Higher education outreach
Abdul Rahman Malik
Education is considered the backbone in shaping the country’s Future course of Action. The great nations of the World who have achieved tremendous growth and Success, and emerged as the most developed countries of the world, have especially focused on Education- preferably the Professional Higher Education in the field of Engineering, Medicine, Finance and Planning. The developed nations also have focused on the advancement of Science and technology-based education and bridged the gaps in Educational outreach.
The countries like Japan, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, America, Australia, and England have reached the heights of Success through Education. The Average Literacy rates in these countries are above 90% as compared to other countries.
The Developed nations of the World have brought many innovations in education, Information and Commun-ication Technologies and bu-ilt advanced governance Sys-tem and E-Government Init-iatives. Such initiatives have eased the process of Educ-ation outreach. The online infrastructure of these developed nations have prompted the developing nat-ions like Pakistan to learn from these countries and improve the Education Information Technologies and improve the Education Standards from Primary to Secondary, and from College Edu-cation to University Education.
The Higher Education Commission (HEC) formerly the University Grants Commission (UGC) has played a vital role in building linkages between the universities in lieu of Research and Academic Excellence. Especially the former HEC Chairman Dr Atta-ur-Rahman’ tenure is considered the golden era for Improving the spectrum of Research industries and Capacity Building of The Universities and Degree awarding Institutes DAI’s. He also set the SOP’s of HEC and made it a Central regulatory Body of Higher Education Institutes and introduced the ranking system in the Universities to improve the quality of education and promoted research-oriented Education at Graduate and Post Gradual level.
Despite all this, the higher Education outreach is still the far cry for rural population as there is a great dearth of Higher Education Institutes in Rural areas of Pakistan.Even the existing Institutes in the Rural areas are not imparting the Modern Education since the same obsolete type of Teaching Methodology is adopted in these Institutes. Even at the Degree Colleges fall short in imparting standardized Education on Modern lines as being offered at the Reputed Institutes .
As a result, the number of Graduates produced by Rural Area Institutes per year, is too big but their Skills are not the same as compared to the Graduates of Urban Area Institutes. The Reasons are several but the main reasons are the lack of modern laboratories, lack of ICT based facilities, lack highly qualified Faculty and Trained Administrative & Managerial Staff to boost the academic Excellence of the Institution and transform it into an Ideal Institute to set the precedence for those who follow.
The Rural and Urban Divide has also divided the quality of Education imparted and the degrees are offered at District and Tehseel Level. If we speak of Sindh only, the virus of Copy Culture have plagued the very roots of our Degree Level education and the Production is very substandard. so much so, that the college graduates are not able to clear the Entry tests of various universities to pursue Master Level Studies .
Unfortunately, the situation becomes miserable when we come to know that in Sindh and Other Provinces, there are only Degree colleges for Science Students offering Regular Admissions in F.Sc Pre-Medical and Pre-Engineering Groups whereas limited admissions are offered to Arts or Humanities Students at Tehseel Level. In Addition to these, the affiliated colleges also offer regular Admissions in B.Sc and B.A but apart from the colleges of Big Cities, the attendance Ratio in Rural or Tehseel Level is very nominal and the classes are not run properly for such Degree Level students due to various reasons such lack of required Staff, Syllabus and Books, funds and the interest of Students due to socio Economic Conditions .
Ironically, students without guidance and career counseling take admissions either by Parents Wish or on their own preferably in Engineering and Medical Groups but they do not know that there are other fields such as commerce, computer science and Fine Arts for Intermediate Students to opt for if they are willing to take admissions in these groups other than traditional pre-Engineering and Pre-Medical groups. The main reason is that there is no any college at Tehseel or District Level to offer Commerce, Computer Science and Fine Arts in Sindh . Compellingly, most of the students seek admissions at Science Colleges as they donot have alternate Options.
The Education in Punjab is considered more standard as compared to other provinces since in Punjab, every college offers admissions in Pre-Engineering, Pre-Medical, Commerce, Fine Arts and Computer Science. Even their degree Classes are standardized and faculty is also efficient to impart quality based Education. The Education in KP has been improved tremendously under current PTI regime especially they have focused the Secondary Education and College Education. Even Baluchistan has improved Education Spectrum, yet it has limited number of Higher Education Institutes and DAI’s that is only 8.
