Pakistani universities leadership

Educational leadership in Pak universities
Islamabad, March 01: The role of higher education is crucial in any society as it is immediately linked with its socio-economic development.

Over the decades, Pakistan has witnessed a visible quantitative expansion in universities and higher-education institutions; a welcome initiative was the establishment of universities in the private sector. The number of universities/degree-awarding institutes in the private and public sectors now stands at 132.

The increased number of universities, however, can only tackle one aspect of the issue, i.e. access. The other aspect - quality - is equally important. The issue of quality deals on the one hand with physical resources and on the other with the standard of teaching: the learning processes taking place in classrooms. The components that constitute quality education may include curricula, textbooks, teachers, students and a university's environment.

But another factor that plays a vital role in initiating and sustaining quality is the vice chancellor of a university. He or she is supposed to provide vision and inspiration to the faculty and help create an enabling environment for the expression and realisation of talent, creativity and the construction of knowledge.

Historically, vice chancellors were picked on the basis of their reputation in the world of academia. We find a number of outstanding people in the list of Indo-Pakistan vice chancellors, such as Dr Zakir Hussain (Aligarh Muslim University), Dr Mahmood Hussain, Dr Jamil Jalibi, Dr Manzoor Ahmed and Dr Ishtiaq Qureshi (Karachi University), Dr Hamid Ahmed Khan (University of Punjab) and Prof Karrar Hussain (Balochistan University). These are just a few names that suggest the trend that characterised academic excellence and visionary leadership.

A second phase started when political parties started intervening in university affairs. Since the process of selection for vice chancellors was straightforward, there was ample room for discretion. Political parties, during their eras in power, tried to bring politics into even the appointment of vice chancellors. In Pakistan, prior to the Ziaul Haq regime, universities were considered nurseries for politics.

Student unions were very active and the student community was politically conscious and acted as a pressure group in the process of important national decisions. It was during this phase that the position of the vice chancellor became important for political parties and some controversial decisions were made in this regard.

The third phase started with the expansion of the industry, when business organisations started operating along a new model where managerial skills replaced scholarship. The corporate model was so powerful that it impacted the notion of educational leadership as well. The advent of corporate culture held two direct implications for universities: first, universities were considered corporate units and second, managerial skills were considered the prime quality of a vice chancellor.

There were many implications of this preference, one direct outcome being the experiment to bring in vice chancellors from the army. The underlying assumption was that they had managerial skills, and could take care of any discipline-related problem. The result was that a number of universities were led by ex-army officers. This view of educational leadership was biased in favour of management rather than the leadership that emerges from scholarship.

It is important here to recognise the distinction between a leader and a manager. The manager is usually confined to a given job and his/her whole intention is to get things done; the leader, on the other hand, is equally sensitive to the people and the product - the leader inspires, energises and empowers people and provides space for individual creativity.

The fourth phase in educational leadership emerged when the Higher Education Commission (HEC) tried to streamline the process of the selection of vice chancellors. The apparent aim was to minimise the role of discretion and rely on the collective wisdom of search committees rather than on the whims of an individual. But the assumption that the vice chancellor's main job is to manage still hovers over the perceptions of decision-makers.

An example is an advertisement that appeared last month for the position of vice chancellor: in the eligibility criteria, among other points, it mentioned that the candidate "should have PhD degree, preferably in management sciences, from a reputed foreign university". The emphasis on management sciences here reflects our obsession with the management paradigm. The other important point is that locally awarded PhD degrees are discredited. However, since this is an evolving process, I am sure that the HEC will further refine the criteria.

The good thing about the proposed criteria for the selection of vice chancellors, however, is the set of comprehensive procedures laid down carefully by the HEC. These procedures include the evaluation of candidates' applications on different counts. The short-listed candidates are then to be interviewed by the search committee and three names, in order of merit, are to be sent to the chancellor.

In the recent past the chancellor has respected the collected wisdom of the search committee and appointed the number one candidate, for example at the Quaid-i-Azam University, Karakoram University and Hazara University. The case of the Allama Iqbal Open University, however, has been pending for unknown reasons; I am sure that merit will prevail in the end.

There are some further measures, though, that can be taken while selecting vice chancellors: (a) scholarship or academic excellence should be given priority and managerial skills should be considered necessary complementary skills; (b) the preference for a PhD degree should not be confined to management sciences; (c) Locally awarded PhD degrees should be treated at par; (d) the search committee should be given the mandate to go beyond advertisements and identify suitable candidates; (e) the maximum duration for the vice chancellor's position should be two terms, and (f) the use of discretion should be minimised at all levels.

