ROLE of the universities in the development of educational standards of the region, particularly research in the social sciences, for guidance of the youth has always been a key to ushering in a new era of positive thinking and rejection of parochialism and extremism.
Universities recommend policy formulation on various aspects of life, and propose for implementation of research findings which open a number of new vistas for academic advancement.
The Balochistan University of Information Technology and Management Sciences (BUITEMS) is headed for the desired directions.
It has so far consolidated its position as a model premier institution within a short period of time. BUITEMS is focused on providing and facilitating access to higher education in the province, with continuous emphasis on quality.
Through the years BUITEMS as a leading academic institution, its leaders and teams have noticed serious shortcomings in the basic educational attainment level of the youths who seek admission in the university after earning their intermediate-level certification.
Considering their deficiency, the university took the initiative of zero semesters for the first time in the educational history of Balochistan in order to address the problem of the applicants, and have kept looking for other means for the improvement of minimum academic standards of the youth.
The Higher Education Commission has todate focused on enhancing the standard and quality of education and research programmes offered in the public and private sector universities and degree-awarding institutions.
For this purpose funding has been directly provided to the universities and degree-awarding public sector institutions by the HEC for various activities of the universities, including development of new programmes, enhancing research, provision of IT facilities, improvement of quality, establishment of industrial linkages, professional training of faculty and advanced equipment for labs.
But, unfortunately, colleges, schools, institutions and madressahs in the province have remained as neglected sectors where the provincial education department has not been able so far to interact with these institutions for improving their standards of education.
The provincial authorities also have not taken effective measures to help these institutions in offering higher level qualifications and degree programmes. Moreover, the issue is compounded by the lack of formal policymaking and development planning activities at the provincial level.
The BUITEMS, considering all these issues is consistently proposing for the establishment of the Balochistan Education Council (BEC) on the HEC pattern through provincial legislation, with the explicit mandate to affiliate colleges/madressahs offering degrees equivalent to BS/BA/MA.
It would be designated permanent body of the province as a constituent member of the HEC. Similarly, the projects like the WB-funded ‘tertiary education support programmes’ can also be incorporated on the agenda of council and it can also initiate capacity building and training of the stakeholders on the recommendation of the council.
Registration of madressahs and their curricula matters would also be streamlined with the help and guidance of BEC, it is proposed.
The council will prescribe conditions for opening of new institutions and will formulate policies for their registration, accreditation and categorisation, evaluation of their performance, etc.
The council will review and examine the financial requirements of these institutions and will recommend provision of funds to them on the basis of their recurring and development needs.
In brief, the BEC will be responsible for promoting educational institutions on all aspects of education in Balochistan.
AHMED FAROOQ BAZAI Vice-Chancellor, BUITEMS Quetta