Punjab University decline in teachers' output

PU bust-ups taking their toll on education
Lahore, Nov 05: Unending conflicts among faculty members have stamped a blot on the Punjab University landscape as decline in teachers' output and unnecessary hurdles in imparting education have jeopardised the careers of students.

What makes the situation alarming is the fact that many departments have earned notoriety for frequent teacher bust-ups. If media reports are something to go by, many such cases have hit the headlines during the last one year.

The Institute of Communication Studies, the Institute of Education and Research, the Institute of Chemical Engineering and Technology, the Institute of Geography, the Institute of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, and Islamic Studies department all have seen clashes among academics.

Confrontation between factions of teachers and sometimes within a faction itself has become a talk of the campus. Most faculty members have lost interest in elections for their representation in the Syndicate and other associations due to disputes.

Many teachers have launched vilification campaigns against their rivals by circulating pamphlets and writing (anonymous) letters to the vice chancellor.

In the backdrop of the growing number of such incidents disturbing the campus atmosphere, PU Vice-Chancellor Dr Mujahid Kamran has forwarded to all faculty members a letter expressing his concern over the sorry state of affairs.

The communication is being seen as a desperate move by the head of the institution, who is well aware of the falling standard of education. "It is unbecoming of a teacher and also retarding the growth of the institution," observes Prof Kamran in the letter which seeks input of the teachers to resolve conflicts and set the university's future direction.

Stating that "perpetual conflict is one of the most important reasons why Pakistan has failed to achieve in the global arena", he admits that "conflict among faculty members of the higher cadres has been a fact of life in PU as far back as one could recall."

"The conflict of senior members is then translated into grouping of younger teachers," he says while claiming that the administration has "not given anyone cause of anxiety on account of delay in promotions except those held up for disciplinary reasons".

Prof Kamran stated that those departments and institutes that had avoided or resolved these conflicts or had toned down the level of conflict had progressed. He stressed that the faculty members must strive for conflict resolution because they were being watched and observed by students all the time. "If third party intervention is needed, it should be invoked," he said.

The vice chancellor said no university could flourish without a culture of genuine tolerance of difference of opinion. "A difference of opinion is a difference of opinion and not a blood feud," he writes.

The letter titled "Future Direction of PU" further reads: "No one can be taught the culture of tolerance through letters and speeches it is an inner thing and we should all focus on our inner selves from time to time. Tolerance remains one of the supreme human virtues".

Prof Kamran asks the academics to realise that "PU is a mini-Pakistan and embodies the potentials as well as the conflicts that are being witnessed in daily national life. If PU can be taken on a path in which there is a continuity and ownership of development and activity, only then we can hope that the same could be done for this country." He also urged them to give ideas to set targets and future direction of the institution.

The vice chancellor reminds the academics that "PU could look forward for global ranking, if it would set a target of at least 1,500 faculty members, a suitable number of post-docs and a well-populated PhD programme. However, this endeavour requires money for salaries, offices, laboratories, equipment, infrastructure for the increased number of PhD students, housing, transport etc. Where will the money come from?"

Saying that the Punjab University is the most important institution of higher learning in this country, Prof Kamran demands that the faculty set targets and strive for their achievement regardless of the fact that who heads the administration "to be able to lift this university to a very high pedestal in the global arena in this decade."

"We must always bear in mind that the failure or success of PU will impinge deeply on the failure or success of the country. If PU fails, Pakistan is bound to fall if PU takes off, Pakistan is bound to take off," the letter says. Dawn

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Over 200 more institutes affiliated with PU this year
Lahore: Punjab University (PU) Affiliation Committee Chairman Prof Dr Hafiz Muhammad Iqbal said that the number of colleges affiliated with the university had risen from 525 last year to 584 this year.

Talking to reporters at PU New Campus on Thursday, he said that this number was likely to rise even further in future. Prof Hafiz Iqbal who is also Dean Faculty of Education at PU further said the decision to affiliate any college was taken by a committee comprising six members, which also included the secretary and the subject specialists.