Further fine-tuning of the procedures will ensure the induction of true educational leaders in our universities, who are able to share an inspiring vision, create an enabling environment, motivate and empower the faculty and generate spaces for the construction of knowledge. Dawn

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NIP verifies 25,545 applications, 14,407 still pending
Islamabad: National Internship Programme (NIP) has verified more than 25,545 applications while 14,407 are still pending for verification with HEC and NADRA.

An official said that 22,461 applications were rejected during verification process. He said the induction letters issued by the authority in Islamabad 2,433, Punjab 8,358, Sindh 3,485, NWFP 2,094, Malakand 5,168, Balochistan 233, Gilgit-Baltistan 139, FATA 34 and AJK 66.

The official said that all applications received either online or by post have been sent to HEC for verification of degrees, roll number, registration number, name of university and year of passing.

Higher Education Commission is carrying out the verification in close coordination with all recognized universities and degree awarding institutions.

He said that after verification of the degree by HEC, the applications for internship would be forwarded to NADRA for verification of CNIC number, date of birth and names. "All those applications which have been verified by HEC and NADRA are sorted on the basis of preference for placement," he added.

He said that these applicants have been included in the first batch of successful applicants. He said that all those applicants whose names have not yet been included in the first batch would be examined by HEC in consultation with all relevant Universities and Institutions.

"Once the verification of degree is completed by Higher Education Commission and CNIC by NADRA, the remaining eligible applicants will be called for registration for the next batch of internship," he said.

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Australian Education Expo
Islamabad: A large number of students visited the Australian Education Expo 2010 held here on Saturday where representatives of dozens of universities gave them free admission-related information.

The prospective students took keen interest in the event and discussed with representatives their prospects of studying in Australia. They were provided detailed information about procedures to get admissions in top universities of Australia. Matters related to visas were also discussed.

The representatives of more than 32 Australian universities were present on the occasion who were providing details about a vast range of courses in subjects including business, engineering, computer engineering, public health, health services, dentistry and medicine. A number of universities also received on the spot admission applications from students.

"The event will help students explore different prospects of securing admissions to foreign institutions of higher learning, as they are being provided with an opportunity to have detailed discussions with highly skilled and professional people," said Shazia Niaz, a visitor.

The event will prove to be a good opportunity for students especially for those who are planning to seek admission for higher education during the upcoming academic session. The visiting students also availed opportunities to get scholarships.

The major participants of the education expo included the University of Sydney, DEAKIN, Curtin, TAFE, Flinders, Holmesglen, USQ, MIBT, NAVITAS, Victoria University, University of Western Sydney, Charles Sturt University, University of Queensland, University of South Australia and Monash University.

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SLS graduation ceremony
Islamabad: The graduation ceremony of SLS School was held at Islamabad campus, says a press release. Mrs. Asya Talha Managing Director SLS School was the chief guest.

The programme started with the recitation of the Holy Qur'aan followed by welcome song, speeches and a beautiful rhyme titled as the Goldilocks. All the presentations were amazing and the audience were impressed. There was also a national song 'Dil Dil Pakistan'. The parents gave a standing ovation when the young graduates received their certificates, their faces were gleaming with joy and the proud parents looked happy and satisfied.

Addressing the ceremony Asiya Talha said that it has been SLS's endeavour to provide children the best possible schooling within the least possible fee structure. SLS started 27 years back and at present has eight campuses with more than 7,000 students.

The Islamabad Campus constructed last year has state of the art building with library, computer laboratories, science laboratories and playgrounds.

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Book launched at NAG
Islamabad: The launching ceremony of Sanya Zahid's book was organised by Pakistani English Forum in collaboration with the Pakistan Academy of Letters, Pakistan National Council of the Arts and a local music channel at the National Art Gallery.

Award-winning English poet Shabnam Riaz presided over the ceremony, who has recently published her second book of poetry, which consists of English poems written for children.

Karachi-based Sanya Zahid deserves to be appreciated for making the journey of crafting her poetry book 'Journey to Light' in such a tender age. She also deserves special acknowledgement, as she ventures into the world of poetry as a young writer. Shabnam Riaz, while appreciating Sanya's efforts, said: "We desperately need young writers and even more young readers as excelling in creative work for widening of vision and deepening our souls with reading is essential as excelling in Academics. Poetry by opening the minds teaches us how to be tolerant, be refined and how we can fine-tune ourselves with our surroundings."

