"Oh, The Humanities! Why STEM Shouldn’t Take Precedence Over the Arts"
Published in The Online Degree Programs, March 11th, 2013.
Exam advice from the gurus in Britain
Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2012.
Pakistani students can perform better at their Ordinary and Advanced (O and A) Levels examinations if they focus on writing precise answers rather than lengthy ones. This was stated by Premila Paulraj, the assistant vice president of Pearson for the Indian subcontinent while speaking at an information session at Froebel’s International School on Thursday.
Pearson is a company that owns Edexcel, one of the UK examination boards which provide testing services for General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) and General Certificate for Education (GCE) qualifications to Pakistani O and A Levels students every year.
Paulraj, who is Sri Lankan, said South Asian students are obsessed with writing lengthy responses on their answer scripts. “Our students judge the quality of an answer by the quantity (of words),” she said.
But according to UK examiners who mark the tests, Paulraj said, short and precise answers – which may sometimes have just “five keywords” for a five-point score question – can get students better scores. Grammar, spellings and good handwriting also contribute to good grades, she said.
She said the Edexcel curricula, regulated by a UK standards commission, are revised every five years. The 2014 curriculum will be geared towards engaging students in learning through research, group work and discussions, rather than following the old spoon feeding education model, she said. Responding to a question, Paulraj said that British teacher trainers are reluctant to visit Pakistan but starting in February 2013, Edexcel will be sending Sri Lankan teachers, who have undergone trainings from abroad, to Pakistan to train their Pakistani counterparts. She said Edexcel is also trying to engage UK-based Pakistani trainers for teachers training programmes in Pakistan
Javed Khan Jadoon, whose son Rafey Khan Jadoon studies at Froebel’s and received a country distinction in his GCSE examinations, said some of the tips to get better grades on offer during the session were useful for the students and the teachers should also disseminate the information to other students who were not present at the event.
Humaira Mobeen, another parent, said such information sessions should be organised regularly. “It gives parents and teachers a chance to interact with Edexcel officials and express their queries,” Mobeen said. “It allows us to resolve issues that might affect students’ grades.”
The session was followed by a certificate distribution ceremony for those Froebel’s students who received world, region and country distinctions in the GCSE and GSE examinations for the June 2012 session. Teachers who coached the students with distinctions were also given certificates of appreciation.
Shahmina Kamal, principal of Froebel’s, said she was proud of the “amazing” performance of her students in bringing distinctions to the school. She said in addition to the students, the credit also goes to the teachers and parents. “It’s not just the children, it’s the house, the institution that make them stand on a pedestal,” Kamal said.
HEC expedites fee payment plan for Balochistan, Fata students
The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has expedited the process to implement the prime minister’s tuition fee payment scheme for masters, MS/MPhil and PhD students of Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Fata. According to an official of the HEC, the information regarding eligible students enrolled at the respective universities and postgraduate colleges in Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Fata Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa has been collected. Through a letter, the HEC has requested the heads of 21 provincial higher education institutions and campuses of federal universities to provide the list of the students along with their fee details so that funds may be released accordingly. Through this initiative, the federal government through the HEC would release the funds to the universities for reimbursement of tuition fee and other mandatory fee. The scheme is focused on enhancing opportunities of higher education especially for the talented but financially constrained students belonging to remote and far flung areas who despite possessing academic merit are unable to continue higher education studies.
