By: Rameez A Mahesar
According to the statistics of universities’ list issued by Edarabia, the Middle East’s number one guide, there are 188 HEC-recognized educational institutions in Pakistan. Public, private, military, and vocational universities establish the system of higher education in Pakistan.
According to a report released by ProPakistan – an independent news publisher and already a leader in telecom and technology –in 2017-18, there were 186 universities, with 56,900 teachers, with a total enrolment of 1.6 million in the country. This enrolment was 7.7 percent higher than in previous years. The growth in enrolment, thus, is estimated to decline by 0.2 percent in 2018-19.
The report furthermore guesses the upcoming increase in the enrollment as well as recruitment of teachers in the educational institutions in the country but again the question of performance needs to be answered. It goes by reporting, the number of institutions is expected to upsurge by 1.6 percent in 2018-19, leading to a proliferation of 4.8 percent in cumulative enrolment. Moreover, the aggregate number of students during 2017-18 was 1.8 million in comparison with 1.7 million during the last year displaying a rise of 1.6 percent. This figure is projected to escalate by 2.9 percent to 1.8 million during the year 2018-19. It shows the focus on quantity rather than quality should be the priority. Institutes, enrollment, recruitment are focused to be developed but performance is not paid attention.
A report quotes; the performance of the higher education sector of Pakistan has declined despite a significant upturn in funding to the Higher Education Commission (HEC) in the last four years. The report was developed last year by Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Associations (FAPUASA), Islamabad Chapter and Working Group on Higher Education Reforms Pakistan along with eight other organizations. The report furthermore adds that the HEC has become an authority rather than being a facilitative body.
The report ends with the suggestions as; subject to the record, the concerns raised from academia, faculty, vice chancellors and the stout substantiations along with other stakeholders, there is a dire need to probe into irregularities practiced during previous years. The culprits must be brought to justice and the NAB must conduct the investigation as well.
The world is briskly moving ahead in education sector but Pakistan is lagging behind in the field. The words which the World Economic Forum (WEF) had used in its report are also rubbing salt on wounds. WEF’s Global Human Capital Report published in 2017 had placed Pakistan as one of the worst countries in terms of education and skills development.
The system of higher education in Pakistan is far off than that of those developed. higher education in Pakistan is not at the same level as international standards. It also does send out a paucity of qualified graduates who can rejuvenate the higher education institutions. There must be a dead-on balance between teaching and research, since research is an indispensable element for faculty development and teaching improvement in the bargain. Inopportunely, a great deal of universities in Pakistan, place emphasis only on high teaching loads and teaching leading to large class sizes, leaving no room for quality research.
The question, to that end, is of quality education. The quality education is nowhere but can be thought of. In terms of quality, the higher education in Pakistan is nowhere among the global higher education systems. The quality of higher education is subject to numerous aspects, for instance, infrastructure, teachers, satisfactory setting for teaching and learning, research opportunities, curriculum, monitoring systems and effective feedback.
The multitudinous problems– including the population explosion, paucity of resources, dearth of qualified manpower, wreckage of resources, inefficient managerial-cum-educational management systems, overcrowded classrooms, scant student services, insufficient material resources, poor implementation of policies and programs, non-accountability of institutions, inefficiency in teaching, poor research and lack of research opportunities– are plaguing the educational system of Pakistan. It is sorry thing to note that, institutions have not only been increased but also the student enrolments at colleges as well as universities have registered briskly a high rate of growth. The demands of higher education, consequently, have increased with extraordinary rapidity. It vexes one to note that, notwithstanding quality consolidation and control, these pitfalls will not stop growing exponentially for a long time to come.
Most of the public and private sector universities in Pakistan have boards of governors comprising public figures, government nominees, appointees, donors, alumni and so forth. It is very infrequent to find a member on the board being appointed because they have made an exceptional academic contribution and have also the knowledge of how universities need to perform. The number of private sector universities in Pakistan has increased in the last two decades. Yet the performance is questionable.
Now, in the end, the question is; can Pakistan progress? The retort is; it cannot attain the goal of development until its higher education system is qualitatively sturdy enough in that the poor quality is generating the lack of innovative and creative ideas, low performance of specialized individuals and low employability of graduates.
The whole thing, therefore, is that there is a dire need to fetch quality in the higher education system and to enlarge the adaptive capacity so that it is more responsive to the changing world and meets the diversified needs of the economy— both domestic and international. For this determination, divergence of the higher education system in Pakistan must be pursued as a goal. This can be attained by having an apposite amalgam of the formal and non-formal institutions – private cum public.
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