State of higher education in Sindh
Karachi, 29 Dec: "Sindh produces two things - men and sand - great men and sandy deserts,"
remarked Sir Rafiuddin Ahmed in March 1936 at the floor of the Bombay
Legislative Assembly, while bidding farewell to legislators from Sindh on the
separation of Sindh from the Bombay Presidency.
He was right because
before the advent of the Sukkur Barrage in the 1930s, most of the presently
fertile lands of Sindh were marshy deserts. The only distinction for Sindh used
to come from the quality of its people. Many of Sindh's political leaders, from
M.A. Jinnah to Sir Abdullah Haroon, and from Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto to Sir Ghulam
Hussain Hidayatullah, had already transcended the status of provincial leaders
and had established credentials on an all-India basis.
In the field of
scholarship also, several of Sindh's academics and intellectuals had already
earned reverence and recognition for their contributions across the country.
They included Dr Gurbaxani, Allama I.I. Kazi, Dr Umer bin Mohammad Daudpota,
Dayaram Gidumal, Principal Shahani, Mirza Kalechbeg, Jethmal Parsram and several
others like them.
Before 1936, while Sindh was part of the Bombay
Presidency, it had no university of its own. Its educational institutions, both
schools and colleges, were affiliated with the University of Bombay for conduct
of matriculation and other higher examinations. Once, Sindh's separation from
the Bombay Presidency had been agreed upon, the scholars of Sindh dreamt of
having a separate university for Sindh.
The reason was that despite
numerous strengths and advantages the University of Bombay was far away from the
soil of Sindh and could not serve as a centre for intellectual activity. In the
words of Dr Gurbaxani: "The very existence of a university in their midst acts
as a stimulus in creating an intellectual atmosphere."
his dream further, he wrote: "Sindh is an old province, perhaps the most ancient
in India. It has a history, traditions and a culture of its own. Its soil and
stones could be compelled to reveal movements and geological formations of the
hoary past. Its races and its languages possess a distinct Oriental bias. All
this remains unexplored … all of which await an army of scholars."Though Sindh
attained the status of an autonomous province, separate from Mumbai, in 1936 the
scholars and leaders of Sindh had to struggle hard for 11 more years, till April
1947, to have their own university, the University of Sindh.
the seat of the university was located in Karachi and had Mr A.B.A. Haleem as
its first vice-chancellor. In 1951 the University of Sindh moved to Hyderabad
and Karachi got a new university, the University of Karachi. Vice-Chancellor
A.B.A. Haleem joined this new university and has the distinction of being the
first vice-chancellor of both the Sindh and Karachi
Subsequent years witnessed growth in both the universities,
in terms of facilities as well as faculties. Today, they comprise of several
departments, institutes and centres, which run academic programmes in
disciplines from genetics to environment and at levels from graduation to
doctorate. In addition to these two, several new universities, both public and
private, many of them specialising in areas of engineering and medical sciences,
dot the landscape of the province.
These institutions have the faculty, a
part of which has acquired qualifications from some of the best universities in
the world. Reasonably good laboratories and libraries are also available for the
teachers and the taught. Thousands of people are today associated with these
higher seats of learning, both teaching and non-teaching. Every year billions of
rupees are spent from the exchequer on maintenance and upkeep of these
institutions. But, when we look for the collective impact of these universities
on the state of scholarship in Sindh, there is not much to find.
ground realities expose that Dr Gurbaxani's "army of scholars" has yet not
compelled the "soil and stones" to "reveal movements and geological formations
of the hoary past". Scholarly contribution in areas from exploration of mines
and minerals to irrigation, agriculture, transport, urban planning,
architecture, journalism, environment, industry, education, history and culture
stands at the minimal. There are few individual exceptions, but generally
speaking the situation is not promising.
