Thursday, 7 April 2011

Initialization, Development and Future of Higher Education in Pakistan

Initialization, Development and Future of Higher Education in Pakistan

Saif Ullah
Doctoral Candidate in Mechanical Engineering
National University of Singapore

Initiation of Standard Education

27 April 1974 to 5 April 2011 is the period of raising Standard of Education and coordination between universities in all over Pakistan. Establishment of University Grants Commission (UGC), (ACT No. XXIII of 1974) to develop uniform policies for universities and insecure of coordination among universities in all provinces was an initial step for Standard Education by Government of Pakistan [1]. One of the main functions of this commission was to promote Quality of Education and coordinate research institutes in the Country. Furthermore, its establishment was to ascertain the functional needs of universities and provide sufficient financial support to them. If we analyze function of this commission from the eye of a medical doctor, we can say that this commission was acting as a heart to circulate proteins of Quality Education for proper growth of Universities in the whole body of Pakistan. Furthermore, if we analyze it from the eyes of an Engineer, we can say that it was established to provide a support or a bridge to join universities of different provinces in Pakistan. Moreover, this commission was like an auditor, to monitor and control quality and education policies of all the Universities in Pakistan.  This monitory control of educational policies of universities was significant to maintain a Single Standard of Higher Education in a County. 

Development in Standard Education

From 1974, UGC was performing better to control and monitor different universities in the Country. However, a little effort has been paid to the development of new and advanced institutes due to limited financial resources. Therefore, universities were lacking in advance equipments and literature. Due to this reason, university students in country were restricted to perform limited research work in their institutes. Therefore, from 1947 to 2002, total of 59 Universities and degree awarding institutes were developed and 3000 doctors were produced. Due to this low rate of development, Doctor Atta ur Rahman took initiative to introduce a governing organization, Higher Education Commission (HEC) in 2002. Doctor Atta ur Rahman was the first chairman of this commission who initiate variety projects for the development and up gradation of universities and research institutes in the country. Function of HEC was not limited to perform the objectives of University Grant Commission; however, it also started several new initiatives and projects for improving standard of education in Pakistan. It is the performance of HEC that only in 8 years (from 2002 to 2010), instead of 59, 73 more new universities and degree awarding institutes has been developed in the country. Furthermore, 3 of the universities are now ranked in top 500 universities in the World. Moreover, after the establishment of HEC, 3500 new PhDs has been produced. Furthermore, HEC has introduced Digital library, due to which 25000 international journals are now available in every public sector university of Pakistan. Moreover, HEC has awarded 5000 PhD scholarships to the competitive Students from the county to study in technologically advanced countries including USA, Japan, Korea, China and France. 
Figure 1, illustrates the statistical results of change in the population of PhD scholars from 1947 to 2009 [2]. As can be seen from figure 1, there is a sharp rise in the population of PhD Scholars from year 2002 to year 2009. It may due to the implementation of significant policies of HEC in Pakistan. This increase in the population of PhD scholars clearly indicates the significant growth of Educational Sector of Pakistan from past years. Moreover, research progress in Pakistan from year 2002 to 2010 due to HEC policies can be seen from figure 2. The largest growth is found in year 2010. Furthermore, statistical data shown in table 1, represents the population of PhD scholars in different disciple of education. It can be seen from table 1 that there is a significant raise in the population of PhDs in the technical educational disciplines i.e., Engineering and Technology. This increase in PhDs in engineering discipline may significantly contribute to the development of industries in the country in coming years. Furthermore, increase in the population in agriculture and veterinary science, is also fruitful for future development of agricultural industry in Pakistan. Prof. Wolfgang Voelter (Tubingen University, Germany) indicated that the educational scenario in Pakistan has changed dramatically and wrote that “A miracle happened”. Based on the extraordinary performance of HEC in the education sector of Pakistan, several research articles have been published in high quality journals [1-4].  

Future of Standard Education

It can be depicted that HEC has contributed a lot for raising Standard Education in Pakistan. Development progress in education sector of Pakistan made by HEC is an example for all government organizations in Pakistan. HEC has presented single standard of Education for all institutes in all provinces of Pakistan, and is continuously promoting students for higher education belonging from any province on the basis of merit. The transparency in their policies and merit based selection of students from the whole country has increased the moral of students who were not able to study abroad for higher education due to financial reasons in past several years. In HEC policy these research students are required to serve Pakistan after completion of their doctorate degree. Therefore, HEC has provided a hope for development for Country in future. However, current government has taken an initiative to distribute HEC in provincial level on 5th April 2011. This politics based step of government may create several problems for country in future. For example, if every province will have its own governing organization of universities then in future every province will create new policies for universities in their province. This may create different standards of education in all provinces. In other words, different standards for education will be running in one country. If this will be the situation, then after few years, there will be a big confusion among the university students belonging from different provinces. There will be no governing body which may monitor and create single standard policies in the institutes of all provinces. There will be no such standard on which the level of quality education of all provinces will be measured. Furthermore, there will also be confusion to the scholarship donor countries to select competent students from one country. This is due to the existence of number of education quality standards in one country. This may reduce the possibility of getting financial support and scholarships for Pakistani students from scholarship donor countries. Furthermore, due to possibility of reduction in financial support, there is possibility that the current big population of researchers may migrate to other countries and may leave Pakistan. If this will be the situation, then there will be rapid drop in the population PhD scholars from country and higher education in Pakistan will drop to the level as it was before 1974. So, there is risk that Pakistan may fall back more than 50 years in Higher Education. Moreover, there is possibility that due to different educational standards in one country, the students belonging to different provinces may have problem in getting and doing jobs in other provinces. This may increase the gap between provinces and may reduce the unity among them. HEC, in the federal government is significant to join all institutes on one standard belonging from different provinces. Furthermore, it is also significant to join all provinces together in a country. 
If we analyze the decision of government on HEC, then there come many questions in mind, one of which is that what reason has motivated Government of Pakistan to segment HEC into parts. Furthermore, there is one more question that whether the decision makers were eligible to sit in the decision forum (Assembly). This is a big confusion because HEC has identified the fake degrees of most of the Assembly Members in Pakistan and due to this reason many of Assembly Members may not be eligible to sit in the Assembly. However, these Assembly Members including eligible and non-eligible have made such injustice decision to separate HEC into parts. In this situation there arises a big confusion that the decision of non-eligible Assembly Members will be implementable in Pakistan. Furthermore, what will be future of Universities, Scholars, Education Standards, HEC employees, Unity among Provinces? From these valid points, it is highly needed for all Assembly Members, Ministers, and President of Pakistan to statistically analyze the future need of Standard Education in Pakistan and help Pakistan to stop segmenting HEC in several parts.    

1.      "The paradox of Pakistan". Nature 450 (7170): 585–200. 2007.

2.      "After Musharraf.". Nature 454 (7208): 1030–2008. 2008. 

3.      "Pakistan's reform experiment". Nature 461 (7260): 38–39. 

4.      ."Cash costs." Nature 461 (7260): 11–12. 2009.

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