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Interview with Dean of Humanities of Forman Christian College Dr. Nukhbah langah

By Aroosa Khalid

FC College seeks to highlight students critical thinking skills which enable them to determine the links between ideas and help create good citizens in the country. Our whole educational setup is “to encourage leadership and liberal arts development”. This was stated by Forman Christian College, a chartered University, Dean of Humanities Dr. Nukhbah Langah, who is a convincing proof of power of passion and enthusiasm.

Following are the details of her discussion with The Educationist, premiere education newspaper of Pakistan.

THE EDUCATIONIST: Do tell us about your academics and professional experience.

Dr. NUKHBAH LANGAH: I did my graduation from Pakistan with literature in politics as major subjects. Meanwhile, I was trying to get into NCA because art was my passion. For some reason I passed the test but couldn’t get through the interview. I was also trying to apply to UK for graduation degree. My father was a barrister he wanted me to become a lawyer he had lived and worked in the U.K, so he wanted her daughter to study there. Meanwhile, I got disappointed from NCA and got admission in University of Buckingham in Sciences. It was a mix of Science and psychology I was never a science student. So than there was a debate between me and my father I wanted to drop science and wanted to take literature. I always thought I can either do Arts or Literature. I opted for Literature My honors was in English Literature From (University of Buckingham U.K). It was a small private university being a Pakistani girl parents was a bit insecure that how do we send our daughter alone it was a homely environment. After that I opt for a Master’s degree and studying broadly English literature from all over the world and this degree really fascinated me Colonial and Post- Colonial because I loved South Asian and African literature this degree is from (University of Warwick U.K).  I always wanted to do PhD after having my first child six months later I got admission in PhD my parents were kind enough they looked up for my daughter. Then I did my PhD from (University of Leeds U.K) it was in 2004-2008. I joined FC in 2009 and I have been here since then.

THE EDUCATIONIST: Was it your aim to study literature and do a PhD in this subject since beginning?

DR. NUKHBAH LANGAH: Yes, my interest was only in Arts and Literature. My father was a bit reluctant because he said I am not sure you can earn well if you become an artist. Artist have their own world you might be not that practical in life. She laughs, so this is how I ended up doing English Literature. I also worked on Post- Colonial languages, translation studies and cultural studies.

THE EDUCATIONIST: Which new initiatives you have taken for FC College? How do you develop practical learning in students?

DR. NUKHBAH LANGAH: I think I tried to do quite a bit when I was the faculty member and a chair of English dept. I was trying to organize the writing courses but then when I started working as a designated the role of Dean we had 5 departments under the Dean of Humanities, we had Urdu, English , Philosophy, Religious studies and Mass Communication. FC College is Liberal Arts University and we want to offer the programs of languages and Arts to students so in that way I took this initiative of introducing foreign languages introducing elective courses of Art and Music and its going really well there is no minor or major degree in Arts or Foreign languages. We also established free electives of writing center which is normally setup of any American university not popular in Pakistan. We also got M.Phil in English approved four years ago and this year we got M.Phil in Urdu so we had two graduate programs running under the umbrella of Humanities and  there is much more happening.

THE EDUCATIONIST: What are the current statistics of FCCU regarding no of faulty members, no of PhD’s faculty and no of students?

DR. NUKHBAH LANGAH: University Enrollment by Program as of Spring 2018 Program Number IEAP 36 Baccalaureate 3830 Graduate 377 Pharmacy 118 Total 4361 No of faculty members: 223 No of PhD’s: 141

THE EDUCATIONIST: As you have studied abroad what major differences you find in Pakistan and foreign education system?

DR. NUKBAH LANGAH: My experience is mainly I studied in Britain for all my degrees. But I have done a Post Doc from France as well. I do not have an American Degree but FC College follows American pattern of education and my experience and whole exposure of American system is through FC. I think British education system is really good not because its Britain and we were a colony of them but because they are very thorough they give you the rigorous training. But having worked in American system it seems difficult because Liberal Arts is very broad students choose their own degree and their own subjects so initially it felt overwhelming coming from British education. But I feel it’s very enriching experience as well in its own way so with all this experience of British and America both have pros and cons. British system don’t give you the liberties of choosing subjects and then thinking I am going to do a minor in that and major in that they are very rigid. But in Liberal Arts here every teacher design their own course and although we specify the wind that it’s going to be Elizabethan literature or Victorian this is the frame choose the authors. Every teacher decides their own courses which is really good. So, I would say all world systems are good in their own way. But Pakistan needs to really streamline in their education systems And I suppose we are making humble effort towards that.

THE EDUCATIONIST: How can we educate critical thinkers who later become good citizens of the country?

DR. NUKBAH LANGAH: Liberal Arts is really something I appreciate this system because when you are a student of Computer Sciences and you have the option to do Fine Arts that’s the kind when you are not thinking in a box you are not thinking I am going to be a Computer Scientist that if you have a way to went you can choose on music and these things kind of encourage you to become critical thinkers and also its for students you need to give them a lot of exposures. We can’t restrict them to follow the textbooks that you studied in schools you really need to have a broader reading to have a broader exposure. You need to have a broader thinking to accept Multi religious, Multi ethics all sort of communities’ people and do public dealings. So it is a complicate process to become a critical thinker and most important to all don’t follow the conventional path and try to design and plan your life in a way which is going to enrich your experience.

THE EDUCATIONIST: In this battle for linguistic identity crisis and supremacy a lot of national talent has been wasted, don’t you think so?

DR. NUKBAH LANGAH: Yes, I think so because I being an Activist myself supporting regional languages I feel this is really a state issue. Because it’s a state policy to think about the diversity and power of this country. If its enriching culture it’s not acknowledged than that’s a shame and that kind of suppresses peripheral identities. We need to think how we are going to promote all the languages and culture in Pakistan. So, that one culture and identity is not dominating the other.

THE EDUCATIONIST: Is Pakistan still a colony ruled by white man supremacy?

DR. NUKBAH LANGAH: Well if you see through language than Yes because you can’t produce critical thinkers if we don’t let people speak their languages and appreciate their culture. You know that you have to mimic another culture than you don’t have a identity.

THE EDUCATIONIST: What were the hurdles of your life and how did you manage to survive being a woman?

DR. NUKBAH LANGAH: Every day is a challenge I should say because being in the profession you are really committed to the people you want to do well, when it comes to personal relationship is also so important to look after your family as a mother, daughter, wife. Our mothers always used to say being a housewife is a thankless job but I would say being a professional woman is a thankless job as well. You have to deal with your family, work and your domestic issues. Me and my husband are always juggling to look after the kids. I don’t know how well I have been able to balanced but if it’s your passion than it’s worth it.

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