The University of Karachi (UoK), which is the city’s largest public sector university, has been in dire straits for the past many years. Its crumbling edifice and dilapidated infrastructure across various departments has now become a public hazard, and can be traced to the negligence of the university administration.
One such deteriorating department is the university’s biochemistry building, which has been abandoned by the faculty after incidents of collapsing structures and teachers being electrocuted. The boycott of UoK’s department of biochemistry came into effect at the start of this semester, regarding which all students were duly informed. While on the other hand, all the teachers of the department have jointly handed a letter to the chairperson Dr Farhat Batool, in which 17 teachers, taking a clear stand, said that they will not teach any classes until and unless the department building is repaired. “We cannot risk our lives and the lives of our students any longer,” the letter highlighted.
Karachi University Teachers’ Association President Prof Shah Ali Al Qadr, who is also part of the faculty of Biochemistry, has confirmed furnishing the aforementioned letter to the department and the following boycott by teachers. “This is a [crisis] situation not only of our department but of the entire university. The vice chancellor had visited the department a few days ago and said that they will make the needful repairs,” said the Teachers’ Association President who is of the signatories of the letter.
However, certain sources have conveyed that UoK’s Acting Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Nasira Khatoon, had made it clear on the occasion of the visit that the university does not have the money for construction and repairs. It was instead prescribed that the teachers should contact their alumni and wealthy donors who would be willing to spend on the university out of good will. It should be remembered that despite the visit of the acting vice chancellor, the situation of the department is still the same and the teachers are on a teaching boycott for a week.
Meanwhile, students of the university’s biochemistry department have still been coming to class to spend idle time and go back home a few hours later. “The state of infrastructure in our department is so bad that it feels like we have come for fieldwork in an old building to do research on ruins. The teachers have boycotted the building, and apparently this boycott is meant for our benefit and their ow too, but there should be a foreseeable result of such drastic measures. We don’t see any feathers being ruffled,” commented a student of the department.
The department’s teachers on the other hand believe that this year’s heavy monsoon rains have made the building even more hazardous than before, and it is only a matter of time before the whole structure starts crumbling. “The university’s engineers say that they have to tender for construction and repair, which requires a lot of time, and this has been said repeatedly for several months. But till now the tender has not been given and nor has the construction started, while our lives are being gambled with every day,” said a teacher on conditions of anonymity. “It should however be noted that this situation has not come out of the blue, but the department’s condition has been deteriorating under the tenure of at least the last three vice chancellors, none of whom have batted an eye lash in the regard. Be that as it may, the distribution of leave encashment from the funds given by the Government of Sindh or the Higher Education Commission has continued every year of every term, except for the previous vice chancellor,” lamented another faculty member while speaking to The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2022.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