Bahria University convocation | Educational apartheid
Bahria University confers 224 bachelors, 333 masters degrees
Karachi, May 11: Bahria University Karachi conferred 224 bachelors and 333 masters
degrees in various disciplines including BBA, BSE, BCE, BS, M.Sc, MS, MBA and
Executive MBA to its passing out graduates and post-graduates of 2007 and 2008
in its fifth convocation that was held in Karachi on Saturday.
awarded 14 gold, eight silver medals and four merit certificates to its
outstanding students who secured top positions in different
Speaking on the occasion, Acting Sindh Governor and Sindh
Assembly Speaker Nisar Ahmed Khuhro congratulated the passing out candidates.
"We have great expectations from our young graduates not only as a student but
as leaders of tomorrow. I hope that these students will serve this country with
optimum honesty and dedication and would steer it forward amongst the most
developed countries of the world," he added.
He urged the students to
equip themselves with sound knowledge in their respective fields of
specialization so that they could create their own identity and earn respect for
the country in the global competitive environment. "The key to success is
dedication and consistency as well as an honest approach towards others," he
Bahria University Rector Vice Admiral (Retd) Mohammad Haroon said
that the university had taken many initiatives which have resulted in a paradigm
shift of the university and reflects its excellent academic strength and
standing. "The impressive campuses, academic infrastructure, disciplined
environment, high-quality teaching faculty and competent administration are
indicators of excellence and have brought this university at par with other
top-notch universities of the country," he added.
Director Captain (Retd) Ashfaq Agha said that his institution has been imparting
quality education, adding, "In the past five years, Bahria University has
progressed tremendously and has the honour of giving an MBA in Pharmaceutical
Business Management for the very first time in all of Asia. It is a sign of
Bahria's commitment with its students and nation."
The ceremony was
attended by the members of board of governors, faculty members, students and
their family members. ppi
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'Educational apartheid being created by parallel school systems'
Karachi: With three separate school systems (private, public and
madressah) operating in the country, academics fear that an "educational
apartheid" has been created, whereby students of each system have completely
different experiences and hence are liable to develop different types of
These views were expressed on the second day of the
'South Asia Regional Dialogue on Education Quality', organised by the Aga Khan
University Institute for Educational Development (AKU-IED) at its campus on
Friday. The conference was attended by educators, activists, academics and
Speaking on 'Education quality in schools:
Pakistan's struggle for national identity', Dr Nelofer Halai, Associate
Professor and Coordinator of the PhD programme at AKU-IED, asserted that if a
system of education could not provide students with a national identity, then it
lacked the most important criteria of 'quality'.
in different classrooms [in different systems] are very disparate," she said,
adding that Pakistan could not use education as a "tool to effectively answer
the question 'who are we?'".
Using a model developed by another
academic, she said Pakistan had gone through four phases of history in terms of
the state's ideas of national identity. She said the country had gone from a
"cultural pluralism with a focus on unity in diversity" to General Zia-ul-Haq's
'Islamisation', where people were distanced from their own roots in the
subcontinent and instead told to relate to the Arab world.
Dr Halai said
that some important questions regarding identities had yet to be properly
addressed, including whether Pakistanis were more linked to South Asia or the
Middle East, and what place minorities who have lived on this land for centuries
have if the Muslim identity is to dominate the Pakistani identity.
Quoting a historian, she said "Students don't know what to believe, and
they are fed on a diet of politically correct, but factually incorrect,
information". As a result, she said, they turn to rote learning, in order to
reconcile the difference between reality and what their textbooks say."
As far as constructing identity is concerned, she said "the youth do not
have a strong sense of identity or self. Identity is a work in progress; it can
consist of multiple identities as well."
Dr Halai advocated an approach
where the formation of a national identity was a key indicator in ascertaining
the quality of Pakistan's education system.
She also called for common
ground to be found between the three different types of education system
currently at work in Pakistan so that the experiences of children learning in
different systems were not so disparate, and so that they might be able to
relate to one another.
