Recently the plight of students of Bahauddin Zakariya University (BZU), Lahore was heard all over the country and what has surfaced as a cause of concern for sub-campuses of universities all over the Punjab. The issue is not just of this one sub-campus, but that of legal structures put in place for setting up sub-campuses, the quality of education being provided at these institutions, the role of Higher Education Commission (HEC) and the provincial higher education commissions and the lack of public education institutions in the country.
When seen from these multidimensional perspectives, the problem is far bigger so the remedy also needs to be bigger than what is currently being done. Both the federal and provincial HECs want to become heroes by giving the protestors what they want – legitimacy to this sub-campus.
But we need to ask ourselves is it the right thing to do? The question is complicated. Yes, the students will be granted degrees to remove pressure in a knee-jerk solution. But it will also make establishing such small-scale skilled and experienced faculty-less ‘universities’ a norm.
As a matter of fact, the quality of education at such sub-campuses is below par, and the said par is already very low for a country like Pakistan. A more sensible reaction would be to go back to the laws governing such matters and instead of knee-jerk solution, a policy framework should be constructed and adopted so that it serves the nation instead of churning out degrees. Such a practice would ensure that the degree holders will be considered for jobs and are actually skilled in the fields they would soon go out to find jobs in. Otherwise, only expensive pieces of papers will be sold and the graduates will become a burden instead of strength of the country.
Girls sports and IJT
Sports have certainly been lacking in the education institutions of the country, especially for girls and after the incident of hooliganism witnessed in Karachi, parents, teachers and students are far more likely to give up sports. The Karachi incident, where girls were forcefully stopped from playing cricket at Karachi University by Islami Jamiat Talba (IJT) workers, is a sad reminder that sports – a healthy activity – is discouraged and female students are not safe even in universities.
The incident will damage the already deteriorated and mostly non-existent culture of sports at institutions of learning and now parents and students will not dare take part in this ‘forbidden activity’. Many vice chancellors talk of promoting sports, but simplest of things – security – is lacking at universities for students who want to take part in sports. At the very least, university VCs should exercise their powers, establish their writ and provide security to the sportsmen and women.