He said the university had allowed private candidates for appearing in BCom examination with a view to protect poor students from exploitation of private sector institutions.

He further said PU affiliation committee had offered facility of affiliation to government educational institutions in such subjects including BCom, which were generally considered to be the right of private academic institutions. Dr Iqbal said grave problems such as unemployment, poverty, ignorance; intolerance and extremism being confronted by the country presently could only be resolved through improving education standards.

He also observed that during the 1960s, per capita income of Korea, Thailand and Malaysia was almost equal to that of Pakistan but after passage of four decades, their per capita income was today much higher as compared to Pakistan owing to higher literacy rate. He said the present rate of literacy in the country was 57 per cent but in the poor low income classes apart from abject financial poverty the incidence of educational backwardness was also very high with the result that the participation of less privileged classes in national affairs and decision making has practically come to an end.

We will have to introduce a high quality system of education from top to bottom which is within easy access of the entire population, he added. He also stressed the need of uniform education in the country.

He appreciated the Chief Minister Punjab's decision of starting Danish School system but he said there was a need of improvement in whole of the education system. "Development of some excellent schools in the system will not serve the purpose. There is a need to develop an excellent system of schools," he added.

UCL wins: THE University College Lahore (UCL) on Thursday won the 30th All Pakistan Allama Muhammad Iqbal Declamation Contest, hosted by the Government College University (GCU) Debating Society (GCUDS), by beating the best orators of 70 educational institutions of the country. Noted lawyer Aamir Aziz Sayid was the guest of honor while GCU Vice Chancellor Prof Khalid Aftab was also present.

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Call to integrate tech with education
Lahore: Incorporation of technology in higher education can raise the standards of learning and teaching at university level in Pakistan.

This was stated by resource persons and participants in a two-week workshop "Incorporating Technology in Education" during inaugural session held at Lahore College for Women University (LCWU) on Thursday. Dr Sonia Gull, coordinator of workshop, said that varsity aimed to make university faculty members aware about usage of technology in their skills of imparting education. Humaira Kausar, resource person of the workshop, was of the view that 20 people were participating in this course. "These participants are from various departments of LCWU and the course can make them aware about the advanced technological teaching aids", she said adding the course was based on different modules that include basic IT equipments and operating system skills, professional documentation, lecture preparation, data manipulation and analysis, etc. The news

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UAF's flood relief plan for Athara Hazari
Faisalabad: The University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) after completion of a survey of flood-hit Athara Hazari, Jhang, will organise a farmers' gathering here on Saturday (tomorrow) to distribute relief goods among the affected families.

This was stated by UAF Vice-Chancellor Dr Iqrar Ahmad while addressing participants in a "Cultural Night" arranged by Senior Tutor Office at Iqbal Auditorium on Wednesday for raising funds for flood survivors.

"The university will also carry out reconstruction of Athara Hazari under Punjab Governor Relief Programme -- Sooraj."

He said the UAF had recently completed a social and agricultural survey of selected areas of Athara Hazari and would distribute 6,000 maunds of wheat seed, 4,000 packets of vegetable seeds, 2,000 school bags, 1,000 pickle packets, 1,400 sets of various agricultural implements and 2,500 packets of animal feed among the affected farmers.

He said besides depositing two-day salary with the flood relief account of the Punjab government, the university took the lead in mitigating miseries of the victims by dispatching vaccination teams to Khushab and Muzaffargarh districts.

A flood relief donation camp had also been set up on Jail Road where the university volunteers collected over Rs10 million in cash along with relief goods.

He said the UAF had sent 42 truckloads of relief goods amounting to Rs8 million for flood survivors in various areas.

The VC said the UAF alumni in other countries and Washington State University, US, had collected an amount of $0.5million which would be spent on the flood-stricken people. Dawn

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