'We must think in unconventional ways'
Dr Halai was speaking on the theme of 'Education and Social Justice',
one which Professor Dr Ibrahim Ahmad Bajunid, Deputy President of the INTI-UC
Laureate International University in Malaysia, also spoke about.
Bajunid's talk focused on the link between the "education quality agenda and the
"We cannot think of education in a vacuum," he said,
"the context has to be considered. Explanations are not enough, we must also
He asserted that educators needed to advance their
own thoughts, actions and activism, and to take responsibility for their own
Dr Bajunid also spoke about the relatively new concept in
education of taking 'best practices' and attempting to reproduce them elsewhere.
He said that one cannot do so without taking into account the context of the
system into which the changes were being brought.
"We expect our
children to be liberated and to be empowered individuals and have liberated
minds. In order for this to happen, we must think in both traditional and
unconventional ways. We must understand the broader issues of the society we are
educating in," he said.
He also drew the attention of those present to a
quote from an academic: "Education is the profession upon which all other
professions rest." He said that teachers should teach "as a form of social
justice", using education to combat the ills of society to whatever extent they
"Our existence as professionals will be meaningless unless we can
help to transform societies," he concluded.
Responding to a slew of
questions after his talk, he quipped "Well, that's a lot of very good questions
you have asked, and now you should go find the answers yourselves."
While the answer amused those present, he pressed on, seriously, saying
"No, I am serious. If you are serious about asking questions then you must be
serious about seeking answers, and you must be serious about being advocates and
Question of national curricula debated
Earlier in the day, Dilruba Sultana, a junior professional at the BRAC
University in Dhaka, and Dr Hafiz Muhammad Iqbal, Director of the Institute of
Education & Research at Punjab University, spoke on the theme of 'Curriculum
and the Quality of Teaching and Learning'. The speakers spoke about the need to
define the term 'quality education', in terms of the metrics used to ascertain
it, and other issues.
Regarding the numerous national curricula that
Pakistan has had over the years, Dr Iqbal said that after careful study, he was
"unable to find any differences between them, other than the wording".
He opined that national curricula were developed on "political grounds",
and not based on actual empirical data.
'Critical governance issues'
Dr Salman Humayun, Director of the Institute of Social
& Policy Sciences, and Wilfred J. Perera, the deputy director general and
head of the Centre for Education Leadership Development at the National
Institute of Education in Sri Lanka, spoke on the final theme of the conference,
which was 'Educational governance and management'.
Dr Humayun said that
there were critical governance issues when it came to delivering quality
education. He said there were major concerns in this area, including lack of
quality, lack of sustainability of reforms and the problems faced when scaling
Mr Perera spoke on a participatory approach to improving
schools, one which he is implementing in Sri Lanka. At the heart of the approach
is the compulsory involvement of the local community, including students and
parents, in the process and management of education.
He said that in the
present system, an excessive amount of emphasis was placed on examinations, and
that schools promoted competition, without looking after those who were not
achieving as much as their 'cleverer' counterparts. Thus, he said, the needs of
the majority are being neglected. Trans-national regional study proposed
To conclude the conference, a discussion was held, moderated by Abbas
Rashid, convener of the Campaign for Quality Education. He was aided by
Professor Anjum Halai, head of Research and Policy Studies at AKU-IED.
Mr Rashid spoke about the need to gather "hard evidence" in order to
begin on the road to affecting change. He said that nuanced, diligent research
was required in order to address the concerns of both the government, and all
He said that there needs to be education outside of
schools, in order to change the perceptions of families and communities.
"There is a high social demand for education in Pakistan, but the caveat
is that you must give parents something, so that there is a point to sending
their children to school," he said.
He also proposed that all those
present at the conference conduct research specific to their areas, which would
then be combined to form a trans-national regional study which could be
presented to stakeholders in all countries when advocating educational reforms.