The federal government, in a move to support the under developed populace in Balochistan, Fata and Gilgit-Baltistan, has decided to pay tuition fee of all students of these areas studying masters, MPhil and PhD in reputable universities inside the country under the said scheme. An amount of Rs500 million has been allocated during current financial year. Under this innovative and special scheme, along with tuition fee, the federal government would pay other academic, incidental, or mandatory fees charged by educational institutions as one-off or on a per semester basis of masters, MPhil and PhD students belonging to Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Fata (enrolled at KP and Fata institutions). The fee disbursement is being ensured through a transparent and well defined mechanism. The students having valid domicile/local certificate of Balochistan, Fata and Gilgit-Baltistan and enrolled on merit in the higher education institutions located in the territory of Balochistan, Fata and Gilgit- Baltistan, are eligible under this programme. In addition, the students belonging to Fata and enrolled at the higher education institutions of KP are also eligible. The scheme being executed by the HEC has been introduced initially for five years, beginning in 2012-13, with the provision that those students who join the scheme in the last year, 2016-17, would continue to be funded until they complete their academic programme
Pervez Hoodbhoy, one of Pakistan’s leading public intellectuals, has recently been told by LUMS that it will not be offering him an extension of contract. The background to this unfortunate decision by this well-known University is explored in the light of the decaying educational milieu in the country
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Photos: Talib Hoodbhoy: htttp://www.flickr.com/photos/daudpota/2537155274/
Art meets Science - cropped from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/daudpota/3115597249/
University futures: Wikipedia uni, core-periphery reversed, incremental managerialism or bliss for all?
Sohail Inayatullah is Professor at the Graduate Institute of Futures Studies, Tamkang University,
Taiwan, and at the Centre of Policing, Intelligence and Counter-terrorism, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia and the University of the Sunshine Coast, Mooloolaba, Australia.
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to overview the futures of the university by analyzing critical drivers. It also aims to assess drivers identified a decade ago on university futures. Design/methodology/approach – The paper reviews drivers, trends and scenarios. Findings – The paper finds first, globalization will likely continue but innovation will move to Chindia. Second, democratization has resulted by not as imagined a decade ago, rather, peer-to-peer or web 2.0 has changed the game. Three new scenarios are articulated: Wikipedia university; core-periphery reversed and incremental managerialism. Bliss for all remains an outlier. Practical implications – Asian-Pacific universities instead of adopting the used future of the core will find it wiser to innovate and create new visions as well as to develop new global ranking systems. Social implications – Traditional universities are the likely dinosaurs unable to thrive in a dramatically
changing world. Increasing inequity in traditional western universities will likely further devalue higher
education. New models of inclusion are required. Originality/value – The paper articulates new scenarios of the future, and assesses trends identified a decade ago. It provides a strategy for university administrators to navigate the challenges ahead. Keywords Universities, Scenarios, Higher education, Foresight, Rise of Chindia, Peer-to-peer, Wikipedia, Futures studies Paper type Conceptual paper in the University in Transformation (Inayatullah and Gidley, 2000), an anthology of articles on the futures of the university published ten years ago, we – Jennifer Gidley and I – identified four critical drivers creating the futures of the university. In this essay, the drivers are reviewed and assessed as to how likely they are to continue to shape the plausible futures of the university. The essay concludes with alternative university scenarios.
Globalisation of education
The first driver identified was globalization, in its current neo-liberal form (and there are many types of globalization – spiritual, ecological/gaian, and utopian, for example), defining has been a resistance by states to continue to subsidize education (Odin and Manicas, 2004). This has meant a policy shift from considering education less as an investment and more as a cost (Magna Charta Observatory, 2010). Specifically it has led to categorizing parts of higher education as an export (in Australia, for example, in Brisbane (Brisbane: Australia’s New World City, n.d.) and Melbourne (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, n.d.), education is the largest export, surpassing tourism) and aspects as an expense. The export-based curriculum areas – seeking to bring in students from the Asia-Pacific, particularly India – tend to be in the ‘‘real-world’’ areas of engineering, business, information technologies and vocational studies. When they are linked to immigration policy ((The) Sydney Morning Herald, 2010a) they have especially grown, while other areas of knowledge such as philosophy and even languages, have been subjected to current market forces and cutbacks and thus have declined. Indeed, in the context of the continuing global financial crisis, just recently the Australian government announced that entry requirements would be relaxed for students wishing to study in Australia. As well, post-study work rights would be enhanced (Anderson and Mather, 2011). The overall reason for education – as a civilizing force, as part of humanity’s treasure, as a long term investment in children, and as a right to dissent against the prevailing paradigm- has been put aside for shorter term market concerns. In the last ten years, this trend - and the drivers creating it – has not subsided but intensified. These trends are likely to continue. What is likely to change is the direction of the exports. With the rise of Chindia ((The) Sydney Morning Herald, 2010b (for a more skeptical view, see Tharoor, 2010)), we can easily imagine a future where Chinese and Indian students stay at home, learning from local outposts of Western universities (English.news.cn, 2011) as well as Chindia’s own educational institutions. Over a period of twenty years we can imagine Western students moving to the Asia-Pacific for higher education (and not only for language learning). While this may seem difficult to imagine now, if we go back 20 years, it would have been difficult to imagine the colossal economic rise of China (foreign reserves at 3.2 trillion dollars in 2011) (Anderlini, 2010), East Asia (for the first time Asia has more millionaires than Europe) (Rand Corporation, 2008; Terradaily, 2010) and segments of India (Tharoor, 2007). Education for Chindia and much of East Asia remains an investment. Not a cost.
