HED asks PHEC to propose interview panel for another seven soon-to-fall-vacant VCs’ seats
The Punjab government has finally decided to appoint vice chancellors (VC) at three of the seven vacant posts in public universities where a permanent head of the institution was due for appointment. Following a tedious selection process that continued in fits and starts, the powers that be have finalised the names of VCs for University of Okara, University of Sahiwal and Ghazi University, Dera Ghazi Khan.
The interim Punjab government issued a landmark notification last week, according to which transgender students will be given indiscriminate admissions and will be treated equally in all government and private schools across the province.
Until about two to three decades ago, educational units – schools, colleges and universities – working under the public sector played an efficient role in providing quality education with nominal government fees. But over the years, materialism, lack of long-term policies, political interference and sectionalism have become part and parcel of public education departments and literally deteriorated the entire fabric of the Higher Education sector in Pakistan.
Private institutes and evening tuition academies did step in to fill the gap that emerged for providing quality education, but they only ended up further damaging the sector following a decadent indulgence in a mad race of making money. An increasingly expensive private sector has potentially taken control of the educational sector, right from elementary to higher education levels, in Pakistan. As a consequence, a wide majority of people cannot endure educational expenditure incurred at private schools and universities. Education is the basic right of every citizen living in any country and this right is provided amicably by all developed countries on a priority basis. But in Pakistan, consumers of educational services – parents and students – have been left with little choice or idea when it comes to seeking quality education.
Foresight, Or Lack of It
Speaking particularly about Punjab, former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif promoted terrible “sectionalism” in the sector. Instead of ameliorating the efficiency of all schools and colleges, he somehow – apparently for political mileage and self-projection – selectively introduced the culture of “Danish schools”, “model colleges” and even “model police stations”. These special outlets only resulted in further affecting the performance of other schools, colleges and police stations that did not bear the special credentials of being a ‘model’.
Shahbaz Sharif promoted terrible “sectionalism” in the sector. Instead of ameliorating the efficiency of all schools and colleges, he somehow – apparently for political mileage and self-projection – selectively introduced the culture of “Danish schools”, “model colleges” and even “model police stations”.
While ignoring a majority of schools and colleges, these special institutions were given the blue-eyed treatment with additional grants and perks, all for short-term, political objectives. The institutional discrimination not only disappointed staff, but also caused a drop in enrolments of students in institutes that did not bear the title ‘Danish’ or ‘model’. To add fuel to the fire of education woes that are burning bright, formation and execution of educational policies has for long been entrusted to civil servants who have no expertise, training or experience in education and its allied services.
Who’s In Charge?
At the university level, the plight of higher education in Pakistan has been made worse by a shambolic division of power between various quality-controlling bodies at the federal and provincial level. The Higher Education Commission (HEC) Pakistan has turned into a degree attestation department ever since Dr Atta Ur Rahman resigned as the commission chairman in 2008.
Thereafter, the 18th Amendment in the constitution was promulgated, making federating units responsible for education. However there has never been a clear roadmap of how the jurisdictions would materialize. Now provincial and federal higher education regulatory commissions work in parallel, with no clear demarcation of either’s authoritative boundary.
Funnily enough, only Punjab and Sindh have separate provincial set up of HEC, while KPK and Balochistan are still working under the federal HEC. This polarization has seriously damaged the repute, credibility and efficiency of HEC, something that needs to be addressed urgently.
If we consider scientific research at many a public and private universities, the endeavor has merely become a source of grabbing funds from related government institutes and sister organizations such as Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF). Ongoing research in many subjects is far from practical utility and implications, and fails to address or attempt to address the real challenges faced by the country. The true spirit of scientific work for real implementation is lost.
Ongoing research in many subjects is far from practical utility and implications, and fails to address or attempt to address the real challenges faced by the country
Instead, research has become a criterion of quick promotion to higher ranks in universities, irrespective of how and where faculty members and their research students publish their work. There are no black and white ethical guidelines and aptitude for publications in journals from institutes. The race for publication has made both students and professors blind to the value and credentials of publishers and journals; and whether they are of an acceptable repute. Such publication houses work on the basis of “open-access” policy for readers, therefore, they ask money from the authors to publish their work. And that is happily paid from the project funds approved by HEC or PSF.
Harassment, often sexual, of female students and staff at the hands of colleagues and research supervisors is now being extensively reported across the Pakistani academia. It has become a major challenge for university administrations to curb social crime. Although, the constitution provides protection against sexual harassment at work place, the implementation of laws remain a challenge.
