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'A teacher should only be a teacher'

Karachi, April 24(The News): Talking to Dr Mohammad Abu Zar Wajidi was a unique experience in many ways. Simple and candid in his expression, it is evident that he is not a man who minces words. Wajidi, former acting vice chancellor of the University of Karachi (KU), ex-dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and current Chairman of the Department of Public Administration, is entirely free of the affectation that becomes a hallmark of those who reach such heights.

He also has a PhD in Public Administration (PA) from the KU. The title of his PhD work was "Municipal Administration: A Case Study of Administrative and Financial Organisation of KMC". He is an accomplished public speaker and has conducted a number of workshops and seminars on PA, especially on public speaking and management in the public sector.

Answering a question about the role of PA in human society he said that, "Public administration can be broadly described as the study and implementation of policy. As a moral endeavour, PA is linked to pursuing public good through the creation of civil society and social justice. The adjective 'public' often denotes 'government', though it increasingly encompasses non-governmental organisations (NGOs)ึ"

He is a prolific researcher and has supervised 12 PhD students. At present 20 M.Phil /PhD students are working under his supervision. "I maintain a cordial relationship with my students and encourage them to work in a tension-free environment. I listen to them, admire their intellectual curiosity and try to provide them with the right answers". But his professional guidance is not limited to students of his department. He provides his intellectual prowess to students of the department of Political Science, KU, University of Balochistan, University of Sindh and Gomal University.

Wajidi is a very busy man who frequents seminars, conferences and workshops at home and abroad. He has participated in more than 30 such events. He was selected to participate in the International Visitors Programme of the US Information Agency on "Grass root Democracy in the United States" and took active part in the lectures, discussions, and panel discussions held in Washington D.C., Portland, Los Angeles and the east coast of the US.

His humility charms students, colleagues and visitors. The students of his department are fond of him as he is always willing to assist them in their search for knowledge. Additionally, his busy schedule has not hindered his work as a writer and researcher. He has penned four books; two are published while the other two are in the process of being published. He has also had 34 research publications in national and international journals.

When I asked him if he is affiliated with any political organisation, he answered, "No. My philosophy is that a teacher should only be a teacher. Political or religious affiliations will be a digression from the educational path." Wajidi is not satisfied with the present state of education in the university and the country. He is of the opinion that radical steps have to be taken to enhance the standard. "We are never tired of claiming that enhancing educational standards is our priority. Practically things are not any different from before. There should be a drastic change in the mindset of teachers and students to create an environment of intellectual serenity in the university."

So what should be the guiding principle for teachers and other stakeholders of the university, I ask. "Teachers, students and administrative staff should perform their roles in a proper manner. There should not be any laxity on their part. They should understand that it is all about teamwork and they have to perform their part." He criticised the attitude of administrative staff who work as government servants disregarding the interests of teachers and students. They are confident that since they are government employees no body can remove them from service. Hence, they do not perform their duties in accordance with the rules and regulations of the university.
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