The second trend identified was the virtualization of education. With fewer funds available for bricks and mortar and the logic of increasing the number of students, ministries of education and universities (led by India, Indonesia, Turkey, South Korea, China and other Asian nations) (International Telecommunications Union (ITU), 1999) have focused on using the Web to deliver education. While the savings are high – indeed, in the USA, one university, National Louis University, has even used the ‘‘Groupon’’ approach, offering a discount when at least fifteen people had signed up for the course (Chen, 2011) – and outreach stunning, what has partially hampered the success of distance delivery has been the mindset of university administrators and academics. They still remain in the expert-driven feudal model. That said, new applications; indeed, ‘‘an app for everything’’ is the new analogy for the futures of instruction. New applications are changing the nature of pedagogy and with exponential technological advancement we can see virtual becoming more like face-to-face. Costs will continue to go down (and climate change/peak oil/security concerns are likely to provide further incentives to virtualize). Innovation will continue to find ways for academics and students to become more comfortable in future virtualized ‘‘classrooms’’. Over the long term the current distinctions between virtual and real will likely disappear and we, particularly digital and genomic natives (the double-helix children), will become comfortable with different types of reality.
Democratization – peer to peer
The third trend identified was the democratization of education. By this we meant enhanced student participation as well as a flattening generally of the university. Over the last ten years, this has occurred but not expected. The peer to peer web platform has been the greatest flattening process – from Wikipedia to Wikileaks to www.ratemyprofessor.com. However, and this is crucial, democratization while partially recreating who creates knowledge, has not empowered students or academics in formal university or high school settings. The opposite has occurred. First, there has been a backlash against increased power of those below – a desire to return to the good old days of dominator authority. Second, as universities have adopted the neo-liberal globalization model, creating profits or merely surviving has meant retiring expensive professors and hiring cheaper younger PhDs. And, critically, the hiring has not been ‘‘full-time’’ but casual (no tenure, payment per course, no office space). In Australia, ‘‘casualization’’ is now 60 percent of the higher education workforce (Luyt et al., 2008). Comments Robin May who is currently completing her PhD on the university workforce, ‘‘You lead a very uncertain life being casual . . . you are literally hired by the hour, resulting in disengagement from the regular university life’’ (Whyte, 2011). Comparing the university to the garment industry, Patricia Kelly calls casual lecturers ‘‘piece workers of the mind’’ (Kelly, 2011). And this is not a surprise. Globalization in its neoliberal variant ‘‘happens in an environment that is increasingly hierarchical, unequal, and insecure,’’ and it is gendered, women bear the brunt of inequity (Milojevic, 2006 (for a feminist view on educational futures, see Milojevic, 2005)). Experimental courses (new web courses, in particular) especially futures studies, gender studies and peace studies for example – have emerged by paying academics near volunteer wages. For those at the bottom pay scale, the problem becomes that of loyalty not just to the particular university (‘‘why should I stay loyal when I am paid peanuts’’) but to the university model of education itself, that is, ‘‘why should I not globalize myself and receive the benefits of globalization.’’ As loyalty breaks down we can anticipate far more innovation in the tertiary sector. This could include new academic run cooperative universities and alternative universities (with either particular ideological leanings or broader missions) attracting younger academics along different career trajectories. Along with some able to innovate, there will be many who will prefer, rightly, if not wisely, a politics of grievance in the university itself. As cutbacks continue, we can anticipate a far more challenging labor environment. Returning to the good old days where education was a fully subsidized by the nation-state is currently unlikely but this does not necessarily mean retreating from the dignity of the academic and the nobility of the academic profession. Alternative futures are possible. For elite professors, the physical university and particular university branding will be far less important. In terms of phases, a possible trajectory would be from the lower run casual academic to the traditional tenure track academic to a portfolio academic approach (being linked to a number of universities) and finally to a model wherein the Professor becomes a brand unto him or herself. In each phase, agency is enhanced and the weight of structure reduced.
