Sindh’s colleges unfit for four-year BS programme

While court order presses for immediate affiliation, the colleges are yet to meet HEC’s criteria


Safdar Rizvi October 22, 2021

KARACHI:

After much back and forth, Sindh Government’s Department of College Education and Department of Universities and Boards have finalised a plan to start four-year BS degree programmes across 60 government colleges in Sindh.

For which, the aforementioned departments have also shortlisted 15 colleges in the provincial capital, and recommended them for affiliation with University of Karachi and Lyari University. However, sources privy to the development claim that the decision has been taken on ad hoc basis, with little concern for ground realities of said colleges.

On the other hand, four general universities of Sindh including University of Karachi, University of Sindh in Jamshoro, Shah Abdul Latif University and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University Lyari have been asked to immediately issue temporary affiliation to all 60 government colleges in Sindh, so that these colleges can enrolling students for the academic year 2021-22.

Speaking in the regard, Karachi University Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Khalid Iraqi revealed that the varsity has not so far received any letter from the college education department requesting the affiliation, and nor has any list of colleges been sent to the university for the same.

Similarly, Lyari University Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Akhtar Baloch stated that that out of 15 colleges earmarked for the BS program, only two colleges have been proposed to be affiliated with Lyari University. These include Government Boys College Jangal Shah and Government Degree College for Girls.

The vice chancellor shared that Jangal Shah College has a total of four or five faculty members, which implies that there is no dedicated teacher for each subject. “The college does not have any library while laboratory and other facilities are also missing. The other is a girls’ college which does not even have toilets,” he lamented.

It should be noted that colleges have to go through a process of scrutiny after which they can be granted affiliation with a public sector university. The colleges must abide by the rules and regulations of the university in order to get its affiliation. The scrutiny involves a check on the required number of faculty related to the relevant subject, required number of books in the library, related laboratories and equipment and machinery, availability of classrooms and furniture and other facilities related to campus infrastructure. Often times, an inspection team is also sent to the college. It reviews the arrangements and recommends whether or not to issue affiliation, after which final approval is given by the academic council of the university.

As for Sindh’s government colleges, most of them are a fry cry from an affiliation-deserving institute, owing to an acute shortage of teachers. The deficiency is met by hiring part-time teachers. However, sources claim that after the provincial educational authorities waived off admission and tuition fees in government colleges and schools, the colleges no longer have funds to hire part-time teachers. In addition, the situation of infrastructure and libraries in government colleges is also deteriorating.

Moreover, as per requirements and rules laid down by the Higher Education Commission (HEC), four-year degree programs must operate under the semester system in which exams are to be held twice a year. Contrary to which, government colleges in Sindh still continue to run on the traditional annual system of examinations in which exams are held after a full academic year. “In addition to that, training is also factor to be considered, as college teachers are generally unaware of the functioning of the semester system under which BS programmes operate with eight semesters spread over four years,” the source commented.

On top of which, surveys reveal that none of the 60 government colleges recommended for affiliation have preparations in place to commence the four-year BS programme, while the Regional Directorate of College Education in Karachi has just issued a single letter to Karachi University and Lyari University requesting immediate affiliation. Despite the odds, which include dearth of faculty, crumbling infrastructure and non-compliance with HEC rules, the letter has further directed the concerned colleges to be ready to start the BS programme citing a court order.

According to government sources, colleges which already have affiliation to the two-year programme are recommended for immediate issuance of affiliation for the four-year programme. The directions have been endorsed by the department of universities and boards so that it could also submit its compliance report to the court and complete its paper work. “However, the department itself has not even inquired about the list of colleges which are proposed for affiliation neither it has bothered to inquire upon the availability and quality of academics and infrastructure necessary to run the BS programme,” the source informed The Express Tribune.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2021.

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