RECTOR DR. JAMES A. TEBBE SAYS IT’S TIME FOR PAKISTAN TO THINK, HOW MUCH THEY NEED US?
Interview Panel: Dr. Waqar Ch., Shabbir Sarwar, Syeda Heera Shahbaz and Amina Zafar
LAHORE: FC College University seeks to educate critical thinkers who later become good citizens of the country. We try to implement there a different style of education. Our whole educational setup is to encourage leadership development. In Pakistan, every administration comes up with new education plan and we spent all time in planning. What else we need is to implement the plans. This was stated by FCCU Rector Dr. James A. Tebbe during an exclusive interview with The Educationist. Following are the details of the interview:
THE EDUCATIONIST: First of all, please do tell us about your academic background and experience before joining FCC.
DR. JAMES A. TEBBE: I have done B.A. in Psychology from Indiana University. I studied History in Punjab University but I never got the degree. They claimed me. They said I am graduated but I never graduated from PU. There was some trouble; money and time ran up but I learnt a lot from PU. Later, I went to Princeton University and completed my Master’s degree from Modern Islamic Institutions in Middle East. My thesis was on higher education in Pakistan and changes in higher education in Pakistan. Then I have done PhD in Theology from Britain and my thesis was on spiritual issue between Christian and Islam. My father Dr. Robert F. David was an academician. I was born and raised in Pakistan. My father was a PhD in Chemistry. He had taught in Gordon College. For a while, he was principle at Forman Christian College from 1968 to 1971. I worked in various NGOs in senior leadership position. I worked in one NGO that had done a lot for education. Our NGO has started working for FCCU in 2010 and then I moved in FCCU in 2011 and became Rector in 2012.
THE EDUCATIONIST: What are the current statistics of FCCU regarding number of students, number of faculty members and number of PhD faculty?
DR. JAMES A. TEBBE: There are 7,381 students enrolled in FCCU. From which 6,491 are Muslims, 804 are Christians and 86 belong to others religions. In case of gender, 5,678 students are male and 1703 are female. In faculty, we have 350 members in which 75 are foreign PhD s and 65 are local PhD s.
THE EDUCATIONIST: What is the total budget of FCCU and how do you manage it?
DR. JAMES A. TEBBE: The total budget of this year would be 1.7 billion rupees. This whole will be used in development and operations of the university but about 50% goes to salaries. Like in university of US, about 75% goes to salaries because if you want best teaching faculty then you have to give them salaries. Moreover, the only thing we get from HEC or PHEC are research and some travelling funds for our faculty which they even don’t give to any private university. We also get Punjab Education Endowment Fund for scholarships of students and this is continued to increase. Other scholarships mostly come from US.
THE EDUCATIONIST: What is your opinion about extra-curricular activities of students and how do you get FCC students’ involvement in such activities?
DR. JAMES A. TEBBE: These activities are very vital and helps us to keep students out of politics. We have 44 different societies like debating society, music society, environment society and psychology society etc. We do elections and elect people for leadership which encourage them to get involved in leading these activities. We also have ﬁnance for these activities. Unfortunately, from 2 to 3 years, we cut back some of the programs because of security concerns. But this year, we have many programs. Students own these programs. They advertise and manage them.
THE EDUCATIONIST: Sir, since the time you have joined, what major developments you have made in FCCU?
DR. JAMES A. TEBBE: I have made many developments during this time. We have expanded our postgraduate program. There were three programs before and now we
IN PAKISTAN, EVERY ADMINISTRATION COMES UP WITH NEW EDUCATION PLAN AND WE SPENT ALL TIME IN PLANNING. WHAT ELSE WE NEED IS TO IMPLEMENT THE PLANS
have 15. We started PhD program as well. There are three PhD programs. Numbers of students and departments have also been increased. I believe that we have one of the best biotechnology departments in Pakistan. Dr. Kausar Abdul Malik is leader of it. We have 25 faculty members from which 23 are PhDs and most of them are foreign PhDs. This department has 3 Masters and one PhD programm. Moreover, infrastructure is also improved. We have completed women hostel and made daycare centers for working women. We have also health centers. In future, we will build campus center soon which is critical for liberal arts education. It’s for the encouragement of students to have their own leadership development and that something would not be available in any other private university here. It would be a huge building. We will ﬁnd funding for this in next couple of month.
THE EDUCATIONIST: Historically, FCCU remained a science institution with the credit of having one nobel laureate and first science graduates of the country. Now FCCU claims to be liberal arts and research university. Is it a policy shift? How is this claim justified?
DR. JAMES A. TEBBE: It is a misunderstanding that keeps coming up with liberal arts. People think we only teach arts. We are planning and teaching science here too. Our science departments are the strongest departments of the university. But, yes we are doing struggle in the arts and it’s just like other universities in Pakistan. As the natural science degrees take you directly to the jobs. So, we teach liberal arts to learn broadly. Moreover, Liberal arts tradition probably began in the time of Greek but it helped for a long time in the Muslims world and it’s really a hallmark of education in the Islamic world. So, liberal arts rise and fall in different places and it does not belong to just one culture.
THE EDUCATIONIST: In 1972, FCCU was nationalized by Pakistani re-known leader but later denationalized again in 2003. Since after denationalization, there is a perception that the college role has become limited in the national life. Why this happened?