Ways of knowing – knowledge on the edges
Our fourth driver or trend was multiculturalism in terms of new ways of knowing becoming an acceptable as part of pedagogy (Inayatullah et al., 2006; Bussey et al., 2008; Sardar, 1999; Sidhu, 2004). There is no easy way to measure this but certainly the rise of the web with multiple languages and platforms has created more spaces then traditional hierarchies of knowledge. The rise of Chindia is slowly changing the game as well. But far more impressive has been technology itself as a way of mediating reality. We imagined far more diversity in knowledge regimes – indigenous ways of knowing, spirituality, integrated models of understanding. While these continue to mushroom, it is technology as a way of knowing that has been the disruptive, if not transformative, factor. With at least five billion (Rebello, 2010) mobile phones now in global circulation and 6.07 billion estimated by the end of 2011 (Talal, 2011) and more of these becoming smart, pedagogy will keep on jumping the boundaries of the real into the differently real.
As always, leaving behind factory models of learning and teaching will be crucial as we move to a more 24/7 virtualized and globalized world. Focusing on ensuring equity and life wide and life long learning for those academics who do not become brands unto themselves or have portfolio careers, will be critical in the quest toward educational equity.
And, if national accreditation does break down or become porous, the 2.5 plus trillion dollar education industry (Edarabia, n.d.) will be ripe for a major creative destruction. It will likely not be Google, Wikipedia or Facebook that will become the new Nalanda, Nanjing, Al-Azhar, Al Karaouine, Bologna, or Oxford or . . . but someone else who will create the new platform for the pedagogies of the future. Is it wiser for nation-states to hold on to national accreditation, to regionalize as with the EU (and future Asian Union), or attempt to create something truly novel and lead the world by creating an institutional jump? Or . . .?
These questions are best answered through a description of alternate higher educational futures. Three futures are suggested. They are: Wikipedia Uni, Core-periphery reversed and Incremental managerialism.
In the first scenario, two shifts are central. First is a far greater flattening of the university – its structure as well as who teaches and the nature of teaching. While this future includes tremendous global educational diversity, one apt phrase is ‘‘the return of Bologna.’’ In the original University of Bologna model, students hired the professors. Instructors even needed permission to leave the city. The second shift is the reduction or elimination of national accreditation by a select group of nations. While many nations refuse to follow – citing national security, economic development and fear of being overwhelmed by new wealthy corporate entrants – a few nations still experiment. Porous national accreditation creates a major disruption leading to a social ecology of flatter global universities. The result is essentially Wikipedia University. There is still room for elite professors who ensure quality control as well as providing prestige. Dominator hierarchy is replaced by functional hierarchy. Quality gains are dramatic as the wisdom of the crowds, plus guidance by elite professors who are induced by salaries and innovation, lead the way. Income is generated through student fees and advertising on software and hardware applications. Large corporate information providers such as Google jump in. Apple and Android applications play a dramatic role in localizing the global Wikipedia University. Application developers migrate in droves to this new educational platform. New technologies develop that make virtual feel more and more similar to face-to-face. These include holograms and group sharing of information (Cloud 2.0), beyond our current understandings – learning becomes dynamic and evolves quickly. This does not mean that space for traditional universities disappears. If anything this world is characterized, particularly in the first 20 years, as a social ecology in flux. However, the dinosaurs are the traditional universities. The ability to adapt, determine the nature of the new ecological landscape, reinvent one’s core functions, allow for emergence, and allow stakeholders – students, in particular – to help mould the emerging future is a great advantage. Traditional universities are unwilling to adapt and do not use stakeholders to create, as they see themselves as the experts, indeed, they are even unable to notice that they exist in a rapidly changing knowledge social ecology. By 2050, the feudal nature of university education is finally overthrown and along with it the factory model of learning. Universities by 2050 are unrecognizable to the visitor from the twentieth century.
