The public spaces meant to be havens for the exchange of ideas, sharing different opinions, and deep analytical thought to open minds and achieve scientific, cultural, and social progress are being purposed as wrestling rings for clashes between entities. Higher education institutions in Punjab are marred with violence, corruption, and drama – purposed for anything but education and human progress. The four major elements that are central to the deprived higher education system in Punjab – the lack of permanent appointees, financial misappropriations and irregularities, illegal institutions, and clashes between administrations and students – must be fixed on an urgent basis. The education emergency stands firm and the provincial leadership continues to work at a lethargic pace.
An already tenuous education system with a financially strained education sector has nothing to spare. Yet, even after knowing the abysmal circumstances, the leadership has managed to waste some Rs11 billion. The term misappropriation is perhaps a misnomer when so many allocated funds have not reached their intended purpose; this is outright embezzlement and possibly the easiest corruption of its kind considering that of a near total of Rs37 billion, almost one-third of the province’s financial irregularities were found in the education sector, according to figures provided by the auditor general of Pakistan (AGP). The Punjab higher education department evidently does not consider itself a stakeholder in building the future of students in the province and has been highly unreliable. Resultantly, the AGP requires strict disciplinary methods while the students of corrupt and illegal institutions need to rethink whether the tuitions they pay are for legitimate purposes and meaningful to their futures. A general improved awareness needs to be called for people to boycott institutions that employ corruptive practices.
Once the dishonesty element is eliminated, the aforementioned contributing problems can be assuaged and more administrative matters can be addressed, such as appointing permanent management to operate the institutions according to better standards and upholding the integrity of the higher education department.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 1st, 2018.