Shabnam eulogised Sanya's poetic Endeavour as truly heartening. Ilona Yusuf, a prominent Pakistani English poet, editor and artist, was also the guest speaker of the ceremony. Ilona congratulated Sanya Zahid on the publication of her first English poetic collection and hoped that she will continue to write, to find people to guide her well in her endeavours, to fine-hone her craft, and to be published again in the future.

She thanked Pakistani English forum for giving literature the importance it deserves. Ilona said that today Pakistan offers more for the creative mind in the way of platforms than the decades preceding the nineteen nineties. She hoped that the present trend of development in the arts and creative activities would lead to high achievements and recognition both locally and internationally, as it is in the realm of art and culture that one crosses borders and forges relationships with others.

She advised Sanya to read Pakistani English poets Taufiq Raffat, Maki Qureshi, Daud Kamal, Kaleem Omar and Alamgir Hashmi as they laid the basis of a national monument for writers in English in Pakistan. Ilona described Sanya's poems as sweet and impressive and will develop further if she continued reading good national and international poets. She said that Sanya's choice of themes for her poems is very good and she praised her poem, The Sound of Silence, which is published on the website of American Academy of poets.

PNCA Director General Tauqeer Nasir said that it is incredible to see a poet in such a young age writing such good, serious and impressive English poems. He said that our young generation has immense potential and abilities and they will play a leading role in realising the vision of Quaid-i-Azam, Iqbal, Faiz, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and Benazir Bhutto Shaheed and will infuse a new life in the overall brilliance of our civilisation and culture and will carry the name of our country forward in the field of fine arts. He said that youngsters like Sanya are the true face of Pakistan and they are the real Pakistan.

Asma Mansoor, another young Pakistani English poet and lecturer of English literature at the International Islamic University (Female Campus), while reviewing the book 'Journey to Light,' said that although writing at an age in which the river of youth falls into the sea of adulthood without losing its distinctive identity and character, Sanya's poetic collection 'Journey to Light' is more like a burgeoning bud in the boutonniere of established Pakistani poets in English.

Her ideas stand at the cusp of an amenable naivete and startling clarity that marks the onset of maturity. Like a caterpillar, Sanya weaves a cocoon of exclusivity around herself, Asma added. The young poet Sanya Zahid expressed her gratitude to all the speakers and said that her family always encouraged her and believed in her abilities.

She said that poetry for her is a device of expression. She expresses all her feelings, emotions and thoughts and even fights through poetry, even those words and emotions that otherwise remain unsaid.

Sanya read out her poems written for her grandfather and grandmother as she missed them terribly who also inspired her to write poetry.

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Eid Milad celebrated
Rawalpindi: The 'Rah-e-Amal' school for underprivileged children encourages its students to practice what the teachers preach, with interfaith harmony one of the main lessons being on top of the agenda along with moral and social values.

All religious festivals and holy days are celebrated in a befitting manner, so it was no surprise to see the enthusiasm and fervour with which Eid Milad-un-Nabi was observed by the children just as it was being celebrated all over the country. There was a hustle and bustle as the students and audience took their places. The stage was appropriately decorated, with even the youngest student contributing by putting up a flower she had plucked from outside a posh house on her way to school!

The audience was made up of teachers, students their parents, the volunteers who work in the school and some guests who support it, not only in kind, but by their presence on special occasions. The function began at the given time and to say that there were no glitches would be untrue, but on the whole, everything went fairly smoothly.

The programme began with 'tilawat' from 'Sura-e-Rehman' by Hamza, followed by a 'hamd' 'Woh Hi Khuda Hai' by Nabeel and a 'naat', 'Fasaloon Ko Takuluf Hai Hum Se Agar' by Shahzad. The programme also included the participation of groups from different classes in 'hadees', 'aqwal-e-zareen', speeches; 'naat' etc. These recitals lasted for one and a half hours and in the end there was 'Salam' by the teachers and the students ended it with 'Dua.'

No celebration can be complete without refreshments so these were served and included doughnuts, juices, oranges and bananas donated by generous supporters and volunteers. It was a pleasant get-together that showcased the behaviour of the children who are being educated here and the lessons they have learned, that living together in peace and harmony is way better than conflict and hate.

Here it must be said that the 'hamd' and 'naat' were beautifully rendered by the two boys and their natural talent shone through in an amazing way. They have voices that can hold a note and this too without training - so it can be well imagined how far they could go with proper lessons and exposure to musical instruction by a trained teacher.

It is hoped that their under-privileged background will not keep them from getting the recognition they deserve. The news

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