The massive urbanization and ever-increasing population warrants to establish more Higher Education institutes at Urban and Rural areas so that rural population may seek higher Education at Graduate and Post Graduate level at their hometown and head to Bigger cities for Research-based advance Education such as M.Phil, PhD, M.E, D.E etc. This will greatly help in minimizing overcrowding in Higher Education Institutes as you all know that quantity affects the quality of Education.
The Recent statistics show that after Census 2017 that Pakistan needs more Universities, Schools and colleges, Hospitals for People to accommodate and facilitate.
The Demand of Higher Education has been ever increasing and several Higher Education Institutes both in Public and Private Sector are being established in urban areas but the rural areas are deprived of Higher Education Institutes.
If we take a look at Higher Education Institutes at Division level in Sindh, We will come to know that Larkana Division has a One Medical University, One Engineering College, One General University Campus of Sindh University at Larkana city only, A New Campus of SALU has been established at Shahdadkot, Shikarpur to accommodate the Rural and Population of population of about 6192380 of Division Larkana. There is no any Higher Education Institute at District Level, especially in District Kashmore and Jacobabad.
It is also ironic that as per Census 2017, District Kashmore has the population of 1089169, yet there is only single Degree College at Kandhkot for Three Tehseels i.e. Kandhkot, Kashmore and Kandhkot. Fortunately, a new Degree college has recently been established at Karampur but that too is without SNE may take a year to function properly.
More Over, The province of Punjab Tops with Maximum number of Universities and Degree Awarding Institutes DAI’s with 60 both in Public and Private Sector, followed by Sindh with 55 HEI’s in Public and Private Sector, KP with 35 Number of HEI’s in Public and Private Sector and fourthly only 8 Universities in Baluchistan .
Additionally, there are 7 universities in Azad Jammu & Kashmir out of which One university namely Al-Khair University has been banned for Degree Verification. It is worthy to mention here that there are 20 universities in Federal Capital Islamabad.
HEC website also shows that there total 186 Universities /DAI’s to accommodate students from the population of 20,77,74,520 of Pakistan. The 186 HEI’s/DAI’s are just salt in flour for ever-increasing population of Pakistan since we need more HEI’s and DAI’s.
It is also an irony that from 186 HEI’s and DAI’s, most of HEI’s and DAI’s are established at Big cities such as Karachi with 41, Lahore with 34, Islamabad with 20 respectively. The Number shows that most of these HEI’s and DAI’s are available to Urban Population whereas Rural Population has only limited chances for getting admission in Medical, Engineering College or General University in comparison to Urban Population.
This divide is further aggravated when the need arises for a Professional Accountancy Institutes such as Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP) Karachi and Institute of Management Accountants of Pakistan (ICMAP) Karachi.
These Accountancy specific Institutes are available for Urban Population such as the metropolitan city of Karachi only. There may be very few private Accountancy Colleges in other provinces but the authorized Accountancy colleges are only ICAP and ICMAP offering CA, ICMA Degree for Accounting and Auditing Professionals.
It is also recommended that ICAP and ICMAP should establish their campuses at other cities to facilitate the rural Population to extend Higher Education outreach. Furthermore, the HEC ‘s plan to establish District based campuses of various Medical, Engineering and General University campuses is a good initiative but the question arises that whether these campuses will impart the same level of Standardized Education as these do at their main campuses -is a big concern since at campus they will have limited resources, staff and limited Technology to impart Education and will offer only Graduate and Post Graduate Degrees .
It is also the great concern that most of the campuses are established without need-based analysis and influenced by Political will. Such campuses fail to cater to the needs of the community.
HEC should personally monitor the Campuses Establishment, keeping in view the Population Needs and Requirements for such HEI or DAI campus.
The HEC should also expedite the process of Proposed HEI’s and DAI’s campuses so that drop out ratio may be minimized after Intermediate. Especially, the upper Sindh i.e. Sukkur and Larkana Division may have more HEI’s and DAI’s especially Medical, Engineering and General Universities since Sukkur is 3rd Biggest City of Sindh having no any General university Except the IBA-Sukkur.
District Kashmore immediately requires two Degree Colleges for Both boys and Girls and a General university Campus, an Engineering College and a Medical College to cater to the needs of 1089169 Population and the bordering Districts of Punjab i.e Rajanpur and Dera Bugti District of Baluchistan as Kashmore is Gateway to Sindh for People coming from Punjab and Baluchistan province.
It is very important to know that If our Rulers want to build the nation then Higher Education is necessary to impart professional Education and enable the people to do research in multiple fields and build the foundations Knowledge Driven Economy.