, related to the Botany department, were happy with the latest changes in the botany syllabus. According to them, Bio Technology, Variation Genetics, Mitosis and identification of soil types are now included in the syllabus. They are adamant that the new syllabus will be highly fruitful for the students. Though, they complained about the poor salaries of the teachers and said that they were mostly not paid for the practical classes.

Assistant Prof. Tauheed Alvi at the department of Chemistry complained about the shortage of chemicals and said that the syllabus is the same even after more than 50 years. "A workshop was held in the Education department 12 years ago to devise a new syllabus but nothing came out of it. We have a budget deficiency and reagents are often not available," he added. Plasters peeling off from the walls and the ceiling, old and dirty reagent bottles and yellow, insufficient light speak volumes about the pathetic condition of the lab in one of the best colleges of Karachi. "We are still doing titrations, boiling and melting points while the new methods, experiments and latest equipment are being used in other parts of the world," Alvi lamented.

Dr Muhammad Arshad, Associate Prof. in the department of Physics, admitted that, "The fundamentals of Physics cannot be changed. However, the process should be modified in order to change the monotony and dryness of the practicals. Students are not fascinated. The theory and practical should be coherent." He said that the practical should be project-oriented and a practical group should have no more than four to five students. However, currently, all the groups have 30 to 35 students. "It is difficult to convey practical knowledge to such a large number of students. The current system (of practical) dates back to 1930-40", he concluded.

Furthermore, the educational scenario in the Government Degree Boys College (Science & Commerce), Gulistan-e-Jauhar is in a pathetic state. The college was established in 2004 to serve the students of Gulistan-e-Jauhar and Scheme 33 in district east. The college does not have electricity and 'borrows' power from the main line, and there is no water or gas connection either. Prof. Syed Mujtaba Hasan Zaidi, Principal of the college looked dejected when he informed about the condition of the college. "Yes, the students perform the practical in our college but they are mostly symbolic. We use spirit lamps in the chemistry laboratory and try to perform all the experiments of Physics, Chemistry, Botany and Zoology but it is difficult when you do not have power, water or gas connections," he elaborated.

On the other hand, Syed Muhammad Iqbal Nasim, a professor at the Physics department, acknowledged that they had the equipment for the practical but the archaic experiments were hardly attracting the students. "They need something latest that inspires them. The practical are like rituals that fail to bestow the students with any knowledge correlating to their theory," he suggested. The News
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