Almost 2,300 laptops gathering dust at KU

Varsity faults 'confusing application mechanism', while HEC blames KU's 'non-serious attitude'.


Yusra Salim February 05, 2016
Varsity faults 'confusing application mechanism', while HEC blames KU's 'non-serious attitude'. PHOTO: EXPRESS

KARACHI: Inefficiency on part of the University of Karachi (KU) management deprived almost 2,300 deserving students of laptops that should have been theirs under the Prime Minister's Youth Programme.

In 2014, the first phase of the PM's National Laptops Scheme was announced for students enrolled in any programme at the university, while the second phase was announced on November 9, 2015. However, for the first phase, the varsity only managed to distribute 40 per cent of the laptops.

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Of a total of 3,780 laptops announced for distribution in the first phase, 1,162 were provided to MPhil and PhD students in November 2014 at a ceremony, while 319 were distributed among graduate and undergraduate students later. The remaining laptops — 2,299 — continue to rust away.

Explaining why the first scheme did not work out, KU registrar Dr Moazzam Ali Khan told The Express Tribune that after the submission of forms and applications, students had to validate their data at the scheme's portal on the  Higher Education Commission’s (HEC) website. After the validation, the commission authenticates the data through the university's focal person [student adviser]. The process of accepting or rejecting a candidate from the merit list is done after the final confirmation, he added.

HEC opens its portal for a limited time when they have a specific number of students who are to be awarded the laptops. "Majority of the students remained confused and unaware of the process as they never bothered to go to the HEC website or approach the student adviser for help," he explained.

The university has now announced and released notifications for the second phase and, learning from previous mistakes, HEC has asked students to apply online directly through the commission's website instead of submitted hard copies of the required documents to their relevant departments.

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"I validated my data in 2015 but still did not receive anything; not even a reply from the university or HEC," said Ebad Usmani, a former Mass Communications student whose application was accepted and placed on the merit list after validation.

Meanwhile, HEC's information technology (IT) director-general (DG), Anwar Amjad, said the main reason behind the failure of the first phase at KU was the non-serious attitude of the university's administration. "From the data of 1,600 students that was provided in the first phase of the scheme, 1,478 students were awarded laptops as the rest of the data was of students from other universities," he said, pointing out that KU provided wrong data of 122 students.

Now, phase two is being overseen by the university itself which will validate students' data and then award the laptops. Due to the earlier mismanagement by the university, HEC's IT DG is planning to take up the matter of the laptop distribution at KU in the steering committee meeting of HEC. "I will try that they [KU] are not issued new laptops until they distribute the previous ones," he claimed.

The HEC official said they have asked the university to first distribute the old laptops, but the varsity is yet to respond.

Former student adviser of the university, Dr Anser Rizvi, admitted that the KU administration did not work properly.

The present student adviser, Dr Basit Ansari, explained that the validation of applications for phase two is in process and will be completed soon. After the verification of documents from the semester cell, laptops will be distributed to the students, he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2016.

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