CHAKWAL, Sept 29: The ‘four-year degree programme’ (BS Honours) of Shahbaz Sharif, which had already been run poorly, has got another blow when University of Gujrat stopped the programme at the colleges in Chakwal, Jhelum and Rawalpindi for want of infrastructure and ancillary staff, Dawn has learnt.
A letter (a copy of which available with Dawn) in this regard issued by the university registrar Dr Tahir Aqil was sent to the principals of Government Postgraduate College Chakwal, Government College Jhelum and Gordon College Rawalpindi on September 19.
In the letter the three colleges had been asked to stop taking students in various BS programmes for the academic year of 2013.
Since 2010, Rawalpindi division colleges have been affiliated with the UoG. Earlier, the Punjab University ran the colleges.
Currently eight BS programmes are being offered at Government Postgraduate College Chakwal while under the new order by Gujrat university the college would not be able to admit students in five programmes that are economics, information technology, physics, chemistry and botany.
Now students can only get admission to BS Islamic Studies, English and Mathematics.
“The special committee of Gujrat university has off and on been reporting about lack of infrastructure and ancillary staff for smooth functioning of the BS programmes which is hampering the quality of education,” the letter stated.
It further explained that the semester system required a certain level of faculty, infrastructure and paraphernalia (labs, classrooms etc) which the colleges were seriously lacking.
These three colleges were about to announce admissions in BS programmes for 2013 when they were stopped by Gujrat university.
The programme, launched in October 2010 in 26 colleges of Punjab, invited controversy, and led to protests by students and teachers since its launching.
As the Punjab government stopped offering two-year degree programme (BA, BSc) the students were left with no other option but to take admission in the FYDP or to shift to private colleges for the old two-year degree programme.
According to the plan, the four-year programme was to be run by the Board of Governors (BoGs), which would be set up at each chosen college.
But the announcement of BoGs and powers given to it invited severe resistance from teachers and students.
The BoGs could only hold a single meeting and it was stopped from working by an order issued by the Multan bench of the Lahore High Court after hearing a writ petition filed by Punjab Professors and Lecturers Association (PPLA).
The case is still pending in the court.
Apparently the 26 colleges were selected as they were considered more resourceful but the Punjab government failed to provide the required infrastructure to these colleges.
For instance, not a single teacher has been appointed and no student enrolled in the IT department at Government Postgraduate College Chakwal.
The college administration is running this department with the help of visiting faculty members, who are paid on per period basis, while the IT lab does not exist in the college.
“I heaved a sigh of relief when I heard that BS Honours programme had been launched in Chakwal. I took admission in the IT programme but was shocked to learn that there was neither any teacher nor IT lab,” said a student who came to the college daily after travelling 30km.
“We have been cheated as the Punjab government has destroyed our future,” another student of BS physics regretted.
“We were promised that the required infrastructure and staff would be provided in two years and only on this condition the University of Gujrat approved our affiliation but even after three years the situation has not improved,” said Prof Aslam Kahoot, Government Postgraduate College Chakwal principal.
“The existing faculty and infrastructure was not enough as fresh students were enrolled in,” he explained.
Currently, 678 students are doing their BS Honours in various subjects at the college. They continue to face uncertainty about their future as the college lacks the required facilities for smooth education.
Sources said a total of 400 seats were lying vacant in these 26 colleges.
Talking to Dawn from Gujranwala, the president of PPLA Dr Zahid Ahmed Sheikh said the future of millions of students had been destroyed by launching the BS Programme.
He said the colleges were not able to run this ‘ill-conceived programme’.
When contacted, Secretary Punjab Higher Education Department Farhan Aziz Khawja assured that the issue of these programmes would be taken up in an upcoming meeting.