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Security threat detrimental to education: Dr Sabiha Mansoor

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LCWU VC says higher education is the essential ingredient of progress

By Tabeer Aslam, Iqra Idrees,
Manobia Kiran, Ahmad Rao

LAHORE: The Lahore College for Women University (LCWU) is one of the largest, oldest and most prestigious public sector women’s university in Asia. The Educationist spoke to LCWU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Sabiha Mansoor. She said Education was the most important area to focus on for a developing country like Pakistan. It was the engine for growth in all sectors; be it industries, economy or agriculture, she added. She said countries like Singapore, Malaysia, and South Korea developed themselves due to their heavy initial investment in education.
The Educationist: Please tell us about LCWU, its history, number of students and teachers? How many programmes are offered here?
Sabiha Mansoor: The LCWU was founded as a women’s college in 1922. It is one of the oldest institutions for women in Pakistan. The university has over 15,000 students and a teaching faculty of 450. We offer many programmes at the intermediate, bachelors, masters and PhD levels. The three storey purpose-built campus of LCWU spreads over 8 acres of land in Lahore. It has capacity of more than 15,000 students, 500 faculty members and 200 non-teaching staff. Its construction was completed in the year 1922. At LCWU we are not just teaching theories. We are taking all measures to make our students learn practical skills to become capable leaders, scholars, innovators, inventors and visionary professionals.

TE: What are the criteria of enrolment at LCWU and its fee structure?
SM:  LCWU is an equal opportunity institution. Merit is the only criteria for enrolment. There is no quota for any category of applicants. In LCWU, the fee structure is comparable to its peers in the private sector. It is affordable by middle class families.
TE: What about those students who are unable to afford the fee?
SM: The policy of LCWU is that no academically outstanding student will be denied education at the university due to financial constraints. We have a scholarship schemes for such students.
TE: Being an educationist, how do you define education and the importance of education in a developing society like Pakistan?
SM:  Education is meant to make a human being recognise himself and his creator, learn what his creator desires from him/her and live accordingly. Education empowers a person how optimally he/she can benefit from the existing knowledge and how best he/she can contribute in extending the frontiers of knowledge for the benefit of the present and next generation.
Education is the most important area to focus on for a developing country like Pakistan. It is the engine for growth in all sectors; be it industries, economy or agriculture. Countries like Singapore, Malaysia, and South Korea came out of the shell of underdeveloped countries due to their heavy initial investment in education.
TE: How does worsening law-and-order situation impact education in Pakistan?
SM: The worsening law-and-order situation and strikes are detrimental to education. Good faculty tends to avoid cities and areas that have such problems. The politicians and the government must address this problem and take measures to remove these impediments.
TE: Illiteracy is a longstanding issue hindering our progress as a nation. What are its causes and remedies?
SM: Literacy is considered the major propellant of progress in this century. Nations have made great strides in the acquisition of knowledge. Now, only literacy cannot progress a nation; rather higher education and advancement in knowledge acquisition at a fast pace are the essential ingredients of progress. The remedy requires paradigm shift in our strategy and significantly higher budget allocation for education at all levels i.e. primary, secondary, tertiary and higher.
TE: Quality education is costly in Pakistan. What efforts, in your opinion, should be made to make it affordable?
SM: In the past, education has been the state’s responsibility in most of the countries. However, for some decades that concept is changing and governments are reducing financial support to academic institutions. In Pakistan, the deprivation suffered by public sector institutions is alarming. With the emergence of the Higher Education Commission (HEC), the situation for universities has improved significantly, but things are changing on that front. Presently, Pakistan is spending under 2 percent of its GDP on education. In order to make quality education accessible for students from all sections of the society, the government must increase budget allocation to at least 5 percent of the GDP next year. It should be raised to double digit in the next five years. Philanthropic organisations and people have been doing wonderful job in providing free ambulances and meals to the masses, they should also focus on the education sector.
TE: Would you like to give a message to our readers?
SM: Education for women is the key to development of a country. The direct link between education of all members of the society – especially that of women – has to be focused. Through education change can be brought in the traditional thinking of those who discourage education for women. Keeping half the population of a country uneducated means that half of its people are living in the dark. This wasted resource of a country, that is poor and needs to become economically stable, has to be brought into the main streamline of our socio-economic system. Women need to be given the right to education and with it they can participate in the socio-economic development of Pakistan. Education is the training of the body, the mind and the soul, and ultimately it leads to the development of an entire country.

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