KINNAIRD College’s centenary celebrations beginning with a conference on “Issues and Challenges in Education” have taken pulse of Punjab’s education, declaring that secondary and higher secondary students in the province are ill-prepared for the rigors and demands of higher education.

This observation along with other recommendations are being presented to the Punjab government to take note of the critical situation of education and move forward focusing on imparting of quality education that develops critical thinking and tolerance in students.

Top educationists from home and abroad have finalised a Kinnaird Conference Declaration, agreeing upon the point that education is the simple most important denominator that takes a nation from underdeveloped to developing and developed stages. They say Malaysia and to some extent India are success stories with particular reference to demand driven quality education at all levels of learning.

The conference declaration says that Pakistan’s present spending on education against the minimum of four per cent of GDP benchmarked by UNESCO is the lowest in the region. It identified that there were eight education policies and numerous reports on the state of education in Pakistan.

The Kinnaird Declaration demanded that the Higher Education Commission should continue to serve as a focal federal agency for overseeing and ensuring uniformity and quality of higher education in all four provinces.

It said the private sector denationalised institutions or institutions in the process of denationalisation should be considered eligible for the HEC and provincial grants-in-aid. The conference declaration suggested that the state financial incentives would make higher education affordable in the private sector besides improving institutional performance. The FC College University and Kinnaird College fall under this category, it added.

At the conference, Lady Sri Ram College New Delhi principal Dr Meenakshi Gopinath recommended exchange programmes between higher education institutions in India and Pakistan for creating an awareness of the culture of peace, gender equality, justice and coexistence.

Lahore College for Women University Vice-Chancellor Dr Sabiha Mansoor emphasised that public sector colleges and universities must improve performance since the government funding was not an issue. Stating that the private sector was more involved in community service, Dr Mansoor called upon public sector colleges and universities to make community service programmes part of the curriculum.

Lahore School of Economics dean Dr Shahid Siddiqui warned against the stratification of education that reduces life chances. “What ails the system is not funding or grants-in-aid but proper utilisation of resources,” he observed and called for developing a mechanism for monitoring utilisation of resources at the federal and provincial levels.

HEC professor and BNU dean Dr Tariq Rehman called for reforming textbooks. “The present textbooks are historically manipulated and events misinterpreted due to biases. Textbook reforms by experts in subject areas will be a first step towards a tolerant society,” he said.

Dr Tayyaba Tamim recommended greater academic role for Urdu in the domains of higher education. In the present scenario English remains the medium of study and instruction in higher education in Pakistan. “An education policy that can change this scenario is essential, if we want to improve our educational system,” she added.

Aga Khan University’s Dr Amin Rehmani recommended the assessment system should be changed. “The stress in the present system is on ‘what’ questions, while ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions are ignored at our own peril,” he observed.

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THE Government College, Township, last week organised its first convocation and conferred degrees upon 300 graduates belonging to sessions 2007-2011.

The college had started functioning after the denationalisation of FC College and all public sector faculty members were moved en-bloc to the GC Township.

Former Inspector General of Police Dr Azhar Hassan Nadeem, who was chief guest at the convocation, stressed that youth should become proactive and develop positive manners because such people drive their fortune instead of waiting for the good days and ripe opportunities to fall on to them. He said that only those nations had progressed that had concentrated on knowledge, learning and strong discipline. “We should learn lesson from the lives of great people who have left their marks on the pages of the history,” he stressed.

GC principal Dr Ijaz Butt said he had always worked to create discipline and promote co-curricular activities on the campus. He said the college, having 3,000 students on its rolls and 150 faculty members, was offering master’s degree education in seven disciplines. Efforts are being made to introduce more subjects at master’s level, he added.

As many as 75 distinction holders were given gold medals and rolls of honour.

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UNIVERSITY of Central Punjab (UCP) Pro-Rector Prof Dr Muhammad Zafarullah has said the university is focusing on imparting quality education to its student body and enabling it to play a qualitative role in nation building.

In a meeting with Lahore Education Reporters Association delegation, Prof Zafarullah said the university was hiring faculty on a competitive basis and most of them are foreign MS degree holders.

He said the university’s 7,700 on campus students were being offered education in seven faculties equipped with state-of-the-art labs and libraries. He said the university was strengthening its social sciences faculty considering it a backbone for the development of a society. He said the university had disabled-friendly building and offering cent per cent scholarships to the disabled students, who earn admission on merit.

The pro-rector said the varsity students were also being exposed to robust sports and co-curricular activities. He said the university had lifted HEC sports trophy for the fourth time by winning 23 out of 28 sports events. “Good education is not possible without sports and co-curricular activities,” he stressed.

UCP business school faculty dean Prof Dr Zafar Iqbal Jadoon said the business school was one of the largest faculty having over 4,000 students and 100 faculty members including 20 PhDs.

IT faculty dean Dr Abdul Aziz said the university was planning to construct a technology park on university campus, which was currently functioning in Arfa Tower.

Faculty of Pharmacy dean Dr Muhammad Jamshaid and faculty of engineering dean Dr Tabrez A Shami briefed the delegation about their faculties, while Promotions and Placements Director Prof Rasheed Khalid gave a detailed briefing about the university, alumni activities and other endeavours. — mansoormalik173@hotmail.com

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