In the second scenario, core-periphery relations are reversed (Huffington Post, 2011; Lawrence, 2010). Phase one of this is currently occurring in China and India with the reverse brain drain. Phase two is the massive investments in education in China in particular, but Asia generally (Japan, Singapore, South Korea, India, for example). Over time, research leads to a positive and creative innovation cycle. China, already, in 2011 is poised to become the world’s patent leader (Orr, 2010; Thomson Reuters, 2010). In the future, tired of rising student fees in the West, and many local Asian success stories, Asian students stay ‘‘home’’ and European and American students join them. Initially this is in the areas of business, science and languages but gradually other fields also become major exports. As the Asian Union moves from only East Asian nations – the Chinese Diaspora – to include other still developing nations, Asia becomes an educational powerhouse. An Asian credit transfer regime is created, similar to the EU Bologna process (Kelo, 2006). Traditional rote learning paradigms for students and factory model pedagogy from Professors is replaced by diverse learning styles. Elite Western professors flock to Asia for the higher salaries. The West begins to experience their own brain drain as students and academic flock to the Asia-Pacific. However, hubris in the West does not allow strategic reactions until too late. Of course, many western universities already have local branches throughout Asia, but these are bought by large Asian universities seeking to export their services back to the empire. By 2050 Asian universities have branch campuses throughout Europe, Australia, and even the United States. Success creates success. Innovation creates Innovation. Power creates reality.
Incremental managerialism – business as usual
In this third future, innovations in web 2.0 and beyond (web 3.0: mobile, holograms), globalization, flattening (democratization) and the rise of Asia do not dramatically change the nature of the university. There is incremental change but this does not lead to a tipping over to a new future. Yes, more Asian universities rise in global rankings. Yes, there is far more delivery over the web. Yes, mobility becomes central to pedagogy. Yes, universities accommodate globalization and states reduce investment in them except for courses that bring in export earnings. Yes, many universities become more sustainable changing how they use energy and redesigning curriculum to be climate change and Gaia sensitive. Yes, a world green campus ranking takes off (green metrics) (BBC.com, 2011; Universitas Indonesia, 2010). And yes, globo sapiens (Kelly, 2008) and cultural creatives (Ray and Anderson, 2000; Tibbs, 2011) gain in strength, and intelligence (Anthony, 2008) becomes far more integrated. But over time, the university’s one thousand year conservative tradition continues. Cautious deans are proven correct: squeeze below, attract high paying students, remain connected to the alumni and find expert researchers who can bring in large dollar grants. Three zones emerge:
1. The zone of elite universities that have historical brand recognition – high fees, huge endowments and alumni networks. The world’s leading thought leaders continue to be associated with them. With vast funds, they remain above the market, seeing education as part of civil society, as a human right.
2. The zone of mass education. While this becomes more and more Asia based – demographic dividends in terms of the ratio of young people to old – life long and life wide (formal and informal and creative mixes) learning in the West allows Western universities to grow as well.
3. The zone of experimentation. Even within business-as-usual world, niche universities continue to thrive. Technological and economic disruptions and value changes create spaces for new entrants but only in niche areas. These include Islamic universities or programs teaching Islamic banking, for example, not to mention the new ecological – gardens in universities and universities in gardens – knowledge centers. Some of these experiments move to the mass market and become routinized while others stay on the cutting edge, challenging the current paradigm.
What is the right question?