A conference on the implementation of the national curriculum, to be
hosted by the education ministry, was also proposed by those present. Dawn
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The Planning Commission under the stewardship of its Deputy Chairman Engr Dr
Muhammad Akram Sheikh (Hilal-i-Imtiaz) after prolonged deliberations produced
the very valuable document titled Vision 2030. Its objective was defined as
"developed, industrialised, just and prosperous Pakistan through rapid and
sustainable development in a resource constrained economy by deploying knowledge
inputs." Necessary inspiration and guidance was provided by the eminent scholar
and former head of the ISI, who happens to be steering the national education
policy as federal minister of this vital and fundamental key department. The
foreword of vision 2030 was written by former PM Shaukat Aziz. He wrote: "The
Planning Commission deserves to be complimented in preparing the roadmap for
Pakistan in the 21st century - Vision 2030. This document reflects the
aspirations and potential of our people in the context of a fast - changing
world....We are confident that we will have laid down the foundations of a
prosperous and harmonious society much before 2030!"
The then President of
Pakistan, went a step further than his PM: "I am happy to learn that the
Planning Commission has accomplished the task of formulating the Vision 2030
document....this national vision is based upon extensive consultations and
discussions with hundreds of experts and visionaries spread over 18 months,
drawn from across the country... have contributed to the formulation of this
document. We are grateful to them for reflecting the hope, aspirations and
determinations of our people to shape their collective destiny. It is for this
reason that the consensus arrived at in the Vision 2030 document is of enduring
significance in the process of nation building.
"In sum, Vision 2030 sounds a
clarion-call to the entire nation to unite and forge ahead with faith in our
destiny; and discipline in all our undertakings and endeavours to make Pakistan
an embodiment of peace, prosperity and progress." These hopes, expressed, almost
10 years ago, have proved a mirage. Idealism of any nature, at any level, must
be combined with a sense of possible, in keeping with the aspirations and
potential of our people, reflecting our "national power." Every time you put a
military expert in charge of a hospital, an education institute or any such
assignment, of which he has never received any training, and the end result will
be the same. Yet we in Pakistan refuse to learn any lesson from out past
blunders and keep repeating the same over and over again.
At about the same time that we worked out Vision 2030, Pakistan also committed
itself to another 'Vision 2015' at Dakkar in Senegal, under the title of
Education for all signed by the federal and provincial education authorities,
pledging that Pakistan would achieve 100 percent literacy by 2015. All most nine
years have passed without this solemn national pledge making any headway. No
miracle is likely to happen during the next 6 years i.e. by 2015.
involved pretty seriously in the promotion of literacy to the extent of
dedicating the rest of my days for this mission, believing. I've been very
concerned and perturbed over the slow speed of national efforts in this
direction. We cannot achieve our goals, without adopting extraordinary measures
on a war footing. Last Thursday. I ventured out to Islamabad in order to feel
the pulse in the corridors of power. I've returned with a complete sense of
satisfaction after meeting with the Federal Minister for Education Mir Bijarani
whom I found fully conscious of the challenges ahead. He is working on a blue
print to provide the necessary solution, without any further loss of time. The
recommendations on the next education budget are on the anvil. I was assured by
the Special Assistant to the PM on Social Welfare and in charge of the Higher
Education Commission Begum Shahnaz Wazir Ali that the whole ambit of education
at all levels was under review which would be completed on war footing. I
received similar good news from Dr Shaukat Hameed Khan of the Planning
Everyone was in complete agreement on one basic truth that
Pakistan will need to make the accumulation of knowledge and collective
competence and firm resolve at national level, the major driver of its national
power, economic growth, political stability, as well as adequate military
strength to achieve the vision of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. I shall end
with Sura Al Ra'ad, Ayat 11 of the Holy Quran: "Allah will not change the state
of a nation, unless they first bring about the change within themselves."
The writer is the president of the Pakistan National Forum.
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Education needs light
Lahore: Everything in our country is badly affected by loadshedding whether it is
agriculture, industry or even education. The students, you might notice, are
badly affected by the lack of electricity too. All academic work stops, whether
you are studying at home or sitting in examination halls the moment electricity
breaks down. Students are naturally irritated, mentally disturbed, unable to
focus and concentrate on their studies. I would like to request the WAPDA high
officials that they should finalise the schedule of loadshedding during the
examination season in coordination with the examination board and university
authorities. -Asna Dilshad Warraich via e-mail. The Nation
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