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.

It also awarded 14 gold, eight silver medals and four merit certificates to its outstanding students who secured top positions in different disciplines.

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 said.

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.

Bahria University 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

Post your comments

'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 national identities.

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 government officials.

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'.

"Children's experiences 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.

Dr Bajunid's talk focused on the link between the "education quality agenda and the justice agenda".

"We cannot think of education in a vacuum," he said, "the context has to be considered. Explanations are not enough, we must also have interpretation."

He asserted that educators needed to advance their own thoughts, actions and activism, and to take responsibility for their own development.

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 can.

"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 activists."

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 up reforms.

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 stakeholders.

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

Post your comments

Education strategy
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.

Since I'm 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 Commission.

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.

Post your comments

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

Post your comments



Post your Feedback about information available on this page.