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Education declining standard | KEMU degree issuance policy

Education declining standard
An Analysis of results of intermediate and bachelor's degree exams announced recently exposes the deteriorating standard of arts education as the pass percentage of science students is higher than those learning the humanities.

Interestingly, the number of students attempting exams in humanities is much higher than that of science subjects. According to the intermediate results announced by the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE), Lahore, the total number of candidates who appeared in pre-medical and pre-engineering groups was 9,900 out of which 7,601 remained successful at a percentage of 76.78.

On the other hand, 64,066 candidates appeared in the humanities and other groups and only 25,600 passed the exam at an overall pass percentage of 39.96. Similarly, the results of BA/BSc annual exam announced by the Punjab University (PU) this year show poor performance of social sciences students.

According to details, this year 151,932 candidates had appeared in the PU's BA examination, out of which only 34,010 could get through the exam at a percentage of 22.39. Whereas 18,418 students had appeared in the BSc exam and 7,339 got successful at 39.85 pass percentage.

The statistical analysis also brings to light the poor performance of most of the government colleges as far as results of arts-education are concerned. The results also show that the performance of arts students in the subject of English is poorer than those studying sciences.

The academic circles are very critical of deteriorating standard of arts education. They say study of the social sciences should also be encouraged because they are as important as the sciences. They believe that lack of commitment on part of teachers and students is one of the contributing factors for poor results.It is generally observed that most of the science students join private tuition centres and academies where they pay subjectwise fees. On an average, an academy charges Rs 800 to Rs 1,500 per month for each science subject.

Keeping in view mushroom growth of coaching centres and inclination of students and their parents towards such "knowledge-houses", it can be said without any doubt that they play a major role in enhancing the performance of students during exams.

Educationists and academicians also believe that the increasing tuition-culture is evidence of the fact that public sector colleges are not fulfilling their responsibilities owing to which students have to rely on private coaching for securing good grades in exams.

It is yet another reality that most of the public school/college teachers who teach science subjects are running their own tuition centres which are also attended by their college's students, privately.

Academic circles are of the view that the government should take notice of the increasing trend and it should make all-out efforts to provide quality education to the students at public sector schools and colleges. They also stress the need of encouraging teachers to deliver the best with commitment and dedication.

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KEMU fails to make policy on degree issuance
Lahore: The King Edward Medical University (KEMU), Lahore, has failed to lay down any policy to issue urgent degrees to its graduates against fees within "reasonable limits" as per order of the Provincial Ombudsman, since its inception three years ago.

It became imperative for the newly-upgraded university to devise a policy to award degrees to the candidates, requiring them urgently, especially when convocation had not been held for its graduates for the last 10 to 12 years before or after the upgrade of the former King Edward Medical College.

It has been learnt that the KEMU's examination branch had demanded Rs 5,000 each as urgent fee for awarding degrees to those candidates who had applied for degrees on urgent basis, while claiming that the University of Health Sciences (UHS) was charging this much amount to issue a degree on urgent basis.

However, it is worth mentioning that Provincial Ombudsman, in its judgment of 02.07.2007, observed, "The fee of Rs 5,000 for issuance of a degree, charged by the UHS before or after the convocation, is unreasonable and unfair. Therefore, the fee to be charged for issuance of a degree should be commensurate with the expenditure incurred on getting the degree prepared and it should not be made a source of earning. If convocation is not held up to one year of the declaration of the result, no fee may be charged from the candidates applying for issuance of degrees after the passage of this period. In other cases, fee for issuance of degrees from those who apply before the holding of the convocation should be brought within reasonable limits."

The KEMU graduates of session 2007-08, who had applied for urgent degrees from the examination branch to apply for Step-I of USMLE, said that the officials demanded Rs 5,000 each for issuance of urgent degrees, whereas the UHS had also been directed to charge only nominal fees for issuances of degrees before the holding of convocation or passage of one year of the declaration of the results. Similarly, they said the Punjab University charged minimal fee for issuance of degrees on urgent basis, whereas it issued degrees free of cost after the passage of one year of the declaration of the results.They said the UHS-affiliated Rawalpindi Medical College and some other institutions regularly held their annual convocation to award degrees to the students. They said that authorities of the KEMU (former KEMC) had been depriving its graduates of the honour of receiving degrees being during the annual convocations.

The students also complained about officials' rude behaviour towards them. When contacted, Controller of Examinations, King Edward Medical University, Prof Dr Shabbir Bhatti said that rules and regulations of this newly-upgraded university were not clear vis--vis issuance of urgent degrees. However, as the situation arose with some applications for urgent degrees, he said, the university authorities decided to charge Rs 3,000 as double fee (the normal fee for issuance of degree is Rs 1,500) for issuance of degrees on urgent basis instead of earlier Rs 5,000 for the same.

When asked for the concept of urgent fee for issuance of a degree in the light of Provincial Ombudsman's judgment in this regard, he said that if the university didn't charge extra fee for issuance of urgent degrees, then it would have to cope with a situation where every student would be applying for the issuance of degrees on urgent basis. "It involves a lot of hassle before issuance of degrees such as printing of degrees, verifications of documents by the Registrar, Controller of Examinations and Vice Chancellor and then sending it to the Governor's House for signatures by the Chancellor," he explained. However, he believed that the degrees should be awarded to the graduates free of cost during the convocation or after the passage of one year period of declaration of the results as was done by the Punjab University. He said the KEMU authorities were also planning to organise its convocation by the end of this year for the first time in the last 10 to 12 years. The News

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