Despite the learning deficit that has come about due to the raging Covid-19 pandemic, 10 universities in Pakistan have managed to retain their position in the QS World University Rankings 2022, with slight improvements. However, this is by no means an accolade considering the fact that all 10 of them have ranked below the 355 band ranges. Such international rankings can only truly matter if the condition of higher education, and education in general, across the country is admirable.
Considering the lackluster performance of higher educational institutions as a whole, the only thing that the ranking indicates is that research output has been maintained. In order to better regulate this, a research committee should be set up that overlooks, encourages and diversifies the research being generated. Apart from this, higher education remains dysfunctional with dilapidated facilities and underqualified teachers. The whole system, which is tied in with the overall socio-economic condition of the country, is a catastrophe in the making.
High-quality study programmes remain a dream for most students trying to pursue a career in diversified subjects such as social sciences and liberal arts. There is a serious lack of available seats at the graduate level and those that are lucky enough to achieve doctoral degrees often seek immigration in other countries for better job opportunities, leading to a massive brain drain. Furthermore, the authorities need to understand that the primary education system of the country needs to be radically revamped before the higher education system is strengthened. At present, 22.7 million children remain out of school while a mere 13% of girls remain enrolled till grade 9.
The purpose of receiving an education is to become capable professionals who could contribute to society and national prosperity — this we have forgotten. Instead of focusing on ranking, imparting high-quality education to the burgeoning youth needs to be the top most priority.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 11h, 2021.