There are other possible futures as well. In the University in Transformation, we suggested ‘‘Bliss for all’’ as an idealistic scenario – the world as not just a connected brain but the world as mind. In this future, education is truly for all and the planet becomes not just a complex adaptive learning organization but a healing network as well – learning for ananda/bliss (Inayatullah and Gidley, 2000). However, in 2011, while the technology for a world brain appears nearer, the wisdom for a world mind-heart appears further. At best, bliss for the few. And which future will eventuate? This is the wrong question. Which future does my university desire to create? What support – intellectual, technological, humans and values – do we need to create this desired future? And finally: in a changing social ecology, what and where do we maintain and sustain and what and where do we innovate and transform?
About the author
Sohail Inayatullah is Professor at the Graduate Institute of Futures Studies, Tamkang University, Taiwan, and Centre of Policing, Intelligence and Counter-terrorism, Macquarie University and the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia. Sohail Inayatullah is the author-editor of 20 books, ten special issues and over 350 journal article and popular essays. From 1999-2010, he was the editor of the Journal of Futures Studies. Sohail Inayatullah can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Teachers start protesting hiring allowance today
ISLAMABAD, Oct 14: Teachers of model schools and colleges in the capital city have decided to start a protest movement against non-payment of ceiling/hiring allowance for the last over two years, it has been learnt. In the first stage of the protest starting from Monday, the teachers will be wearing black armbands during duty hours and in case there is no response from the authorities concerned, they will stage a sit-in outside the local press club on Friday. And from October 22, they will boycott classes till their demand is met. Riaz Anjum, the president of Central Academic Staff Association, told Dawn that teachers were perturbed over the failure of the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) andthe Ministry of Capital Administration and Department (CAD) in resolving their issue despite making repeated promises. The teachers say due to non-payment of the hiring allowance, it has become impossible for them to pay rents of their houses. At a meeting on October 12, the representatives of the Academic Staff Association and all model colleges decided that delegations would meet the high-ups of CAD and the FDE to apprise them of their problems. `If the demands are not fulfilled by Monday, the teachers will boycott classes,` he said. Besides Mr Anjum, teachers` representatives, including Altaf Hussain, Mehboob Ahmed, Hafeezur Rehman, Murad Ali Khan, Naveed Anjum and Amanullah attended the meeting. Mr Anjum added: `Delay in pay-ment started in 2009 when the teachers were told by the authorities concerned that the funds reserved for the ceiling allowance would be utilised to help the flood-affected people.After that, however, the management did not allocate funds for the ceiling allowance. He said the meeting demanded that 100 per cent hiring should be paid to all those who have been waiting for it for the last two years. Hiring should also be granted to all those who have apphed and are on the waiting list, he added. Amanullah Bhutto, a teacher at the Islamabad College for Boys, G6/3, said he had been living in a rented portion of a house at Rawal Town for the last two years. `My ceiling allowance is Rs14,105 and I have to pay Rs17,000 rent to the house owner. I pay Rs2,895 from my pocket but the FDE has not released the ceiling al-lowance for the last two years,` he complained. He said the owner can issue him notice to vacate the house ant time. On the other hand, he added, his marriage ceremony was scheduled to be held in January but he was not sure whether by that time he would have a house to live in with his wife. Most of the teachers have similar stories but the education department is doing nothing for them, he added. When contacted, FDE spokesman Waqar Ashraf said the federal government had been facing financial crunch due to which the problems were increasing. In the current fiscal year, the FDE got some funds which were not sufficient to pay the ceiling allowance to all the teachers.
`We are trying to get more fund and resolve the issue and after that house rents will be paid after every six months,` he said.
