The system of online applications for college admissions that was introduced this year for the first time proved unpopular with applicants, prompting the education department to change it to an optional service.
The education department, while assessing the failure of its reframed admission policy - Sindh E-Centralised College Admission Programme - has decided to publish hard copies of college application forms and brochures and has extended the form submission deadline to August 22, said an official of the provincial directorate of colleges.
The forms will be available through Sindh Bank branches from Monday, but the education department will keep the system of online applications as an 'optional facility' that can be availed by visiting the website.
For the 2014-15 academic session, the Sindh education department published advertisements in newspapers on July 27, announcing 102,950 seats for Intermediate Part-I at the 133 colleges and 26 higher secondary schools in Karachi under the new admission policy, replacing the Centralised Admission Policy (Cap) that was introduced in 2000.
However, only 4,000 admission forms were submitted online in the next 10 days, raising concerns that over 100,000 Matriculates would not be able to meet the August 18 form submission deadline due to unfamiliarity with the new process.
"The Sindh education department should try and ensure that the changes they make are sustainable," said Sindh Professors and Lecturers' Association president Prof Firoz Siddiqui. He criticised education department officials for what he termed to be their 'authoritarian approach to implement their crude decisions' without consulting the relevant stakeholders.
For Prof Zubaida Baloch, the principal at the Government Degree Science and Commerce College in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, the education department should have introduced the system of online applications as an optional service to create familiarity.
Meanwhile, the 17-member Cap committee - headed by Sindh colleges' director-general Prof Dr Nasir Ansar - that is responsible for the admissions process was neither dissolved nor kept up to date when the admission policy was being reframed. "The committee members did not have any idea when the admissions were going to be announced, let alone the significant changes in the admissions process," said a member who has been in the committee for several years. "It was three days prior to the publication of the advertisement in July 27 newspapers that we were informed about the decisions taken."
When The Express Tribune approached the admissions committee head, Prof Dr Ansar, he said that the Cap committee was barely functional as the powers to formulate policy, as well as regulating the process of admissions, had been taken away from them by education secretary Dr Fazlullah Pechuho.
"For this very reason, the Cap committee did not hold a press conference this year to announce the admissions' schedule and procedure; a practice that we had previously maintained since 2000," said Dr Ansar.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2014.