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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

What is the post covid-19 scenario of higher education in Punjab?

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only created a global health crisis but has also created a learning crisis across the world for children and adolescents of school-going age. During the first wave of COVID-19, education systems in most countries including Pakistan were adversely affected as the pandemic prompted country-wide closures of almost all institutions.

The ramifications of Post COVID 19 are restrained to economy and inflation for the whole world except Pakistan where higher education has been blown completely out of water in addition to inflation and economy. During the first, second and third waves of COVID 19 the online education system repelled Higher Education being unnatural in practice, the Post COVID mismanagement and maladministration in Higher Education Institutes/Universities are all set to turn out a gigantic gap in the global race for Pakistan leaving it centuries behind despite the fact it is already struggling to throw its hat in the ring to qualify for top universities of the world.

In his many speeches on various occasions, Premier Imran Khan reiterated that the only secret to a nation’s success is quality education capable of producing high intellect graduates with the ability to face the challenges of the world. He added the intellect is closely associated with moral standards that pave the way for young men and women to play their part in the development of the nation. The situation is completely adverse to the thoughts of the PM in the Universities and Higher Education Institutes and the passing time is likely to add fuel to fire in case the authorities turned a deaf ear to the ongoing disastrous situation.

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Stepping towards improved methods of education

In the present world of science and technology, after much deliberations, the policymakers of the Universities and HEIs have devised a more modern method that may evince a cut above practical knowledge. Interestingly, they have offered the courses of natural sciences in the absence of laboratories and practical equipment in various universities of Punjab proving to the world that inventions in technology are possible even without practical knowledge.

They strongly disapprove of the establishment of science laboratories as, according to them, the practical work not only wastes precious time of the learners, and it also puts a financial burden on the universities. Such a childish thought could have juddered the soi-disant policymakers to toy with the struggling higher education system of the state. The foolish act got silent approval from the Higher Education Commission and Higher Education Department owing to their diseased monitoring policy.

The Vice-Chancellors of the universities and Heads of HEIs found COVID 19 a right set of circumstances to secure a status of being efficient before the government by representing hoax statistics of massively increased numbers of newly enrolled students. The government, too, did not bother to have an in-depth analysis of the matter and was thrilled to bits ignoring the fact that sudden and overnight development is always disruptive.

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What affects the quality of education?

The destitution of physical infrastructure for a massive number of students to accommodate in the universities is an open secret and it is absurd to deprive them of basic infrastructure and space to attend the classes with dignity and honor. The universities boost to enroll thousands of students and attract the attention of the local and national print and electronic media and when asked about how to provide quality education in the absence of basic infrastructure they start beating about the bush.

The government of Pakistan through the NCOC has ordered the opening of all the educational institutes in full swing and declined online education as it has been discouraged by the renowned universities and researchers of the world. The educational research during COVID 19 has revealed that online education is actually a ‘no education’ for the learners as well as the teachers and preferred physical education over online education. The situation in the universities of Punjab is contrary to what modern research reveals and online classes are still in practice despite clear instructions of the government.

The universities hide under the shelter of lacking infrastructure which they knew quite well before enrolling more than the required students. They were knocked repeatedly by various learned educationists to cut their coats according to the cloth and avoid making the higher education a house of cards liable to collapse instantly because a reasonable number of students must be increased but increasing four to five times within the given resources will have consequences but the universities were busy in attaining fake popularity which is being badly exposed now.

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The credit hours system is the essence of higher education in universities

Failing to complete the respective credit hours results in awarding fake degrees as the credit hours have to be followed in true letter and spirit. The Universities, fearless of legal punishment, abridged the credit hours of various courses and departments excusing the scantiness of space. The chosen and highly qualified men preferred to lower down the quality of education in order to maintain their fake popularity in the media and a tap from the government. Its laymen’s excuse ‘if the target is not achieved, let’s minimize the target’.

Establishing Educational institutes and departments in the universities having the least job opportunity in the market is no good than to add to unemployment which is already alarming in Pakistan. Unfortunately, the blind expansion of faculties and unplanned enrollment of students are only expected to increase the crime rate of society. The graduates will not be welcomed in the market unless they have been provided the practical knowledge to cope up according to the demands of the market. Joblessness will frustrate the university graduates resultantly increasing the crime rate.

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Governor/Chancellor Punjab, Chaudry Sarwar, being the administrative head of the universities of Punjab must take strict actions to safeguard the education standards in the universities. The Minister of Higher Education Department Punjab, Mr. Raja Yasir Hamyoun, is burning the midnight oil to bring the mismanaged universities on track. He, being the Chairman Syndicate of various universities, has strictly followed the rules and regulations. He needs to expand his domain to look into the affairs of all the universities in order to restore order.

The writer is an Assistant Professor at Islamia University, Rahim Yar Khan Campus. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.