KP university teachers boycott classes
PESHAWAR, Oct 5: Teachers of all government universities in the province on Friday observed Salam Teachers’ Day as black day and boycotted classes to protest non-payment of 20 per cent raise in salary as announced in budget 2012-13. According to Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association provincial president Professor Hamayun Khan, all teachers of the province’s government universities will continue agitating until their demands are met. Clerks and Class IV employees of the said universities have also been protesting denial of the 20 per cent raise in salary. They first observed a strike for a day and then locked up offices and refused to work until their demands were met. “Previously, teachers took classes despite Class-IV strike call, but now, teachers have joined them,” said Professor Hamayun. He said the boycott of the classes would continue until the university paid them the due raise in salary. When contacted, PUTA president Jamil Chitral said the government should respect teachers, acknowledge the services they had been rendering to the society and resolved their problems. “If the government had promised to increase salary of all its employees, including teachers, 20 per cent, then it should fulfill its promise,” he said. Mr Chitrali said he suspected conspiracy in the matter as other provinces had given the pay raise to their respective university teachers despite the fact that they, too, had not been provided funds by Higher Education Commission. “Why VCs of public sector universities have been making shortage of funds as excuse for not giving teachers the due increase in salary. The matter should be thoroughly probed,” he said. Mr Chitrali said the government should take the issue seriously since it was its responsibility to fulfill their commitment. Meanwhile, a news release said the matter was raised at a Salam Teachers’ Day function jointly organised by Peshawar University Teachers’ Association and Unesco on the university premises. Information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain, who was the chief guest on the occasion, said he was aware that UoP employees had gone on a strike to protest non-payment of 20 per cent raise in salary as announced by the government. He said it was a reasonable demand and the government was trying to solve the matter. The minister said higher education minister Qazi Asad had called a meeting of the vice chancellors of the province’s government universities on the matter. He, however, said had VCs hired staff keeping in mind their needs and available resources, the problem would have never occurred.
Political interference in universities on the rise
ISLAMABAD, Oct 5: Educationists believe the sacking of Gomal University Vice Chancellor (VC) and the resignation by Shah Abdul Latif University VC are politically motivated, Dawn has learnt. The VC of Gomal University Prof Dr Mansoor Akbar Kundi was sacked by the Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Masood Kausar on September 28. However, Prof Kundi was granted stay order by Justice Anwar Kasi of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on October 3. He filed an application in the IHC for the stay on October 1 and made Election Commission and PPP senior minister from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Rahimdad Khan as respondents Prof Kundi was appointed in 2009 by then governor Owais Ahmed Ghani. In his petition, Prof Kundi alleged that he had to face the music after he refused to verify the fake degree of Rahimdad Khan. While talking to Dawn, Dr Kundi said that he was the victim of politics. “If politicians will keep on interfering in universities matters, they will become schools and quality of education will suffer,” he said. On the same day when the stay order was granted to Prof Kundi, Shah Abdul Latif University Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Nilofer Shaikh resigned. A faculty member of a university requesting not to be identified said that Nilofer Shaikh had won best university teacher award in 2000 and also won “Tamgha-e-Imtiaz” in 2009 which was given by the President. “She was appointed for four years from July 30, 2011 under Notification No GS/6-12/2011(SO-1)/888 and there was no reason for her resignation. We have learnt that there was political pressure regarding appointments on her and even grant of the university was stopped because she was not ready to give in to political pressure,” he said “A political personality who holds an important position in the provincial government had sent her a list of persons to appoint them in the university as lecturers and assistant professors, who will be appointed presiding officers not only in general elections but also in local bodies elections,” he said. Former VC Shah Abdul Latif University Nilofer Shaikh while talking to Dawn confirmed that she had resigned but refused to tell the reason for taking such an extreme step.
Replying to a question, she said that political interference in universities affairs has become a routine. She said it was the responsibility of the VCs to deal with them and assure merit as long as possible. Coordinator of Shah Abdul Latif University, Dr Yousuf Khushk did not pick up the phone despite many attempts. President of The Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) Prof Kaleemullah Bareaech while talking to Dawn said that political interference in universities was a common feature. “On the issues of degree verification and appointments political pressure has become a routine. We demand that VCs of the universities should be appointed by university senate instead of chancellor. We condemn political pressure on university’s managements,” he said.
Media coordinator Higher Education Commission, Murtaza Noor said that HEC provided finances whereas provincial governments dealt with administrative matters. “So HEC can not interfere in that kind of issues,” he said.
The views expressed by the bloggers do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Council of Social Sciences, Pakistan