DR. JAMES A. TEBBE: I would say that nationalization period was a bad one. It came for good intention to provide free education for all people but within two years the government had realized that it was a mistake. They have been very clear that they would never nationalize it again. They even have gone in Punjab Assembly and said it on the record that they wanted to denationalize all the nationalized institutions. Politically it’s difficult to do but they have done more. I am strongly against it because in nationalization, a private institute has to face an inﬂuence in new ways of doing things that is far exceeded. Talking about the role of FCCU in national life, I would say that we are teaching the students in a better way. We are also working on important conferences. With PHEC, we ran an international conference on liberal arts education. We didn’t get headlines on it but it’s a huge effort and it has an inﬂuence in national life. This is a private institute but we have a support from government if we want to do anything. Every promise they have made, they fulﬁlled it.
THE EDUCATIONIST: There is also a general perception that after denationalization when it did not remain a public sector college, the number of students decreased and more number of Christian faculty members and Christian staff was recruited and mainly Christian students get scholarships? Is it true? What is your take on it?
DR. JAMES A. TEBBE: Christian community is under representative and it’s under educated community. So, we have a little biasness in order to help them. About 11% students and 23% of our faculty are Christians but in our faculty we have 77% Muslims as well which owns majority. In terms of our lower staff, many of them are hired from Christian community like gardeners, sweepers and security guards etc. We also have a school here for the children. The Britain aid is behind for funding this school. The primary purpose of the school is to give education to the lower staff’s children. We charge only 200 rupees tuition fee. Standard of education for these children are very high and one day they would be able to study at FC and some other place. But the reason of being here is just Pakistan not the Christian community. We are here for the uplift and beneﬁts of Pakistan. We have two mosques and an Islamic club in our campus. It is the largest club of our societies and has the most active participation. People from different religions live and work together very well at every event. They do reading of both Holy Quran and Holy Bible as an acknowledgement. So, I don’t think that any one is feeding. now, in terms of scholarship money, it’s entirely given to the students on the basis of their eligibility. We have some merit based scholarship and when we go for merit based scholarship, Muslim community gets the most beneﬁt because they have better access to education and things like that. We have need based scholarship as well and people who are poorer get the most. So, it’s all about the merit.
THE EDUCATIONIST: FC college still have a label of a missionary college, in this post-colonial era, it is still affiliated with the Presbyterian church? Why is it so in your opinion?
7,381 STUDENTS ARE ENROLLED IN FCCU. 6,491 ARE MUSLIMS, 804 ARE CHRISTIANS AND 86 BELONG TO OTHERS RELIGIONS. WE HAVE 350 FACULTY MEMBERS IN WHICH 75 ARE FOREIGN PHDS AND 65 ARE LOCAL PHDS
DR. JAMES A. TEBBE: My back run is Presbyterian and my father was with the missionary Presbyterian Church. When he came in Pakistan, he was hired by Gorden College in Rawalpindi. For two years, he worked as a local employee. Later on, it has been taken by Church as a part of mission. Presbyterian Church had a commitment. Their idea was very strong for education and medicine and that time these things were very underdeveloped. They were very few colleges and higher education institutions. So, this is what they did. But FCCU is nor now and neither was a Presbyterian college. We have board of governors set up by the Punjab Assembly. So, if you are talking about missionary for good works and services in providing education then yes, we are missionary institution. But if you mean by that we are trying to make Muslims become Christians. no, we don’t do that.
THE EDUCATIONIST: What major difference you find in Pakistan’s and foreign education system?
DR. JAMES A. TEBBE: I would like to change the question a little bit if I may. We seek to provide American style liberal arts curriculum. It doesn’t mean liberal in term of social values. It means liberal in the sense of studying many different subjects; a broad range of subjects. That’s I really means. In Pakistan, system is much more towards employment, towards professional studies. For instance in FCCU, we provide a broad based education. We have 4% in major subject. They are supposed to have 45 hours exactly in that subject and other related subjects whereas in normal system in Pakistan, it would be 95 hours. So, there is a very little choice all sides of subject area. For instance, if you are going to study psychology and something closely related to it in 95 hours then you have few other classes that you pick up and it’s worse here. However, in FCCU, we really seek to educate critical thinkers who later become good citizens of the country. That’s why we try to implement here a different style of education. Our whole educational setup is to encourage leadership development. But both systems have their own merits. That’s why now we have some professional degrees as well that focus on learning e.g. Pharm-D degree is a professional degree but we advertise it as a professional degree with liberal arts element. Students have to do a little harder in order to get Pharm-D degree from us than from other institutions as they have to
take extra classes because they are required to do other broad-based courses as well.
THE EDUCATIONIST: What are your key observations regarding the real problems of Pakistan education policy?
DR. JAMES A. TEBBE: In Pakistan, every administration comes up with new education plan and we spent all time in planning. What else we need is to implement the plans. We can do better if we implement the plans whether they are good or not. Then we will deﬁnitely have some positive results.
THE EDUCATIONIST: What message you want to convey to students and teachers?
DR. JAMES A. TEBBE: I would say education is very important. Those students who have an opportunity to study, please do study and don’t waste your time. Additionally, emphasis on education in Pakistan is very important. If we look at government they should allocate more funds for research to improve the education system. They are doing better in so many ways. But my all opinions are related to money that they are putting into education.
THE EDUCATIONIST: What is your opinion regarding current situation of PAK-US relationship?
DR. JAMES A. TEBBE: I think this is the end and it is time for Pakistan to ask question how much they need US. It’s time to become more independent and that will be good if you come out of this situation. For this, I think Pakistan should be involved in regional trade and China is a good option. But China is also looking for her interests and where the overlap came there would be tension and problems in future. I am very much in favor of improving trade and relations with India as well. I think it would have beneﬁts for both of the countries.