Dr Anjum Zia, associate professor and chairperson, Department of Mass Communication, Lahore College for Women University (LCWU), Lahore, did her PhD in Mass Communication while also doing a certificate course in Print Journalism from USA under the International Visitor Programme organised by United States Information Agency (USIA) in 2002.
While talking about LCWU’s Department of Mass Communication, she says that it was established in 1986 and offered a two-year bachelors programme but with the development of the media industry in Pakistan, MSc in Mass Communication was also started by her in 2001. “A four-year BS programme was also started in 2005 as per Higher Education Commission’s (HEC) new policy. State of the art equipment was required in order to impart professional media education, so TV and FM studios, advertising and computer laboratories, non-linear editing and photographic laboratories and MCR along with OB van facility were provided under the HEC project as the department was shifted to the new building in 2008. To strengthen the area of research in Mass Communication a two-year MS programme (equivalent to MPhil) was also introduced in 2009.”
The courses offered are revised to meet the challenges of new developments in the media. “LCWU’s radio station FM 96.6 Voice is running a daily three-hour transmission from 11am to 2pm which is then repeated from 2pm to 5pm regularly since 2008. So not only is the department’s FM radio facility training the aspiring journalists, it is also acting as an information cell for the university.
“This department is continuously growing with the consistent efforts of the teaching and non-teaching faculty. Now we have signed some significant Memorandums of Understanding [MoUs] with NGOs and advertising agencies. The future concerns include liaisons with foreign universities and short courses of photography, script writing, radio and TV production, graphic designing, news reporting, etc., with the aim to emerge as the best women media studies institution in South Asia,” she says.
Speaking of the availability of quality education in Pakistan, Dr Anjum says, “Quality education is not easily accessible to everyone in Pakistan. It is mostly provided by private institutions which are out of reach for the common person. Even reputed government institutions’ fee structures are not affordable for a majority of the population in Pakistan.
LCWU is providing scholarships to deserving students but even we have our limitations. The government needs to take serious steps for the provision of quality education to everyone in the country.”
About her students, the associate professor says that she has noticed that students of Mass Communication are more vibrant, active and confident. “Their communication skills are enhanced, which helps them in their professional life, too. They are more aware of current issues as well. But although they know everything from camera handling techniques to using editing software, they do not work on improving their writing skills or research. They look up everything on the Internet instead of going to the library. Then they are also always looking for quick solutions while ignoring the authentic resources available to them. I also find them more inclined towards the electronic media than print media as it requires an understanding of literature, which the students avoid.”
As a head of department, Dr Anjum Zia observes that the education system can be improved by introducing the best policies. “Yet policy implementation is a major issue in the development of the education system in Pakistan. And if policies are implemented, monitoring and evaluation lack.”
She suggests, “The standards of higher education should be raised as higher education is crucial for the uplift of the education system of a country. Then hopefully we can produce good educationists, too, as educationists are the backbone of the education system. Faculty development can lead to meet the challenges of quality education. Thus faculty development must be mandatory. Moreover, the budget for education should be raised as you cannot make progress without providing funds and facilities.”
She also stressed on the importance of improving the standard of teaching and research at the high-level. “We do not have research journals so availability of research journals along capacity building of the researchers is the need of the hour in order for us to compete with the world. We also need to build liaisons with international researchers and their bodies. Moreover, the culture of the universities should be changed as they are not just for teaching. Universities are institutions for producing knowledge,” she concluded.