KARACHI, Aug 24: “We don’t know what’s to become of us. Where are we to go when the geology department closes down? Other students are happily attending classes in other departments, but we have this sword hanging over our heads,” said Gulnaz Ahmed, a student of BSc part-II at the Diwan Dayaram Jethamal (DJ) Sindh Government Science College here on Saturday.
The geology department at the DJ College, the only college offering a BSc course in Sindh, is facing closure as its head of department Prof Syed Mohammad Maroof Husain is retiring. Tuesday, Aug 27, will be his last day at the college where he was appointed lecturer back in 1981. The Sindh education department has not found a replacement for him as yet and the geology students at the college are suffering from great uncertainty about their future.
“We had a very good first year in this department. We worked hard and were promoted to part-II, but what now? Look at our fine lab. It’s great, isn’t it? But despite having all these facilities around us we are getting nothing as our only teacher is leaving and there is no one to take his place,” the student said.
“Are we expected to appear for our exams after our final year of the BSc without preparation? And what are we going to do about practicals? There are maps, minerals, metals, fossils to identify, etc. Without practice we will certainly fail,” she added.
“Geology is an extremely interesting subject and, therefore, we took it up in BSc. Our concepts were so clear in part-I, but now everything is confusing. Now many of our classmates have started bunking classes. They are disheartened and disillusioned,” said another student Abdul Rauf.
“This is the best science college. Why doesn’t it do something? Why don’t they appoint a new teacher?” questioned Iqra Fazal, another concerned student.
“I am glad to have passed out from this department and now I am joining university soon. But I need the backing of this department. Where would I turn to for advice?” asked H.M. Shoaib, a former student of the subject at the DJ College.
“We have developed a bond with our old department. Old students come here often,” said Rehmat Nasir, another former student.
Dawn had reported back in February that the only college offering BSc in geology may close down the department because its head was retiring and had no desire to seek extension. It is surprising that the education department could not appoint a new head of the department or lecturer of geology.
“I don’t believe in staying on so I am not interested in applying for an extension in service. Fresh blood should be inducted. And this process should continue. If I had wanted to stay here, I could have accepted the position of vice principal here offered to me a few months back. But it would only have been a ceremonial position,” said Prof Maroof, who helped the department reach its peak after joining it as a lecturer 32 years ago.
Meanwhile, DJ Science College’s principal Mahdi Balouch said that it was unfortunate that the college still didn’t have a geology teacher other than the geology department head.
“I have only joined a couple of months ago, but my predecessor had written to the education department to do something regarding this matter. I guess they are also dealing with so many things together that they haven’t been able to do much. Actually, it is the Sindh Public Service Commission, which makes appointments for Grades 16 and above. And this is a Grade 17 position,” he explained.
“With nothing happening about this, the college didn’t even offer geology as a BSc subject this year. We have no BSc part-I student and the few students you see in part-II may be the last of the lot if we get no teacher,” he added.
When contacted by Dawn regarding the matter, Sindh education secretary Dr Fazalullah Pechuho said that he had already taken notice of the situation.
“We will try to find a replacement for the retiring professor on a priority basis. The future of geology students at the college is a major concern for us. But the new person should be competent enough also,” he said.
“I wish the director general of colleges of Sindh had notified us about this earlier so that the students hadn’t reached this state of panic. But we will do something, I assure you,” he said.
When contacted, DG of colleges Prof Dr Nasir Ansar said that they had sent a requisition for the soon-to-be-vacant post to the education department.
“Yes, we have done the needful. The education department will now forward our request to the Public Service Commission to carry out the hiring procedure,” he said.