The practice hiring and firing of faculty members in higher education institutions on Pakistan also raises concerns, as most recruitments are reportedly made out of the way and against so-called criteria of merit. Likewise, deans and vice chancellors at universities are mostly appointed on the basis of recommendation, cosmetic value and political influence. Retired professors continue getting unnecessary extensions, impeding the way of young and energetic faculty members.
Unless administrative officials and faculty at universities in Pakistan is selected purely on the basis of capability of individuals in terms of leadership, management and specialization in respective areas, we cannot compete with the world in science and technology, or any discipline for that matter. Similarly, the HEC is essentially required to enhance its working domain with better planning and executional capacity.
Education is the only way through which the fate of nations can be turned around. And to achieve that turnaround, we must do what is needed. Uphold merit.
The views and opinions expressed in the article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views and policy of The Academia Magazine
Education is the wholistic development of an individual. Intellectual, moral and emotional knowledge are crucial to achieve the end wherein a pupil becomes a socially responsible, compassionate and functional member of a society. Education is more than what any school can provide to a child, and the learning does not, cannot and should not stop once a child steps out school boundaries.
Building effective communication skills through listening and speaking is essential to forming social and personal relationships. Our ability to reach out to people and understand them is a great way of learning from each other’s experiences and an opportunity to view the world from other’s perspectives. Success at communication, then, not only motivates and inspires interlocutors to interact with us based on the commonality of ideas but also allow them to open themselves to us and indulge in the exchange of ideas and thoughts.
But not everyone finds communicating with others as easy as some do, and most people are really bad at even starting or maintaining meaningful conversations. If that is the case for you, too, here are five easy steps to improve your skills without really breaking a sweat.
The Toastmasters club provides a good arena to prepare members to interact in different social situations. Table topics enable them to be prompt in responding to questions and build their confidence as they engage in conversations with people of diverse backgrounds. They make the members realize that they cannot become good communicators just by reading or surfing few tips on enhancing oral communication on internet. Rather, they have to become more socially active individuals engaging and molding in different social situations. Toast masters allows members to take initiatives in conversations as they prepare themselves and keep up with the current trends and events taking place around them.
STORYTELLING TO CHILDREN
Reading stories to children is a great way to practice on your speaking skills and learning to have detailed conversations by building upon random ideas. Toddlers’ inquisitiveness and imagination of this world is only limited by the time elders provide them. Reading to children opens up that world of imagination and their natural inclination to inquire leads to all sorts of questions. A LOT of questions.
Engaging with a child and building up stories to answer his or her queries is a great practice for your abilities to relate, think promptly and weave a story around a single strand of information the little one provides. These very abilities of understanding the speaker, relating his story with your own experiences and then adding a mutually interesting angle to the ongoing conversation is key to an effective communication and relationship in an adult setting. So the next time you see you nephew or niece running about, know that the child is the teacher of the man.
MIMIC, MIMIC, MIMIC
They say mimicry is the best form of flattery, and an effective way of polishing your speaking skills. If you think of someone as an amazing orator or someone who can have an effective communication with ease, the best tribute to him or her will be you mimicking that person’s way of communication. Whether that someone is a movie star, a news personality or your school teacher, you can observe the way they talk, the body language they maintain and the way they engage their audience to learn how to do the same yourself too. That’s one way to make an impression.
TRY LANGUAGE EXCHANGE WEBSITES
The world of accents is a tricky one and the variance in dialects and pronunciation inhibits communication even between people who have the same mother tongue. For this, you can try websites that offer lessons on courses and dialects. Let it be the British RP, Canadian or American English, by transcribing their oral discourses through phonetic symbols, you not only realize the inherent distinguishing patterns, but also why the accents differ from one another. Furthermore, if you are trying to sound more like a native English speaker, what you say becomes as important as how you say it. Your pace and clarity in our speech will lead to a more fluent adaptation of the native speaker accent, giving you more chances of communicating effectively.
TRY LYRICS TRAINING
Lyrics training is an innovative method of enhancing oral communication among students as they can learn English and other languages through music, a very likable activity, usually. And having fun while you learn is a great way to gain knowledge. Listening to music can be a great way of not only learning a language and words, but also how the language is spoken and the words are used in sentences by giving you an audible reference.
And singing the songs gives a great practice to your tongue too to learn the new sound and tongue rolls a language or dialect requires. This fun way of gaining knowledge will certainly add to your confidence and help you with improved oral communication.
The recent expulsion of City School students over the dispute of fee increase has led parents to come further together against private schools and move the relevant courts of law to take school administrations to task.