Sindh Madressatul Islam — Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s alma mater and now a university (SMIU) — is striving to impart quality education to its students as it attempts to emerge as one of the best educational institutions of the world.
This was stated by the institute’s vice-chancellor, Dr Muhammad Ali Shaikh, at a press briefing, titled ‘Past, Present and Future of SMIU’, at Marriott hotel on Monday. He spoke about the various administrative controversies that had arisen since the institute’s elevation to university status in February last year.
Speaking of the hurdles in the way of the newly-formed university, Dr Shaikh said that a big portion of SMIU’s land, worth billion of rupees, had been encroached since the last few years. Moreover, around 62 shops were allowed to be constructed on SMIU’s land in the past that had completely defaced the historic building and created problems in running the university and its two model schools.
Quaid-e-Azam himself had inaugurated the college on June 21, 1943, said Dr Shaikh as he recalled the nation’s founding father’s association with his alma mater to which he had bequeathed one third of his property.
In later years, however, the condition of SMI further deteriorate till it was nationalised by the government. Later in 1974, the federal government took over its control by declaring it a “national heritage” and the institution remained under its control until 2011, when it was devolved back to the provincial government.
“In view of the space constraints at its Old City campus, the SMIU administration plans to construct a 15-floor tower on the land, which is currently under occupation of land grabbers in the vicinity of SMIU’s present campus,” said Dr Shaikh.
An additional campus of the SMIU is also coming up at the Education City where Sindh government has allotted 100 acres, he said. “To establish the new campus by mid 2016, the provincial government has allocated Rs800 million through its annual development programme.”
Dr Shaikh told The Express Tribune that the new campus, currently in the first phase of its construction, will have hostels to compensate for the absence of this basic amenity for outstation students at the SMIU’s Old City campus. Once the hostels will be completed, the SMIU administration plans to run shuttles to and from the Old City campus, he added.
On the recent controversy regarding the merger of SM Science College with the university, Dr Shaikh said that the college was established at a plot that stands in the name of the government for the purpose of Sindh Madressatul Islam. “Thus, three buildings of SMIU, including Hassanally House (built in 1909), Khairpur House (built in 1912) and Sardar House (built in 1919), located within the university compound are in possession of SM Science College,” he said.
Refusing to comment further on this issue due to its sub judice nature, the vice-chancellor said that the university had only requested the provincial government to declare SM Science College as a constituent part of SMIU because it had been part of Sindh Madressatul Islam prior to its nationalisation in 1972.
“After attaining university staus in 2012, the SMIU, besides inheriting good traditions, also inherited numerous problems which were left by the previous managements of the institution as well as some of the past governments,” he said, adding that despite these problems the university is exerting efforts to achieve its goals.
SMIU, among all newly-established universities, boasts the highest number of PhDs as its faculty members — a total of 16 in number, who had contributed around 45 research papers during the last six months, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2013.