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How to upgrade higher education in Pakistan?


News Analysis |

Justice Gulzar Ahmad, senior Judge of Supreme Court of Pakistan, remarked on Thursday that the education sector is being ruined, universities are mushrooming in every nook and corner of the country and degrees are being sold. He gave these remarks while presiding over a three-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC) during the hearing of the case related to mushrooming universities and degrees.

Justice Ahmad was seen angry at the government for its failure to look into what is going on. “Why the government does not look into these matters. Our generations are being ruined. This matter will not be resolved by bringing it into courts,” he further remarked.

Since universities have established various campuses across the country only to generate more revenue, it apparently irked the judge of the apex court. “Preston University’s main campus is operating in Kohat and I also saw its board in Karachi. On the other hand, Al-Khair University has started doing what Axact is famous for,” he observed.

The mandate of the task force is to enroll 25 million out-of-school children, suggest a uniform education system for the country and ensure quality education as well as skills development for all.

The court sought a reply from the attorney general and Higher Education Commission (HEC) within 15 days. Experts argue that education in Pakistan is failing due to various structural reasons. “None of Pakistan’s 50+ public universities comes even close to being a university in the real sense of the word.

Compared to universities in India and Iran, the quality of both teaching and research is far poorer,” said the prominent educationist Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy. Faculty selection, criteria for promotion, Ph.D. research, and its requirement to earn a degree and struggle to get better grades are the few reasons which play a major role in making Pakistan’s education system less valuable.

Read more: Rethinking the education paradigm – Saad Rasool

It is also argued that Pakistan has been unable to determine what type of education system it wants to adopt e.g. traditional or modern. Dr. Hoodbhoy believes that “until such time that there is a clear separation of religious and secular educational content, and unless fear of being overwhelmed by secular ideas is consciously overcome, education outcomes in Pakistan will stay just as they are. More task forces won’t help unless they specifically address this issue.”

Although universities are increasing in number and producing a large number of PhDs yet there is a dire need to upgrade the standard of higher education to make it effective and solution oriented. Analysts also point out that there needs to be determined some principles that what is the utility of Ph.D. in a specific field: what the candidate has contributed in the field?

Read more: Piecing together Pakistan’s education puzzle

The incumbent government has formed a ‘National Task Force on Education’ to upgrade the country’s education system. The mandate of the task force is to enroll 25 million out-of-school children, suggest a uniform education system for the country and ensure quality education as well as skills development for all. The government is yet to implement its policy to upgrade higher education in Pakistan.

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