Research and specialization
Addressing the Senate meeting of Abdul Wali Khan University, KP Governor Iqbal Zafar Jaghra emphasized for giving impetus to research and specialization to produce world class researchers and academicians. He said the nation needs such scholars who can guide the people to face contemporary challenges.
The ruling leadership is fully aware of the fact that our higher education is plagued by numerous inefficiencies for which all the civilian governments are responsible because these governments deliberately slashed down the allocations for human resource development. The scarce education budget is not is not judiciously utilized. Higher education has been devolved to the provinces under 18th Amendment to the Constitution in 2010. Since then the quality of higher education in KP has rapidly declined. Like the previous government the present provincial government is not appointing faculty on merit in the 20 plus public sector universities. Because of the excessive powers vested in the syndicates of government universities the faculty is answerable to none and study of students suffer.
There is acute shortage of equipments in science labs and the available equipment is obsolete. Like the arrogant faculty the lab assistant and attendants all along demonstrate hostile attitude towards the students who are fond of research. In most of the government universities labs are closed before 1500 hours and entry of students is not allowed. In few private universities like Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Science and Technology and National University of Science and Technology labs are kept open till 2300 hours in the night, wherein the faculty members watch and assist the students in their research activities. No such environment is available in the public sector universities.
It is the availability of high-tech equipments and instruments that facilitate quality research in the institution of higher education. Millions are spent on the construction of new buildings but the instrumentation of science labs is utterly ignored. Instrumentation of labs and development of skill of the students to operate state-of -the-art equipments is must to create an environment conducive for research and specialization. The faculty also need at least six months training on latest equipments.
There is a dearth of books in universities and the students can not afford the purchase of costly books to carry on their research of M Phil and PhD programs. Likewise, they can not pay subscription for downloading the research material from reputed international journals with high impact factor. It is the responsibility of the government to provide funds to the universities solely for the purpose of subscription to the top notch journals so that each enrolled student is provided with an access ID. In only one private university of the province latest editions of international journals are put on display stands for the benefit of both teachers and students.
Despite the grater financial allocations under the 7th NFC Award, the provincial government has abdicated its responsibility of promoting higher education. Grants have been stopped to public sector universities and these institutions have exorbitantly raise tuition fee. The grants given by the Higher Education Commission are far from wisely used and the research activities are ignored. Ironically, there is a free for all situation for the money launders to millions of dollars, Euros and British Pound Sterling for building offshore assets but the talented M Phil and PhD student can not send a few hundred dollars for the publication of their research work in international journals as Pay Pal account no longer exists. It is for the government to remove this obstacle that is hindering research.
Not a single government university of KP is included in the top 10 universities of the country. The University of Peshawar was ranked at the 4th position in the HEC list in 2006. But from 2010 and onwards it degenerated and now it is out of the list of top 10 universities of the country although the incumbent Vice Chancellor Professor Dr. Muhammad Asif Khan has taken a number of measures to enhance the national ranking of this Alma-mater. But he alone cannot perform this herculean task and needs the financial support from the government and close cooperation of the faculty. Hollow rhetoric about the promotion of research and specialization will not change the existing deplorable condition of higher education.