On the contrary, our
universities are witnessing a strange phenomenon: the "uneducated" personnel of
paramilitary forces and police have to be posted in most of our campuses to keep
our educated classes within the norms of civilised behavior.
for this dismally poor performance of our seats of scholarship are numerous and
beyond the scope and space limitation of this article. The academia in Sindh
would have to go through the process of self-analysis to find out the causes of
this state of affairs and chalk out strategy to get out of this
While this may take a little time, a short-term measure could be the
establishment of an institute engaged in social research and analysis of the
policies and issues confronting the region. It should have capability to collect
information on a very wide variety of subjects from institutional reforms to
public finances, governance as well as other development-related matters. It
should also have capability to disseminate the collected as well as processed
information amongst various stakeholders including the government and the civil
society organisations. In another sense, this institute should work as an
independent think tank and a resource centre in addition to providing the
scholars a platform to coordinate and cooperate with each other in their
Shaheed Benazir Bhutto has the distinction of being
the first Pakistani leader who realised the need for establishment of "Centre
for Information and Research" under the umbrella of university, of which she was
the chancellor and chairperson of the Board of Trustees. On her initiative, I
joined the centre as its first director. The centre carried out several studies
from agriculture to irrigation and from karo-kari killings to textbook contents.
However, due to her being out of the country and financial constraints on the
limited resources of the university, the work could not be carried out
But, this type of centre or institute is definitely needed in
order to facilitate scholarly pursuits and promote scholarship, especially in
the area of social sciences. With the PPP government in power at both the
national and provincial level, President Asif Ali Zardari in addition to
resolving the chronic issues relating to the governance of universities may help
establish an institute of information and research in the name of his wife as a
lasting and befitting tribute.
The writer is former director, SZABIST
Centre for Information and Research, Karachi.
By Dr Muhammad Ali Shaikh, firstname.lastname@example.org
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HEC likely to go back to Education Ministry
Islamabad: The Education Ministry is likely to get back the administrative control of Higher Education Commission
(HEC), it's learnt.
Currently, necessary amendments to the HEC Ordinance,
2002, which places the commission under the prime minister's administrative
control, are being made for the purpose, the Education Ministry sources said on Sunday.
They said President Asif Zardari and Prime
Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had already approved the proposal to bring the HEC
back to the Education Ministry's folds during Education Minister Mir Hazar Khan
Bijarani's meetings with them.
The HEC had come into being through a
presidential ordinance in 2002.
Dr Attaur Rehman was its first chairman
having a federal minister's status. He stayed put until a few weeks ago when he
resigned. Since then, Prime Minister's Special Assistant on Social Welfare Begum
Shahnaz Wazir Ali has been temporarily holding the office and she will continue
in the same till the appointment of the HEC chairman.
Rehman had headed
the HEC for over six years in violation of the Ordinance under which the tenure
of the commission chairman is four years time and he/she can't be reappointed
for more than one similar term.
The previous government had injected
billions of rupees to enhance the quality of higher education in the
However, the present government massively cut the HEC
developmental projects and didn't release recurring funds, which halted many
ongoing projects, including scholarship scheme and establishment of foreign
universities in the country.
Since its establishment six years ago, the
HEC has awarded thousands of students indigenous and foreign
An Education Ministry official said that the
minister should have some say in the HEC affairs so that he could effectively
respond to the members' quarries in parliament.
He said the HEC officials
had formally briefed Bijarani on the commission affairs soon after he assumed
the charge but the lacking briefing disappointed him.
He said the HEC
provided the minister with a brief about its activities for parliamentary
sessions including question hour. Dawn
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AIOU journal on HEC's list
Islamabad: The bi-annual research journal of the Allama Iqbal
Open University, Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, has been included by
Higher Education Commission (HEC) in its approved list of social sciences
According to a statement issued by the university
here on Sunday, the journal has been in publication since 1995.
research journal would provide opportunities to researchers in the area of
social sciences to share their research work and would create new avenues and
linkages for development of research culture in the Pakistani academia, the
statement said. App
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Dawa schools to be handed over to provincial depts
Peshawar: The Education Ministry has sought details of schools
operating under the banned Jamaatud Dawa charity, to hand over control of such
institutions to provincial educational departments. Following the recent
government ban on the charity, schools run by Dawa in the Tribal Areas and other
parts of the country were also closed. Initially, heads of institutions
previously operating under the charity will be changed, and new headmasters will
be appointed on recommendations by provincial educational departments. Sources
said there was also a possibility that these schools might be converted into
seminaries and their control handed over to non-government organisations. Daily Times
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